Com­bat evolved


Two years later, this gen­er­a­tion is still look­ing for its Mod­ern War­fare. Stu­dios work­ing in all gen­res are search­ing for the for­mula that will de­fine mul­ti­player gam­ing for the next five years. The kill­streak is dead, and with good rea­son: it catered to the slay­ers first and the can­non fod­der a dis­tant sec­ond, its toys the pre­serve of the few rather than the many. That won’t do in an era where the bat­tle is for player re­ten­tion, not just their at­ten­tion.

Ti­tan­fall and Des­tiny would sug­gest that cooldowns are the new kill­streaks. Ti­tans and Su­pers be­come avail­able to ev­ery­one on the battlefield even­tu­ally, but the best play­ers get them faster. Yet this month’s Hype crop yields suf­fi­cient ex­per­i­men­ta­tion with that for­mat to sug­gest that it is a long way from be­com­ing the new in­dus­try stan­dard.

Bliz­zard has de­signed its first com­pet­i­tive shooter, Over­watch (p40), around Ul­ti­mates, its char­ac­ter-spe­cific su­pers. Un­like its peers, th­ese are not gov­erned by a cooldown but a me­ter, which you fill by deal­ing and tak­ing dam­age, and heal­ing al­lies. It is largely a re­ward for suc­cess, and might hew too close to the kill­streak if your progress didn’t per­sist be­yond death.

The word ‘Ul­ti­mate’ is a nod to the MOBA, an in­flu­ence to be ex­pected from Bliz­zard, not Naughty Dog. Yet our first look at the mul­ti­player of Un­charted 4:

A Thief’s End (p48) yields a debt to Dota 2. In-game ac­tions – kills, as­sists, re­vives – award money to be spent on up­grades, mag­i­cal items or to call in NPC backup.

Things are fur­ther com­pli­cated by Street Fighter V (p50), which re­places its pre­de­ces­sor’s tricky-to-per­form Ul­tra Combo with the V-Trig­ger, a sim­ple two-but­ton move that pow­ers you up for a while and is gov­erned by a me­ter that fills as you take, not deal, dam­age. This gen­er­a­tion may not have its Mod­ern War­fare just yet, but if it con­tin­ues to en­cour­age such thought­ful, var­ied ex­per­i­men­ta­tion from de­vel­op­ers seek­ing to claim the gen­er­a­tion as their own, we’re all for it.

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