Moving on up
On February 17, 2014, Cliff Bleszinski laid out the immediate future of the online shooter with a single tweet: “Wall running is the new cover”. The man behind the game that put the cover shooter on the map sent that curt missive a couple of months before the launch of Titanfall, and two years later, he’s been largely proven right. Shooters are increasingly defined by movement, skills and progression systems; wall running might not quite be the new cover, but Bleszinski’s real point is that shooters have increasingly come to be defined by the things they let you do when you’re not firing your gun. This month’s Hype crop brings further proof of that fact.
Tom Clancy’s The Division (p36) would have been a hard sell when Call Of Duty and Gears Of War reigned supreme, but in 2016, now Destiny has made the notion of an MMO shooter with an RNG loot system a little easier to stomach, it feels like a logical evolution. Ubisoft Massive may not have executed its grand idea as gracefully as Bungie, but what The Division lacks in fluidity of motion is more than made up for by a classless suite of abilities, an intriguing blend of PVE and PVP, and some smartly conceived RPG systems whirring away in the background. Meanwhile, Blizzard’s MOBA-inspired shooter Overwatch is now headed to consoles, and is perhaps as far removed from the Bleszinski stop-and-pop era as you can get. It has 21 playable characters, each with a bespoke set of skills, who can be switched between at any point in the action. Yes, it has guns, but it also has teleports, grappling hooks, magical spells and time powers. It’s all the more thrilling for it.
For those seeking a rather more plausible interpretation of wall running, Crytek’s The Climb is just the ticket – a VR mountaneering sim that will take you on a tour of some of the world’s most famous peaks. The shooter has to change because it’s been around so very long, but in the emerging VR space, simplicity, not complexity, is key.