What are the top things that make a great FPS?

I'm just wondering in the Doomunity's opinion, what are the top 3 - 5 things that make a great solo FPS. What are the top things that make a multiplayer FPS both co-op and non co-op?

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1) Balanced Gameplay

2) Easy to pick up...hard to master..

3) Great Single Player as well as a Multi-player (for me at least)

4)Weapon Selection

5) How annoying the enemies are.

That pretty much sums it up for me.

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These things apply to any game really:

1.) Allow, and occasionally award, exploration
2.) Meaningful interaction with the environment
3.) ???
4.) FUN!

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Most important part is to make the movement interesting enough that just running around in an empty level is interesting and rewarding in itself.

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My opinions, from the most important to least important.

1: Level design. Alternative routes and takes, special interests (like ambush points), offers (limited) exploration.
2: Enemies. How they fit to theme. They're not predictable, could be real dicks, or outright dangerous, but not overpowered. And good AI.
3: Enemy placement, and if possible, random encounters to spice things up.
4: Gimmicks, and possible story. If good FPS can have one.
5: Visual aesthetics and music. Environment, texturing, lighting and ambient sounds.
6: Weapons & equipment. How they look, sound, feel.


Probably my main points what to expect from fairly good FPS.

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Fun gameplay and good presentation. :P My two favorite FPS games of all time are Doom and Far Cry 3, and they are both very different games. Mechanically, the only similarity they have is in having no stamina bar, so not sure if I could make a specific bullet point list.

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1:If the game doesn't have graphical fidelity, the a great art direction is a must

2:Encouraging exploration

3: Fun gunplay. It has to sound and look awesome to shoot stuff

4:Each weapon and monster should have its own personality (without being obnoxious)

5:Innovation is encouraged but not mandatory...especially during these times.

6:Using cinematics only where necessary.

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DooM_RO said:

3: Fun gunplay. It has to sound and look awesome to shoot stuff


This is a big one. I can't count the number of FPSs I've played where shooting the guns feels like playing with airsoft guns. They need to have PUNCH. Games have gotten a lot better about this since the early/mid 2000's though. Unreal is my favorite example of a game with good potential ruined by shitty guns since everything else about it was pretty cool. I'm just glad they made the guns beefier for UT.

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Good old dumb AI. Unreal is also a good example of too smart AI, or at least annoying AI. They dodge too much. Maybe on easier skill levels they dodge less, and have less health.. But then there's also less enemies, and then the game is too easy. Custom difficulty settings are nice.

Level design could be semi-linear for single player levels. Some optional areas/routes or open/big areas. No locked doors that can never be opened. I really hated when games started having them. And not so much detail that I forget to play, and not so little detail that it's just a bunch of meaningless box shaped rooms.

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1.) Weapons which do not require to be reloaded after every few shots. Cause seriously, when I want to play an FPS then I want to escape from militaristic reality of our actual world rather than to simulate it.

2.) Levels/stages which offer exploration and multiple paths, leading to various different endings.

3.) Occasional conversations with helpful characters within the environment. But not too frequent though. Cause I'd still want it to feel like an action game.
(Heretic 2 did a good job at this.)

4.) An easy-to-use level building utility which comes bundled together with the installation of the actual game itself.

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Already lots of good points mentioned.

I'd add this one: reactivity, feedback. I want control. I don't want for my key presses to have a delayed result in game. Long and complicated animations, be it a reload, a takedown, an opening the door thing, anything locking your character for a second or more is nothing but a bothersome interruption to the gameplay.

It ties in with immersion, too. Say you want to open a door in real life; you don't just think "I want to open a door". Even if the process is intuitive, there's distinct phases - you reach forward with your arm, you put your hand around the handle, you press the handle, and then you pull or push the door. Simulating all of these actions with a single button press just doesn't do it for me, it puts me right out of the game watching a video game character do stuff I don't have a direct mental connection with.

It's not so bad if you still retain some degree of interactivity during the action, i.e. being able to run around while reloading; but stuff like the above work much better in a TPS, IMHO.

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Phml said:

Rant about small animations


Yes. Here we agree completely.
I enjoyed Far Cry 3, but the constant loss of control where you watch a short or long animation from first person perspective is enough to lower the final score for the game 1 or 2 points on a 10 point scale. It's awful and adds absolutely nothing to the game. If anything, show the animation when first skinning an animal or whatever. I don't need to see it every time.

As bad are the small cutscenes where the control of the camera is lost and apparently some drunken sailor is now controlling it. They're probably trying to avoid having the player jump around like an idiot instead of listening to the boring conversation, but the problem isn't that the player is jumping around. The problem is the conversation is boring. They should work on finding new ways to relay information instead.

Anyway. I recently rewatched machinima's historie series on id software. It's an amazing story told really well. One thing that really grabbed my attention was how the initial idea behind the FPS was to leave the player vulnerable; stripped of his tank or spacecraft. Just him against the enemy. A problem I see with many modern shooters is that they try to make the player look cool instead. Be it with a series of animations of him slowly walking away from explosions or by giving him super powers. It's a horrible deroute from the original concept in my opinion. Sure, this could work once in a while. Jedi Knight pulled it off perfectly. They managed to make the player character powerful and in place of vulnerability they placed well crafted puzzles and perfect star wars atmosphere.

The problem with a game like Crysis/2/3 is that they sacrifice vulnerability, but have nothing to offer instead. No puzzle solving. No interesteng storyline or characters. Uninteresting enemies. No real sense of progression.

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I think jumping around during conversations is fun. I always try to jump on top of the people talking, just so their heads would turn weirdly. Or try to place physics objects in their paths, so that they might get stuck or the physics would break, or otherwise look ridiculous.

But being able to do all that doesn't make it great FPS, but trying to prevent it is a waste of time. Maybe the developers could spend that time in making the actual game better.

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Weapon sound effects. If the guns don't make a good solid BOOM, it's just not as satisfying.

Yeah, I know this sounds like a pretty weird obscure thing to pick on, but think about it: the entire game is (essentially) spent shooting things, so you hear those same sounds over and over. If they sound weak, the game suffers. This is one thing that Doom really got right, but Id's later games didn't do so well at (seems like Bobby Prince really knew what he was doing).

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Nah that makes total sense :)
Couple great weapon sounds together with great feedback from the enemies in the form of pain animations, cries and impact effects and you have a good basis for the shooting.

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Shaviro said:

Nah that makes total sense :)
Couple great weapon sounds together with great feedback from the enemies in the form of pain animations, cries and impact effects and you have a good basis for the shooting.


There is something magical about shooting a Pinky with an SSG.

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Yeah exactly, or blasting an imp with the shotgun. They achieved some of the same things in Half-Life 1, especially with the magnum and the lesser monsters.

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Shaviro said:

Yeah exactly, or blasting an imp with the shotgun. They achieved some of the same things in Half-Life 1, especially with the magnum and the lesser monsters.

The introduction of that weapon is still one of the best weapon introductions in all of video games. It goes from holy shit, I only have a pistol! to holy shit this pistol is AWESOME!

If that Combine guard hadn't barged in I probably would've switched back to the assault rifle and wasted my magnum bullets on headcrabs, or something.

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Shaviro said:

Yeah exactly, or blasting an imp with the shotgun. They achieved some of the same things in Half-Life 1, especially with the magnum and the lesser monsters.


True, there are very few games that still accomplish this. RAGE was a good example, shooting things was damn fun in it and if there is one thing I am sure Doom 4 will do justice to the franchise, then it is the shooting. My favorites were Fat Mommas, Pop Rockets, Nailgun and Authority Machine Gun. More games should be this fun. Of course, if not treated correctly, this could also become gimmicky. Just look at Bulletstorm.

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Shaviro said:

They achieved some of the same things in Half-Life 1, especially with the magnum and the lesser monsters.

Absolutely. Compare, for example, the shotguns in Doom and Half Life with those in Quake 1-3. Doom 3's shotgun isn't bad, but some of the other weapons are pretty weak (like the chaingun). With classic Doom I can't think of a single one of the weapons that doesn't have good sound effects.

Really the crucial thing here is that there's a visceral positive feedback loop of blasting monsters and watching them drop dead in front of you. Some have interesting interpretations of this. Incidentally, one of the things that annoyed me about Doom 3 was the fact that the bodies of demons would evaporate away when you killed them. So much for "Knee-Deep in the Dead".

DooM_RO said:

There is something magical about shooting a Pinky with an SSG.

Arachnotron + SSG.

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fraggle said:

Absolutely. Compare, for example, the shotguns in Doom and Half Life with those in Quake 1-3. Doom 3's shotgun isn't bad, but some of the other weapons are pretty weak (like the chaingun). With classic Doom I can't think of a single one of the weapons that doesn't have good sound effects.

Really the crucial thing here is that there's a visceral positive feedback loop of blasting monsters and watching them drop dead in front of you. Some have interesting interpretations of this. Incidentally, one of the things that annoyed me about Doom 3 was the fact that the bodies of demons would evaporate away when you killed them. So much for "Knee-Deep in the Dead".

Arachnotron + SSG.


Every weapon from Doom 3 (non BFG) is terrible in every way, especially the useless shotgun. It's funny how a few slight modifications make such a difference.

I just can't explain why seeing stuff die in Doom is so satisfying...maybe it's because they're sprites? I can't exactly put my finger on it.

PS. Fantastic article! Paragraph 6 might explain why Brutal Doom exists, I love it!

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I have narrowed it down to the top few I prefer:
suits my style (kill, explore, kill everything in place you find, kill whilst exploring and survival back against wall moments)
fun to play
long single player (more than a days worth)
less linear
character progression (RPG elements)
character customization
free roam
side missions
weapon customizing
view toggle
no call of duty multiplayer style
and my most need feature: CO-OP

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A useful weapon set is probably the best thing I can contribute to the list. A weapon set where each weapon is frequently used because, as different as each weapon is, it's got its situations where it totally shines. That probably means there can't be like 10 different kinds of machineguns and pistols, though, a la COD. This isn't just true in multiplayer or singleplayer, exclusively. If you get it right in one of those modes, it will largely carry over into the next.

Probably the best example I can think of for such a weapon set is Quake III. Relatively small number of weapons, but every one is used frequently (with overall preference to RL, I suppose) because your situation and demands change constantly and some weapons are more ideal than others, per situation. DOOM II is a pretty good example of this, as well, at least for the upper two-thirds or so of weapons.

There's a kind of balance, there. It's not that "all guns are equal." It's just that they're all useful in certain situations. Some situations make this or that gun awful, but this other gun better. But those other guns have their situations where they shine. This feat is lost in many games, particularly in the wake of "realistic, military" shooters. I see no reason why it has to be this way, though. It's not as if in real life combat, you have access to this huge variety of machineguns. This design maxim ought to be achievable with "realistic weapons," too.

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Shaviro said:

Nah that makes total sense :)
Couple great weapon sounds together with great feedback from the enemies in the form of pain animations, cries and impact effects and you have a good basis for the shooting.

This exactly. It brings great satisfaction when you get a full culmination of a powerful sounding weapon being fired at an enemy, watching/hearing them writhe in pain, and then delivering the final blow while watching them die. That had to be one of the main problems I had with Doom 3 - killing most of the enemies was not satisfying whatsoever, especially when all they did was flop over and then go motionless. If I still got to see the Mancubi death done in Doom 3 the way they did it in Doom I & II I would've been happy as hell.

Arachnotron + SSG

Mancubus + SSG. I have a certain love for stopping a Mancubus just before it tries to launch a fireball volley and then delivering the final blow and watching it slowly melt to the floor.

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Balance.

Basically, present to me satisfying amounts of single-shot fodder in my crowds of monsters to go with the multi-hit behemoths. Give me ample projectiles to dodge between seeking cover from hitscan weapons. Supply a proper ratio of shoot 'em up to keycard fetching and button pushing. I want healthy amounts of brainless carnage inbetween objectives I need to think about.

Get all that right and we've got a winner in my eyes.

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