Dec 06 2012

Growing Tired of the Grind of FPS Games

Published by at 12:00 pm under Editorials,Video Games

A few weeks ago, I wrote a part one journal installment of Halo 4. Then I did one for Black Ops 2 a short while later. The idea was that I’d played through the campaign, and only a bit of multiplayer, and I’d come back to each game once I’d spent a little more time with them.

But now, here I am, and I don’t feel like I’ve got enough to say to warrant a full new journal entry for either. Simply put, I’m getting tired of the grind of these games, with their levels of unlockables that resets ever year or few years.

This is best illustrated by my prestige level across each annual installment of Call of Duty. Starting with Modern Warfare 2, the first title where I played multiplayer religiously, I think I got to about prestige 3 or 4. Not super high, but pretty decent for a non-high-school-aged player like myself.

Look at all these prestiges I won’t get!

In Black Ops, I think I manage to get to the first prestige, and  a few levels more after that. Modern Warfare 3, I didn’t even reach the top level of zero prestige, but was maybe in the 50s or 60s.

As for Black Ops 2? I’m level 18. Yup, level 18. Out of what, like 80? And there’s fifteen sets of those?

So, what’s the reason for my increasing lack of interest over the years? Well, it’s the fact that every game I’ve mentioned is more or less the same title. Sure, guns, killstreaks and maps are swapped in and out, and really, the games are undeniably fun for a while. That’s why I’ve been buying them year after year after all. But each year, they get a little less fun. I’m a little less motivated to press forward to unlock that perk or that camo.

It’s due to repetitiveness sure, but it’s also because I know that at the end of the year, the clock will reset, and I’ll have to do it all over again in a new game. The completionist in me always sets out thinking “I’m going to earn all the achievements and max out all my guns!” But the truth is, unless you’re playing the game 10 hours a day for the entire year, you’re not even going to come close to achieving that. I’d max out three assault rifles and give up, then just wait around until next year. And gameplay was just too repetitive to keep me playing “for the love of the game” as it were.

Maybe on my 10,000th Spartan kill, I’ll feel something.

This also has to do with getting older, and having less time, and people, to play these games with. In high school and college, I could have my buddies come over and we’d have a blast with split-screen Halo. But now? It’s far less fun to play these kinds of games by yourself. At best, you’re talking into a headset to a friend a thousand miles away, or at worst, you’re sitting there by yourself, yelling at the faceless screen when you go 2-18 or celebrating with no one when you go 18-2.

I’m just getting tired of multiplayer games that don’t have much strategy attached to them. I’m more into titles like League of Legends now, which even though there are few unlockables and only one map, each new game feels more diverse than FPS titles. And it’s not so bad to play by yourself either.

Elsewhere, I’m more a fan of story based games now. My favorite titles of the year have been The Walking Dead and Mass Effect, single player based games that tell a powerful story. And when I play games like Halo 4 and Black Ops 2, it bothers me how poorly the campaigns are laid out compared to these other titles. In short, multiplayer alone isn’t enough to sell me anymore, and we’re past the moments of old games like Modern Warfare 2’s “No Russian” that were truly astonishing from a storytelling perspective.

These moments either don’t exist anymore, or just don’t make the same kind of impact.

I don’t think I can generalize this to all people my age, but I am getting tired of the hyper twitch lonely shootouts of these games. I’ll feel mentally exhausted at the end of a few matches, which have me shooting or being shot practically every five seconds. It’s just much more intensity than I’m looking for in a supposedly relaxing leisure activity.

Am I getting old, or are these games just not changing enough to be worth playing with each new iteration anymore?





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22 responses so far

  • Schutzenegger

    You could call it getting old, but I like to think of it as getting more mature.
    You’re starting to recognize just how derivative many games/movies/TV shows/etc… are, and realize that you want something more mentally stimulating than mindlessly shooting/waiting for the getting to know you montage/waiting for the second suspect because he’s the real killer/etc…

  • HarshReality79

    Guess I’m just an oddball who only JUST entered the multiplayer fray with Halo4. Prior to now I have never had the time or desire or connection to play online outside of a brief stint with EverCrack then Wow back in college. Most of my PvP was always local back in the Halo CE days where it was fun to kill the guy sitting next to you. I suppose at some point in the future I’ll bore with it as I can see the repetitive nature however I’ve been taking my time with the Campaign and Spartan Ops to allow them to weave together as intended. But yes. The dwindling focus on single-player Campaign in many titles over the years has bothered me. Seems to take some of the skill and art out of game development, the easy way out….

  • Nicholas

    I’m old…41 (quiet) but been playing games all my life. I like strategy games much better – X-Com, League of Legends, King’s Bounty, etc. But I still play Black Ops 2. I’m level 51 and my kill ratio is .81. Not bad but not great. I do it just to blow off stress or to play something mindless.

    As you get older, your time gets more valuable I think. You have to truly think of what you spend your time on. I don’t have the time to play WOW or Eve for little give back. I prefer playing a game with an accomplishments.

    I agree I wish the single player was much better on these games.

  • Jake Fortner

    Age definitely has something to do with it, in my experience, but I don’t think that’s all of it. When Halo 3 came out and everyone was playing, you didn’t get a new major FPS every fuckin’ year, but rather once every three years or so. Now the market is completely diluted and exasperated. The gaming landscape has changed and is changing, and in the coming years I suspect we will see a fall in traditional FPS’ (lets be honest, they probably won’t ever go away since they are maybe the most popular genre – and plus I do enjoy them) and a rise in RPGs (as seems to be the case) or hybrids (like Borderlands).

    To cope until then, I try and choose one shooter at a time. Currently, that’s Halo 4, when I find time/when I’m not gaming on PC.

  • J. Morales

    I feel your pain but I don’t think there are enough of us. To be fair, I’ve never been a huge multiplayer fan anyway. For that reason, I’ve been pretty disappointed by most of the F2P/MMO titles lately. They offer you no reason to play beyond “for the love of the game” or “to get loot/XP/perks/whatever”. It’s just not compelling to me. Maybe I’m old school, anti-social, too much of a book nerd, or something, but I like having a plot line. Not the world’s greatest plot, but at least if I’m rescuing a princess I’m doing something, even if it is just virtual.

    I really wanted to love the new Mechwarrior Online, but it’s just way too much grind for really no point. It’s a decently fun game, but I just don’t want to play for hours and hours to finally get enough c-bills to buy a light mech. In part, just not compelling. In another part, I don’t have that kind of time anymore with a family, job, etc. Yeah, I guess I could just play an hour a night or something but, how droll. It would take me days to build up enough c-bills to get anything, too slow of a progression.

    Sorry, MWO is a pet peeve of mine because I loved the MechWarrior series growing up. Have to agree with you on League of Legends. Every game tends to feel more different. Plus, not nearly as grindy. I’ve amassed a nice stable of champions and now don’t really worry about grinding IP, I’ll get more runes eventually. Plus, it is a great game to play by yourself or with friends. At the competitive level you need teamwork, at the lower levels you can totally play solo and do fine.

    Although I have to say the lack of “epic” moments is probably at least partially a function of age. I remember how magical and awesome Ocarina of Time was for me. Skyward Sword, not as much, though it’s arguably the better game. I’m just more experienced now, older, and there really is truth to the verse, “there is nothing new under the sun”. I don’t think is always a bad thing but I do think there are going to be less “surprise” or “epic” moments in books, movies, video games, though hopefully they won’t all go away :-) Still able to enjoy a good experience for what it is, I loved Skyward Sword for instance; it’s just, I can imagine the experience would be a bit more magical if I were 10 again.

  • Buddy Lee

    Know that feel, not so much free time and many other good games waiting for me. Maybe Paul you should check out Left 4 Dead series for a little of both, get your fps feed but if you dont work together against computer or online you will get snacked.

  • Michael

    +1 @schutzenegger

    Both old/mature and these games are not changing. Only way that I could possibly see these games bring me back and change would be 32 v 32 multiplayer matches on large maps, where not one person can just dominate and win the game.

    The original Battlefield came out when I was in college and those big matches were a blast. It felt like you were part of something bigger.

    I’m going through the same thing. I’ve been playing since NES. Just got married. Time for videogames drops by 90% unless your job is to review or write about videogames. I even told my wife how I was dissapointed in Halo, and she though a new chapter in my life was starting, one without videogames…. not going to happen. I still plan on owning every system from here on out until the technology dwarfs what my brain can process.

    I played the campaign of the original Black Ops, then one match of multiplayer and told myself I was through with the repetitiveness.

    The only two franchises I’ve stuck two are Battlefield and Halo, mainly because of vehicles that add another dimension. Even those get boring. I was extremely dissapointed with Halo 4s multiplayer, so generic right out of the box…

    I’ve always been more of a single player game guy. Give me Far Cry 3 (soon), KOTHR, Mass Effect, Deus Ex etc over multiplayer games with garbage campaigns attached.

    If I had more time I would get Dust 514 or splurge on a pc to play Planetside, but I don’t have that time anymore. I bought a Wii U almost exclusively to play with my wife and younger cousins, inlaws etc. It’s a blast as much of the multilayer is local, plus I’m catching up on all the Mario and Zelda wii games I never played bc I never had a wii.

  • Cocoa

    I absolutley abhor single player story games, it;s usually becasue of the bad voice acting, generic characters, ridiculous grinding or a combination of the three.

    There are three games who’s single player component blew me away, the first two being Batmn Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. Superb voice acting, tons of fighting and crazy story.

    The third was Far Cry 2, I loved the story, and while the pacing was slow between plot points and some of the missions repetitive the gunplay, freedom and the enviroments made it completely worth it. If you decide to play Far Cry 2 and see it through I would suggest NOT upgrading any of the guns reliability. Its so much more fun when the weapon you are using goes haywire and jams or the RPG you fire just falls to the ground and fizzles like a broken bottle rocket before it explodes three feet away from you.
    It provides a lot of those “OH SHIT!” moments and forces you to scramble and improvise.

    I loathe COD, the levels design and enviroments feel so boring and unispired. The perks and upgrades seem to add some depth to the multiplayer but also unbalance the gameplay.

    As for Halo 4, so far I love the multiplayer. CTF is fun, Oddball is really fun and Dominion is my favorite gametype of all. I play games for chaos and those “Oh Shit!” moments so far Halo 4 multiplayer had provided quite a lot of both.

    I used the Rail gun to shoot an opponent in the face as he jet packed into the air about 75 yards away. I bet that was an “Oh shit!’ moment for him/her.

  • Mark Jr

    I don’t think it’s really an age thing, as I’m 20 years old and I started feeling this kind of fatigue around the first Black Ops. I have a friend who I play PC games with every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Last week we realized that every game we had on the PC was either a strategy game, or single player (StarCraft II, Total War, and Sins of a Solar Empire, to name a few), and every time we lost a match, or lost a battle in Shogun 2, or just got plain tired of thinking so much, we were out of things to do.

    We’re also fans of TotalBiscuit on YouTube, who recently put out a review of Black Ops 2’s multiplayer, where he described, perfectly, why people like CoD in the first place: it’s mindless. My friend and I talked about this, and decided we’d download Planetside 2 (which is free to play). We loved the hell out of it. It’s like Battlefield 3 but with a crazy sci-fi backstory, and a persistent world, where all three factions were pushing for domination (though it stops short of their home bases).

    So to my point: I’m positive this has to do with the oversaturation of FPSes on the market. It also has to do with maturity, as was said above. But I think it’s important to have a mindless shooter, even one with a bit more strategy in it like BF3 or Planetside 2.

  • beckett929

    My issue with the trend in games is that they aren’t so much “how good are you?” and are more like the achievements are just goals anyone can reach with enough time and patience.

    Case in point – on PS2 way back when, Battlefield 2’s online scoring system, rank, and weapon bonuses were based on your Points Per Hour. Today, as awesome as Bad Company I and II and BF3 are, they reward someone more or less for just playing forever. Eventually you get enough kills to move up the ladder, get new guns, and etc.. But you can be AWESOME and only have a little time to contribute and never reach those same perks.

  • trashcanman

    I’ve always been a story-based game guy who dabbles in other genres so I’ve always been careful not to burn out. Everything you said is true and it’s the reason why I don’t buy COD games or other title that come out constantly. Halo only comes out once every couple years rather than twice a year and I skip out on all the Medals of Honor, Battlefields, Cryses, and that specifically so I don’t experience what you are experiencing, Tassi.

    Now, the one genre I am having a crisis with is fighting games. I’ve always loved that genre so much, but recently, the idea of playing pvp on those is just….unpleasant. Part of this is other players’ shitty attitude and “cheap” tactics, some of it is the superhuman levels of skill that have become the norm in online play, and some of it is lazy developers who program AI to read inputs rather than making them behave like an actual opponents in singleplayer. I was shocked to find myself skipping out on DOA5 considering DOA4 was my favorite fighting game ever. I’ll probably pick it up when the price drops next year for the story mode, but I really have no desire to play fighting games competitively anymore.

  • banko

    Honestly, if you don’t play with a bunch of good friends online, its easy to get discouraged by the game. It is a hell of lot more fun killing your friends than snotty truant douchebags. Just make some friends with similar skill levels and try some different modes and guns while your at it. You sound like a guy who only plays team deathmatch with the assault rifle.

  • Andy

    Paul, you pretty much said exactly how I feel. As you get older, your priorities change.

    I’ve dumped a considerable amount of time into the multiplayer of Gears of War, Halo 3, Cod 4, Gears of War 2, World at War, MW2, Black Ops, and now Halo 4… but I’ve noticed that with each new game, I play less and less before I get tired of the same thing with a new coat of paint.

    It just gets old… or maybe it’s just me that’s getting old…

  • J5

    What’s kind of odd, for me, is ditching every new FPS for Counterstrike: GO on the 360.

    BF3 is probably one of my favorite FPS games ever and with the inclusion of the crossbow in this new DLC it’s gotten even better and yet, after 2 hours of playing I just can’t bring myself to get into any of it.

    Blops 2 is on the way and I’m assuming I’ll feel the same way. I remember picking up the original Black Ops one day, after plugging away an untold amount of hours into it and it just didn’t feel the same. I was just…. bored. Never was able to get back into it.

    Lately, my gameplay has consisted of a lot of single player games, with the exception being NHL 13 and Forza Horizon, which I play on my own, sometimes, but usually just play with friends. (Horizon is a must for anyone who likes racing games).

    Basically, I think the FPS is starting to die off, not first person games, mind you, but shoot ‘em ups are really starting to feel the same with a few random perks. I think that’s why a lot of other franchises aren’t getting the same love as CoD, Halo, BF, because everyone’s sticking to what they know, then by the time they’ve played 10-20+ hours of those FPS games they’re sick of the FPS style as a whole. Just a theory, really.

  • Nick

    I’m amazed it’s taken you this long to get bored of them. CoD4 was fine but the others… I didn’t buy them just played them at friends’ houses and found them so dull.

    I’d rather play something well balanced with a degree of tactics and teamwork. Thus, I still find myself going back to Counter Strike 1.6 and Day of Defeat 1.3.

  • Rob J

    Paul if you have a half decent pc you need to give Battlefield 3 and Planetside 2 a go.

    Battlefield is everything a modern FPS should be and far more and surprisingly EA don’t bring out another cash grabbing entry to the series every November.

    Planetside is a recently released free to play, mmo-fps that is absolutely fantastic. It’s also not pay to win which is excellent.

  • Waelsch

    I have HATED HATED HATED the leveling/unlocking system in multiplayer FPS games since it surfaced. Why does the guy who has already played a thousand hours get to use superior weapons and items? What if basketball players had to start out playing with no shoes until they scored 15,000 points and dunked the ball 25 times? Maybe hockey players have to use old dull skates, and a crappy stick until they won a stanley cup? It is a stupid system. Almost as stupid as the idea of kill streaks in the CoD games (oh you’re doing well? here have some free kills on top of that).

    I don’t think your fatigue comes from maturing or getting older. It comes from FPS games insisting on bringing in unnecessary elements from RPG’s (leveling system) that make you feel like you’re REQUIRED to play rather than to play casually.

  • Tim W.

    You can only grind through so much bullshit in games, until you realize this is pointless and our time on earth is limited. Do I really need that next level prestige or should I turn the video games off and go do anything else, like anything else at all. I never thought I’d get to the point in life where I realize that, say, getting your teeth cleaned would be more important and productive than sitting in your basement leveling up. I honestly thought I’d never see the day, I also stopped laughing so frequently at poop jokes recently. WHAT’S HAPPENING TO ME?!

  • Levi

    it took you 6 games to realize that cod “games” are just reskins with shittier maps? i saw my mistake in buying world at war. btw, LoL is just a shitty DotA ripoff.

  • JaiGuru

    You get to the end of matches? Black Ops 2 has probably the worst selection of maps I’ve ever seen in a shooter. I find myself constantly backing out of lobbies after just a month of game play because event he good maps are kind of shitty.

    I’m not really tired of multiplayer shooters. I’m tired of the race to the bottom most of these franchises have undertaken. Each iteration has more flash but less substance, and almost universally more mechanical problems. More and more, customers are being treated like beta testers for games that will never actually be fixed. That will NEVER be acceptable and I’m definitely considering the possibility that this industry has simply become too corrupt to foster the type of culture which brings out great depth of story, characterization and gameplay.

  • dakan45

    On singleplayer

    You know the last few years we been getting terrible singleplayer campaigns that just try to ripoff cod. Cod is linear to best tell the story, yet games with a crappy story that dont require tight restrictions for the various events to kick in, started to follow cod’s way of doing things just becasue cod is doing it and cod is sucessfull.

    Examples, compare bad company 1 sp with bc2 and bf3. Wtf happened?

    Also compare the 2 medal of honor games with black ops. So we got a borring story that take away control from you even when you got to fly a damn helicopter. While black ops allows you to do that.

    Infact medal of honor could not be completed if you droped your mg in a specific level and you had to restart the level, while cod would have provided a way to do it.

    So basicly what we see here is games being 100% scripted just because cod is doing it and not even manage to do it well and fail to do it for the sole reason that cod does it.

    We got stuck with bad fps campaigns over and over. Add homefront and syndicate to the list, hell darkness 2 was also liek that.

    Black ops 2 really changed things and hopefully more developers will follow its example…since cod is doing it, perhaps they will to do it. Thats what hey being going so far.

    The story in black ops 2 is actually quite good,unique, interesting nice ideas and characters you care about, also nonlinear.

    Now on multiplayer… bf3 is far far worse in those things you describe you gonna have to spend far more time in it and kill far far more enemies and still have a bazillion of accolades to unlock but you wont giving a damn.

  • Kaniner

    I’m only 21 and I’m tired of all these generic FPS games. As far as I have played every, almost every FPS game feels the same to me, with only a few minor variations on “point your reticle on someone and click.” I couldn’t play League of Legends because it was too grindy, but I play Dota 2 a lot and yeah, that game has a lot more strategy and a high skill curve and every game that you play is different from the last one.

    I have noticed that every game on my list of games I’m excited to see come out (with the exception of Smash Brothers 4) are all single player games. I still enjoy having a few multiplayer games to play with friends but I feel like the days of sitting around a TV with your friends in the Halo CE days is gone, and we’ve moved on to the “sitting alone” days, and I just don’t like that anymore…

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