I Hate First Person Shooters

We all loved it when Wolfenstein 3D came out, followed by Doom 2, finally allowing us to shoot people in 3 dimentions. Such a revolution in gaming has been followed by, well, it hasn’t been followed by anything but the same. The recent “revolutionary” releases of Doom 3, Half Life 2 and Halo 2 have shown us that not a goddam thing has changed in recent gaming except for graphics.

To illustrate my point, here’s an anecdote: Bear and I borrowed Hordak’s Xbox for a couple days just to play the original Halo. I thought to myself, “Oh, cool, with 2 players cooperating, sitting right next to each other, this could lead to really good teamplay.” This image was quickly shattered as the height of teamplay became Bear yelling “GRENADE!”, me fumbling with tunnel vision to find where on the ground he threw it and, a couple seconds later, taking the full blast from under my feet.

This is the frustrating thing about first person shooters, yet it brings up a more fundamental issue about video games and games in general. All games are designed to simulate something and make it “easier” than before. Now, the sense of “easier” here means alot of things, including less expensive, less dangerous, less tiring, quicker or just possible in the first place.

Consider sports for a second. These are physical games that simulate combat to some degree. Boxing, wrestling, rugby and football are more direct in that effect but even badminton and swimming involve physical competition with a declared loser, and losing symbolizes death. Sports as competition invoke physical aspects of parties and declares winners, usually without any necissary harm to anyone involved. This, less dangerous, is one sense of “easier” stated above.

Back to video games, they simulate taking on challenges that no one is ever up to. Shooting guns, flying planes or slaying dragons are all less expensive, easier and, in the case of the dragons, only possible in the first place through video games. Mario and Luigi can jump forward and land a few steps behind. The dude from Grand Theft Auto can steal cars with the press of a button and the player at home really doesn’t get arrested. That’s not to say that everything in a video game is easier than anything in life. It’s that the parallels should be easier. Here’s a checklist for first person shooters and how they compare to real life.

  • Shooting a gun = easier, less expensive, less dangerous
  • Movement = quicker, easier, less tiring
  • Being on a space station, fighting aliens = only possible through games
  • The ability to glance down at your feet, taking in 180 degree peripheral vision = COMPLETELY NON-EXISTANT

This is exactly what’s wrong with first person shooters. Until this is seriously addressed, there will be no more “revolutionizing” of first person shooters, unless you’re the kind that counts graphical facelifts.

49 thoughts on “I Hate First Person Shooters

  1. Dick, love the pic of the fighter with ‘boxed in head’. This is exactly how I feel about first person games, they’re awful and yet how many are there? Hundreds…frustrating! I have friends that are hardcore Ghost Recon gamers. Off to fight the war… don’t forget your head box…grrr. Whose’s behind me? Hold on give me 5 seconds to turn around…ahh! Boycott first person games!

  2. Thank God! YES. Someone else shares my hatred of this crummy genre. First Person Shooters Suck! If you’re going to go to the trouble of programming a game….then let me see my digital body. I hate the tunnel vision syndrome. The older Metroid games are among my favorites, but when the went to FPS, I quit buying. There’s nothing quite like getting blasted from behind and never seeing it coming.

  3. I completely agree. I can’t stand FPS’ers. I honestly hate them. I only buy games where I can see my complete character head-to-toe on the screen.

  4. This is sad… you are all really sad… You bitch about tunnel vision, but its tried, and people tolerate it.

  5. What I find more sad… really sad… is that you bitch about people bitching. But bitching has been tried and people tolerate it.

    Oh, schnap! Did I just start Protozoic’s first flame war? 🙂

  6. Morgan: Are you Morgan Webb from G4 Tech TV?

    If so: Please choke on a dick.

    If not: Please choke on a dick.

  7. I completely agree with you, Dick. But I have to add something to your list.

    What I can’t stand about FPS-games are the weapons. They’re always a close combat-weapon, a handgun, a shotgun, a machine gun, something explosive, or a combination between two or more of the mentioned. Shotgun + machine gun = Jackhammer something explosive + machine gun = grenade launcher there really are just 5 different weapons, no matter how you look at it

  8. You’re right. I guess when it’s all point and click, you’re really left with only a few ways to do things.

    Also, have you noticed how, no matter how advanced civilization gets, the shotgun or it’s equivalent is always the best all-around weapon? Make that a Jackhammer and you’ve got the best weapon of all time.

  9. its a video game its not real life. all you people just want to cast spells and make it to level 23 dungon master. i like the comments about getting shot in the back and not being able to see it. who can see behind them you fools?

  10. You’re right, Dick. When you play an FPS-game, you’re really just struggling your way to a shotgun or a jackhammer, all other weapons are inferior. From there, the game is just a cake walk

    other combinations of weapons that don’t really make a difference: scope + handgun (damage-wise) = long-ranged rifle close combat weapon + machine gun = chainsaw close combat weapon + shotgun = baseball bat/lead pipe/brass knuckles

    Does anyone out there know of a weapon that does not go under any of my previous mentioned categories? I know many will think of such weapons as Turok’s cerebral drill, but that is really not much more than a fancy shotgun with a little better accuracy. And mind-control devices doesn’t really count as weapons to me, that is really just changing the playable character.

  11. illkillu:

    I’m guessing you’ll probably never read this given the month that’s elapsed since your post, but:

    Who can see behind them?

    Well, fools like me can see most of the way behind us when we turn our necks far enough. By contrast a first person shooter typically treats all characters as if they wore a neck brace perpetually keeping their head aligned straight ahead.

    But more poignantly: Even when I can’t see behind me in real life I can often hear things behind me and tell that something is going on back there. It’s possible that some videogames go to that level of sonic detail, but unless you have surround sound in your home it’s unlikely you’ll notice the trouble they went to so their effort is wasted.

    One of the reasons I like third person shooters is they give you at least a little awareness of what’s behind you (and your own body position!) even if it’s not supplied through the same channels as in real life.

    I’m still waiting for the elusive second person shooter to come out though: That rare game where the protagonist is always viewed from their victim’s perspective.

  12. RE4 doesn’t quite fit the normal bill of the first person shooter. It’s actually third person and only gets to be slightly first person with that over-the-shoulder view that locks onto the enemy. While more automatic and less interactive, at least you avoid backing up off of a ledge while trying to shoot the zombies.

    Some games are designed to be only slightly first person, especially the more tactical ones like Socom. You can see attempts by studios to break away from the problems I’ve outlined. Games like Socom and RE are good examples of this.

  13. Regarding the gun thing:

    Isn’t there a “gravity gun” in some first person shooter. Thing that lets you pick up stuff around you and toss it or bludgeon enemies with it?

  14. Peter, Half Life 2 features a gravity gun. Some originality there, but to me it doesn’t qualify for a gun any more than a fork lift. I mean, anyone can pick up something and throw it at someone, why use a gun to do that? that’s just plain lazy

  15. ALL YOU GUYZ ARE MISSING THE GODDAMN POINT OF THE GAME world its supposed to be a book almost taking you far away from you are now (ahem) like world of warcraft all you do is run around and cast spellz and hit things (npc)(mobs)(otherplayers)with swords and stuff but it is still addicting becuz yiu travel and meet new ppl around the world and see new things and you get to be things you fantaseid about when you were 8 or 10 and it fills the empty ness that you missed in your younger ages when you would run around with a towel around your neck and a box on your head and casting and killing evil monsters what im tryin to say is that video games are meant to be enjoyed through and through and if you dont like then why the FUCK did you play it read the back of the game first before you play it instead of being a little dick ass and complaing about the game !

    thank you and not meant to be mean ^^

  16. Eloquently put Chux.

    Thanks to your words I now see the light: Why criticize any medium?

    Or why even buy the any product in the first place if there’s some chance you might not love everything about it?

  17. Graphic interfaces are the point to what people don’t like about gameplay in first person shooters not just the game. If the game developers would just add the options of either first or third person then people would be happy. In world of warcraft you run around doing basically the same boring stuff but you can either distance th.e camera to a extreme third person view or extreme in close first person view.

  18. Finally someone who agrees with me! I can’t stand first-person shooter games! All the turning around gives me a headache, which is extremely annoying. No worries in a 3rd person shooter game. More games like MGS4 please.

  19. The same point is similar in racing games as well. In real life, behind the wheel, you can “feel” your car as it rolls diving into a sharp corner, feel it hook, and power through. If your going a bit too fast you feel the rear end lose grip and begin to slide…and you adjust the throttle accordingly. I can’t stand having the road, a gun or anything else i’m seeing on the screen “shoved” in my face. At least most racing games give you the option…everybody plays a bit different…i’m no exception. I have to see the rear end of my car…if not i’m finding a wall or facing on coming traffic more often than not. Any other game…i won’t buy it unless it’s in third person or at least has the option to change it. I have to agree whole heartedly…wolfenstein, doom and duke nukem were awesome when they came out…but i was under the impression that first person was, for lack of a better term, “old technology”??? Understandably, when they first came out, the game probably wouldn’t have been able to handle a third person view. Halo and the like, (Medal of honor) would be pretty cool if there were and option to change the view. I could really see myself getting iinto a third person halo game…The picture of the boxhead is exactly how i feel as well. I’m sure there are ways to speed up the cursor movement in game…making the ability to swing around a bit faster…but i would still feel boxed in. Not to mention you would have to relearn to aim all over again, fighting an overcompensating cursor. In any case…most of what i just wrote has been said plenty of times already…it just would be nice to be able to “see” wtf is going on around me.

  20. Which is why Comrade Miklos likes hex-and-counter manual games. Enables one to kick kryzgatzis out of facist oppressors!

  21. What the gaming Industry will probably never be able to imitate is the complete visual versatilty of a human being through first person, and what we see in video games that use fps is essentially a bunch of a bunch of people with paralysis from the shoulders up trying to kill each other. A perfect visual representation is batman: the dark knight. Remember how he asked for a more flexible headpeice after being screwed over by a bunch of dogs? That’s every fps, and that i believe today’s fps will never change, there simply is no possible way to comfortably try to improve visability (try giving an analogue stickfor each visually impacting body part and you’ll see what I mean)

    tps have been thought to be an fps with an obstruction ( the character) but is entirely untrue: the camera in tps’s give the closest thing to a peripheral vision than you’ll ever get for a loong time, and you knowwhat? I’m fine with that. The really good tps have a variety of angles that changes per situation, And includes a first person veiw for snipers and such. The fps is more like selling the gas without a car nuff said

  22. I hate fps games too. I played UT, f.e.a.r., metro 2033 and a lot of fps but i always fall asleep after 10 minutes…..while tps even as crappy as Gunz: the Duel are really nice. What i like about tps games is the freedom of movements (in fps games you cant dash or even ROLL wherever you want that’s why i miss UT) and fast paced gameplay and i’ ve always dreamt about a fusion between hack n slash and tps genres. Stuff like Gunz the Duel or Vanquish to be clear. Gunz is still more frantic than Vanquish…..but i hope i’ll get something better than Vanquish in the future. And f2p…like Hessian or Dizzel. Or Vindictus.

  23. This is doesn’t have much to do with my original point, but it shows just how dumb the genre has become.


    Spoiler: Some guy plays through a mission in a shiny new piece of shit called Call of Duty: Black Ops without actually interacting with his surroundings (i.e. firing his gun). His AI squad mates do all of the work and he just follows along. Oh, apparently this is on the “Hardened” difficulty setting, which, I’m assuming, means it’s supposed to be harder than the average attempt. You’re better off just playing Pokemon Snap.

  24. Actually dumb AI concernes all single player games. There are two issues to consider: 1) Gamers must win and if you want your game to please a great audience the AI mustn’t be smart 2) Single player games are getting easier and easier every year. This second issue is also due to pad responsiveness , ’cause you can’t play fast paced games (fps game look dumb from third person point of view) with a pad unless you dumb down the game with something like: slow-motion, tps cover system, semi-immortal main character, unable-to-aim AI, or even 0 gravity (in short, anything that gives you time to pad users to aim). In the end the only hard games are the online ones, and since 2008 there are a lot of f2p online games coming out from korea/chine/japan like: Vindictus, Hessian, Dizzel, Batte Territory BATTERY…..or whatever you can find on steparu’s youtube channel. About the first person point of view again…it’s cool because you can see thing from near. But that’s it. It’s not more challenging as you can see from what devs do to single player games. Also you can’t do much from first person point of view but shooting, melee fights suck and gun’s animation take 1/4 of the screen. Sure Mirror’s Edge is cool and all but it’s linear as a on rail game. Third person hack n slash/shooters can give you more. Like Vanquish, Gunz the Duel, Max Payne games (except 3), Spec Ops: the line….. Also about controllability: pads and k&m are like different languages. The best you can do with pads is side-walking to avoid shoots, what you can do with k&m is like playing Vanquish turbo mode without slowmotion and cover system. I mean: you get full responsiveness based on your own reflexes. It can be amazing.

  25. uh…for some unknown reason my previous reply hasn’t been published… @dick All games have dumb AI. There are two concepts concerning AI:1) players must beat the game and they don’t feel like having headaches, so the Ai will be always dumb 2) Single Player games are getting easier and easier every year. In the end online games are the only hard games out there. Anyway all stuff like slowmotion, cover system,immortal main character, unabletoaim AI is meant to give pads time to aim. And about first person point of view again, looking near things is cool. But that’s it. Fps games are not more challenging as people think. They are just the easiest to control. You can’t do much but shooting and jumping while in mixed genres like Vanquish and Gunz the duel or tps games like max payne (except the third one) you can do allot. Third person view is not like watching a movie: if the game has good controls, you can feel your physical presence in the game. You can feel it even more if you play with keyboard and mouse, because they are more responsive to your own reflexes.

  26. Yeah, it’ll be a long time before AI allies don’t have to be either invincible or expendable. What gets me is how publishers can spend a million bucks on a game and forget about the importance of gameplay.

  27. Well there are more people that can’t beat the first levels than gamers. Also there are some factors that force your immersion in the game such as sound, predictable actions etc. They just have to lead the player into immersion and make bots act in a certain way, but in the end the player must win. You saw that in the vid you linked: the screen covers of blood, someone is shouting devil language, you hear explosion and gunshot everywhere. Then you see someone is pointing a gun to you, both you and your enemy start shooting at the same time but he can’t im and you win. Most of the times mobs even wait for you to aim: they just shoot you from behind and wait for you turn and point your gun. It’s a way to get your attention and give you the direction. As many other things that make the game something closer to a on-rail game. Also i think (yea, personal opinion after reading a lot of news) that after 2008 many software houses are trying to enstablish a market in chine and korea. After a meeting of mmo devs in 2008, mmos went for the free to play way and also took what people liked from popular single player games….for obvious reasons: they give the same game for free, how to say no? So, in response, console games point more on spectacular games or graphic design (not graphics. Design. graphic design belongs to graphic but doesn’t mean quality). Look at Vanquish: it’s a PC game. But on console, to play such a fast paced game you need a cover system and slowmo. Ofc they are accepted: cover system makes sense so people won’t care much about it, slowmotion is amazing. But they are just meant to make the game easier. Just look at the cover system: it lets you see what’s behind your wall. wtf?

    btw, give a look to psychologyofvideogames.com

  28. Great site. I’ve subbed to the RSS of it now.

    The divide between console and desktop is funny, because I’ve always believed that the line between home computer and gaming system was going to get blurred really soon. It seems like every game needs to come out with different modes on every system depending on what kind of gamer you are. I’m not even talking about difficulty settings so much as styles of play, like arcade versus versus something more cerebral. Actually, Fallout: New Vegas has taken a step in that direction, with the Hardcore mode, which turns the realism up a ton (have to worry about dehydration, starvation, healing over time, etc.).

  29. good to know. But i think i’ll wait for what f2p devs can offer. Right know there a a lot of “clones”, i mean a lot of f2p games “inspired” by popular single player games. There are gears of war clones (Hessian, Dizzel), UT3 (Huxley), dmc (Vindictus and a lot of hack n slash-based mmorpgs). I know im repeating myself, but steparu’s youtube channel has something new every month and i’m waiting for a game with the appeal of second life and action games in general. Like some sort of matrix if you get what i mean. I saw some hope in The Crossing and The Secret World, but in the end i was disappointed. Also i’m waiting for games meant for PC. Dragon Nest has a nice gameplay, but cartoony characters put me off.


    Somehow the future looks promising despite what media say about pc gaming and all

  30. You’re right. Lack of self awareness is also one of the problems with first person perspective. There is a problem when you can see your feet and can’t see your boundaries. Instead, you became a presence that floats 2 meters above the ground. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, I would argue that having a third person perspective is more immersive because of this better sense of self.

  31. I’m quoting (and correcting a little) something i’ ve read in the official deus ex forum:

    [quote]Just to point something out: 1st person is not “more immersive” than 3rd person. Immersive is what a movie, a book can be. It means having a detailed world you can interact with, a plot, a character acting because of some reason.

    I ‘ll try to make it as simple as possible…

    Tpp is “immersive” because we are programmed to learn from others. What defines ourself comes from experience which is built over infos coming from outside. For example babies cry at first and only after some time they learn to laugh, to walk and so on. Our mind, acting as a “program”, creates a mental representation of ourselves and simulates actions which will happen in the future from a 3rd person perspective of our body-“tool”. Too put it simply…imagine (which is different from thinking) your body, and you’ll create it and look at it from a 3rd person perspective. Imagine yourselves running somewhere and you will see yourselves running from a 3pp, but not only: you’ll also create the feelings, sense, emotions you are going through the action. That’s how emotions are driven from movies to spectators by the spectators themselves. Each takes suggest a simulation…well, most of them.

    Back to games now. The difference between movies and games is the creation of a spatial presence into the videogame. So how 1st person cannot be considered immersive? The word fps gamers are looking for is “realistic”. There’s no immersion in any character because you are the character. The reason why fpp is so appealing is because of something close to what you’d call guilty pleasure- “I AM doing this”.This should suggest you why fpp works with the killer approaching the shower, for example. Or snuffs. Or why there are so many fp-shooters and not so many fp-anything. And due to the low FOV it works in the dark and therefore horror movies and games for more reasons. Tho the feeling of realism is easy to spoil and most of the times you can’t get what’s going on when the camera just shakes because you are doing something as simple as running (one more reason because fpp needs to be a camera sliding on the soap).[/quote]

    I see the rage from Eidos Forums reached this place:D and looks like we can’t enjoy good tps games because of pads, all tps’s are cover based which makes them closer to fps games. Nvm, free to play games like firefall (ugh) or metal rage are still on PC. I posted this because i wanted you to realize how our spatial presence differs from a floating camera. Btw i’ ll give a look to all games posted above, bb!

  32. The only thing that will ever eliminate this issue is the use of VR headsets. Unfortunately, it seems we’re still some time away from it becoming a pragmatic option due to cost vs. resolution, general hardware compatibility per system, etc.

    Personally, I’ve grown extremely tired and bored of FPSs. It’s the same thing over and over again but only with different characters (usually a protagonist, antagonist, and mortar characters between points ‘A’ and ‘B’). Passe…

    Bring me back some 2D games like Super Metroid, Zelda(s), etc. These were the golden days!

  33. I can’t stand FPS games anymore. While everyone does hate the Wii, you can’t deny that Nintendo actually tries to make something innovative and interesting, instead of “FPS #8979”.

    The only thing that makes me lean towards consoles these days are how the PC market is saturated with the same things: FPS, RTS and MMORPGs. While in consoles you can have a break and play the occasional fighting game and hack-slash action beat ’em up (and platformers. Can’t believe I’m missing them). It’s like, in PC, whenever a cool game is announced, it’s going to be one of the genres mentioned above.

    I also hate how PC gamers are so elitists these days. “We haz the bettar grafix” means nothing if they can’t be put in anything interesting. I don’t want to see a gun so real I can smell it. I want to be impressed by the gameplay and gripping action. Still haven’t seen a PC exclusive that could offer that.

  34. I also can’t stand fps games. I love the guns, and shooting, but as soon as you are required to move around a bit, that’s when the gameplay experience gets sickeningly horrible.

    I like the box over the head analogy: it does feel like severe tunnel vision. This tunnel vision gets sickeningly frustrating when my character needs to walk up some stairs, walk back down, look for a green door, go into room with the green door, look for an object in the room, wait 5 seconds for the tunnel vision to look at the objects on a table, the object we need is not there, so we now need to look up, down, all around this room frustrating the hell out of me, none of this frustration would be happening in real life, but in the game, it’s such an awkward process just to look at the ground. In real life, I can see the ground without waiting 5 seconds for my whole head to bend all the way down. But in first person shooters, every time I kill someone, I need to walk over to their collapsed body. Wait 5 seconds for my tunnel vision head to scan the ground and analyse the available weapons that the dead guy dropped, then do this for each person I kill.

    I remember playing the “The Club” a while ago, which is actually a third person shooter where the camera is zoomed in close behind your character. I had a feeling that someone was shooting at me. I could see my health was being depleted. So, I decided to go into the long frustrating process of looking up at the buildings to see if I was being sniped from a window sniper. I looked all around. I looked to my right. And, to my surprise, when I looked to my left at ground level, I saw an enemy guy standing only about 5 feet away just casually standing there shooting at me.

    In general, I would say that third person shooters are more realist that first person. This is because in real life, you don’t even need to be looking behind yourself to know if someone is sneaking up on you. Also, in real life, you always know the physical relation between your body and the ground.

    These days, I hardly play shooters. I mostly get my gunplay fix via combat flight simulators, which don’t suffer so much by low FOV. These games have no stairs to climb. There are no guns left on the ground to wait 5 seconds for my tunnel vision to analyse. Then wait 5 seconds for my character’s feet to position directly over my desired gun. Then wait another 5 seconds for my head to look up again and find the location of the person shooting at me.

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