As many of us know “tactical” class based shooters have been king for the past several years now and arguably for the last decade. It is possible for this trend to change and go back to a more classic style or perhaps evolve into a new type of shooter. Games like Call of Duty and Battlefield have influenced other shooters much like minecraft has influenced survival and building games in that you see things get seemingly copied and pasted around the board. This trend leaves some gamers weary of the system and want to see things in a more classic or “balanced” light.
The issue with class based games is that they become a balancing act to maintain. It is incredibly difficult and requires constant attention from developers to keep games where players can spawn with unique items fair and on equal ground between them. Games like CounterStrike where there is a solid progression between 2 factions that later switch sides anyways requires less work to balance. CounterStrike developers also live off of pro player feedback which is something not seen very often in the industry, but should perhaps be more considered.
The main advantages of tactical class based shooters is that they: often have a small learning curve, provide unique gameplay combinations, and contribute to unique playstyles. The learning curve can be an issue on the other hand because there is nothing more frustrating to an experienced player than being defeated by a run of the mill n00b because the game permits combinations that are near effortless.
Due to the natural frustrations that come with an uneven playing field at the very start of a match the most likely type of shooter to replace the class based system is the simple Arena Shooter. Arena shooters are games where all players have the same conditions at start with no abilities or weapons any different than other players. Games like this are: Halo 1-3, Gears of War 1, Quake, Unreal Tournament and Shoot Mania Storm. The real advantage of these is that players must rely entirely on aim, movement, and strategy. Players cannot try to “out class” or use situations that often rely on luck or an unavoidable advantage that comes with classes.
It is no guarantee that Arena shooters will once again be dominant, but for the sake of competitive gaming it is likely in the best interest that they are at least attempted on a mass scale. Many people have grown up with Call of Duty now and are more than likely bored or uninterested with games that don’t offer vastly different play styles, perks, and equipment for experimentation. Shoot Mania Storm was looking to bring back arena shooters, but failed due to the seeming bored audience, low number of players, and almost non-existent advertising. However, if taken up by a crew with enough funding and bright ideas a new IP for an arena shooter could be just around the corner. Maybe one day we can find a shooter that has it all: Skill requirement, beauty, longevity, developer support, map creation, aesthetic customization, competitive, spectating, large player base and so on. The best type of developer support and customization comes to PC because of the simplistic and straight forward nature of it. With that being said will the next wave of big shooters start on PC or will we be stuck in the class based age forever?