Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.

First-Person Shooter: balance

Posted by Michael Dickens on August 17, 2008

All first person shooters (FPS) have the same few types of guns. But really, there are not that many ways to make a gun. I think there are 3 basic categories, with a total of 7 aspects. In the time category, the aspect are reload time, projectile movement speed, and firing rate. In the damage category, there is overall damage output and explosiveness (does the damage spread?). In the accuracy category, there is accuracy and range. The way I see it, there are four basic weapons.

1. There’s a short to mid range, low to medium damage weapon. That’s either a pistol or an assault rifle. Usually an assault rifle has more damage and less accuracy.
2. There’s a short range, very powerful weapon. That’s a shotgun or a flamethrower. The difference between those two is time. Usually the flamethrower does more damage overall, but reloads slower and is also harder to use.
3. A medium range, powerful explosive weapon. That’s a rocket launcher or grenades. Grenades are generally less powerful.
4. A long range, slow firing weapon. That’s a sniper rifle.

Those four weapons cover the entire spectrum of weapons, and most games have those four. Of the three FPSs I’ve played (Gears of War, Marathon, Halo) they all had those four. They all have both a pistol and an assault rifle, but only in Halo is it a prominent weapon; in the other two, it’s a backup weapon that you shouldn’t be using most of the time. Marathon and Halo have a shotgun and a flamethrower, but in Marathon the shotgun is surprisingly accurate. Marathon lacks any very accurate weapons, but has some pretty accurate ones. All three have a rocket launcher and grenades, but they’re used differently. In Marathon, grenades are a secondary weapon to the assault rifle, and are fairly common. In Halo they are fairly rare, and can be thrown no matter what gun you’re holding. In Gears of War, grenades are very rare, but powerful, and are their own weapon.

Despite only needing the four, games tend to throw in a bunch of others. Sometimes they have special traits. In Halo, weapons that you get from the aliens are good against the aliens. One of the weapons, the plasma rifle, is just like the assault rifle; another, the plasma pistol, is pretty weak, but can fire a powerful bolt of plasma. It also has a needler, which shoots little needles that are a little bit guided. In addition, if a whole bunch of needles hit someone, they explode for extra damage. Of these weapons, only the plasma pistol really adds anything to the arsenal of weapons. In multiplayer, no one ever uses the needler or plasma rifle; the only time to use them is when battling aliens, because there is lots of ammo for them.

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