There’s no denying that FPS games are currently the king of all video games. Games like Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Team Fortress 2 dominate all consoles and PCs. Where did these games originate from and why are they so successful in today’s market? Interestingly enough, most of these games are connected in one way or another. From DOOM to Gears of War, today we will look at how these games came to be and how they cleared the path for modern franchises.
Before the term first person shooter even existed, most shooters were called DOOM clones. If it wasn’t for DOOM the FPS market may have never been what it is today. Due to its high level of violence, it is considered one of the most controversial games of all time and has even been blamed for school shootings. The video game market has been shaped by DOOM more than we can imagine, even if it may have started the violent video game debut. Games like Call of Duty, Counter Strike, and every AAA shooter can trace their lineage to DOOM.
No enemies, No time limit, No violence, and No dying. The exact opposite of DOOM released in 1993 aswell. Players are put on to a mysterious island with no backstory and no objectives. The player must beat the game simply by exploring the island. The game revolutionized the market by completely throwing out the stereotypical task of following a linear path. Games like Bioshock, Skyrim, and GTA all owe their gameplay to Myst.
Vertical aiming and freelook may be standard in every shooter now, but Bungie started the trend almost 20 years ago with its Macintosh based Marathon. The game also added multiple multiplayer game modes still standard, in many games, to this day. Gamemodes, like King of the Hill and CO-OP, all started as gamemodes on Marathon. Marathon may be best remembered as the game that brought friendly NPC’s and storytelling to its campaign. Often overlooked by modern gamers, Marathon had a significant impact on the market.
It may have been DOOM that set off the FPS explosion, but Quake made sure it was here to stay. The game featured full 3D environments and enemies, unheard of at the time. It also led to the first known Machinma and brought popularity to the term. The rise of player clans and LAN parties, which eventually led to QuakeCon, is still an essential part of FPS community to this day. The use of 3D graphics also pioneered the use of a video card and practically kickstarted the entire GPU market. Quake may be the most important game on this list and the effect it had on the market should not be overlooked. Quake led to another influential game, which we will discuss later.
GoldenEye 007 (1997)
Rare’s Goldeneye 007 brought the joy of FPS titles to consoles. It featured the ability to play against other players using multiple Nintendo 64 controllers, which led to Goldeneye being the first shooter to truly succeed on a console. If Goldeneye had failed we may not have seen the rise of major franchises like Call of Duty or even Halo. Goldeneye was also the first FPS to feature a zoomable sniper rifle and put stealth elements into FPS games.
Half Life (1998)
Building off of Quake’s success, Valve used a heavily modified Quake engine to develop Half Life. When it came out in 1998, nobody expected Valve’s Half Life to become what it has. Half Life featured a strong plot and had no cutscenes. Instead of cut scenes, Half Life incorporated having constant action by always being in first person. Before Half Life, games usually had a weak narrative and crappy level design. Half Life revolutionized how games told stories and how levels are designed. Half Life didn’t just revolutionize how stories were told. The game led to the creation of the most influential competitive military shooter, Counter Strike. Originally released as a mod in 1999, the game led to a huge rise in multiplayer shooters and started one of the largest pro scenes in video game history.
Goldeneye started the console shooter craze and Halo made sure it was here to stay. Originally revealed as a RTS title in 1999, Microsoft acquired Bungie in 2000 and turned Halo into a FPS. The game became a huge success and led to multiple, all successful, sequels. The game also led to the Xbox’s success and became one of the most celebrated shooters of all time. Without the success of Halo, Microsoft may have pulled out of the console industry all together. While Halo may not have revolutionized the FPS, its success led to the current console wars and the success of Microsoft as a console developer.
Call of Duty 4 (2007)
So what started this whole Call of Duty craze? Call of Duty 4 did. When it originally released in 2007, the game was praised for its gripping campaign and breakthrough multiplayer mode. Before Call of Duty came out, no FPS had a system of unlocking various guns, perks, and equipment. Players were addicted to the idea of constantly receiving awards for playing Call of Duty. Rewarding players for playing didn’t stop there. The game started the current obsession with killstreaks. Getting multiple killstreaks in a row awarded the player with either a UAV, airstrike, or helicopter. Call of Duty has lead the FPS to become the dominant player in the current generation of consoles, it may even spill over to next generation. No FPS has since rivaled Call of Duty’s success. Battlefield has scratched the surface, but hasn’t come anywhere close to defeating the giant that is Call of Duty.