Riddle me this, first person shooter fans: why are we stuck in the future?
Now I get it, I am not the premiere FPS player as I am not a big multiplayer gamer--I play FPS's primarily for the campaign, and then I might dabble with the multiplayer for a couple of hours while I am waiting for whatever I am going to play next to download, and this definitely puts me in the minority of people who play FPS's, but that does not mean that I (and people like me) should be completely ignored.
There was a time when all shooters were set in the past, primarily World War 2, and the occasional game wandering into different territory, including a few remarkably enjoyable forays into Vietnam (The ridiculously hard, fear inducing Conflict: Vietnam on PS2 immediately coming to mind), but by and large, every FPS was set in the past, and it was getting tiresome. History fatigue if you will, and then Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reared its' head and all of a sudden, we were removed from the past and thrust into the present, and quickly into 'Future Warfare'.
And I see why, Halo remains one of the most popular and talked about games of recent memory, and there is an appetite in multiplayer shooter circles to have up-tempo, twitchy game play which emphasizes speed as a part of its skill--it is hard to compare the 'speed' possible by a period accurate WW2 infantryman storming the beaches at Normandy to that of a future soldier in a mechanized war-suit that has little rockets in it.
Look, I cannot argue against the merits of pocket rockets (what?), however why can there not be an historical FPS for those of us who miss them? With the disappearance of the Medal of Honor franchise (with their attempt to move into modern/future warfare which we shall not speak of), and the vanishing of the middle-tier of publishers, Call of Duty is the premiere when it comes to pure FPS game play. There is a new CoD released every year, and yet we have not seen anything set even close to in history since the first Black Ops in 2010, where my faceless soldier Mason got to drive a riverboat while listening to 'Sympathy for the Devil' in Vietnam.
It was the great: it was a perfect demonstration of what (I had hoped) would be something that at least part of the Call of Duty development team would push toward: telling historical stories from different eras, with the music, weapons, etc. of the period.
Instead we keep getting modern games, even Black Ops II was split between set pieces in the Cold War, and then sections set in 2025....which...is just....great. Sure, they were trying something different, but it is not particularly the past; it's still massive future set pieces.
I can also say that I see the appeal in being able to write about things that have not happened (Nuclear Winter America? Sure, let's see what's up), but that is essentially every other game there is. Wolfenstein: New Order gives us some fun alternate history, Far Cry is crazy, small scale revolutionary warfare (where I can inspire elephants to trample dudes), Destiny is the rpg-fps of choice at the moment, which is entirely futuristic...At present, I am going through Borderlands: The Handsome Collection on PS4, which has been a good time, a FPS with RPG elements set on a crazy Mad Max style wild west planet? Sure! It is delivering exactly what I was looking for: loot grinding, ridiculously over the top bad guys/characters/guns and that is a good time, but I did not come into Borderlands expecting a World at War style FPS. I can play crazy premises everywhere else, why can I not get a little bit of history somewhere--and somewhere where it has already been proven to work.
So, First Person Shooters, and specifically CoD: Give me (and the people like me, I know you are out there) one studio, one game every three years that is set in the past; let a studio (or find a studio) who is willing to try some historical shooters again. World War 2 FPS games have been left alone for years, and I'm sure that I am not the only one who would go out and buy a new Big Red One or Call of Duty 2. It does not have to be World War 2; Vietnam? Cold War like Black Ops? (where you can globe trot a bit, or focus in on places like Nicaragua, Afghanistan (the first time), Columbia? Cuba?)
A PS4/X1 quality version of the push from D-Day to Berlin? That now sounds completely fresh and original, and something that might get me interested in buying a Call of Duty game again.
Of course maybe I am just crazy, and will totally invalidate my argument by playing the crap out of Star Wars: Battlefront when it comes out...except that happened in the past too (long time ago, galaxy far...)
Let me know what you think in the comments below.