In the preceding months of the launch of the remake of the behemoth classic, Star Wars Battlefront, I was ecstatic. That is until the April 17 IGN report from the developer DICE that there would be no traditional narrative driven campaign. What that did was finally confirm my worst fears; that this would just be a Battlefield reskin of the beloved game from my childhood. However, this just reveals the tip of a rapidly developing problem that seems to be creeping into more and more shooters these days.
The death of campaign.
When considering the last 5 or 6 big AAA shooter releases, i.e Destiny, Rainbow Six Seige, SW: Battlefront, Halo 5, and Evolve, it becomes startlingly apparent that the emphasis is being removed from the gamers who play the game for the story. The shift is moving to the multiplayer components and the reason this is being done is because games are costing more and more to make and the only way to earn residual income on these games are things like REQ packs on Halo, DLC on Destiny, and different map packs on games like Call of Duty and Battlefront.
Here’s the thing: I don’t have a problem with a game developer doing what they need to do to make the money back on their game. What most concerns me is when they ignore the story-driven players entirely.
The most concerning thing is games like Destiny, Siege, and Evolve where campaigns either didn’t exist or might as well have not have. *cough* Destiny *cough*.
“Well no there is no single player campaign, but you can use the AI to practice!” says Evolve Creative Director Phil Robb in a 2014 Gamescom interview with IGN.
"It's a pretty good training ground," Scott Mitchell, Art Director of Rainbow Six Siege says about their single player experience, "and on top of that you're unlocking the same content as you would playing in PvP."
Senior Producer behind Star Wars Battlefront Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir admitted in an interview with Gamespot, “As we concepted the game and thought about the legacy of the previous Battlefront games–they didn’t really have campaigns, they’ve always been predominately a multiplayer franchise. That’s what we wanted to do,” she explained. “We wanted to focus on the multiplayer.”
Now I don’t know what generation these people in the gaming industry grew up in, but when I was growing up the most memorable experiences I ever had as a shooter fan were games like the first three Call of Duty, the original Star Wars Battlefronts 1 and 2, and Goldeneye. All of these being games where you were immersed in massive set pieces with compelling characters like, Normandy, Endor/the Cloud City, and James Bond in his universe. While when looking at the more recent shooters like the games mentioned above, you alter what angle I’m looking at a map from, and I can’t tell the difference between a Star Wars map (Hoth and that hanger where the Falcon is notwithstanding) and one of the generic Evolve or Destiny maps.
This is why a narrative is so important, is to give life to the landscape and characters of these games. Because without these things, they’ll find more and more gamers of this opinion spending their hard-earned dollars elsewhere.