FPS Games - do they need a story?

So, you play a guy, and he shoots lots of things. Does this really need a plot and good dialogue, or does it just need lots of good things to kill? Doesn’t a storyline just seem superfluous when you are shooting hundreds of bad guys? Would Commando be a better movie if only it had a plot and good dialogue?

I agree with what you wrote. In fact, I’d be a happy camper if no games anywhere had story, ever.

I think there’s a middle ground where some games should have story and some shouldn’t. But in general, the story should be there to support the game and not vice versa.


Well, Commando wasn’t a good movie. It had some good one-liners but I’d hardly place it in the top 100. I think story helps elevate the game out of just run and gun. If I want run and gun I play Serious Sam, but seeing as how I rarely want that I think story helps a lot. It shouldn’t be more important than gameplay, but an integral part of it. It’s the wallpaper that makes the room stand out.

I don’t really need an overarching plot line. I don’t mind a bit of a scenario for the map I’m currently blasting away within.

I think that Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and ET became all my all-time favorite FPS multiplayer games, because of the class based charaqcters and the mission objectives that often had multiple stages. But as long as I know, “kill or sneakk past all these guys so you can blow the gate to advance”, well that’s about enough story, :)

Lack of Story is what makes the original Doom what it is.

Story is what Halo could have used 20% less of.


However, when they do have a story, they need cutscenes I can skip.

Games just need better stories delivered more with more creativity. Enough non-interactive cutscenes; let me be a part of the story, not a passive observer.

Half-Life got this right, and its storytelling technique is the only thing no one ripped off.

I think any game in any genre can use the right story elements. Of course I am a huge believer in story but I realize that’s simply not what many gamers are looking for. I’ll personally take NOLF over Quake 3 or Unreal Tournament any day of the week. I have absolutely no desire to run around and shoot mindless AI critters with no real context for my actions. Of course i am referring to single player and not multi-player.

NOLF wasn’t bad. Half-life was perfect with the stark story line.

That is the other thing I really hated about Doom 3. Zero actual need for a story, yet i have to listen to the fucking boring “talking keys” to get everything i needed out of the game. Instead of the story furthing the plot, it just forced breaks in the action.

Instead of the story furthing the plot, it just forced breaks in the action.

Story as a commercial break. A.k.a. “We hired a writer, so we’re damn well going to make sure we pad our gameplay with the crap we paid him to do.”

Of course, plenty of games other than Doom 3 are guilty of this.


I guess the thing for me is that I need context for my actions in games… I don’t feel that story should be instrusive or even necessary in order to play the game. As a developer one should provide the player with enough hints and clues in a quickly and easily accesible forum that doesn’t require listening to the story. If the story feels like it is “breaking the action” for you then it is obviously not accomplishing what it needs to… the real purpose of the story is of course to provide you with context for your actions as well as be purely entertaining in and of itself. I think most games have poorly written stories with underdeveloped characters and that is why most people are down on them. I’m not sure I’ve seen many games that I would consider to be good (let alone great) from a story perspective if you stripped out all of the game. A few of course come to mind, Grim fandango, KOTOR, Final Fantasy VII to name a few of the more successful ones. Of course there are a lot of reasons for this… games are many many hours long and the story elements have to be broken up by long segments with no story development taking place. I think we are getting closer to realizing exactly what role a story should have in a game (we aren’t quite there yet) and I for one think that story has a vital place in the future of gaming.

I wouldn’t buy a game without any story, beating up on weak AI bores me. I need a meta reason for trudging through yet another wave of enemies. Story goes beyond narrative though, it helps explain the game logic. Done badly your crawling through the reactor core of that Imperial Station in Jedi Outcast, it insults you for dull wouldn’t it be cool gimmickery.

For me, no. In a FPS all I really want is an end goal, i.e. - kill evil overlord and his minions, and I’m pretty happy. I have nothing against a good story in FPS’s, but for me it almost feels extraneous. Load up the level for me, tell me to go flip the switch and kill everything in my path and I’m set when it comes to FPS’s.

That is clearly impossible since Commando was not only a perfect movie but also packed with Arnie’s best one-liners!

Quality of plot and dialogue are relative to the purpose of the film, or game for that matter. Diablo 2’s story and its presentation were perfect for the game, for instance. No plot at all would have made the game less appealing, but packing it with extensive sophisticated prose and deep character interaction would have damaged the game at least as much.

Yes. I get bored quickly if it’s just “Here’s another level, go shoot stuff.”

I like having a story in an FPS. Sorry, but “go kill the Big Bad Evil Guy” just isn’t a motivation these days.

I like story, Half-life did it right, as did Max Payne and NOLF. I like finding out where things are going. Just shooting AI isn’t want I’m looking for.

I think Halo did story right. I loved how you got just enough information to push the plot along, and then everything else would just meld into the background noise, including a character’s voice in the middle of a long bit of dialog. That was great way to skip past the boring parts, but still have some drama.

I’m with EFlannum- I need some kind of additional context for my actions. I’m not just referring to plot either- level design that supports and expands on the gameworld is usually more effective storytelling in games than cutscenes are.