Shooters and Instant Death

Oh yeah, ain’t that the truth. I loved Descent because I enjoyed that cat and mouse chase, the ability to master the craft’s manoeuvrability and predict your opponent’s patterns was central to doing well in 1 on 1 battles. A couple of mega missiles could put paid to most people, but better players could dodge those easily enough. I really miss the exhilerating races along corridors, then plunging down through holes and spinning around into side passageways, coming back around and slamming plasmas into your opponent from the side.

Kids these days! Lawns, etc.

I grew to love instant deaths in games. Can’t even play Battlefield games now because their health system just pisses me off. On UT it was always instagib. I remember sucking so hard at Counter-Strike the first time I played, must of taken me an hour to get the first kill. With time it became the most satisfying though. Love me some TF2, but I usually play as a sniper or spy since I can deliver instant death to others.

Yes UT CTF with Instagib mod (one shot / one kill regardless which body part you shot at + unlimited ammo) was the bomb!
Added a map like “CTF_AndAction” and it was a bloody mayhem compared to today’s shooters.
You could never feel safe because even at long range as flag bearer / defender you could easily be picked up!
You had to be constantly moving (strafe jumping) and sometimes sacrifice yourself for a team mate having the flag -> jump into the light of death so it hit you instead of him.

I usually take the sniper as well to be able to headshot people and kill them with one hit.
In TF2 you can also kill a lot of people by firing a barrage of rockets as a soldier by creating a “line” of them (short moves to left or right while firing them so they fly in parallel).
Especially for some snipers that never zoom out back again this usually means the end…
That’s why I usually play “2Fort”.

I’m the same way, but as a long-time Day of Defeat player, I also find the CS weapons to be weak & inaccurate. Even the DoD:Source weapons seem a little anemic compared to the classic version, though I don’t think they really are. Nothing like a nice chain of kills when you catch a group off-guard with your trusty Garand.

The lack of instant death is also the basis for my long-term hatred of WoW’s PvP. Yawn! It at least needs headshots, so all players are always at risk of instant death from any other player.

I think “instant death” in shooters became popular as more and more shooters moved to consoles, where thumbsticks make it difficult to aim at agile opponents for extended amounts of time like you need to in Unreal and Quake. I like it! This kind of shooter puts an increased emphasis on situational awareness and level knowledge. You have to make use of sound cues and an understanding of how opponents will use the environment to predict their movements and position yourself for the engagement because once the fight starts, it’s going to be over fast. Reflexes are still important, but not to the extent that they are in the extended firefights found in the arcade shooters of yore.

But are there even attempts at selling those games?
I remember a couple of essentially MP only games in the last few years, and UT3 … and that’s about it.

I’m pretty sure a properly made “old skool” FPS could sell, but they aren’t developed.

As I’m (sadly) not currently in a position to play much MP, a game I want to try has to have SP - and in that regard, I last tried UT3, which largely underwhelmed me.
Their stupid attempt at having a actual story campaign within their arena shooter was crap, imo.

Slightly off topic - does anyone know a mod or somesuch that works like the UT2k single player mode, where you and a team of bots fight essentially ordinary pseudo-MP-battles against a team of opponent bots?


I love respawn timers. insta-respawn encourages grenade spam and you don’t gain as much tactical advantage in killing someone if they just reappear instantly (and sometimes behind you)

I’m not so sure.
There are plenty of games people can still play from way back.
Since the real hardcore folks are playing on minimum graphics for speed they won’t care about HD grpahics etc.

I know at least these games are still regularly played by a lot of people:

  • CS
  • Painkiller
  • Serious Sam
  • Quake 3
  • UT 2004
  • DoD Source
  • Red Front Orchestra
  • Call of Duty 4

Now add the games that are not so old:

  • TF2
  • Left 4 Dead
  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • Quake Live
  • CoD MW2

Plenty of games for them.

If you played those games in the past regularly you know that in the end those don’t get “boring” simply by having the basic same setup every time.
As long as you can shoot people / work as a team it’s fun.
Especially if you play with mostly the same people every time.
(I was playing UT CTF Instagib daily for 2 years on the same server with not a big selction of maps so I know).

Those games usually only die if cheaters are taking over / people massively leave to another game.

I think this is the best thread I’ve read in this forum for a while, great topic.
Speaking also from the perspective of a long time QuakeWorld/Unreal Tournament veteran, I’m somewhat dismayed by the supposed skill being demonstrated in games like Call of Duty 4, especially on the console. It’s as if the emphasis has shifted from what I can only describe as “madskillz” to hit-scan aiming. It’s a pity, really, as I can’t see the realistic shooter dropping in popularity any time soon. I agree that FPS players that haven’t touched games like Quake and Unreal do lack a significant advantage in situations where instant death is not an option.

It would be great to dabble in the old deathmatch games once again. I have very fond memories of Unreal Tournament CTF, especially on Facing Worlds.

I don’t play mutliplayer games that often, so I prefer “instant-death”. It means that even a noob has a chance to score kills by using situational awareness, tactics, and dumb luck.

The more health you give players, the more the game becomes dominated by players with “mad-skillz”. It goes like this: Noob sneaks up and shoots LeetDude in the back, LeetDude turns around, strafeing and dodging with supernatural skill, and kills the Noob.

I know that sounds great to everyone with mad-skillz. But its very discouraging to part-time multiplayers. Good players still get amazing kill:death ratios in “instant death” games, but at least the casual player gets the satisfaction of the occasional kill.


I used to watch lunch deathmatch games, and one thing that really put me off back in the day was that it was so much about kill count and not much about surviving. This was the polar opposite of the single player experience - it did not matter how many enemies you took out with your kamikaze rush, if you died, you had to reload from a save game and try it again. Dying was supposed to be failure, not just a minor delay in your killing spree.

The overwhelming focus on offense was a major reason I never joined those games. That, and the fact that I sucked.

  • Gus

To GloriousMess’s point, I think the trend towards insta-death has moved the skill focus in shooters away from the individual and more to teamplay.

I’m not as old as some of you guys but I did play a ton of Quake II in high school and university (Top 1000 CLQ ranking in CTF!), and I still remember really getting the hang of circle-strafing and watching replays of pros like Thresh who knew when quad damage would spawn on a map down to the second. (Halo pros still play this way, in my opinion.)

When you look at competitive CS and what not, the individual skill of a player is suborned to his ability to work within a team, something that was never emphasized in DM-focused games like Q2.

I’m not sure if one or the other is better or worse, but it is really different from when we were coming up.

At the same time, that can be frustrating for the guy who has put 100 hours into the game to just get killed by any newb who joins the server.

I don’t really enjoy MP in MW2 because of the insta-death nature of it. I just can’t get enthused about spawn/die/spawn/die/spawn/die/spawn/die. Sometimes, even with the death cam, I have no idea what happened. I like to at least be able to sit back and say to myself, “OK, that was stupid, next time try X.” I don’t feel that I can do that with MW2 since as soon as I feel myself taking damage, it’s already over. The only way I can improve, I feel, is to hide more - which I don’t find to be very fun and generally results in my getting sniped anyway.

But that may be a side effect of other preferences as I age. I find myself really gravitating towards team games and co-op experiences. Left for Dead works really well for me, as does Gears Horde mode and TF2. I love working with a team towards a common goal.

This is it, I believe.

heheh, I got it.

This (and your followup about the seeming inequality of weaponry) is why I stopped playing Transformers. It’s (by far!) the worst game about communicating what you’re doing wrong. For me this trend started with UT2004 - something about that multiplayer netcode that I just don’t parse.

I’m happily playing Global Agenda and World of Tanks instead, which both are very good at communicating what’s hitting you and why, and give you enough information (barring the occasional artillery strike or blundering into a rocket turret) to get away (esp. GA for that latter). If you die, you always just know why.

Or I might just suck at console multishooters. :)

On the one hand, I prefer more “deliberate” shooters where tactics and maneuver are important, and where proper aim takes a little bit more effort. On the other hand, there will always be people who are skilled/practiced enough to no-scope shoot me while on the move.

Basically, I’ve come to appreciate the adage that “old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill.” I mean, skill is nice, but it’s easier to shoot people if you take them by surprise.

  • Alan

Yeah but you’re being shot by another giant robot who is holding a weapon designed to kill other giant robots, so it all makes sense in the end.

MW2 lives or dies by who you play it with. I still don’t like playing it when the team I’m playing on isn’t at least 4 out of 6 (or 5 out of 9 in Ground War) people I know. Playing with random puggers is brutal, but playing with people you know is a ridiculous amount of fun, IMO.

Death hovers, waiting
And hovering behind Death?

I wonder if this is a large part of why I loved Tribes so much.