Who doesn't love loot? It's the video game equivalent of receiving a Christmas present. Is it a new shotgun? A shield? Something that gives you 13% more resistance to fire damage while also buffing your healing capabilities? Who knows! That's part of the fun, getting more and more sweet loot until you have so much that you have to start throwing gear on the ground as if it was unwanted candy wrappers.
But like so many fun and interesting gaming innovations over the years, we may have hit the oversaturation point with loot shooters. What was once a novel idea - marrying the Diablo-like acquisition of weapons and armor with the fast-paced action of a shooter - has now become so commonplace that it's now being shoved into games that honestly don't need it.
While it's still great to slaughter a boss and watch guns of various colors pop out of them like a pinata, it might be time to scale back on loot shooters.
Stuffed Full Of Loot
Loot shooters demonstrated that FPS games could be much more complex than previously thought. Whereas before you would get a rocket launcher and know that it would simply shoot rockets, now it could have a level along with stats and bonuses that would make it more effective than other rocket launchers. Previously only an element of RPGs, running and gunning your way through a world and receiving high-tiered weaponry was an innovative, fun, and brand new idea.
Now here we are several years later, and loads of developers seem to think their shooter needs a ton of loot to draw in players. The most recent and bizarre example of this is Contra: Hard Corps. Contra is a series built on mowing down entire armies of bad guys without even the thought of statistics. As for guns, you shot a little flying receptacle, an icon dropped on the ground and you had a spread gun. That was it, you didn't need to know if it did 5% more damage to flying enemies or if it would give you temporary shield regeneration. It was a spread gun, you fired it and your bullets spread out. You didn't need loot, all you needed was wanton destruction
Can't A Gun Just Be A Gun?
Developers are now putting so much thought and effort into creating loot that it's becoming a detriment to their games. Shooters are just having loot for loot's sake regardless of whether or not it fits the franchises they're squeezing it into. Wolfenstein should be about killing Nazis, not farming for legendary drops. Shadow Warrior should be about Lo Wang spouting dumb one-liners and chopping up baddies, not trying to decide which weapon to keep based on damage output. It's like trying to add oregano to a birthday cake, it doesn't need to be in everything.
Because at the end of the day, as much fun as it is to get loot and increase your kill power, some of us just want to turn on a game, click the shoot button and watch enemies explode. Could there some sort of progression system where we can pump experience points into our guns to make them stronger? Sure, as long as it's the same trusty shotgun that we arrived at the party with in the first place.
The joy of shooters used to be the simple pleasures that they offered. Loading up Doom and blasting your way through possessed soldiers and Cacodemons is perfectly fine without having to continually update your loadout. There doesn't need to be models of the BFG that offer different specifications. Just let us fire our giant laser cannon in peace.
Sometimes Mindless Murder Is All We Need
Games like Destiny, Apex Legends, and Borderlands are wonderful examples of how good looter shooters can be. Their core gameplay loops are built on stumbling across a gun that outclasses the pathetic pea shooter you're currently using and then agonizing over what to equip in order to improve your murderous rampage.
But those titles are made to be loot shooters. Some games are better off just having guns be guns, and not having to worry about what they do in addition to firing rounds of hot lead. 2016's Doom proved that you could still build a game around grabbing weapons and becoming an unstoppable force, and it could be as satisfying as any RPG.
So developers, instead of cramming loot in every orifice of your game, maybe just work on making your shooters fun. Because if we don't like how a game feels, we're not going to care about finding an epic machine gun.