During Baron, Varyar, and my discussion of the talking points we wanted to hit on the our first Youtube video of "The Good, the Bad, and What If" talking about The Division, we talked a lot about the things the game just missed the mark on. Sadly one of the points we could not fit into the video was a lack of mission variety. It is quite difficult to compress nearly two hours of discussion into a seven minute video. That particular point of lack of mission variety had me thinking on how other shooters did their missions, which led me to another thought: is it me, or does it feel like for many years now, many of the shooters released have been stuck in a mission progression rut?
For example, how many missions from different shooters does this following basic description describe? You start off, get some dialogue telling you what to do, which leads you run to the first area of the mission. Once you get there, you proceed to shoot up a couple of waves of bad guys. Once that task is complete, you get a prompt to either to continue on to the next area of the mission, or some dialogue saying you need to interact with a particular piece of the game environment. So you press the 'X' button (or 'E' if you are part of the PC master race) which leads to more waves of bad guys that you have to kill. Rinse and repeat a couple times till the end of the mission.
It is easy to understand how many shooter games have falling into this rut. For developers, it is much simpler to design missions in subsections of encounters with distinct beginnings and ends versus the mission being one giant encounter. Consider all the assets, ranging from A.I. to the game mechanics that are needed to make a single mission in a game. A change in one of those assets can cause ripples that affect how the others assets are used. Additionally, the game is mainly structured around shooting mechanics (otherwise it would not, by definition, be a shooter, or it would be a terrible shooter game). When the player's only means of interacting with the game are shooting things and using prearranged triggers put into the mission, it is easy to fall into the rut we see now.