Killzone 3 is probably one of the most compelling multiplayer experiences I’ve ever played. It goes beyond the common staple of rewarding for nothing and gives a true sense to the word ‘reward’. Never have I played a multiplayer experience that rewards, above everything else, determination. A long, long time ago the buzzword for multiplayer experiences was ‘balanced’, that as long as you make the mechanics the same for everybody else regardless of skill then they’d all have fun. Killzone 3 surpasses this expectation and instead goes to a new level. Instead of rewarding you for simply using the mechanics of the world, you’re rewarded for using them to further the experience and not just ‘keep it going’.
Call of Duty multiplayer is primarily based around balancing every gun, perk and killstreak. Ironically it often does the direct opposite as there’s so much at play. It’s probably why Call of Duty 4 and 2 were the true hallmarks of the series, as they were gosh darn simple. Everybody was given set killstreaks and the weaponry all had set damage. In Killzone 3 you perhaps have the balance but you have a set of tools that reward you for furthering the experience and not simply basing the whole experience around a balanced diet of mish mash non-video-game rewards.
What am I talking about? It’s something perhaps under the gravy, on a completely different wavelength and you could argue… psychological. The act of shooting someone in Call of Duty isn’t the reward, but the feedback itself. There’s vibration in the controller, little ‘pips’ (audible feedback) and a big juicy +100 to your score. You’re not playing for kills as much as you are playing for numbers and pips. It’s pretty shallow really, as you’re rewarding the player for doing absolutely nothing worthy and I’m confused as to why it’s still addicted. It’s probably because of the mass amount of audible and visual feedback.
But these aren’t things that are really into what a video-game is. Yes, they’re based around interaction, response and further interaction. Yet audible reaction can’t be reacted to, neither can visual reaction. It’s just there. You can shoot an enemy in the single-player campaign and he’ll react on an interactive level, by wanting to shoot you in the face. When you throw a punch in Street Fighter, the dude won’t just yell out profanity or look angry, he’ll leap across the whole map and dropkick your face. In Call of Duty, multiplayer there’s barely any interaction at play when you kill someone.
That’s of course when you kill someone, where the main ‘reward’ lies. I say that firefights in Call of Duty are just boring point and click adventure games in which the player is tasked with shooting the other guy first. There’s no meat to the fight, no intensity and the ends justify the means. You shoot, kill and are rewarded for doing absolutely nothing. Killzone 3 is different in that when you kill a player you still get a feedback but there’s still an interactive layer to keep you at bay. They may be downed, yes, but if they’re a high enough level they can just get right back up or a medic can revive them. Essentially, you have to shoot them down and then kick them in the face.
It’s more rewarding then not to just shoot someone and be rewarded with pips and numbers, but to be rewarded for actually doing something. Both Call of Duty and Killzone 3 are filled with players wanting to slit your throat and carve their names into your bodies, so you’ve got to be quick. You have to make on the fly decisions when to shoot someone in Call of Duty but after that you have to make the decision when to kick someone when they’re down, or clear the area. There’s a layer of variables at bay that intensify the experience, develop it and make it react to the player’s position of power in the current world.
After you’ve killed a guy in Call of Duty, that’s it, he can’t do anything. In Killzone 3 there’s his bots, himself getting up, a medic coming along and his turret being just around the corner where you shot him. The difference is you can be killed while they’re ‘alive’ in the former, but you can be killed while they’re even dead in the latter. You could argue Bouncing Betties and Turret killstreaks are in Call of Duty but these are not what basically happens to the player during the experience, they are not designed to happen; they’re merely designed to perhaps happen.
My only criticism of Killzone 3 multiplayer is that while it rewards the player for actually doing something, it re-enforces some icky stuff. I hate the class based system, not because it’s based around putting the player into a position he wants but doesn’t get, but because it doesn’t go far enough. I had an idea a long time ago that the player picks their class at the start of the multiplayer experience and then that’s it. In every game, that’s what they do, but each role is completely different in its rewards. Medics gain more medical toys as they level up, assault guys get different weaponry and snipers get longer breathing time as they level up.
Rewards based around furthering the experience, such as the sniper one above, compel player to play more so than just shallow audible and visual rewards. They’re fine, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not having fun with video-games as much as it is having fun with the sights and sounds of them. Killzone 3 excels in delivering the top-notch multiplayer experience but is still stuck in the mentality that a class based system doesn’t require determination and dedication, like it’s core gameplay already does. I would really like to this attempted in a video-game, not a class-based system but a class-based multiplayer game.