Back in the days of old, you used to have to be much more strategic when playing first-person shooters. Gone are the days when you’re down to your final few hit points in games like Half Life. No more sitting in a room about to be swarmed with enemies, where you must strategize a way to take them out within seconds because one shot is going to put you down. I can still remember when health packs and first aid kits used to be an integral part of the first-person shooter experience. Today, all you must do is take a stroll away from the battlefield for a few moments and—tah-dah! You have full HP again.
So why did they introduce this new concept in the first place? The idea wasn’t necessarily to make the games “easier” per se, but to make them less frustrating. With regenerative HP, the entirety of the gameplay is quicker. For example, regenerative HP means that there is no longer a need for a “health room” before a boss. The game is programmed to know how much HP you have when entering a boss battle, so eliminating this extra step purely saves time. Furthermore, regenerative HP prevents players from getting stuck in an unwinnable situation. There is no longer a need to reload earlier save files because you find yourself in a difficult spot with a lack of HP or healing items, thus making the game less frustrating overall.
But is less frustrating necessarily good? I’m not convinced. Especially considering how many first-person shooters are war-based, such as Call of Duty, I’d like to actually stay injured if I’m shot, thanks. How realistic is it to take a bullet or a knife to the gut and then follow it up with, “one second, I have to take a breather,” and then come back as good as new a minute later? While it’s true that it’s also not entirely realistic to have to use a health pack in order to patch yourself up and then also return “good as new,” it at least resembles reality in some way—you suffer an injury, you must use limited resources to heal yourself, and then you can eventually get back to the battle. It is the expedited version of this process, but it brings in the realistic aspect of having to take action to heal and having finite resources to do it.
Not to mention, regenerative healing in combination with how easy aiming has gotten is starting to greatly take away from first-person shooter gameplay. A major complaint from many people has been that you can basically point in the general direction of an enemy and be guaranteed to hit them. I’m not sure if that has quite been my experience (but then again, maybe my aim just sucks in comparison), but I can imagine that being extremely frustrating for gamers who desire more of a challenge. If aiming is too easy and stepping away from the battle for a few moments fully regenerates your HP, how much realism is actually left in first-person shooters?
I’m not saying there aren’t benefits to regenerative healing. Aside from the conveniences it brings, it also allows for devs to set up difficult levels and smarter AI. But everything considered, there was more strategy involved without regenerative healing, and I personally think that was an important aspect of first-person shooters that they should have kept. If taking cover and having limited ammo are going to remain as strategic/realistic aspects of these games, limited HP should remain as well for a more realistic experience.
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