Driving in FPS games

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marurun
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Driving in FPS games

Post by marurun »

A bit of an intro here, apologies...

So in the Summer Games 2024 thread someone brought up Half Life and I got to thinking about how much I liked Half Life 2. And then I thought about all the parts of Half Life 2 I was less crazy about and wondered why I thought so highly of it despite there being bits I wasn't really as enamored of. And that lead to thinking about the driving sequences, which are actually mostly pretty competent, but way too long with lots of questionable decisions.

So now I'm thinking about driving sequences in FPS games in general, and wondering what you all think of them? What are the best and worst? Generally speaking, do they work or should developers avoid them? I'll talk about a few games I have experience with and my thoughts on the driving/vehicle sequences.

On the whole, I'm not sure I'm a huge fan of driving in FPS games. As often as not they are not integral to the experience and feel less mechanically competent than the on-foot action. Done well they're a power fantasy where you destroy things because you have the vehicle. Done badly you end up fighting the vehicle as much as the challenges put before you. When in doubt, developers, don't do it.

Half Life 2: The actual driving physics, both cars and boats, are pretty decent, but some of the stretches are way too long, and on the whole I'm ambivalent as to their overall contribution to the feel and flow of the game.

Halo: I'm actually not a huge fan of the vehicle physics in the game, at least for the Warthog. It's fun at first, but it's very bouncy and especially in the endgame the gauntlet is a PITA. Sure, the flying vehicles are OK, mostly because they're powerful, but not because they're somehow elegant to fly. They are fun when used for slaughter, but not for actual driving or flying.

Borderlands 2: I actually like how these vehicles drive, mostly, and early on they're pretty powerful. But later on it feels like in actual combat you're better off on-foot. Still, they're pretty fun to drive around in, mostly. The Pre-sequel was less fun in this regard. Oddly, I felt like this game did the best job incorporating the vehicles into the play experience of all the games I've played on my list, here.

Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2: These games TRIED (did they, though?) to incorporate the Mako meaningfully, but they made a vehicle that's a bouncy house on wheels and totally irrelevant to the story of the game. It was a neat side-thing, but no, I guess they didn't try to really incorporate it into the core of the game. The improved Mako in ME2 was extra pointless and sure, it drove better, but not better enough.

Those are my easy thoughts of a few high profile titles based on aging memories.
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Gucci
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Re: Driving in FPS games

Post by Gucci »

The Hammerhead on Mass Effect 2 was great compared to the Mako in ME1. Super fluid with the boosting mechanic. And I’m just busting your chops with this one but Mass Effect is not an FPS!

In general when it comes to driving in FPS games, I like it when it takes you out of first person then go into third person view. I too wasn’t a big fan of HL2’s Driving segments. I’d get caught on geometry very often because of the forced first person view.

The FarCry games also have driving mechanics involved and they are okay. In that game I prefer to fast travel and walk the rest of the way to a destination — if only because I may find an animal I have to kill for crafting and driving will heighten the chance of missing it. The forced driving segments are pretty forgiving though. I can’t remember which game, but I know they were segments where you had to drive away from my location during set missions. You had to both stay on the road and shoot through the windows to kill enemies.
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Re: Driving in FPS games

Post by marurun »

Gucci wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 11:44 am The Hammerhead on Mass Effect 2 was great compared to the Mako in ME1. Super fluid with the boosting mechanic. And I’m just busting your chops with this one but Mass Effect is not an FPS!
You're right, it's third-person. It's excluded. You're right that the Hammerhead was a lot better, but it was then even less connected to the game and plot, and it still felt bad. The Mako set the bar pretty low.
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Re: Driving in FPS games

Post by Raging Justice »

I loved the Mako in Mass Effect 1. It was easy to control despite what everyone says, and it had long range sniping abilities so you could pick off enemies from a distance. Or you could just run them over for fun. The Mako was awesome.

I can't think of FPS games specifically, but a few games with fun 1st person driving came to mind

This is a fun opening scene in The Darkness. Not exactly a full on gameplay experience, but it is interactive and pretty cool

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Hte4COrrx4

Mad Max had an optional first person view mode for driving that could be fun to try from time to time. It could create some cinematic moments. You could even swing the camera around to see Max's face

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03GSsK7HfhM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptzClBwPBJs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voqEAviFY20
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKJAtc1HDQ0

I actually would have enjoyed seeing a whole Mad Max game designed this way. Mad Max had a lot of flaws, but it's an underrated game once you can get past them
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Re: Driving in FPS games

Post by Jagosaurus »

So fun fact - Halo has interesting story on this topic. It started development as a third person futuristic military RTS game with controllable, truly drivable vehicles as a core mechanic. The shift to first person came later & they kept the drivable vehicles in the game as a mainstay.

I personally love steering the Warthog. The Scorprion tank can definitely be tricky your first few times though.

Rage uses some Mad Max style cars for fast travel and has a racing arena mini game. Reminds me I need to play Rage 2 ...

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Re: Driving in FPS games

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Jagosaurus wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 4:22 pmReminds me I need to play Rage 2 ...
You don't. It's a very average game.
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