When I am talking about very large campaign levels, I mean FPS campaign levels the size of the levels from the Halo Wars campaign. Here it will take you a considerable amount of time to discover the entire map you can walk/drive on. But why have not we seen maps like this in the FPS games? Is there something that stops developers from making giant FPS maps which you can explore? I think they have a very good reason, which I will discuss in this article.
The main reason of course is the game engine, Halo 4 already used up most of the console’s power to show you those beautiful graphics, and there you did not have that giant maps. A giant map with beautiful graphics will most likely fry your Xbox 360, especially if it is and older model. Why is this? Every enemy has its own coding, saying what to do in any possible situation, were it seeing the protagonist, being hit in the knee with a Magnum or whatever. Every enemy class has their own coding, a Grunt will not react the same way as an Elite does for example, and will react completely different from any stimuli. But it is not only the stimuli, it is also the route the must take when they are simply walking with stimuli, then you must be able to take a path without falling off a cliff before the protagonist even arrives.
But what has this got to do with the size of the map? Well, a large map should have a large number of enemies and objectives, otherwise you will not feel compelled to explore anything beyond the main path from one end to the other. And more enemies means more coding, which means a harder job for the hard/software and thus the size of the maps are limited to a balance between graphics and size. Larger maps are only possible at the price of graphics, something which is a very unpopular choice in today’s gaming industry.
But now with the Xbox One coming up, will we see Halo Wars-size maps in Halo (Xbox One) or will we start off with smaller maps first and slowly increase the size when the console is better understood/better engines are available. I think it is the latter, in a previous article I discussed the differences between games from the same console, where I got some good responses which have helped me understand gaming development better. Here the main response was that people were not able to implement the best graphics right away because the game engines were not good enough to keep up with the hardware. But because the Xbox One’s structure is apparently very similar to a PC, better engines will be available sooner for game developers and thus help the evolution of gaming.
But beside technical difficulties, do we even wánt Halo Wars-style maps in the FPS games? This is a very difficult question, as large maps do not play the same as small maps. Any Halo campaign (or any FPS campaign for that matter) is just walking from room to room, killing bad guys and moving on to the next room. This style of gaming is fun, but it will not work for large maps. If you would enter a large map and the HUD tells you to go to the other side, you would most likely hate it to walk/drive that far while ignoring the scenery. Because of this, a large map would require multiple objectives in the same area and thus moving you in some kind of zigzag pattern from one end to the other. While you would see a lot more of the map, this kind of gaming will not be so popular with the mainstream gaming community. While the map is bigger, it is not much different than multiple smaller maps, which are more easily created and can be more diverse. Sure, you can throw in some major battle on one of these maps, but you can’t really do that more than once or twice per game before it becomes boring. I don’t think Halo (Xbox One) and beyond will have very large maps, most likely larger than Halo 4’s, but not up to the scale of Halo Wars.
Well, that is pretty much my view on the subject, please leave your questions and comments below.