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The case against cover systems in modern shooters

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How games are limited by stop and pop

This video from Turbo Button explains how cover systems are a natural result of modern games with hitscan weapons, limited mobility and regenerating health. Cover systems make sense when paired with things developers think we want in games, which is why we’ve seen them in so many shooters.

The issue is, as the video points out, cover systems can lead to games that are more fun to play on the easier difficulty levels, because lower damage means you can actually move.

Hitscan weapons that do more damage incentivize the player to find one location, hunker down and just wait to pop off a few shots when you have the opportunity. The more damage you take per hit — or the longer it takes for health to regenerate — the more tedious the game becomes.

Things like grenades and enemies that rush you may force the player to adapt, but the experience becomes more boring when the game can’t find ways to distract you from its cover system. The video has one example of a cover shooter that does it well, but I’m not going to ruin the surprise.

The games used as examples here aren’t bad, but the argument that cover systems are overused — which leads to games that discourage movement — is laid out well. Cover systems aren’t bad on their own, but there has to be more to the game than running from wall to wall, killing enemies whenever you have a free moment to pop out.