Shooters need to make the player the leader of the pack
One of the trends that the modern first-person shooter developers seem determined to introduce is following as the main action for the player, who is relegated to a background role as computer-controlled characters rush ahead and perform certain actions.The biggest offender so far was the Medal of Honor series from Electronic Arts, but I am sad to report that Aliens: Colonial Marines also frequently makes the human player just an attachment to a bigger story.
There are sections of the game where the companions, like Bella and O’Neal, move ahead quickly and without actually stopping to deal with all the aliens along the way.
This makes me feel like the mop up boy who needs to appear after the important characters in order to eliminate the threats they could not be bothered to deal with.
The environments created by the developers of Colonial Marines are not particularly varied, but there are times when I want to explore them at will and the constant hurried state of my allies means that I feel almost ashamed to take my time and gather all the resources and unlockables.
There are also doors that I cannot open in any way and Aliens asks me to wait patiently, playing with my thumbs, while someone else performs an action in order to open up the way ahead.
This is infuriating because it takes agency away from the player and makes the entire experience feel less interesting.
Aliens already has significant problems with the single player, mostly because of moments where it contradicts the series’ cannon, and empowering the player would have been a good way of moving the emphasis towards the personal experience and away from the narrative.
Following someone else, especially a computer character, is not fun and even the addition of cooperative campaign play is not enough to turn the experience around.