Killstreaks: Tell Us How You Really Feel

Illustration for article titled Killstreaks: Tell Us How You Really Feel

Ah, the killstreak. A single idea that changed the face of multiplayer shooters. All these years later, has its time finally come? Is it time for the world to leave the killstreak behind?

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The killstreak is a multiplayer game feature popularized by Call of Duty, but these days the concept turns up in other games as well. Basically, when a player manages to take out a certain number of enemies without dying, he or she is given a special ability that they can unleash at their discretion.

Maybe they get to fire up a drone that temporarily gives their team the ability to see enemies on the map, or maybe they build a powerful sentry gun to help fortify a position. Or unleash a pack of guard dogs, or even call in a tactical airstrike. The more kills, the better the reward... but if they die without using it, they have to start over.

Needless to say, killstreaks are controversial. Plenty of players don't like them, with common complaints being that they can upend a balanced match or unfairly reward the best players with even more power. Other players like them a lot, since hey, it's pretty fun to kill a bunch of your enemies and then drop a tactical airstrike on them.

Some new games are experimenting with new ways to approach killstreak-like ideas while getting away from the traditional way that killstreaks have been designed. (For example, Titanfall's burn cards seem like an interesting alternative.) Which brings us to today's query:

For the discussion below: What do you think of killstreaks? Is it time for a change? If you played the Titanfall beta, do you think something like the burn card approach works better? What are some other games that are doing interesting things with killstreak-like concepts?

Sound off below. I'm curious to see who comes down on which side, and why.

DISCUSSION

I personally dislike the way they are implemented in Call of Duty, but I'm not against the concept if they're balanced properly.

I think the biggest problem with the way they're currently implemented is that they tend to tip the balance of the game towards the players/team that is already in the lead, creating a snowballing effect. Just look at the recent CoD games where you can earn ridiculous Killstreaks like a Chopper Gunner that give you a birds-eye view of the map and highlights enemy players for you to mow down, with each kill counting towards you next Killstreak.

I think a better alternative would be for the Killstreaks to be objective or support oriented. Personally I think Battlefield 4's Field Upgrade system serves a good balance between rewarding squads with bonuses while encouraging teamwork. The Field Upgrades consist of a tiered bar that fills up when a member of a squad completes objectives or support actions. As the bar fills it gives players certain bonuses such as increased starting ammo or a slightly fast sprint speed, and the progress is shared among members of the squad. However, if everyone in the squad are dead at the same time then the Field Upgrade resets, thus encouraging squads to coordinate to keep at least one member alive at all times.