Movement in 3D FPS games is usually fairly standard; walking, sprinting and crouching are to be seen in almost every game of the genre. There’s nothing wrong with this, Call of Duty doesn’t need to have a whole parkour system – but some games pay extra attention to how the player can move, and by adding in some extra movement options and animations they really add a lot to the immersion and fluidity of traversing the landscape. In this article I’ll be going over how Mirrors Edge, Assassins Creed, Dying Light 2, Hyperscape and Apex Legends have all developed on basic movement controls to create a smooth experience.
Mirror’s Edge is an early popular action-adventure platforming games that revolved around parkour, starting with the 2008 game that was released on PS3, Xbox 360 and Windows; it had everything a good parkour game needs from sliding, jumping, vaulting, ziplining to slower balancing and tipping mechanics when walking across thinner surfaces. Being a linear game with one set path to follow, all the parkour is carefully constructed to make the most enjoyable experience for the player – which clearly pays off. For such an early game it has stunning visuals and smooth animations like rolling when jumping from high places, shimmying across edges, grabbing edges for the player to hoist Faith (the player character) up onto, sliding across walls, ziplining, grabbing onto pipes as well as climbing up them. It all adds to a very gratifying experience.
Considering how long of a series Assassins Creed is, there’s no surprise it’s movement mechanics are so refined. Being an open world exploration game, there’s a focus on parkour as a means to get around. The camera is always in the 3rd person meaning you get to see all the moves the character makes as you’re jumping across buildings which adds a lot to immersion. Performing actions such as jumping from place to place is very forgiving, you’ll rarely ever find yourself overestimating the distance the player character can jump. From the first Assassin’s Creed all the way to Assassins Creed Odyssey, the animations improve drastically, with less awkward in between frames that can break the line of movement and better physics on clothes. These may not seem like important details but they really add to the overall experience.
First person battle royale games with a focus on realistic graphics don’t usually have much of a focus on movement, this causes Apex Legends to shine. With the usual walking, sprinting and crouching – Apex expands upon this with a number of different mechanics such as its sliding system, with speeds that vary depending on the degree of incline which the player is sliding down; a zipline which feels amazing to use with great feedback response when hopping on and off of it; scaling walls which again has a very smooth animation and feel to it. Considering the game is just a battle royale, the attention to detail is top quality in terms of how players can traverse the map.
Hyperscape is another battle royale that paid special attention to ways in which the player can move, unfortunately it has had a relatively short lifespan being released in 2020 and having the servers shut down in April of 2022. Despite its shortcomings, its movement mechanics were definitely one of the better aspects. The game included a double jump unlike a lot of other titles in the genre, considering the map was full of different buildings this was a much needed mechanic. The main selling force for hyperscape was it’s ‘hacks’, unique abilities that could be picked up by the player once in a match – mainly the teleport and slam abilities added to movement, with the teleport function allowing the player to blink to any location nearby and the slam ability, which propelled the player away from where the slam was performed. This allowed for different areas to be accessed that couldn’t be reached normally without these abilities aiding movement. When used in combat to reposition this felt very smooth and satisfying to use even if it didn’t always have the best outcome. Hyperscape also had a very forgiving safety grasp area, meaning when jumping to buildings the player could rarely ever miss a jump.
Dying Light 2 is the sequel to Dying Light, the game has a fair focus on parkour with there being a skill tree to progress through and unlock abilities for. Being primarily an action game in which the player fights zombies, the movement has been integrated nicely into the genre with animations for jumping off of zombies heads to get some more airtime when running through the streets. There’s a lot of ways to traverse the map, with movements such as running up walls, ziplining, paragliding, grappling, swinging from bars, sliding, jump pads, powder bags to fall with to negate fall damage and pipes to climb up when a wall is too big to scale. All of these come with very sleek animations to tie together the whole experience. It has been noted that the jump is quite ‘floaty’ to account for long gaps meaning it’s very forgiving, this could be either a positive or a negative depending on the player.
Ultimately it’s good to see extra care being put into how movement works in games, while there’s nothing wrong with simple walking, running and crouching it is always interesting to see how different companies approach adding new and engaging mechanics to games.