It’s been a decade since the SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs franchise had a new game, and the series could evolve to fill a niche in the online shooter scene.
It has now been a decade since PlayStation fans had a new SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs game. The third-person shooter series focused on the Navy’s special forces operatives in fictional conflicts around the globe. The games were available on PS2, PS3, and PSP, but the franchise remained shelved for PS Vita and PS4. Sony has mentioned a focus on multiplayer PS5 games, and bringing back SOCOM as a competitive tactical shooter could prove to be a good move.
The SOCOM games usually featured online multiplayer in addition to single-player campaigns, but their story modes had a much stronger tactical focus. Players were often in control of a squad leader during campaigns and could issue commands or give general directions to subordinates on the battlefield. Stealth and strategic gameplay were key in making single-player missions go smoothly. Unfortunately, multiplayer didn’t follow suit.
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Multiplayer in the PSP SOCOM games felt fairly tactical at some points, but that slower pace was more often than not a symptom of the clunky, single-stick control schemes. The mainline games on PlayStation home consoles emulated other online shooters of the time; they were fast-paced, largely unorganized deathmatches in the pursuit of points. The online shooter genre has evolved a lot since 2011, but even though there have been rumors about SOCOM being shown at E3 in the past, a modern take on the franchise has yet to come.
Modern Gaming Is Starved For Tactical Third-Person Shooters
The tactical shooter genre, dominated by the likes of Rainbow Six Siege and the ever-popular Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, is usually played from a first-person perspective. Some military sims adopt the FPS perspective out of realism, but it’s also generally seen as more competitive, even for less realistic shooters, because it doesn’t allow players to look around corners without exposing themselves. This doesn’t mean third-person shooters can’t be competitive, though. A methodical, cover-based third-person shooter might be able to secure a niche in a genre that already has a few big titles.
SOCOM‘s name recognition might give a reboot a boost in popularity, and there’s plenty of modern game mechanics to be adopted that were missing in the last game 10 years ago. Sound design is becoming increasingly important in online shooters, such as in Siege and Hunt: Showdown. Ballistics and bullet penetration are also more sophisticated, and the battle royale genre has helped normalize games in which players only have one life. With multiplayer a specific point of attention for Sony, there’s potential for a tactical PlayStation 5 game to thrive. SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs could be that game, returning and evolving for modern online gaming without completely losing the identity of the originals.
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