Types of First Person Shooters

This was originally posted on February 14th, 2017

Ben Stokman
OneTwentyEight Blog
3 min readSep 19, 2017



I was playing Team Fortress Two when I thought of Overwatch, its nearest competitor, and then I thought about Counter Strike. I noticed that, even though they are all objective bases first person shooters, they are all different in a certain way: character customization. There’s a certain spectrum that I have come up with a spectrum of character customization, with Overwatch on one side, Counter Strike on the other, and TF2 in the middle of them.

On one side of the spectrum there is class-only customization. Class-only customization is where there are multiple characters, each with unchangeable weapons and abilities. I’ll call this (these are completely synonymous with politics) the left side. The game closest to this is Overwatch.

On the other side of the spectrum, there is weapon-only customization, where everyone’s character has the same stats, just different weapons. I’ll call this the right side. The game closest to this is Counter Strike.

Downsides To The Left Side

In first person shooters that have classes, a majority of players will usually main a few classes. Maining is the tendency of players to constantly play a certain class, and learn its mechanics way better than any other class, and will play that class more than any other class, because they are better to the team that way. By chance, too many mains of the same classes can join the same game. If this happens, the team will have inadequate skill to win the round. Team Fortress Two has a system that can fix this; TF2 does have mains, which can affect the game play, but TF2 also has weapon customization, which naturally leads to subclasses; which, while having similar game play styles, can substitute for a different class.

Benefits To The Left Side

In both Team Fortress Two and Counter Strike, any enemy that someone comes across can have any number of weapon combinations. Until the someone starts attacking the enemy, they do not know if they can correctly counter them or not. With a game like Overwatch, a player can correctly know if they can counter an enemy.

Downsides To The Right Side

In Team Fortress Two, there is often a load out that is powerful at the time. When Valve releases an update, they usually change the abilities of a certain weapon. This almost always causes imbalances in something else, even if that wasn’t the intent. Or sometimes Valve does something like buffing the plogistinator, which is a suicide wish. The left side is multitudes easier to balance with new additions, and will not, if done correctly, break the game unexpectedly.

Benifits To The Right Side

As a Team Fortress Two player, no matter how long I play, there is always a loadout I have not tried yet. There are 5856 possible load out combinations in TF2; yes, you could go through each individual load out, but the maining principle also applies (though less specific) to load outs, so a player will not conceivably play on all the possible loadouts.

Difficulty Of Balancing

Now, which of the sides is easier to balance? Which would take less time and planning to add and change content? Neither, each side is equally hard to balance. I did say that the left side is easier to balance when adding new features, but to make that possible, they would have to design every element of the game to be able to allow for new characters to be added.

For example, Overwatch has a built-in system against stacking. Stacking, if not countered correctly, can be very powerful, but it is very easy to counter class stacking because of one number. Teams in Overwatch have only 6 players; and because there are 4 types of classes, all of which are very necessary, it is very hard to stack characters (with a few exceptions that are hopefully fixed).