The bow is not new by any means. However, it has taken a more prominent and defined role in the world of video games heading into the next-gen. With its modern implementation, the bow has benefited the Action/Survival genre in various ways. In the past the bow was more of a “special” or “secondary” weapon. Ammo was often rare, and the weapon itself was fun, but often had a minimal impact on gameplay. The bows transition from secondary weapon to primary weapon has contributed to the genre by affecting the pace of the game and limiting, but not hindering, the players power. Mankind’s recent fascination with survival and various apocalypses has certainly opened the door and aided the recent prevalence of the bow.
Think about the constant gun fire in Left 4 Dead. It is no wonder why there are all those massive waves of zombies! Sure that is fun, but everybody know that guns while guns in a zombie apocalypse may be useful, they can also be a survivors worst enemy. With guns also comes a bunch of noise and drawing attention of zombie hordes. Insert bows. Bows are accurate, lightweight, and silent. It is an all-in-one weapon, from silent assassin to explosive structure leveler to grapple utility. That being said, bows are more than simply a passing fad. Bows are capable of slowing the pace of the game, allowing developers to bring the players attention to the graphics, environment, and gameplay.
James Bond may casually walk into a subterranean base with a PP7, eliminating every enemy in his way. That pesky Bond, always alerting the enemy somehow. Some protagonist are a little better at sneaking around, like Sam Fisher from Splinter Cell. Creeping in the darkness with a Five Seven, extinguishing subordinates without making the slightest noise. In most cases, however, the use of guns creates a faster pace. A pace that gets the adrenaline rushing and creates a virtual haven of carnage. A prime example of this type of gameply is EA‘s Frostbite 2 engine, featured in the upcoming Army of Two Devil’s Cartel and recent blockbusters, Medal of Honor: Warfighter and Battlefield 3. Destruction is the engines spotlight feature. The player is encouraged to use clip after clip to shred through the enemies cover. A faster pace is not a bad thing, and EA successfully exhibits uncanny presentation in the shooter genre.
However, a slower pace gives the player time to think as opposed to rush them into the fury of battle. This is where the bow helps in a game’s pacing. The adjustable draw of a bow allows the player the choice of quickness or strength when releasing an arrow. Bows are taking a more prevalent role recently, but guns are still used in conjunction with the versatile projectile, allowing the players freedom to control their experience. While Skyrim will not be winning any awards for its graphics without user mods, the use of the bow is nearly the perfect weapon for the game. It gives the player range and effectiveness against dragons, while remaining effective in close range battles. Two of the most beautiful games of the current generation have used the bow as a featured weapon, bringing out the environment without negatively affecting gameplay. Tomb Raider, a third person action-adventure, and Crysis 3, a first-person shooter, do not restrict the player to the bow. Yet because of its versatility, usefulness, and flat out fun, the players find themselves willingly using the weapon over other weapons. A thrill is created when the player slowly creeps through the grass in order to gain the upper hand before striking. Truth is, the exhilaration is caused by the rediscovery of this… primitive device. This is the year 2013. Nobody uses bows except Legoles, Robin Hood, Angemon, Katniss, and Olympic athletes, right? Fact is, if all the 2012 conspiracy theorist were right about the apocalypse then a lot of people might wish they had a crossbow in the following years… if they survived! (dun dun dun).
All jokes aside, the topic of guns and video games has been taboo of late. While there is little to no evidence that supports the argument that video games have a significant affect on gun violence in America, it is a tad ironic that developers are beginning to focus on a weapon that is less controversial. In the public eye, guns are believed to be relatively easy to use and accessible. Recent tragedies have instilled a feeling of concern in the American public, and some are determined to have guns outlawed. With no serious concerns revolving around the idea of the bow being used irresponsibly with intent of harming others, the bow is more marketable. Not only do developers and producers not have to answer as many questions about video games influence on gun violence, but gamers will likely feel more comfortable buying a game that offers something new and less controversial. It would not be surprising to see GTA 5 or Saints Row 4 use the bow in a more eyebrow raising way, as Rockstar Games and Volition have not been known to aim for the Kix guarantee: Kid Tested, Mother Approved. It should be an interesting future for the bow, as it is in prime position to carry its influence and success into the world of PlayStation 4 and Microsoft‘s entry to the next generation of home console gaming.