The FPS genre, as a whole, is crowded with shit, plain and simple. Even though I acknowledge that this has always been the case, far too many developers are dumbing down their once-great series or making pointless sequels that only serve to destroy the legacy of a genuinely great series, all for the sake of more sales. I know that sales are important, not only to provide funds for future developments but also for the sake of the studio staying afloat, but sales alone should NEVER be the whole reason for a product's existence. Take Call of Duty, for example. Every game in the series has been nothing more than a new coat of paint over an increasingly-tired formula, that is fancy-looking setpieces and mindless multiplayer for the proletarian masses, rereleased every single year with some new colours and shiny new additions that do absolutely nothing. Regardless of its lack of quality, each title in the series is the highest-selling game of all time, year after year. The absolutely preposterous amount of sales inspires every other major studio to attempt to get a piece of the action, so rather than make a product with some degree of actual quality, they churn out endless CoD-ripoffs which kill any sort of creativity in the genre, forcing it to rot away into eventual oblivion. This is not the way that FPSs should be. All of the big companies in the industry are whores, and the few games that are quality releases are pushed aside as niche titles while everyone makes way for Brown-And-Grey Corridor Target Practice 9.
That's the state of the industry right now, and here's how to fix it.
To me, the three most defining factors that all video games should be developed upon are Quality, Challenge, and Fun. Let me go into more depth on these tenets:
Quality: Make sure the game is well-developed and has loads of replayability and content. All game developers should strive for adding something new and innovative to their game, because owning twenty games and having all of them be, for all intents and purposes, the same is never fun.
Challenge: The game should be genuinely challenging. Yeah, you can add easier difficulties for accessibility and what-not, but the game as it's meant to be played should challenge the player, make him think outside of the box, and not merely in "THIS GUY TAKES MORE BULLETS TO KILL" logic.
Fun: Do I really need to explain this one? The whole point of a video game is for entertainment and fun. If your game stays true to the first two tenets but abandons this one, your product is a failure. This is the most important of the three tenets.
At this point, I'm just gonna talk about my idea for an FPS that, in my opinion, exemplifies everything that an FPS, and a video game in general should be.
My concept for a game: An FPS that gives you a whole range of superpower-equivalent abilities, like time control, temporary invisibility, flight, and all that good stuff, and then proceeds to challenge the player's skills with these abilities. Linearity would be thrown to the wolves in favor of pure, unadulterated choice. There would also be more additions to the gameplay that would not only be technically astounding but would also actually add to the gameplay, rather than being a simple gimmick. Some of these ideas include an extreme amount of customization in weapons, uniforms/costumes (Potential disguises), and the ability to control each gun's aim individually while dual-wielding. The storyline would have the same basic gist no matter what, but the events, and as a result, the levels and the gameplay would be entirely dynamic.
An ideal section of the game would be like this: There's a hostage that must be rescued before he's taken to a interrogation/torture facility. You're within a few miles of an airport, where the hostage is being taken to in the back of a heavily-armed-but-not-so-armored enemy vehicle. Potentially, you could shoot out the tires of the car, kill the guards and bring the hostage back to safety, but a more probably outcome would be that the impact causes the car to flip or crash, killing everyone, the hostage included. In this way, the player would be truly challenged, as he is forced to come up with genuinely out-of-the-box solutions. One solution would have the player placing some sort of barricade to stop the car momentarily, and then shooting out the tires, causing the guards to exit the vehicle, at which point the player could lure the guards to isolation and then knock them out or kill them, and another solution would be entirely-based on luck or nanosecond-perfect timing, as the player could rush the vehicle, flying on top of it, cutting a hole into the back, very quickly jumping in and grabbing the hostage, flying out and shooting the fuel tank of the vehicle while flying out. However, since the fuel tank is on the bottom of the vehicle, and there's no exact way to tell its location, much less while flying away from it at so-and-so miles-per-hour, so this approach would require either an acute knowledge of the vehicle or sheer luck, making it much less practical, but not impossible (Pretty much badass mode). If the player was to fail to rescue the hostage before the car gets to the airport, there would still be chances at the airport, or even on the plane itself. Let's say that the hostage was forced onto the plane, and the plane is preparing for takeoff. Potentially, you could stealth/fight/whatever your way to the control tower about a few thousand feet away and either force the traffic controller to convince the pilot of the plane that the conditions are unsafe and postpone the flight, or you could kill the traffic controller and get on the mic yourself, using either persuasion or bluffs to call off the flight, or if you really have a way with words, to relinquish the hostage. The success rate of the latter option is lower, but could potentially have stronger results if it does succeed. This is all a variable, however, as the entire thing depends on whether the player makes it to the control tower in time. The player could also do the dirty work himself, either hitching a ride on the plane using stealth, or fly with the plane, at which point the player could do whatever he wants to do. You could enter through one of the bottom shafts, use stealth to knock out/kill the guards and soldiers, and meet up with the hostage, all while never disturbing or alerting the pilot to your presence. At this point, you could wait with the hostage until the plane lands, at which point a whole other set of choices appears. You could knock out/kill the pilot, take control of the plane and fly it back to the previous airport to free the hostage. Potentially, you could do the exact same while the plane is in flight, but the risk factor is much higher, as you never know which buttons the pilot's body could lean on and press, or which way his body will tilt while holding on to the steering wheel. If the player feels he has the experience to counteract whichever consequence of his actions results from his elimination of the pilot, then he can go ahead and do whatever. Or conversely, the player could go loose-cannon, fly on the top of the plane as it takes off, sabotage it by disabling the propellers or jamming the ailerons, whichever way the player chooses to sabotage the plane, and then quickly force his way in, grab the hostage and a parachute and jump out, leaving an active grenade as a going-away present. But should the plane be destroyed or disabled while the player is parachuting out with the hostage or whatever, there's always the chance that the resulting debris falling from the sky could strike the player or the parachute, potentially wounding or killing one or both of the people. There's also the matter of if the player fails to rescue the hostage at all. In this concept of a game, decisions and outcomes play a major part of the story, as well as which direction the gameplay goes for the next mission. If the hostage is tortured, he will almost certainly let slip some very important details about the location of some very important buildings. If this happens, the next mission will take place at one of these buildings, as the player (and the rest of his army/group/whatever, depending on the location) must defend the building from a HOLYSHIT amount of enemies. If the player rescues the hostage using more stealthy and restrained methods, the next mission could be an infiltration mission, and if the player goes loose-cannon, the next mission could be a sabotage or destruction mission. No matter the type of mission, each mission would have the same level of choice as the scenario described above.
The point of the game as a whole would be to give the player some great new tools for him to experiment with and have fun using, and then to challenge the player to use them to the best of his ability, each time pushing the limits of what was thought possible in the game. It would have a shitton of replayability and quality content, it would be accessible to the new players on easier difficulties, but would be truly challenging in the best way that a game can be challenging on the hardest difficulty, and most importantly, it would be fun as hell. After all, isn't being fun what games are all about?
The Three Tenets of game design detailed above should be the most important things for all game developers, yet very few FPSs nowadays actually keep them in mind, while most forsake them for the sake of gaining the most amount of money with the least amount of work. Games should be games, not products. It's time something changed.