Most FPSs don't have THAT many weapons. Sure, they have some different weapons, but not nearly as many as the number of spells we have in AVWW. So it's not a huge waste of resources if the player only sticks to one weapon.
Depends on the FPS, which is why I grabbed CoD. Allow me to iterate (MW3). Yes, I realize it's a Triple-A game but that's not intrinsic to the gameplay mechanics themselves.
10 Assault Rifles
4 Machine Pistols
For the standard 'shoot 'em' choices, that leaves you 43 options for your standard 'shoot 'em' choices. They are nothing more than the difference between Forest Rage autocannon (LMG) vs. Miasma Whip (USAS-12). Your 'attachment' changes are similar to enchants. Faster fire, more cooldown, sights are range, etc.
That's 43 options that really only make minor adjustments to your play style. Those are HUGE investments in resources, as each one has a different artistic component, reload animations, sighting, ranges, bullet travel delay, and other things. For roughly simply allowing a player a different feel while they play.
Now, let's get into the specialty items... what we'd consider utility spells.
6 different launchers, each one having a different specialization. They typically have particular uses (RPG-7 suiciders not withstanding) so they have limited ammos instead of having limited versatility.
6 different types of 'grenades'. Toss and kills, silent kill, position control, or user-controlled position denial. Again, limited in volume (particularly in multiplayer, which is the real CoD game these days, the SP is a tack-on) for balance reasons, of course.
And last but not least, 8 different tactical items that can do anything from block enemy vision to you to deflecting attacks away to respawn choice to Improved visibility. Oh, yeah, a few of 'em status effect the opponent too (flash/stun).
THESE are limited in what you can carry, the heavy game changers. In combination they are over-whelming (MP improvement possibility). IE: Toss a smoke grenade on your buddy who set up a trophy system. You can't get him off the target for a bit.
This is a HUGE volume of resources invested into the game. Most of it is constantly usable (due to death/respawn). One tactic didn't work, grab your other class with different setup. This, to me, is the equivalent of rotating my spell bar for a different build. However, I pretty much start every game with the same class, and only adjust as gameplay (not restrictions) require me.
Nevertheless, single player campaigns in FPS games try to get the player to vary his weapons as much as they can. This is why they slowly feed new weapons to the player rather than giving him access to all the weapons at once. [trim] Remember that trick from Half Life and a thousand other games? The whole point there is that you start using your more basic weapons again.
Comparing Half-Life and CoD single player is... an apples and oranges comparison. CoD SP is basically a huge introduction so you can get a feel for the game before joining multiplayer and getting curbstomped. Many (from the boards and surveys ~50%) of modern CoD players never even boot up the story mode for CoD.
Half-Life is built from the ground up as a scripted, hand-crafted single player experience where each level is balanced according to the tools they've given you in that specific scenario.
There's another important point about FPSs and that's the fact that you have ammo that almost always varies by gun type (Deus Ex 2 being the notable exception). This ammo count limits how much you can use any particular weapon. It forces you to switch to different weapons to conserve ammo.
Or die. We also have 'mana', which is basically an ammo counter for heavier cost spells. You have to run away, 'reload', and come back. Not very different then me running around a board collecting ammo packs, or grabbing someone else's gun that's very similar to mine that I just killed. For specialty weapons I agree. Not the standard shoot 'ems.
So weapon variation is built into the basic mechanics of FPS games. When you run out of ammo for your machine gun, you have to switch to a gun or maybe even a knife, and the dynamic of the game changes.
That's usually due to bad planning, not enforcement.
But what about multiplayer FPS modes? Other than ammo mechanics (which are baked into the very fabric of FPSs), you don't really see too much enforcement of variation there. For one thing, I think the assumption is that players have already tried all the weapons.
Not a good assumption, usually. A lot of them look crappy from a stats perspective.
Now to the meaty differences. Everything above was just how we have a very different outlook as to the application of these elements:
In an FPS, you work in 3 dimensions. As such, the opportunity for different tactics, especially in PvP mode, is insane. Because there is no guarantee of a line of sight to your enemy,
you can have ambushes,
Bear Traps, wall-sliding attacks, detection reduction armor
and you can approach the enemy from above unseen, or from a trench below, or from behind, or flush him out, or flank him.
In order: Floating Platforms, too difficult to discuss, triple-jump/storm dash, Rhino Charge/Rock Tossing/clinging Fetor, I agree it's impossible.
You don't need the variation in weapons to force you to use different tactics.
I don't believe that's required here, either. I believe a combination of enemy types and tactics, status effects and spell tweaks, and more interesting level design from the procedural components are a better place to focus on then heavily random restrictions.
You could have the same weapon and constantly try different tactics, many of which could be entirely psychological. Then you see another player using a slightly different weapon with completely different tactics and you try to emulate that. But weapons are a small part of the picture here. Aside from explosive types, it's mostly just a function of point and shoot. It's really human ingenuity applied to the massive solution space that makes multiplayer battles refreshing.
Alright, Mario. The classic, I'm a platformer, that's what I do. He had *1* ability. Jump. That's it. Sometimes you ate a fireflower and could shoot for a bit. But well, you jumped, that's how you attacked. Would it have been more interesting if every 5 levels or so you switched from jumping to sliding? No, in most games we hold up as examples you eventually add sliding TO jumping. Megaman's a good example of this. Yet another combative exploration (within limits) platformer. Yes, there were ammo limits on the abilities but they refilled pretty quickly, and you always had your starter weapons, and could always go back and reuse the specials (any of them) once you'd refilled Mega's manabar.
The multiplayer aspect is not the only way to allow for gameplay variety and tactical choices you can make. It's effective, don't get me wrong, but it's not the only way.
The variability comes from things like your weapon types, the environment you have to traverse, and the enemy types.
...And the weapon types making a difference combined with the other two is where I'd like to see tactics and versatility and variety come from.
In addition, AVWW doesn't even have the single-player FPS mechanics of ammo or gradually introduced weapons to drive people to use different spells.
This is one of the places I'd like to see improved, and have some ideas. I just haven't figured out how best to present it yet as an idea for the developers, nor if it would even fit within their vision.
And over the course of a long game of AVWW, sticking with the same spells is going to make the game boring.
I won't say it's helping.