Top 5 player-created rules of honor in FPS gaming

FPS gaming is famously known for its highly competitive nature and the trash talking that often goes along with that. Despite the trash talking, many players have shown that they often look for opportunities for fair competition or moments to prove their worth and impress other players. No one is impressed by your crazy skills when you aim-bot your way to a 50-0 K/D, but when you beat someone to death with your bare fists while the other guy cowardly uses a giant claymore? People take notice.

The community showers the honorable victors in praise, while raining great animosity on those that spit on their traditions and expectations, quickly granting the offender a one-way ticket to being labeled a scumbag. If the years have taught us anything about the FPS community, it’s that you never want to incur the community’s wrath. This is my top 5 list of player-created rules of honor; the greatest moments of tradition, heroics, and shaming the dishonorable.

#5. Call of Duty – Camper Kamikaze

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Ever since the dawn of the FPS, there have been campers, and for just as long other players have hated them. The community has more or less learned that while we may never stop people from camping, we have another potent tool at our disposal to deal with them: humiliation. It’s become a tradition for other players to publically shame the widely considered dishonorable act of camping, but often times this takes the form of raging in the voice chat, which is more annoying than any camper could ever be.

More astute players took to callouts that assert their dominance by show of force and skill rather than complaining to everyone else. In Counter-Strike, a widespread tradition was born of spray painting your slain foe, with many players designing humorous and/or crude anti-camper images to tag the corpse with, labeling the offender for all to see. While tagging your kills is pretty alpha status, nothing quite says “you’ve been utterly destroyed” like dying to an extremely slow, methodical, and easily avoidable kamikaze.

In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, it takes a whopping 5 seconds to cook a grenade to completion, at which point it will blow off your arm, face, and any unfortunate bystanders. In a game where you die in a blink of an eye from any number of various death dealing methods, this is an excruciatingly long time before the grenade will blow up in your hand. This tends to be considered a good thing, since you obviously want to chuck your grenade before it blows you to hell, but this also makes it the perfect tool of humiliation.

The Call of Duty “Camper Kamikaze” involves sneaking up behind a camper, pulling your grenade and cooking it while simply staring at them, and in a few seconds, blowing both you and your target apart in a blaze of glory. You easily could have shot the guy, stabbed him, tossed the grenade and ran, called in an airstrike, or any other methods of you’re á la carte death machine, but what puts the icing on the cake here is the kill cam. The camper will get to watch as you snuck up on him, pulled your grenade pin, and simply waited right behind him, completely asserting your confidence, dominance, and control over the situation and him – and that is a beautiful thing.

#4. Halo – Rocket Jousting

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“Honor in Halo? Surely, you jest!” I jest not. While the Halo player base may not have the greatest reputation for honorable conduct, there does exist a subset of warriors within the game who know the meaning of honorable combat, who have not forgotten the glory of the medieval joust, and who have brought it into the space era with ATVs and rocket launchers. Rocket jousting features a pair of braves knights on a mongoose, with one driving the vehicle and the other firing a rocket launcher from the back, as they face off against another duo with the same setup.

The rules of the rocket joust are simple, yet strict: you may only shoot your rocket launcher while on a mongoose. This means that if you are dismounted, you must return to your mighty steed before continuing the fight. In the event that the driver is killed, while the gunner remains, he’s presented with two primary choices: drive the mongoose and flee like a coward, or climb on the back and set himself up as a glorified rocket turret in hopes of scoring a final, perfect shot before his stranded position is rained with heavy ordnance. To break the code of rocket jousting is to bring great shame and dishonor upon yourself because this strict adherence to its rules is what has kept the game mode alive.

#3. Natural Selection 2 – The Switch Axe Charge

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In Natural Selection 2, the marine’s switch axe tends to see its most common usage during the early skirmishes of a match where your clip runs dry and you need a final desperate hit or two on a skulk trying to bite your kneecaps off. Beyond those instances, it rarely sees combat usage and is more regularly designated for killing alien structures without consuming ammo. If a marine is close enough to use his switch axe on an alien, he’s typically about to pay a visit back to the infantry portal, making it an unwise plan of action in most cases.

There are some instances, however, where the call of the switch axe must be answered, and (quite literally) heroes come forth. In the late-game, marines start to pack heavy firepower with grenade launchers and exoskeletons, while the aliens rampage into the fight with big, powerful lifeforms, such as the mobile Fade, or the gargantuan Onos.

When these impending weapons clash in a big, decisive battle, marines who do their job and manage to live long enough will run out of ammo. Rather than fleeing the battle and praying for an ammo drop that will likely never come, you are honor-bound to draw your switch axe and charge the Onos that is running amuck in your team. It’s a move that is not likely to succeed, but your team expects you to stay in the fight to the end and Natural Selection 2 is completely dependent on teamwork and communication; leaving your team to die while you do nothing is the fastest way to lose.

With that in mind, your team’s morale is a very important factor in the match and seeing a team mate have the guts to get up in the mix can go a long way towards renewing your team’s fighting spirit. Other players recognize who is performing well and making plays happen. They take note, meaning they are more likely to listen to you, and your commander is more likely to trust your ideas, making you into a sort of lieutenant on the battlefield. And if you actually fell the Onos with your switch axe? Well that’s the stuff of legend and you’ve just become the Beowulf of space.

#2. Chivalry – Fisticuffs

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Chivalry is in many ways a tongue-in-cheek parody of the very notion of chivalry or honor in medieval combat. Limbs get hacked off all over the place as if they were attached by string, amidst the sounds of blood curdling screams, and all the while having crossbow bolts and catapult artillery rain down on anyone unfortunate enough to get in the way. If anything, Chivalry suggests just how little honor or glory was even present in medieval combat, with unceremonious death in great abundance. Despite this, players have created their own rules of engagement to bring honor back to the battle.

Many servers feature dueling rules, where the game is set to a free-for-all and players challenge each other to duels. There was originally no formal duel system in place within the game’s mechanics, but the popularity of this player-made mode lead to an official included version in an update. Before the update and on house-rule style servers, however, players initiate a challenge by walking up to someone, facing them, and pressing their “taunt” key. The other player accepts by facing them and likewise pressing their taunt, which starts the duel and let’s other players know not to interfere, allowing players to show just how proficient they are at combat without the chaotic interruptions of the actual battlefield objectives.

That’s not to say that the core gameplay modes are left wanting. If at any time someone in a battle approaches you with their weapons sheathed and their fists up, you are obligated to also sheathe your weapon and engage in a bout of fisticuffs with them. To refuse this brawl to the death and use your weapons in retaliation is to be a scumbag of the highest caliber, and if you should lose the fight doing this (which happens more often than you might think), the mocking will be swift and wholly deserved. Trust me, most everyone will notice; never reject the gentleman’s duel.

#1. Counter-Strike – The Knife Fight

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This is a time honored and long standing tradition in the Counter-Strike community, and no discussion on this topic would be complete without the inclusion of the knife fight. Counter-Strike is known for its fast-paced gunplay, a style of play that does not favor knives and for good reason. Unlike in more modern FPS games, the knife in Counter-Strike is not an instant kill unless used on an opponent’s back. This makes it impractical to use in most situations except for its famously faster running speed or as a bragging right.

The lack of instant kill for the knife in most cases means that it takes skill to use effectively – knowing when you would be face-to-back with an opponent and quickly taking them out, as opposed to running around stabbing haphazardly to success. The high skill cap for using the knife allows knife fights to become a whirling dance, with each person circling the other and weaving in and out to find an opportunity to strike. Just as with the skill and honor of fighting with a rapier in the Renaissance era despite the popularization of muskets, so too has a culture formed around the knife in Counter-Strike despite the focus on guns.

If a player has his knife out and slices a wall or object in front of an enemy player, a challenge has been issued for the other player to draw their knife and fight them. This is very common when there is one player remaining on both teams, and the stakes are raised even higher because all of the dead players will be watching these two survivors duke it out. It has always been massively frowned upon for someone to reject the knife fight and shoot instead, with all of the players harassing them the following round for their dishonorable conduct. I’ve even seen instances of admins booting a player or some other punishment for renouncing this tradition.

The final cherry on top here is that many servers like to include kill callout announcers from other FPS games. One very famous line in particular from Quake 3 Arena is commonly used when a player is killed with a knife, and just brings the entire round to a perfect close as everyone watches the finisher. All together now: “HUUUMILIATION!”

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Kyle McArthur
Kyle McArthur 17 posts

Freelance Writer. Game Designer. Poet. Life-long gamer. Jedi enthusiast. DM extraordinaire. Shrimp lover. <a href="http://rolltonotdie.com/">http://rolltonotdie.com</a>