Me Thinks Respawn Has a Huge Impact on The Gameplay Experience

Almost ten years ago I spent quite a bit playing Rogue Spear online. This “shooter” game had one very unique gameplay element in it: there was no respawn. In online gaming, if you got shot… that’s it. You had to wait for one team to win the whole round before you could participate in a new round.

Some people might think that it would be better if you could respawn after death… but me thinks that this would ruin the gameplay. The fact that you could not respawn made it important to stay alive. You had to be careful since one shot could kill you. It made a huge impact on how people played the game. It wasn’t a shooter game the way Quake or others were. It was different.

Bit similar thing was introduced in Battlefield 1942. You would respawn… but only every 30 seconds or so. (I don’t know if nowadays you can define the respawn rate on the server, but anyway). This made you think a bit before rushing towards the enemy. You had to think a bit. You could rush… but it was a choice to consider.

After playing these 2 games, I tried playing Wolfenstein Enemy Territory… and didn’t really like it. Everybody was running screaming around shooting stuff that moves. Same happened with Quake Live.

Of course there was more than just respawn rate (such as character movement speed, weapon damage rates and such) but to illustrate how powerful impact respawn rate has, consider this. In Zombie Master mod for Half-life, there’s some servers/maps you respawn in the game after death, in some servers you have to wait until the round restarts. This makes the world of difference on the feeling.

On those servers where you respawn, the game is degenerates into running & shooting wildly… it’s brainless shooting. It becomes meaningless… boring too.

In maps where there’s no respawn, things immediately change to more tactical – and more careful playing. There’s meaning in playing.

We value rare things. Things like player’s life. Respawn rate has a big impact on this.

(My theory is that Buddhists must find life pretty boring.)

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. But Buddhists never tell you what their respawn time is (do they?) It could be ages.

  2. @David: auch. I suppose TF2 on the other hand is more of a fast shooter game..

    @Eckyman: “Respawn can make or break a tactical online shooter.” that’s what I tried to say in my blog post and needed to use hundreds of words… You should be writing this :)

  3. Respawn can make or break a tactical online shooter.

    The Socom series on PS2/3 have all used a one life per round system which forced you to take things easier. Encouraged more teamwork and caution.

    Heavy respawn shooters like CoD encourage a run and gun style of gameplay because there is no penalty to death. You simply re-enter the meat grinder with only a few seconds wait.

    If you died in Socom, you could be sitting around for 10 minutes waiting for the round to end. Great for people who wanted some strategy in a shooter, bad for the ADD generation who just want to rambo it up.

  4. Yeah, short respawn rates can ruin a game. I know that in TF2, it is very common for server admins to host instant or short respawn server. However, I think this destroys the game because by doing this they are removing the cooldown time you get while waiting to respawn and it ruins several game play mechanics. (And as you said makes less of a reason to stay alive.)

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