Medpacs: Do We Miss Them?

With today’s games, you would be hard pressed to find one that doesn’t have a regenerating health system. Like so many others, constantly playing as some distant cousin of Wolverine is something that I have simply come to accept. Thinking back, I can’t seem to recall the first game I played that featured this type of health system; but to be completely honest, I seem to remember thinking it was a great idea. More and more games began to catch on with the trend, and I soon began to regret my original assessment. You hear game reviewers and people in the gaming community poking fun at health regeneration all the time (Call of Duty’s ‘red jam splatter’,etc.), but are these jests more than just light humor? How many of us truly miss medpacs and health bars?

Surely, developers debate over which health system better suits their game, but as I have already mentioned, it seems like a med packs are being left in the dust. It is a tough debate, with good arguments on both sides, but I’d like to hear what the P*N community has to say on the matter. I thought it best if we quickly consider some of the pros and cons of both health systems, so we have some grounds for discussion. Keep in mind, however, that these are merely my own opinions, so I am counting on the rest of you to spout out your own two cents in the comments bellow.

Ooh, that stings a bit.

Personally, I prefer games with medpacs and health bars. Not because I think that stuffing cotton balls into fresh bullet wounds is any more realistic than having them magically heal in a matter of seconds while you take cover, but because I feel like it adds more of a challenge and gives me a better gauge of how well I’m doing. When your health regenerates, it can be difficult to tell if you are taking more or less than the prescribed level of damage. In games like Half Life 2, where medpacs reign supreme, the amount of medpacs in an area is almost like the developers way of telling you “if you are playing on X difficulty then you should be taking Y amount of damage on this part.” There are times when I am playing games with health regeneration that I almost feel like I’m cheating when I consider my blatant disregard for taking damage.

It is arguable that health regeneration works better with multiplayer, but a lot of it depends on the style of the game. Coming from a strict Counter Strike upbringing, I still prefer knowing that every single shot that I scored on an enemy player counts against them (and vice versa). A health percentage can force you to be more cautious, while creating that feeling of fear or anxiety when you start running low (which is why health regeneration has no place in survival games like Dead Space 2). Yet, on the other hand, health regeneration can help stop noobs from trying to play clean up, or provide a more seamless gaming experience for single player campaigns that are attempting to focus more on fun and over the top action.

Games like Uncharted 2 don't want you dying constantly.

So what do you think? Do you think health regeneration is a good thing and action/shooter games should continue with the trend? Or, do you prefer games where you have to carefully keep track of your delicate health bar? Many gamers complain that games are too easy these days, could this be the primary reason why? (Raise your hand if you died a single time in Fable II or III. Shame on you!) Maybe you don’t like medpacs or health regeneration.  What would you do differently?  Share it with us.

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  • I can see a good debate coming from this. I guess I’m in way to deep with multiplayer on Call of Duty: Blackops, that I’m just use to health regeneration. It really depends on the game, I suppose.

    Games that want you to go slow and be very cautious prefer med packs, while games that make you go fast and with loads of enemies opt for health regeneration.

  • Anonymous

    In today’s modern MP shooters I am not a fan of med packs, item and weapon spawns.  Items drops change the strategy.  I realize that it’s part of the design but I prefer going into battle without the need to memorize where the sniper rifle is or find that med pack.  I remember the old argument that health regeneration is unrealistic, but so are magical med packs.

    In the old school days of gaming, the Quake and Unreal era, it was fine.  But those games were maze like in tiny corridors.  The optimal way to play those games was to keep moving and get into a routine by following optimal routes to acquire all the weapons and max out your shields.  If a game was designed in this old school way, I certainly can see bringing back the med packs and item drops.  But I just can’t see it for the modern sci-fi and military shooter.  Spawn camping is bad enough, the last thing I need is weapon, item and med pack camping.

    On a side note:  It was the original Halo that made health regeneration popular.  It may not have been the first to do it, but it was the one all games copied off of (in addition to the optimized controls).

    • Although I agree, the original Halo had Health Packs (and they make a return in ODST and Reach). It wasn’t until Halo 2, where Master Chief only had a shield that regenerates.


      • Anonymous

        Ahh I see, it’s been a long time.  I hope the Halo remake on the Reach engine will be optimized on the new regeneration method.  And when Bungie took it away on ODST, it was a real drag.

  • Anonymous

    BOTH! The way Resistance 1 did it was perfect!

  • RazorShark

    Both… but used properly.. like how Battlefield Bad Company 2 used it. When you got hit your screen would turn red… but your teammates could throw down a med pac and make it so your health recovers faster.. it would usely take 1min for your health to go all the way up.. when seriously injured but with the med pack it took around 5-15 secs

  • seb

    I think a combination is best: have health that will regenerate up to a certain level, but then you need a medpac to heal all the way up. But I also think that having medpacs at fixed points is silly – much better to have a medic who can throw you a medpac if you’re low on health, as this promotes teamwork