Let's cut the iron sights, but let's solve sniper rifle zoom. The sniper rifle is handy in that it's not a sustained-fire weapon: If you keep holding the button down, the rifle won't keep firing. What this means is we can define a brief threshold: Tap the button with the sniper rifle equipped, and we only fire on button release. If you hold the button, then you quickly pass the tap duration threshold and we know you're holding the button down. That means we don't fire and instead, we bring up the sniper zoom. You release the button once the zoom activates. Your character stands still but the joystick changes your facing/aim point. Tap the button to fire, or hold it down a second time and we switch to the next zoom magnification level. Hold it down a third time and we lower the sniper rifle without firing. It's not great, but it's a good incentive to snipe from a good position instead of doing it while standing in an open field.
So how do you heal or switch weapons? When you're in combat behind cover, you can look/move but you cannot shoot. Pressing the button activates a radial menu with Heal, Switch Grenade/Molotov/Machete/Primary/Secondary/Special, and Exit. While this menu is up, you cannot turn or move. You can pick any of these options with the joystick and tap the button to confirm that option. All of this is only available when you're behind cover.
Do you see where this is going? In Halo, you duck behind cover frequently to let your shields recharge. In Far Cry 2600, you also have to duck behind cover in order to change weapons or heal. That's a big change from FPS standards, but it's not an unreasonable concept in the abstract. In the real world, slinging your rifle over your shoulder and getting your shotgun out and ready isn't necessarily something you really want to do while running for your life, after all. Adding a requirement that you get behind cover to change weapons would be a different style of play, and it means that, as in Halo, there would need to be plenty of cover around. But I think I could live with that.
What if you want to shoot when behind cover? The "in combat behind cover" mode would only kick in when you were directly facing the cover for more than a second. So when you look right at the cover object you're behind, the UI indicates that the radial menu is now available by tapping the button. If you turn away from it, the radial menu is not available and you're just in combat mode as usual.
Finally, when you're out of combat you can't shoot, period. Pressing the button always brings up the radial menu unless you're pushing up against a jumpable or interactable object. You can still switch weapons but we also give you access to your map, phone, and notebook.
So how'd we do? What I've described above is sort of Doom controls with great visuals but no strafing; mostly flat terrain; contextual jumping, sprinting, crouching, and interaction; frequent full-body cover opportunities; the requirement that you be behind cover to change weapons; and the restriction that you can't access your map and support services while in combat.
Would you play that game? I'd argue that yeah, maybe you would. It'd be a big change but I think it's feasible. Doom is still fun to play and this would be a lot more sophisticated than Doom.
More importantly, my wife could play this game. Any number of people who have been left behind by the explosion of controller inputs could play this game.
Can we make this future happen? I sure hope so. Bring on Far Cry 2600! And to my fellow game designers, stop using so many damn buttons.
John Scott Tynes swore a blood oath against too many buttons after getting his wife to play a demo of a Pixar movie tie-in game. You would think that kind of game would be very accessible. You'd be wrong.