Have you ever been invited to a party all your friends have been talking about and hyping up? This party is supposed to be the biggest thing ever and for weeks all you can think about is how awesome this moment is going to be. When the day final arrives however, reality hits you in the face. You have been to a party like this 100 times before, nothing is different. The music is awful, blaring and loud, the people are drunk, stupid and terrible and you don't find anyone you can relate too. You find yourself looking down at your drink, surrounded by all these people you don't care about thinking to yourself "What am I doing here?" This basically summarizes my experience with Titanfall.
This metaphor is not being used to decry Titanfall as being the worst game of all time. There is so much to appreciate about Titanfall; the graphics are really great, the controls are tight and responsive, the Titans are an interesting twist and the artwork is wonderful. Unfortunately for Titanfall, the sum of its parts is not greater than the whole. When playing through this game I noticed and appreciated everything it did right, but walked away feeling really let down from the experience and I would like to talk about that a bit.
First of all, I think that the expectations set by Microsoft and to an extent Respawn really did this game a disservice. I have been around gaming long enough to know that any time you start to buy into the hype you are setting yourself up for disappointment but for this launch it was really hard to ignore. When Microsoft devoted a large portion of its E3 press conference, they did an amazing job of selling the idea of this game. They sold us on the fact that Titanfall is dramatically different from and superior to Call of Duty. They all but declared that Respawn made the modern Call of Duty experience, recognized that it has become stale and where offering up a new experience to reenergize the base bringing FPS multiplayer gaming to the next level.
All hail Titanfall, the messiah that will take us to the promise land!
The reality is, this really couldn't be further from the truth. Titanfall is not the revolution of FPS gaming, it is merely an iteration. This is beyond a doubt, a clear example of left trigger/right trigger gaming. Point, shoot, die, respawn. The cycle continues over and over, the next match begins. When Modern Warfare came out I Prestiged 7 times, with Modern Warfare 2 I hit 3 Prestiges, with MW3 I didn't even hit the level cap and I have yet to play Ghosts. Playing this game is like being stuck in my own personal Groundhog Day that I get less and less interested with over time. I know what to expect, what guns I will like, how I will play, what my kill/death ratio will net out to and what will absolutely drive me insane about the game. The hype sold me a false hope of a new and interesting future but all I got was déjà vu.
I might've still really liked this game if it were the pinnacle of the FPS gaming experience, but sadly serious design flaws in the game are making it hard to declare this game as such. I was really excited when I learned NPC's were going to be in this game. I heard a lot of positive previews that spoke about how the NPC bots allow players to kill and earn experience from less skilled bots making for more enjoyable game play. While this is good in theory, in execution it only makes for a sure fire way to get yourself killed. I have found that when killing bots, the following usually happens; I will see a group of bots on the map (usually about 3 of them) which I shoot and try to kill. Because I am using my weapon, I immediately show up on the radar for the enemy and they rush to my position. Now because I have been shooting bots, I am down on ammo on my clip and if I have taken some damage from said bots. So enemy players arrive to shoot at me when I have limited health and ammo, which normally results in my death. This has caused me to just stop engaging with bots all together, so really what is the point of them even being there in the first place?
Another issue is with the games story. After completing the main campaign with both the IMC and the Militia I can safely say that I undeniably have no idea of what the hell is going on in the world of Titanfall. The story is absolutely incomprehensible, because much of the major dialog and events take place during the multiplayer match when I am trying to not get shot at. This has always been true of Call of Duty, in that story beats take place during gameplay, but there were some very important differences that made the story much easier to understand. For instance, the debriefing cut scenes between each mission really set everything up so you could know what was going on. Also, when there were doing key story moments in the game, they could hold enemies back awhile so you could actually try to understand what was unfolding. In Titanfall, everything is being yelled at you through an echo communicator and does no favors in trying to help you understand its world.
Let's talk about the actual Titan's in Titanfall, the games titular force and reason for existence. I will be blunt, they are pretty meaningless and actually weaken the gameplay experience. This is due to the fact that there are way too many Titans per match for them to be special in anyway. In my playing I receive roughly 3-4 Titans per match, as does everybody, so when there are roughly 30 freaking Titans in a match every time you play, Titans themselves cannot be that over powered or it would break the game and that is exactly what happens. These Titans are massive machines that can be destroyed in about 20 seconds, depending on where you spawn. In fact, about 50% of the time I end up killing more Titans than I do actual players (pilots). Due to the fragile nature of the Titans, I usually end up not entering them in the first place and having them go in follow mode so I don't die when they inevitably explode, using them more as a moving turret than an actual killing machine.
Get used to this happening to your Titan and try not to think of all those billions of dollars of space bucks that are wasted every time one goes up in flames.
Finally, the reason I have stopped playing multiplayer FPS games is not fixed or even really addressed in Titanfall. The people themselves, make this game no fun. I am roughly at level 23 right now and I absolutely get hammered by people in their 2nd or 3rd Generation (Prestige). The game has no really match making based on skill and sometimes sets you up against players that are so skilled that the game is over in a matter of minutes. Team scores routinely feature players earning 20 kills and 2 deaths while their opponents go 1 – 10. More balance is needed for causal players, because I will never have the time (or the will) to sink 100+ hours into repetitive multiplayer just to lift my Kill death ratio.
All of this has just left me sour on the whole Titanfall experience. I recognize the talent, skill and passion that went into devolving this game but for the all the millions of dollars that went into bringing us this, I had a more memorable time with Thomas Was Alone than I have had with Titanfall. If you haven't played it yet but are dying to due to all the hype, I wouldn't recommend that you buy this game. Pick up an old Call of Duty and pretend there are some robots walking around. I will still keep playing Titanfall for now, just like I stayed at that party but not because I want to but because I don't have any place better to be at the moment.
DanimalCart's Soapbox: 03/26/14