Mar 17, 2014

My Love/Hate Relationship With Titanfall

Titanfall just fell into our laps over a week ago, and I’ve been having a blast wall running and gunning my way to victory. But I can’t help but feel that for every step forward the game takes, it then proceeds to take two backward. It’s been very difficult for me to say that this game was worth the hype because of these steps backwards. Let me begin with what I think Titanfall does right, and by what it does right, it does better than most.

The multi-tiered staging of the combat between pilot and titan feels very much like a battle between David and Goliath, but neither feel dramatically more powerful than the other. Titans feel powerful, but not overpowered, and nothing stops an experienced player from taking one down. This tends to breed gameplay that is high octane, jumping from titan to titan, planting satchel charges, grabbing a zipline and gunning up enemies as you make your escape present moments that are truly unique, and in all, gives you one hell of an adrenaline rush.

But then, when you’re pulled from a match, you’re left with a sour taste in your mouth as you’re thrown into a lobby with a ninety second timer that no matter what you or your party members do, have to sit through. The lack of borderless windowed mode making alt-tabbing out of the game a nightmare to say the least. That is only the tip of the iceberg of things that absolutely drive me crazy and stops me from saying this is one of the best multiplayer experiences I’ve played in years. Respawn also figured it was a good idea to package a campaign within the title that functions a bit differently than the standard multiplayer. However, these differences are purely cosmetic and don’t change the actual gameplay which, sadly, is identical to the standard multiplayer.

These changes are more or less, a voiceover that plays in the lobby for that given level, and extended intro and outro cutscenes. There really is no point to playing the campaign unless you're interested in the lore of the universe, but even then, the way it’s presented is cheap at best. This only then amplifies another problem Titanfall has by restricting content behind the campaign, this content being the only two additional titans in the game. And since I don’t have the time, nor interest in playing the rather phoned in campaign, I’m only left with the option of creating custom titan loadouts with the one titan I have access to. I suppose it’s not a huge problem, but I can’t help but feel that this is just a needless attempt in order to artificially extend the time it takes to unlock different titans.

My final problem is Respawn's attempt to rework the concept of perks as seen in the Call of Duty franchise through the use of burn cards. These cards function in similar ways but provide more powerful boost that can only be used once per life. My problem with this system comes down to how fast the gameplay plays out, and I find more times than not I simply forget about the burn cards because I’m more concerned with getting back into combat to help my team. I currently have a full deck and haven’t used one in a few games simply because I forget that they're even there. I can’t help but shake the gimmicky feeling they give off, and I would much rather have perks I can set outside of the game and just have running in the background so I can focus on the chaotic nature found in game.

In all, these problems don’t stop the core game from being an absolutely incredible experience that provides very unique aspects in a genre that has sadly been getting a bit stale as of late. I think that alone is enough to excuse most of the problems. Titanfall definitely got me excited, not for the game we’re playing now, but for the ideas that Respawn is toying with, I honestly can’t wait to see what they have planned next.

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