Titanfall: Counter to the Critics
by Corey Kirk
One of my colleagues wrote an article the other day expressing a negative view towards Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall. While the article is a fun read and something you should look at, there are many points made that I would like to discuss. I want to discuss them because I feel that Titanfall is new, and may be the first true next-gen title for Microsoft and EA alike.
Stand by. Prepare for...Call of Duty?
The first major criticism many people bring up is that Titanfall is too close to Call of Duty. Respawn has kept all the “old aspects” and who cares if there are mechs present. The article says about Titanfall:
"Nothing I have seen shows me a good game at all. Everything Respawn has told us, which isn’t much, points to the same old aspects that we’ve all grown so tired of in Call of Duty. All right, so there are mechs known as Titans in the game. Who cares? If we want a true mech-combat game, Hawken just released on Steam Early Access. It isn’t a groundbreaking feature to have giant mechanical walking behemoths in your game, nor does it make you innovative"
There is some faulty logic with these statements.
First, Respawn consists of 70 developers that also worked on COD. It is no wonder that the infantry combat feels a bit like it; but is that a bad thing? Up until Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the smoothness of the controls and movement mechanics were praised by the majority of gamers. It wasn’t until it became popular to hate on COD, years later that this “feel” was questioned. Besides, the game feels more like the shooters of yore, like Unreal Tournament, than modern-day COD.
The question that comes to my mind is do people know that the devs come from COD? If so, perhaps this point that we see is more like a little bias?
The second part of this argument is rather easy to counter. Games like Hawken or MechWarrior don’t allow you to get out of your mech. In fact, no other mech-based game lets you get out of your mech when you want or provides as many varieties of strategies of how to use your mech. (*Editor’s Note: I know about Battlefield 2142. My point still stands.)
The next issue people bring up is the horrendous AI. I would like to point to popular MOBAs. In games like League of Legends or DOTA 2, there are only five players on a team. The rest of your team consists of AI called Minions. In order to rank up your character, it is your job to grind on these minions to earn enough to buy your incredibly important items. There is never a time when the minions are not treated as cannon fodder. The greatest threat is always the other players.
The same concepts apply to Titanfall. The game only has six players on a team. The rest of your team consists of AI called Grunts. In order to get your Titan, it is your job to grind on these grunts to earn enough to dwindle your build timer to get your incredibly important mech. There is never a time when the grunts are not treated as cannon fodder. The greatest threat is always the other players.
Titanfall's lack of a single player mode.
Let’s take a look at the lack of a single-player mode. Titanfall is not the first game to exclude single player and go full multiplayer. In fact, some of the most innovative shooters in history have forgone the single player route. Did you know that without a game called Starsiege: Tribes we would never have had the iconic gravity gun which became popular in Half-Life 2? Guess what? Tribes was, and still is, a multiplayer only game.
(A group of Starsiege: Tribes players posing.)
That said, Respawn has promised to include a story arc that is similar to a single player experience. Please look no further than an E3 reveal trailer from last year which shows a story driven narrative.
Who would buy a collector's edition of a game that isn't even out yet?
I laugh when I see people dismissing collector editions of games. Complaining about a Collector’s Edition for Titanfall shows me that some people think there are no fans of the game and one is crazy for wanting to buy a $250 version of the game that includes a collectible Titan statue with LED lights, 190 page art book, and schematics for the Atlas Titan. Surely no one wants all of that do they?
Of course they do. I know many people, whether they are tabletop gamers, avid collectors, or just enjoy splurging a little on games that gladly pay $250 for a limited collector’s edition. I would suggest to the critics that just because you won’t pay $250 for a game doesn’t mean others won’t and to say true fans don’t exist yet and shouldn't buy a collector's edition is a fallacy. Please look at Respawn’s official forums and you will see plenty of true fans.
The question that does remain is this; is Titanfall truly next-gen and does it deserve all the praise?
To find out, make sure you read my full review when Titanfall launches March 11th.Originally Published Feb. 19th 2014