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August 7, 2017 | by  | in Games | [ssba]

Titanfall Deserves Better

It was one of the most anticipated games of 2014, a brand new IP from the team that made Call of Duty the juggernaut it is today. It combined fast-paced movement and parkour elements with giant mechs that really pack a punch. Its sequel built on everything the original did well, in addition to having one of the best single player campaigns in recent times. It showed the world that multiplayer shooters could be something more.

So why does Titanfall get nowhere near as much love as it deserves?

I picked up the original Titanfall when it launched on PC in March 2014, eager to try out what had been hyped up as an innovative next-gen experience that would change the way we thought about multiplayer shooters. I was almost instantly hooked by the speed of on-foot movement as a “pilot” (reminiscent of “arena shooters” like Unreal Tournament), and the adrenaline rush that came with calling down a Titan and rampaging through the map. The Smart Pistol was the game’s most iconic weapon, requiring good positioning and strategy to lock onto enemies for kills; while many argue it was unbalanced, I contend that the amount of time needed to lock onto pilots is much longer than just aiming with a different weapon. Regardless, I had so much fun, even with no single-player mode to speak of, and I begged everyone I knew to try it.

Unfortunately, a number of factors conspired to make Titanfall fade into near-obscurity. While developers Respawn Entertainment had high autonomy, the game was published by Electronic Arts at a time when the latter company was especially hated. EA had been named the Worst Company in America as a result of numerous controversies, including the botched launches of SimCity and Battlefield 4, and while Titanfall had few issues at launch, the presence of a season pass for paid DLC maps did not help perceptions. The PC player-base evaporated to the point where the concurrent player count in the most popular game mode was often below 1000 three months post-launch — a death sentence for multiplayer-focused games. In addition, the game was subject to a console exclusivity deal with Microsoft, which quickly turned out to be a case of backing the wrong horse.

These factors would come back to haunt the series once Titanfall 2 was announced. Everything related to this game’s late 2016 launch seemed like a desperate attempt to fix the perceived mistakes made with the original; not only would there be a full single-player campaign and no paid DLC at all, but the game would be on PS4 as well. Unfortunately, EA screwed up the timing and managed to launch the game in-between its own Battlefield 1 and CoD: Infinite Warfare, two of the largest game releases of the year. As a consequence, sales of the sequel were a fraction of the original, dooming the game to low player counts and potential irrelevance.

Titanfall doesn’t deserve to become irrelevant. It is a series that has dared to shake things up, and hasn’t been afraid to make things purely about having fun rather than getting involved in a dick-swinging contest with its competitors. It proved that not every game needs to become an e-sport for players to find it compelling. Perhaps most importantly, and in light of its perceived failure, Titanfall proves that no matter how good your game might be, long-term success is not always guaranteed.

Besides, it helps that the game is going cheaply at this point. I recommend picking up Titanfall 2 either during a sale or with Origin Access, where it will be available in the Vault.


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