Titanfall: The Trials and Tribulations of Long-Term Multiplayer Enjoyment
Respawn Entertainment’s online shooter has plenty of room to grow but will players let it?
When Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer mode was first introduced, there was collective curiosity as to how Bioware would go about taking its predominantly story-based action RPG online. This was before the entire controversy regarding the ending erupted and for most, the result was a simple but still fun and addictive past-time. EA’s Origin might ruin it with connectivity issues and bugs – that still persist to this day (eat your heart out, Battlefield 4) – but it’s still an excellent multiplayer experience.
"But the concerns won’t go away for those who look at it as a typical first person shooter experience that doesn’t have much new to offer. “This was supposed to be the next big thing – why isn’t it exciting me right off the bat?”"
Now imagine Bioware had to make a multiplayer mode for Mass Effect 4. Imagine if they allowed you to not only play as Alliance Forces but also as the enemy waves attacking. Imagine if they introduced new modes, new maps, and a mix of AI enemies to make things a bit more challenging for both sides and story-based objectives to give the game a more rounded feel. It’s Mass Effect, naturally, so there would be excitement – especially since Bioware handled both the story and multiplayer so well.
And while that isn’t happening (yet), it’s amazing that Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall could be so routinely criticized for introducing what is essentially a story-based multiplayer experience. That too, with giant robots. Giant robots should make anything critic-proof (unless your name is Michael Bay and you’re ruining Transformers) but alas, skeptics still find problems with Titanfall’s overall approach. Even if the meat of the game is more about countering the other person’s counter and looking cool while doing it, giant robots or no.
The beta has also come rolling along and there are concerns as to whether the AI opponents are at all worth it. What about the resolution, which isn’t at 1080p? The battlefield looks kind of barren with only 12 players fighting each other; forget the utter chaos induced by some of the mechs. You could chalk all this up to Titanfall still being in the beta phase – and most players do. But the concerns won’t go away for those who look at it as a typical first person shooter experience that doesn’t have much new to offer. “This was supposed to be the next big thing – why isn’t it exciting me right off the bat?”
"Respawn could and most likely will add more Titans and classes down the line. It could add new AI soldiers to further increase the challenge for players who are finding the current Grunts too easy to dispose of. It could up the player count depending on the overall feedback and stability. "
When taken as a slice of what the game is capable of though, it’s easy to see that Titanfall succeeds. Does it offer seamless mech action and foot-soldiering mixed up with frantic combat that feels familiar yet operates wholly different? It does. It’s just like Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer – you may think you know what it’s like to run around and murder various Geth/Collectors/Reapers/Cerberus as Commander Shepard but multiplayer introduces a whole new dimension to the proceedings. You’re suddenly running around as a Fury Adept and blowing enemies up with biotic explosions. You’re working to earn Premium Spectre Packs and getting screwed every time by an existing weapon upgrade for a gun you don’t use rather than getting that Cerberus Harrier you want so badly.
But when players first experienced the demo – or the multiplayer selection as it released – you didn’t have a wide spread of planets to visit. The class selection can only be described as sparse and don’t get us started on the weapons. Were people still having fun with it? They were. Why? Because it was a brand new way to look at the game and at multiplayer in general, despite being so utterly so simple. Cue the “deceptively simple but insanely complex” line here.
Such is the case with Titanfall. Unlike Mass Effect 3, we truly haven’t seen what the full game will offer at launch. Respawn could and most likely will add more Titans and classes down the line. It could add new AI soldiers to further increase the challenge for players who are finding the current Grunts too easy to dispose of. It could up the player count depending on the overall feedback and stability.
"If you want instant satisfaction and a more visual indication of your progress, there’s Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4. They’ll satisfy your thirst for action while making you feel like you’re doing something."
And as players play more of the game, they’ll begin to discover just how different it is in terms of movement. Just how different was Team Fortress 2 for you when you discovered how useful the Soldier’s Rocket Jump was? Something similar could happen with Titanfall’s jetpack mechanics. All it needs is time.
It’s normal to criticize a multiplayer product for not immediately wowing you in the first hour. You’re going to be investing your time into this so it better be fun. The real fun doesn’t come from instant satisfaction in these kinds of games. It comes with learning the game and using what you’ve learned to outsmart your competition. Then you add giant robots to the mix because, why aren’t people raving about the giant robots?
If you want instant satisfaction and a more visual indication of your progress, there’s Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4. They’ll satisfy your thirst for action while making you feel like you’re being rewarded quickly. But if you want something a bit more substantial, it might be wise to wait and watch for games like Titanfall. They could yet surprise you.