I used to play multiplayer games all of the time. Four-player split-screen sessions of Goldeneye 007 and Mario Kart, co-op sessions of Star Wars: Battlefront, etc, etc. This continued onto the PC around 2003 with the release of the original Call of Duty, which I probably dropped hundreds of hours into.
That was back when there were no customization classes and XP to rank up; it was that good of a game all on its own. The Call of Duty craze continued onto the 360 with Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2. I had a group of friends I played with on more-or-less a nightly basis for months, until finally the appeal started to wear off.
Part of the reason was due to the fact that real life started happening, and people became a lot busier with other things and our group play time decreased a lot. The more influential reason however, was because I started to see what constant multiplayer grinding in a handful of games was doing to my backlog. Too many great games to count were coming and going, and I came to the realization that I wasn’t playing any of them. There finally came a point where I was sick of always being behind and never being able to follow along conversations, because of the fact that I hadn’t played the recent, most popular games. It was mainly for that reason that I switched to playing games for the singleplayer experience, which allowed me to enjoy the story and characters instead of listening to the screeches of 13 year-olds.
When I first saw Titanfall at E3 I was really skeptical of it. Sure it looked great, but Respawn also put an emphasis on the fact that the game was going to be multiplayer focused and not really have much of a singleplayer campaign. I was fairly convinced that despite all of the hype for it, I was going to pass in order to focus on games with an actual story. But then the beta came around, and almost instantaneously I bought into what Titanfall was selling. It was fast-paced, it was hectic, and there was rarely a dull moment to be had. Over the course of the weekend I went from a decision that I wasn’t going to get the game to I absolutely was going to get the game.
To no surprise, the full game has been even better than the demo. That fast-paced, hectic gameplay wasn’t just some trickery of the demo, but is even better than before. The most rewarding feeling of the game is the freedom of movement you have as a pilot, parkouring from surface to surface, and wall-running in between. If you’re actually playing the game in the spirit in which it was made, there should be very few moments where you find yourself standing still for extended periods of time. That constant movement to work your way to an objective, or even just find enemies, leaves very little time to ever be bored with the game.
On the flip side of the pilots are the hulking titans. The inclusion of the titans into the fray of things was really well handled. Unlike in other multiplayer games, where a player earning killstreaks could ultimately mean game over for the other team, titans are not overpowered to the point where pilots have no chance. Instead the two are really well balanced, leading to certain circumstances where it may be better to be on foot as a pilot, and vice versa. It also makes no difference how good/bad at the game you are; every player will ultimately get a titan drop, with the quickness in which you get it depending on how many kills you get.
I still get excited every time it’s time to call in my titan, and looking towards the sky to watch it drop into battle. Thumping around in it, while just shredding apart pilots, grunts, and spectres is just such a satisfying feeling. At the same time there is always the thought in the back of your head to keep your distance from groups of buildings, because enemy pilots could jump on to rodeo your titan from anywhere. The fact that you carry this sense of caution, even while being in a massive, death-machine mech, really helps to keep you on your toes throughout every match you play.
The addition of the AI grunts and spectres was actually a pretty brilliant decision as well. It really helps the battlefield to feel “full” and gives the player some easy targets. There was a ton of concern when Respawn first announced that the matches would only be 6v6 as to whether that would be too few players. That has proven to be a weightless concern, as the 6v6 feels perfectly fine during the game. Honestly if the matches were any bigger it would probably get too out of control, considering the size of the maps feels more designed for a smaller play count.
How dull Titanfall makes other multiplayer games seem was put on display recently. I spent the past weekend watching the Call of Duty World Championship streams, which put me in the mood to hop in to play some online multiplayer. Now I’ve never considered CoD’s multiplayer to be either fast or slow in particular, but after spending time with Titanfall, it seems incredibly dull and boring. Just trying to sprint forward seems to be weighted down and just a chore to accomplish. I told myself once I realized how great Titanfall was that I’d never go back to Call of Duty because of it, and now I know that’s a reality. There’s just no going back after you’ve experienced how fast-paced Titanfall is.
Titanfall is something that the multiplayer scene has really needed for quite some time. A lot of games have been getting caught in the common mold that allows a multiplayer to pass as ‘ok’ rather than push to be something a little more special. Even just the pacing alone makes Titanfall much more notable than its fellow games around it. Here’s hoping that more developers take note of this success and strive to break the mold, like Titanfall and even The Last of Us, and not just like another Call of Duty.