Titanfall: My Lesson in Patience

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I like to think of myself as a generally patient person when it comes to new game releases and one who has a good eye for quality.  I like getting surplus value out of my new acquisitions, and that has to do a lot with price.  Granted, I will make an exception if I am 100% certain a game will be really good.  Skyrim, The Last of Us and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt are a few of these games.  But I must admit a moment of weakness, and its name is Titanfall.

The Pre-Release Hype Train

No, I didn’t fall for the hype train during E3 2013 when Titanfall was first unveiled, but in the weeks leading up to the game’s release.  You see, I originally had no intention of buying Titanfall on Day 1.  I wasn’t overly impressed when Microsoft insisted that this was what next-gen was supposed to look like.  Sure, it had giant hulking robots and fast, fluid movement that echoed shades of Modern Warfare 2 (the last great Call of Duty IMO). But it just felt like there was something missing.

But I must admit a moment of weakness, and its name is Titanfall.

I saw style but didn’t feel substance.  I also like to play just about everything that I can get my hands on, so that I can rationally formulate some opinion to give to people.  So my original plan was to wait it out.  EA Games get cheap quicker than most, surely Titanfall would be the same.  Then the Beta happened.

Ultimately, I ignored my gut feelings after playing the Beta, which I thought was pretty good, but not amazing.  I chalked it up to me being spoiled and hard to impress (which I am, especially the latter).  I ended up caving into the hype around me and pre-ordered the game on Amazon for full price, ignoring everything I was feeling on the inside and my “right game, right price” inner mantra that I carry.

I told myself, “I keep coming back to Modern Warfare 2.  Titanfall will just be my next-gen version of that.”  Now here it is, one year later, and the online community of Titanfall, the life blood of online-only games, is a ghost town.  Not only that, Titanfall doesn’t even come close to sniffing Modern Warfare 2.  And I feel like an idiot.

Post Release Deflation

Don’t get me wrong, Titanfall is nowhere near deserving of the label, “bad game.”  It’s a good game; it’s just not a great game.  Instead of a 9.5, it’s more like a 7.  In other words, it wasn’t quite worth the full price of admission.  A lot of people who write about the failures of multiplayer-only games tend to chalk it up to emotionally cliched ideals like “people expect more from their games, so treat your players with respect.”  Yes and no.

I unabashedly lean towards single player, narratively driven experiences, but I was never naive enough to believe that there would be a true merger between the realms of single and multiplayer that would be “unlike anything I had ever seen”, a phrase uttered far too often during Microsoft’s E3 2013 press conference (Seriously guys, Thesaurus.com is your friend).  Titanfall had to be played as a multiplayer game, that was common knowledge.  But I wanted it for nothing more than a competitive multiplayer shooter and expected nothing past that.  And that was exactly what I got.  So why have I had difficulty returning to the game over the past year?

Titanfall doesn’t even come close to sniffing Modern Warfare 2.  And I feel like an idiot.

Is it because none of my friends had or wanted Xbox One and couldn’t play with me?  Not really.  That never stopped me with Modern Warfare 2.  Was it the lack of a real single player experience?  While it was true that the “Campaign” was little more than slightly dressed up sets of Team Deathmatch and Control Point modes, it was exactly what I expected.  Titanfall still had weapon unlocks that were made famous by Modern Warfare’s merge of Role-Playing progression into the heavy action of multiplayer shooters.  

It’s hard for me to put my finger on it and lay out a series of concrete reasons why I just didn’t fall in love with Titanfall like I did Modern Warfare 2.  I’ve just never had an instance with Titanfall where “just one more round” turned into three more hours of me saying that to myself.  “Just one more round” has always meant “just one more round.”  Sorry Titanfall, I guess we’re just going to have to be friends.

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