Unfortunately the recent beta period came and went, and with it my hopes for the title. I had not properly researched this title, instead relying on videos, screenshot and hype to fuel my desire for this game. Thankfully the Beta weekend is going to save me the $60 launch price. For those of you who have followed me, Titanfall was one of my more anticipated titles for 2014.
So where is it exactly that Titanfall went wrong for me? In all fairness, Titanfall has never kept anything secret from me (or you). Instead the early game play clips focus on some very unique features and its pretty easy to overlook the underlying issue I now have with Titanfall. After playing in the beta this weekend, however, I took the time to research the company that worked on it.
Respawn Entertainments History & Implications
The developer, Respawn Entertainment, has had an interesting albeit brief history. Two of its founders were fired from Infinity Ward (creators of the modern day Call of Duty series) in 2010 for reasons beyond the scope of this article. Simultaneously a large portion of its staff (38 of 46 employees) quit and joined the new company. Their first project? Titanfall. Shocked? I was. I had no idea who Respawn was, nor did I know anything at all about the games creators. All I knew was that the game play peek I got at E3 placed it into the top of my must-play lists for 2014. Well, I played it, in 2014.
It shouldn’t surprise you then, after hearing of the Respawn Entertainments previous accolades, that Titanfall actually plays very much like a Call of Duty game. Read that again; this game plays like Call of Duty. Sure it has a neat futuristic mega-sized MechWarrior-like feel to it, but its merely a backdrop set against the same shitty Call of Duty game play that plagued the FPS industry in recent years. Whats wrong with Call of Duty game play? Great question.
Call of Duty game play is a first person shooter at its most basic. It rewards twitch reflexes and the feeling of instant gratification. It rewards players who play selfishly, surviving to get kill-streaks and increase their kill to death ratios to greater heights. Its fantastic for rewarding the type of play that makes me want to vomit.
Call me old fashioned, but the whole point of playing online games is to play WITH people. The sense of accomplishment when your team beats another should be achieved as a team effort; Not by a lone player dominating the whole other team because hes a basement dweller and has nothing but a life dedicated to ruining yours. Online play and the Call of Duty style are a symptom of what I believe is a very serious issue in gaming today. The need to appeal to the masses and reward players for their individual contributions has created a disconnect between the players and a place for players to work together.
I’m not saying that today’s gamers don’t work together, for every example I give I can think of one where they do. The problem is a trend exists where gamers are being encouraged to be selfish and play for themselves. In fact, most gaming today is oriented towards the casual gamer. Casual gaming rarely has time built into it to form up a group or to create social bonds. So if players themselves don’t have time to form a group, why create a game that rewards group or team play?
Back to Titanfall
The game played exactly like a Call of Duty game. Sure you have robots to ride around in, and you can wall jump to your hearts content. Yet the various game play modes still reward individual play and achievement. Your teams win or loss doesn’t matter; you are given a chance to escape even if you do lose (escape further minimizes your teams failure). Somehow Respawns managed to make losing no longer relevant. Another component for the casual gamer to not get upset over and to continue playing the game. These gamers don’t have to worry if their team loses, instead they can focus on whats most important to them; themselves.
Further compounding the issue is the traditional scoreboard. It emphasizes points, though merely to inform you of your progress towards a level. In fact its merely another extension of the kill-to-death ratio that millions of CoD fans strive to perfect. Sure, certain multiplayer modes will cover up the emphasis on individual casual play, but the core of the game is designed to make everyone feel competent at the game. Take for example, the auto-locking pistol you start with. There is little if any doubt in my mind that this was included to ease players into the death match frenzy. Yet its sole purpose is inclusion of the casual gamer, someone who will likely care less if his team wins. Hes just in it to blow someones head off (and quickly). The pistol minimizes the skill level needed to get a good “k:D ratio” and continues to trivialize the FPS market.
Unlike my current FPS favorite, Battlefield 4, the roles available within Titanfall are underwhelming. These are merely facades, providing a different means to an end to achieve the glorious K:D ratio. You can’t help your fellow player rearm, heal up, or repair your Titans. No. Your only job is to kill. The depth of game play and teamwork required in this game is truly shameful. Despite this, Titanfall is certainly going to be a popular title. This is especially true when considering its target audience; Call of Duty players looking for something “fresh”. Yet this popularity is meaningless in my opinion if the game keeps taking players down the wrong philosophical gaming road. For that reason alone, I’ve withdrawn my interest (and support) in this title. If you, however, are looking for a mindless killing death-match game with giant robots; Titanfall is for you.
#titanfall #callofduty #casualgaming