Why Titanfall Is A Great Game That’s Going To Come Up Short

Senior Contributor
02.17.14 20 Comments


Titanfall is in open beta on both PC and Xbox One between now and the 19th. We played a few games on Xbox One over the weekend, and the truth is, well, the game is not going to meet the hype.

The Best There Is At What It Does

That’s not to say it’s a bad game. Quite the opposite, actually; it’s a fairly frantic multiplayer shooter with some smart ideas. The fact that, if your team loses, you can sprint for the evac point and save a little face, for example, is an incredibly smart idea, and seeing the “verticality” of the game in action really gets across how thought-out the level design is. Wall-running is a hoot.

Oddly, the robots are ultimately more fun to watch fight than they are to fight as. While the mech controls aren’t terribly fussy, and they do change how you navigate the level, the minute you climb in you’re going to get pounded. Honestly, you’ve got the tools to run around the level and blow stuff up already; the giant robots are more a fun distraction than anything else. It doesn’t help that the art direction is almost offensively bland and generic; how such a well-designed game wound up looking like literally every other game with robots is baffling. Also, the AI soldiers are middling in intelligence, at best, but we’ve seen worse and they’re handy to have around.

In short, it’s a clever and polished game… aimed squarely at a narrow audience. This isn’t a crowd-pleasing shooter; it’s a cult game in the making. Titanfall is going to be a game where a small hardcore audience plays it for years, and nobody else bothers with it.

Second Verse, Same As The First

The fundamental problem here is, well, it’s just another multiplayer shooter. It’s a very well-crafted one, it’s one made by people who love the genre, but the creativity pretty much stops at “We’ve got giant robots!” The beta doesn’t have any new modes to show off, and has little more than variations on a theme within those modes.

That’d be fine if this were a $15 downloadable game, but it’s a $60 boxed game Microsoft has poured a staggering amount of resources into. The beta has no story to speak of, and Respawn has admitted that’s going to carry over into the main game. It’s an incredibly fun game for about an hour or so, but then you’re pretty much all set; unless you’re really into hypercompetitive multiplayer shooters, there’s nothing compelling, no hook to make you wonder what comes next.

True, a lot of people are, in theory, into hypercompetitive multiplayer shooters, and if nothing else, the fact that the beta wasn’t a buggy mess puts it ahead of a few other games we could name this generation. Respawn deserves credit for putting together a technically accomplished game, if nothing else.

But it’s an artless one that’s ultimately uncompelling, a snack tray sitting among meals. We have a sneaking suspicion that if there’s a Titanfall 2, it’s going to include a single-player mode.

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