One week in, and I think it's safe to say I am still getting my butt roundly kicked in “Titanfall.”
Let's start with the adjustment I'm still making to the use of an XBox One. I played the PS3 for so many years that the controller just plain felt right in my hand. The use of it was fairly second-nature. Adjusting to a new console controller is like deciding you want to learn to write with the opposite hand that you use currently. It's the same basic action, but it's not easy to learn.
Even so, I can report with utter confidence that “Titanfall” is amazing. It is frustrating. It can be exhilarating. It is fiendishly well designed. And it is a playground if you can get your friends to play with you. That's been a big part of what I've enjoyed playing it, that ability to join a party full of friends and chatting while we play. It also led to a truly soul-crushing moment, but I'll explain that later.
The thing is, I'm not a guy who can spend 30 hours a week playing games. I'm not a guy who can even spend ten hours a week playing games. But when I do get a chance to play, I am playing as aggressively as I can so I can level up. There is a Level 50 cap on the game… sort of… and along the way, you are constantly unlocking things and upgrading weapons and building out your Titan and your Pilot. There's less customization than I've seen in a lot of other online multiplayer games, but the people that have been playing constantly seem to have been able to really fine tune their load-outs, and I've noticed that with Titans in particular, there are some seriously differences in power.
When you reach level 50, you have to accomplish some particular tasks and then you drop back to level 1, but with a “G2” label by your name. Every 50 levels, you jump a generation. I've seen several G2 players, a lot of G3 players, and even a few G4 and G5 players. But the craziest thing I've seen so far, considering the game's been out for just over a week, was sent to me by my buddy Aaron:
I think it's safe to assume I'm never going to rack up that much time playing any game. While that is intimidating to see, I've noticed from several of the games I've played that players aren't automatically better just because they've played more hours. Good teamwork can be the key to winning a match that looks uneven on paper, and it's a great feeling when we've managed to beat a team that should have crushed us.
When I start broadcasting tonight, I'm going to play “Titanfall” for the second half of the broadcast, but I also want to try “Dead Rising 3,” which just arrived today from GameFly. I'm not sure if you guys buy all the games you play, but they're expensive, and about two years ago, I decided that I would use GameFly to decide if I wanted to buy something. If I think a game is really fun to play, and if I think it' something I might play more than once, I'll spring for the full purchase price. But I've saved so much money on games that I thought were just okay or that I got bored with quickly, and I've sent back more games than I've actually played all the way through. It's hard for me describe what that killer combination is for me that makes a game worth owning, but it all comes down to how much time I actually spend with something.
When I play a game like “Red Dead Redemption” or “Mass Effect 2” or “Sleeping Dogs” or “Uncharted” or “Infamous,” I get lost in them. When I play a game like “Skyrim” or “Fallout 3” or “Assassin's Creed: Black Flag,” I lose time to those worlds, and happily. I am more than willing to hand myself over to a game for weeks at a time if they make the experience worthwhile. Something like “Borderlands” gets its hooks in me, and I have no choice. I have to play every single corner of these amazing worlds that they built.
I'm actually glad “Titanfall” doesn't have a more robust story element, because I've been able to enjoy it in small bursts. I can hop on, play a quick Attrition match or a game of Hardpoint, and then I'm out. That's been nice this week, and I've had a few chances to play with my friends, and with some people that I haven't actually met. Early in the week, I was playing a match with a group of people including my friend Aaron, and we were chatting away.
The door to the office opened and my wife walked in, deeply irritated about something, and I could tell she was going to unload on me. I said, “XBox mute,” thinking that would silence communications in both directions. The TV went silent, and my wife began to yell at me about something. This went on for about three minutes before my phone started ringing. I glanced at the caller ID and saw that it was my friend Aaron. I figured he was going to ask me if I was still playing, so I ignored it. My wife was working up a real head of steam by this point, and the phone just kept ringing, and I finally got up and led her into another room so we wouldn't be able to hear the phone.
It was only after I got back to the game that I was informed that saying “XBox mute” does not, in fact, turn off the Kinnect's microphone, and that everything we had said in the office was broadcast to everyone. Mortifying. That is literally the exact thing I was worried would happen with having an open mic in my office, but at least now I know how to shut the mic off if I want to.
I'm going to start broadcasting tonight sometime between 8:30 and 9:00 PST, and I'll broadcast for several hours. We'll try “Dead Rising 3” first, and then we'll move over to “Titanfall.” Once again, if you want to join in, my gamer tag is FatherFilmNerd, and I'm going to do my best not to just stay in one group the entire time.
Here's an embed from the “Dead Rising 3” session:
And here's an embed from our “Titanfall” game: