Titanfall should have been a success. It had literally everything going for it. Strong marketing, exposure from across the media. Finding itself at the forefront of EA and Microsoft’s promotional material, Titanfall felt established prior to release. Things didn’t pan out as expected. Ultimately, the next big thing in multiplayer shooters, quickly faded.
From time to time, I recall Titanfall’s existence. The shooter that EA pinned its hopes on to seize the throne. Full of fresh, but not necessarily new, ideas and call backs to shooters of old. New consoles generated a fair level of buzz, Titanfall was slowly placing its self as the poster boy of Xbox One. It made sense, a new generation of systems along with a new poster boy.
Call of Duty fatigue had left a small hole in the market, EA knew this. Bridging the gap between new and old wasn’t easy. Respawn’s attempts at creating a new experience, while trying to be familiar, acted as a major constrain. For a game full of fresh ideas, the undeniable familiarity of many Titanfall elements detract from the experience. It’s hard to feel like your playing something new when there’s so many familiarities.
Constant challenges popping up on screen and burn cards felt alien. Titanfall’s focus on speedy gameplay was stunted by design decisions. In full flow, huge challenge pops in the middle of the screen became a hindrance. They never felt like they had a place in a game where movement is key. It was these kinds of features that left Titanfall feeling like a hot pot of ideas.
Lacking a single player campign and multiplayer maps, the game’s life cycle was would never be long. EA love their DLC plans, Titanfall was just another case of this. It damaged the long term prospects, with player numbers dwindling at steady rates due to boredom. Bizarre decisions to remove gamemodes, only to add them back later, put more strain on the player base.
Titanfall was enjoy, at least for a time. The chaotic nature of each brief match supplied plenty of thrills. Witnessing Titan battles, while small fire-fights broke out, created a fantastic atmosphere. Movement was smooth and robust, influencing the rival franchise it aimed to replace. A decent game, but nothing more.
Looking back at Titanfall produces a few suspicions. Was the game ever supposed to be a ‘full release?’ it never truly played like one. Ideas and concepts glued together to see what worked, that is what Titanfall felt like. I can’t help but feel that Respawn had a huge amount of ideas that failed to make it into the final product. Being the poster child of both a publisher and console must have been a big strain. Pushed for release dates, and that prime release window, the end product felt unfinished.
Mostly forgotten, EA rarely speak of their ex-golden child. What does that mean for Titanfall? Probably a multi-format release. The foundations were there for a great experience, if only it was allowed to develop.