Bigger is better, says conventional wisdom. And by wisdom, I mean idiocy. “Size matters” is a phrase I’ve found to apply largely to jerks in giant trucks and Reese’s peanut butter cups (the smaller ones taste better for some reason; it is probably wizardry). Many games, in fact, suffer with more players in the mix. So I’ve never really gotten the inevitable tidal wave of enraged tears that hits every time a developer announces that their multiplayer shootything won’t feature 488370630-player battles. And yet, here we are. Titanfall is a 12-player affair, and many fans aren’t exactly pleased.
Respawn’s Vince Zampella made the initial announcement on Twitter:
“6v6 is max player count. Turned out to be the best balance with AI for us. That’s humans only count. There are lots of AI, everyone can have a Titan in follow or guard mode too.”
Meanwhile, producer Drew McCoy doused flames on NeoGAF, further explaining that this isn’t a matter of laziness or flabby technical muscles. It’s about what works best for the game Respawn designed.
“We tried a huge amount of player counts (all the way down to 1v1 and up quite high) and designed the maps, gameplay mechanics, and entire experience around which played best. If anyone wants to chase the numbers game, perhaps we’re not the experience they’re after? I dunno.”
“And FYI, for amount of stuff happening at once in a map you’ll be hard pressed to find a game that keeps the action higher. Remember, you can get out of your Titan and let it roam on AI mode – meaning there can be 12 Pilots wallrunning around, 12 Titans stomping below, and dozens of AI doing their thing.”
So battles are much larger than a simple 6v6 count lets on, and having played a couple demos of the game, I can attest to this. But, more than anything, the game is about options and constant variation. Tiny meat body not doing it for you? Then call down a steel Hulk from the heavens and take refuge in its innards. That said, I haven’t played enough to get a clear indication of how different AI is from traditional bots (Respawn claims it’s very different) and whether or not it’s a game-changer. Respawn’s being pretty vehement about all of this, but I can’t blindly sing Titanfall’s praises just yet.
The demos I’ve played were quite fun taken on their own merits, though. I don’t think Titanfall will be, like, life-changing or anything, but so far it’s a solid shooter with fun movement and an empowering mech mechanic. It might gas-out quickly and topple into the big gimmick scrap heap into the sky, but there’s no way of knowing right now. Really, this whole outburst of anger is pretty silly in that respect. All people have to go on is a number. Oh, the Internet.
I just wish half the gaming community wasn’t obsessed with everything being Bigger, Better, and More Badass. It’s a mentality propagated by publishers, developers, and gamers alike – a vicious cycle that feeds back into itself in a never-ending loop – but it’s prone to rapidly diminishing returns. Big doesn’t equal great. It just equals big. Good on Respawn for sticking to its guns.