Have You Played… Titanfall?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

Titanfall [official site] found ways to marry the hitscan weapons and low time-to-kill combat of military shooters with the kinetic, frenetic fighting of Quake and Unreal Tournament. Those ways were called “parkour” and “mechs”.

As a foot soldier, you’d use jump jets to soar on to rooftops, then sprint and wallrun to move across the industrial planets you were fighting upon. Earn a few kills in the multiplayer mode, or simply wait long enough, and you could then call down a mech from the sky. Your robot buddy could then act as mobile sentry or welcome you into the warm embrace of his chest cavity so you could pilot him directly. This war on two different scales was a thrill, particularly in Capture The Flag.

It was full of little moments of drama. When you’d leap onto the back of an enemy Titan and hold on for long enough to tear out its battery. When you’d lose a match and would need to flee to your dropships, pursued by the winners. When you’d be in the midst of a tense firefight and you’d unlock your titanfall ability, and turn the tide with the stomping arrival of a giant robot. It was a great game.

I was thinking about why Titanfall didn’t take off a few weeks ago and, yeah, I agree with Chris Donlan. The game’s drab, mining corporation fiction does it no favours and runs counter to the giddy fantasy of its mechanics. But it probably also didn’t help that the game sold at a ridiculous £50 at launch, with no real singleplayer modes, plenty of paid DLC, no mods, no dedicated servers and little or no progression system to tie the disparate battles of its multiplayer together.

18 Comments

  1. crazyd says:

    no dedicated servers

    This is incorrect. The game does run on dedis. They aren’t user hosted or anything, but it’s not P2P.

  2. drewski says:

    I wonder who it was at Infinity who knew how to design single player games, back in the days of the first Call of Duty, and what that person (or people) are doing now and whether they wistfully look back on those days and despair at the butt-following SP (not present here) + frentic MP mess that Infinity and then, Respawn, turned into.

    Oh well. Good memories anyway. Shame about, you know, everything.

    • aldo_14 says:

      You didn’t like the Titanfall 2 single-player, then?

      • drewski says:

        I haven’t, to be fair, played that yet. It’s on the list, hard to justify AUD $90 for a five hour campaign if I never intend to touch MP.

  3. vorador says:

    And to make things worse, not only it sold very well, but the sequel which is a much better game was a complete dud.

  4. devonair says:

    The Titanfall franchise is a frustrating one for me: my wife and I LOVED the original game, but the lack of splitscreen multiplayer meant that we just kept going back to (the arguably inferior) COD Ghosts. As fun as that first game was, it wasn’t fun enough to keep passing the controller back and forth between rounds.
    The lack of a real campaign mode also made the game feel really expensive — despite the fact that the game ended up in the bargain bin for HUGE discounts relatively quickly. The sequel’s campaign certainly made up for that (damn, that was a REALLY good campaign), but the multiplayer just wasn’t as fun to me as the original (the new Titan classes and Titan-specific weapons never felt right to me) — AND I still couldn’t play the game with my wife.
    All of this is a shame, because the original title was easily the game that I was most excited for before it came out and a huge reason why I chose an Xbox One over a PS4. *shrug*

  5. Premium User Badge

    Nauallis says:

    Yup, it was fun, while the multiplayer population lasted.

    I’m grateful that the veteran staff of Infinity Ward left to make this game, since it emphasized oh so well how stuck-in-a-rut the CoD series is.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Masked Dave says:

    I’m not a multiplayer gamer normally, but Titanfall really managed to get under my skin as something you can just drop into and have a half hour blast of fun with. Especially with their “shuffled” rotation modes which would rotate through all the different modes to keep it interesting.

    Oddly, while I loved the single player campaign in the sequel, I completely bounced off the multiplayer. But that was more their software which I just found really confusing. I just want a big “PLAY ROBOTS FIGHTING” button and be done.

    However I’m happy you reminded me about this today as I’m getting fibre installed tomorrow and needed an online game to test it out.

  7. Vandelay says:

    Not played 1, but I have played and loved 2. I made the grave error of buying it on PS4 though.* It was fine the first couple of weeks, until I drifted away and returned another couple of weeks. Only people that were left seemed to be pro with a controller, whereas I am merely average. On PC, I’m sure I could have done well enough to have fun, but I just couldn’t keep up with any one on a console and languidly sat at the bottom of every scoreboard.

    The single player was fantastic, albeit short. If you can get the game for cheap now, I would really recommend it for that alone.

    *Not as big as the error I made of getting The Witcher 3 and all DLC on the PS4. The load times are just unbearable.

  8. Kushiel says:

    “When you’d leap onto the back of an enemy Titan and hold on for long enough to tear out its battery.”

    That’s in the second game. In the first, you rip off the armor protecting the titan’s engine and can inflict huge damage by shooting it with your anti-personnel weapons.

    I *loved* rodeoing.

  9. Sulpher says:

    This game whips ass. The most tactile shooter on the market.

  10. TychoCelchuuu says:

    I really liked Titanfall and I like Titanfall 2 even more. I was very prepared to hate the whole “lots of bots running around in the game” aspect but it turned out to work very well. They give you something to shoot at to earn points, at the risk of alerting enemy players, and they fill out the battle to make it feel more crowded. They never get in the way or muck things up. I like how the franchise got us a little closer to the wonderful days of Starsiege: Tribes by letting people wallrun and double jump and so on. The Titans work very well and of course the guns feel great because the developers are experts at this. I think my only real issue is that all the guns are rather boring bullet shooting things, which Titanfall 2 addresses a bit with the EPG and so on.

  11. malkav11 says:

    I have. People (some on this very site!) sold it to me as a multiplayer shooter for people who can’t get on with multiplayer shooters, the next TF2. This was a filthy lie.

    My experience with it involved dying the second another player entered visual range, whether or not I actually saw them prior to my instant demise. The “noob” pistol that’s supposed to be so easy as to involve no skill was no help at all in shooting anything other than bots. I did once accidentally kill someone by stepping on them with my Titan. And I managed to extract once after one of the crushing defeats my side literally always experienced no matter which side I was on. (Probably because I was always on a team of rank newbies being matchmade against 5+ prestige players.) That is about as positive an experience as I ever had with it. It was an utterly, crushingly miserable game and I will never ever touch the multiplayer in 2, although I do appreciate that they took the concepts that made the first game appeal and injected them into a nicely varied singleplayer campaign that’s the reason I even own 2.

  12. Raoul Duke says:

    The price at launch and the horrendous match-making system were the killers for this game.

    It meant that lots of people like me held off until the price dropped. By then the initial wave of players had gone away to play other things. Then even when there were plenty of people around, you could never find a game of anything other than vanilla team deathmatch.

    Some very basic changes to the matchmaking would have made a massive difference. E.g. let you search for multiple game types at once, let you see who was actually in games and joining a queue to jump in for the next round, etc. Instead you got a completely information-free screen telling you the system was trying to find a game and then… nothing.

  13. frogulox says:

    Does the single player still work as a bot skirmisher? Or does it need to connect to all the things to provide a secured space for an online single player experience?

    • malkav11 says:

      What singleplayer are you talking about? Titanfall 1 is 100% multiplayer modes, one of which is ostensibly a story campaign but contains next to no story but is still fully played with other human beings, who will mercilessly stomp you into the dirt. If you’re thinking about the sequel, as far as I know the SP in that is offline.

  14. PearlChoco says:

    Way too visceral for me.

  15. Premium User Badge

    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    “When you’d leap onto the back of an enemy Titan and hold on for long enough to tear out its battery.”

    That’s Titanfall 2 isn’t it? The first just let you jump on and shoot at a weak point.

    I had pretty much no interest in this game until I learned it was running on Source. Ended up getting it on sale for $5 and had a really fun few weeks with it. The sequel improves the game in every way though.