When Titanfall came out back in March, I recommended it mostly on the strength of its Capture the Flag mode. I now retract that recommendation. Developers Respawn Entertainment have removed the ability to play both Capture the Flag and Pilot Hunter modes on PC, except through the Variety option (which picks your mode at random) or Private Match beta (which pretty much requires that you have eleven friends all waiting to play with you).
In other words: two months after release, they've removed the main thing I liked from a game which costs, via EA's Origin, £45.
Here's the relevant parts of Respawn's explanation for the decision.
Yesterday we removed CTF and Pilot Hunter as separate playlists in the PC version of Titanfall [...] CTF and Pilot Hunter have not been widely used modes on the PC version. Players trying to access these modes had overlong wait times to find other users and it was making for a poor experience. We want to make sure that not only is there compelling content in the playlists we offer, but that the experience of joining a match works well. We’re tracking what playlists players are choosing, and we’re going to continue to look at unpopular playlists and add new ones on both platforms.
[...] We will still rotate Pilot Hunter and CTF in for future playlists as well as adding new riffs on game types that Respawn is currently working on. Our goal is to have a wide variety of playlists that are popular and changing. That said, we will not remove modes from Private Matches, so there will always be the option to select them for competitive and personal play. Thanks for your understanding as we try to make Titanfall a better experience for everyone.
Not being able to play my favourite mode at all is not a better experience than having to wait five minutes to find a match. Even if Respawn or EA disagree, doesn't paying for the game mean players should be able to make that decision for themselves?
The thought that CTF might one day "rotate" back into the options is cold comfort. Especially when currently, in place of CTF and Pilot Hunter, you'll find two new modes: Expedition Variety and Expedition Attrition. What are those? Two new modes which use maps that require you to buy the newly released Expedition DLC. That'll cost you £8 via Origin, or £20 for the season pass which also nets you whatever they're planning to add next.
Nothing happens if I click that "GO TO STORE" button, by the way. I think it's trying to open the Origin overlay, but that doesn't work for me. It never has.
Titanfall was a fun game upon release. Its robots are a childish delight, its double-jumps and parkour are an adrenaline rush, and CTF was the mode that most thoughtfully utilised both. The game was also lamentably hamstrung by many of the trappings of a modern multiplayer shooter: you couldn't select what map you wanted to play, there was no server browser, no dedicated servers, no clan infrastructure and no mod support. Two months later, Respawn have added private matches (in beta!) and taken away the only game mode I still wanted to play. It's hugely disappointing.
I guess it could be worse. It could be Battlefield 4.
The number of games available to play on PC right now is absurd, and no matter what type of game you're looking for there are options to choose from. So I suppose my question is, if I can't predict that what I'm paying for will still exist even two months after release, why would I ever buy an EA or Respawn multiplayer game again? And for as long as anyone buys the game based on the modes still being advertised on the game's own website (without any mention of those modes being essentially unplayable) can those customers have a refund if they want one?
I've emailed EA to ask.