I’m back, and back on the topic of gaming again! This time I wanted to take a quick look at this week’s big headline release – Titanfall for the Xbox One. I still have no plans on buying a next generation console, so playing Titanfall isn’t on the cards for me any time soon. That said, I wanted to talk about the big thing that went largely un-mentioned about Titanfall – for all the hype and cost it’s a game without a singleplayer mode.
Titanfall has landed with us and seems to be going down a storm, despite some release day hiccups. It’s a big FPS release for the Xbox One which adds a well received Mech element to the very tired concept of the modern shooter. Titanfall is a very clever concept for that without a doubt, and it’s even fairly well explained in a (reasonably) believable back story and setting.
The thing is is that all of that is given in tiny little chunks, with the sole focus of the game being multiplayer. One of the lead developers of Titanfall (of ex-Call Of Duty fame) explained the decision – saying that he estimated only 5% of FPS players actually cared about the story/singleplayer elements of the games, so it was pointless for studios to bother making those elements any longer.
There’s definitely some legs to what they had to say. FPS singleplayer campaigns are abysmally poor, especially when compared to the game’s overall blockbuster budgets and advertising. Back in my Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 3 round-up I said I finished that campaign in 4 hours flat, without meaning to power through. I wasn’t even particularly wowed by it, just all-to-cliched set pieces of Paris burning, London burning, generic modern city swarming with [insert paranoid nasty enemy here]. Its all very uninspiring, and lacked any effort from the team that created it. I appreciated the graphics of the set-pieces, but they could’ve been condensed into a 5 minute trailer. Where was the gameplay?
Its, honestly, pretty rubbish stuff, so of course nobody plays them and cares for them. The multiplayer is the only place they can find the dynamic warfare that players seek in a FPS game. Why can’t singleplayer offer this as well? NPC programming exists to make them far more dynamic than any FPS has tried with recent releases, sticking to tired old corridor shoot-outs.
Titanfall, understandably, wanted to shake that up a bit.
Titanfall got rid of singleplayer altogether, but injected some of the story elements into multiplayer – a multiplayer which they went to great lengths to inject a lot of vigor and energy into compared to the rapidly greying FPS genre. Its not a bad idea, but I think it lacks ambition.
Multilayer is by definition already dynamic, but with that comes an isolation. Multiplayer, especially and notoriously with FPS games, is not accessible to the average casual player. Hardcore gamers know all the quirks and work arounds of the game engine, as well as all the limited maps back to front. There’s no way that a casual can play with hardcore players in that situation, and it leads to mutual resentment. I fear that Titanfall will fall into this trap for having focused on multiplayer so much.
The bold ambition would have been to take FPS single player campaigns back to basics, strip back the years of tat and restart with something fresh and ambitious. Make a truly dynamic single player, where you can have a roaming battle with NPCs, with a story attached to it. I don’t think any single player FPS game has ever surpassed the original Star Wars Battlefront in that field, and that’s what makes that such a classic to this day.
I wished Titanfall had been a bit bolder. I was excited when they were making sounds of reinventing the FPS genre, and they did a lot of good work on that. The trouble is, by making it multilayer only they risk making all that hard work go to waste. Here’s to more exciting single player modes in the future!
Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com