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Titanfall handles well in the wild, but those campaigns are a mess – opinion

Wednesday, 12th March 2014 14:13 GMT By Dave Cook

Titanfall reviews happened on Tuesday, but we held off to give you a fairer view of how the online shooter handles outside of a press environment. Dave Cook says it’s fine, but feels the campaigns are pointless.

Titanfall Screen 4

As you can see from these Titanfall reviews, the games press really liked Respawn Entertainment’s shooter debut. I get the feeling few people were surprised at the numbers after months of hype and positive coverage.

“The skill-set picked up from Call of Duty is applicable in Titanfall in that you need to move fast, shoot quick and be wary of each arena’s layout. That’s pretty much where the raw comparisons end.”

For months many of you complained that the press was being suckered into the vortex of excitement and headlines orchestrated by EA’s marketing puppeteers and spin doctors, and that the game couldn’t possibly be as good as we were all making out. God forbid the critics get universally optimistic about a game for once, but I agree with the critical consensus; Titanfall a superb shooter that offers a new dynamic on the twitch arena format. It is a good game.

We’re not a review site, but given Titanfall’s online-only nature, we didn’t feel right about fully appraising the game based on an enclosed press event. That’s why I’ve been playing the shooter as much as possible at home on my 60MB wired line, with a view to gauging just how well it holds together in the wild. I’m also up to level 25, so I’ve spent a great deal of time playing around with Respawn’s suite of firearms, Titan upgrades and more.

Reach for the Sky

Titanfall’s just Call of Duty with robots, except it’s not Call of Duty with robots. I see this presumption often, and it’s flat-out incorrect. The barebones twitch handling is fast and the button-mapping is the same as Activision’s franchise – but so what? That’s like saying Modern Warfare 3 is just Quake 3: Arena with more moustaches. It’s a bullshit comparison.

Titanfall Screen 5

I play Call of Duty a lot with my friends, and have done so almost religiously since the first Modern Warfare came out. I’ll concede that the skill-set picked up from those games is applicable in Titanfall to a point in that you need to move fast, shoot quick and be wary of each arena’s layout. That’s pretty much where the raw comparisons end, and that’s also why Respawn’s game is refreshing.

To begin my play-test I hopped into the Militia campaign, which sees a rag-tag rebel force locking horns with the IMC faction across the Frontier; a cluster of fringe colonies engaged in a violent power struggle. You’re given the option of playing through the stories of both sides sequentially, thanks to a pre-made playlist. These lists are still online-only, and see you match-made with other players across a variety of game modes.

Between each map you’re treated to some overlaid dialogue in the lobby, which sets up the modus operandi of each faction, and the reason for each skirmish. Matches feature additional radio chatter from various characters as their stories play out away from the battlefield, but I’ll admit I had a hard time following what was going on amid all the gunfire and 30-foot robots exploding all over the joint. As a method of narrative delivery it’s a total mess.

Lobby downtime is typically spent building your pilot and Titan class load-outs. Chances are you’ll be too busy sifting through your Burn Card deck, tweaking your weapon attachments or thinking about how to improve your arsenal to let all the story chatter sink in. Aside from the opening cut-scene which also does a weak job of explaining the world state and the reason for this costly war, there are no story scenes to speak of. Just an assortment of characters you feel nothing for, and lines of heinous dialogue you can’t help smirk at.

Titanfall Screen 2

“Respawn’s interwoven online campaign was something of an error. I would have liked an offline or possibly co-op campaign to establish Titanfall’s universe.”

In short; the events of the Titan Wars led former IMC officer James MacAllan to turn on his old corporation, and is now waging war against Vice Admiral Marcus Graves. Some missions see players fighting for control of fuel deposits or auto turrets, but I honestly found the story largely superfluous. I didn’t really care about these people or their war, which leads me to believe that Respawn’s interwoven online campaign was something of an error. Now that I think about, sitting here, I would have liked an offline or possibly co-op campaign to establish Titanfall’s universe.

The maps themselves do reveal slivers of plot, such as the desert wastes of Boneyard, with their giant alien skeletons, which suggest the IMC has ravaged nature with its rampant industrialisation. Such presumptions are left up to the player however, and I guess that’s fun as someone who likes to use their imagination in games, but those who want a straight-up tale may be left wanting. The end of the Militia campaign is supposed to be emotional, and there’s even a sad tune overlaid across the continuing carnage. The hammy dialogue makes what should have been poignant utterly comedic.

After the climax, I wiped the laugh-tears from my eyes and went into the core online mode.

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32 Comments

  1. Legendaryboss

    Uh huh: well that’s not surprising considering Respawn’s viewpoint on campaigns.

    #1 7 months ago
  2. Dave Cook

    @Legendaryboss So to just do it half-assed is a good solution when people are paying up to £50 for the experience?

    #2 7 months ago
  3. Legendaryboss

    @Dave Cook Thats a great question: which should be posed to the reviewers who gave Titanfall an 8 & above when this game has had launch issues, graphics which has been overlooked and according to you a “half-assed campaign”.

    If reviewers can overlook all those factors when reviewing expect gamers to do the same.

    But to answer your question no half-assed isn’t a good solution although it should have been expected when they spoke out on campaigns. individuals can spend their money on whatever they think is worthy and considering the majority of individuals are playing solely for gameplay online, a campaign is just something thrown in.

    #3 7 months ago
  4. FuzzyPixels

    When was the last time an all-in-one content package really nailed every aspect? It’s been a while. COD arguably hasn’t done it in meaningful fashion since the first Modern Warfare, Battlefield became much worse as soon as DICE tried to become a jack of all trades, and Halo has been a shadow of its former self for the last handful of games.

    Titanfall’s campaign is spot on for what it is — a smattering of optional narrative beats that never intrude on what the game does best: emergent vignettes of badassery. If you’ve built one of the best multiplayer shooters in years (which Titanfall is), why the hell would you shoehorn in something completely anathema to that experience? As it is, the campaign hangs a light little frame on the action that players can take or leave, and that’s perfect for this game.

    Respawn knew their limitations and they set their boundaries. They’ve made one of the freshest MP shooters in the last decade — that was always the plan, and that’s absolutely fine.

    #4 7 months ago
  5. Typical Timing

    Meh, nobody’s buying this for the campaign anyway. I bet most didn’t even know there was a campaign mode until recently and were still planning on shelling out £50 for the game so it’s not a disaster.

    Even so the time they spent adding this crap could have been spent further refining the multiplayer, adding more weapons, titans, maps etc…

    #5 7 months ago
  6. OlderGamer

    Ok Dave. Good write up, as you always do.

    But here is the thing:

    Super Mario World 3D is the best game I have played in a very long time. It is rock solid fantastic. Over flowing with fun. Bright, colorful, crisp to look at. In truth it is gorgeous. The controls are spot on. The game is large. The challenge is there. I think it is bloody brilliant.

    And next to no one cares.

    The game, the company making it, have just worn put the formula. I say the same thing here. In fact I say the same thing is happening industry wide.

    This game is, to any one looking from afar, a CoD clone. And even you have to admit that the similarities are striking. they aren’t perks, they are cards(just one example). That holds it back. It is published by EA(no Steam, XB exclusive) and that holds it back. No single player, that holds it back. CoD hasn’t stopped selling on its own despite the guys creation of Respawn, that too holds it back. The arena twitch shooter space is very crowded.

    All of those things and more are some of the reasons people are luke warm in their TF reception. Most people I talk to just don’t WANT to give a damn. The game could be insanely fun, they don’t care. I point back to WiiU Mario, no one wants to care there either.

    I am not saying the game will flop, I figure it will sell well(prolly significantly more on XB360 then PC or XBO). And I am not claiming the game isn’t fun. What I am saying is that I really don’t care. I think lots of gamers are saying the same thing. On a personal note, I play Hawken, BF3, Defiance, and(believe it or not)CoD Blops II for my twitch shooting. How many of these type of games do I need? I don’t need or want to invest in too many games like this. I plan on buying and going all in with Destiny. It looks miles a head in the vastness of content it offers(it is why I play Defiance, as well).

    I am sure many of the media folks are confounded at the lack of TF enthusiasim from their readers.

    I certainly can’t speak for every one, but maybe I spoke for some one other then myself. I do plan on trying TF for xb360 via Gamefly. But don’t read too much into it, I rent a lot of games. I doubt I will ever want to buy the game. It just is what it is.

    But what it isn’t is the biggest game release of the year or GOTY contender or any of the hype…at least not for me.

    I think EA messed up big time with TF. Had the game also launched on PS4, I think the publics perception of the game would have been much better. And I think the sales would be better too.

    #6 7 months ago
  7. Michael Ireland

    @Legendaryboss Its being overlooked because nobody actually cares about the campaign. It’s one of those options that just kinda sits there on the screen and you ignore until you have to do it.

    I have little to no interest in the game myself, but as I understand it it is basically filler content requires to expand the multplayer, which in itself is bullshit.

    You have the remember this is game journalism, where reviewers on major sites are spineless. Nobody is going to hire someone who is going to to criticise the game paying their bills. We all know what happens when you do that.

    A 7 in gaming is the equivalent of a 4 in any other medium. The difference is that other mediums don’t actually care about metacritic bullshit – the gaming market is the only one that gives a crap.

    Stop reading “professional” reviews from established sites and you’ll be fine. 9 out of 10 of them exist to advertise, not critique.

    #7 7 months ago
  8. MFBB

    I would have bought it, if it had a good single player campaign.

    Dont care for the COD + mechs + jumping multiplayer.

    Could have had a nice scifi war sory as campaign.

    #8 7 months ago
  9. OlderGamer

    “9 out of 10 of them exist to advertise, not critique.”

    I agree with pretty much everything you said Mike, but this part most of all.

    #9 7 months ago
  10. TrickyAudio

    I couldn’t imagine buying a console just for an online only shooter, or even paying £50 just for the game. i did have hopes of trying out the PC or 360 version though.

    But I like a story. Guess I’m old skool.

    #10 7 months ago
  11. Dave Cook

    @MFBB Except it’s not just ‘COD + mechs + jumping multiplayer’ as you suggest.

    I agree though, a nice story campaign would have actually worked here.

    #11 7 months ago
  12. Typical Timing

    @TrickyAudio

    There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just horses for courses. There are a lot of people out there who buy CoD every year and just play the mutliplayer. This game is just counting on that fact.

    #12 7 months ago
  13. mistermogul

    “many of you complained that the press was being suckered into the vortex of excitement and headlines orchestrated by EA’s marketing puppeteers and spin doctors, and that the game couldn’t possibly be as good as we were all making out. God forbid the critics get universally optimistic about a game for once”

    The issue is that other games that are equally good or better – for example Dark Souls II or Towerfall Ascension get miniscule coverage in comparison and it seems unfair imo. There were probably ten “articles” on VG for Titanfall for every one for Dark Souls or Towerfall.

    Both of those games have a higher Metacritic so it does make you wonder if “the press was being suckered into the vortex of excitement and headlines orchestrated by EA’s marketing puppeteers and spin doctors” right?

    #13 7 months ago
  14. Erthazus

    I’m playing Titanfall’s Atrition only. Never touched a campaign. I don’t see a reason to touch it.
    So far they have bigger problems then the campaign.

    6vs6 for maps where some of them bigger then in Battlefield is a PROBLEM.

    #14 7 months ago
  15. Erthazus

    @Typical Timing people know that there is a campaign. First option is Campaign and the second is a CLASSIC multiplayer.

    #15 7 months ago
  16. Dave Cook

    @mistermogul Did you miss all of our Dark Souls 2 coverage?

    Also, different genres, fan bases of different sizes.

    I just love the way that he press saying something is good is tantamount to being bribed these days. Hilarious really.

    #16 7 months ago
  17. Hcw87

    @16

    He’s been in every single Titanfall article with his ridiculous claims. He’s just upset it’s not released on PS4 i bet. Would be interesting to see his stance if this was a PS4 exclusive.

    Also, Dark Souls 2 may be a great game, but Titanfall is a new exciting IP which nearly everyone seem to enjoy. Makes sense to run stories on that game, doesn’t it? Seeing as vg247 is a games-site and all. DS2 has its fans, but most people will forget about it in a few weeks time. Somehow i doubt that’ll happen with TF.

    #17 7 months ago
  18. Michael Ireland

    @Dave Cook I don’t think they’re being brided. I just most super large sites are lazy and spineless.

    A media without diverse opinions is an industry without a voice. Gaming is the own media where this is a problem. The serious critique is relegated to the smaller sites only,

    #18 7 months ago
  19. bobnice

    I never bought this game with campaign in mind…In fact all I remember hearing about this game was there was no singleplayer campaign. To my surprise there are some sort of story missions, which is kind of like a small bonus to me. To me this game is just like Battlefield 2 back in the day where there was no singleplayer campaign. Multiplayer only and I loved it…In fact it’s one of my all time favorite games. If I want story I will play a single player game like Mass Effect or Dragon Age or Witcher. This game is more of a hang out game with my friends on Friday night drinking beers, laughing about the stupid shit we just did, fucking around and shooting shit. And that is exactly what the game is great for.

    #19 7 months ago
  20. Erthazus

    Garme Jurnalizm bribed? Not the first time. Majority of the hournalism IS bribed. There are different methods to do it and so far it is full of children without any decent experience in gaming that think that Halo was the first FPS ever. It’s a fact.

    There are only two scores. 9 and 10. Everything below that is average or poor at best. Since 2010, 9 score is already a mediocre game but with full content.

    http://www.metacritic.com/ look at metacritic for F sake. Look at movies and Games section and compare not just scores but review quality.
    Look at the movie that is Need For Speed. It is currently 31 on metacritic because it is crap. It’s a fact. It is a boring and shitty movie. When Need for Speed in Games section had 30 metacritic? NEVER.

    #20 7 months ago
  21. Joe Musashi

    @17 “He’s been in every single Titanfall article with his ridiculous claims. He’s just upset it’s not released on PS4 i bet. Would be interesting to see his stance if this was a PS4 exclusive.”

    Just as you’ve been in as many topics hailing it and dismissing critiques as ‘butthurt’ PS4 fanboys.

    Your unwavering rush to sacrifice your own credibility to deflect criticism from your beloved brand isn’t do you, or them, any favours.

    JM

    JM

    #21 7 months ago
  22. Joe Musashi

    Note to self: don’t let your keyboard near the hooch-locker.

    JM

    #22 7 months ago
  23. dontbescaredhomie92

    I don’t see how lack of a campaign could be a bad thing IF, and only if they make it explicitly clear that a SP campaign was not something they were focusing their time and resources on.
    If you buy this game you know exactly what to expect, if you don’t like the fact there is no SP simply don’t buy it, end of.

    #23 7 months ago
  24. fihar

    We’ve had the exact same conversation back when a certain game called GTA5 came out last year.
    http://www.vg247.com/2013/09/16/gta-5-reviews-begin-get-all-the-scores-here/

    Here’s what I thought then and here’s what I think now.
    The thing with Video Game critics being somewhat generous is because the technical side in video games still counts for a lot.
    You could pour a lot of money into a video game and achieve the highest production quality possible and most of the time it will get you good scores.

    It’s not the same in the film and the music industry. You could make a shitty sounding record like mbv or Monomania in 2013 and it will still garner a lot of praise but top-notch recording process won’t give you any advantage.
    Heck, you could even make a black-and-white film without a proper widescreen like The Artist and you could still win a frickin’ Oscar but big-budget Roland Emmerich production can barely get a good review.
    There has been a marked change over the years but we still haven’t reached the level of other creative industries.

    There are some interesting points raised on the comments in that article.
    I’m beginning to think that every single reviewer should put up a disclaimer saying how many hours did they put into the game, how far along are they into the game, and in the case of a multiplayer-only title, whether they were playing within a closed environment or not.

    #24 7 months ago
  25. POOhead

    @Erthazus

    fuck your english is shit, please tell me why you compared need for speed the movie to need for speed the game? Most critics hate the movie for its bad dialogue, which means its a classic

    #25 7 months ago
  26. Erthazus

    @POOhead I never EVER compared NFS game to NFS movie. I compared scores. There were in fact bad NFS games beyond unplayable stage and these games cost 60$ and there was never a NFS that had a score of 30/100 despite being bad.

    Look at the NFS movie. It was horrible and it deserved this score no matter what Publisher supported it’s movie or not. It’s just bad and will be remembered as a bad game.

    #26 7 months ago
  27. DeVitowned

    @FuzzyPixels

    Uncharted 3 nailed campaign and multiplayer phenomenally.

    #27 7 months ago
  28. Legendaryboss

    @Hcw87 So much assumptions and wrongness it ain’t even funny.

    #28 7 months ago
  29. PSOCecil

    I’m surprised by how much I’m actually enjoying this, but I got it for about half what it’s supposed to go for. But either way, I’m really enjoying it more than I expected, and I’m not really a fan of competitive FPS. The simple act of moving just feels so satisfying, the ability to wallrun and walljump and such is just amazing. Titans are fun, too. The first time I jumped on an enemy Titan’s back, and shot out it’s core, that was the most amazing feeling. Until mere moments later, when I scored a melee kill in my own Titan, on another one, tearing off it’s arm and tearing the pilot out. It’s an amazing feeling.

    #29 7 months ago
  30. Gekidami

    “I just love the way that he press saying something is good is tantamount to being bribed these days. Hilarious really.”
    Whilst i really dont think theres any publisher pay off (despite some pieces really reading like they were written by EA & MS PR), you cant blame people for looking at this game, with its hoard of technical issues, horrible visuals, insanely poor “Cloud” AI and the fact that this 13 map, 12 player MP-only venture is going for the price of a full game (and even more on PC) is raising some eye brows. By the sound of it you yourself arent too sold on this game being a 9/10.

    It does seem like the press are being ridiculously kind on the game.

    #30 7 months ago
  31. ommidiam

    Good story telling is hard, but letting everyone run around and shoot each other in the face is easy. Its like kindergarten recess compared to reading time. Except everyone claims that they are the absolute best at Kindergarten Recess.

    #31 7 months ago
  32. Gekidami

    http://www.dualshockers.com/2014/03/12/titanfall-amazon-removing-low-star-reviews-from-listing-page-possibly-inflating-the-games-rating/
    Hum.

    #32 7 months ago

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