I’ve already written about how exciting it is that the next installment of Titanfall won’t be limited to the Xbox One. While many may disagree with me, I think expanding to other platforms will help increase the budget and scope which will hopefully increase the content and innovation the title receives. Most sequels run the risk of failing to outdo their predecessor, but with Titanfall that is very unlikely. Many criticized the game for its lack of depth, content, and replayability. I won’t dignify all the complaints about a lack of a campaign since the game squarely marketed itself as a “multiplayer only” game, but there are definitely some areas the game could expand on, including a campaign.
The smooth mechanics, clean environments, and big explosive engagements are practically crying out for a long and dynamic co-op campaign. There is massive potential to use the titans, pilots, and verticality to make creative missions with the depth and breadth everyone expects when they see the giant titans and fantastic graphics. I think that is one of the reasons so many people griped about the lack of a campaign and depth of content because the graphics and identity of the game communicate so much more than what was delivered with the first game. I feel like the franchise won’t be able to open up and breathe if it’s relegated once again to “multiplayer only”. I already wrote and did a video about why PVP shooters aren’t fun anymore, and I’m going to talk about how to improve Titanfall’s multiplayer in a second… But even as good as the multiplayer can be, I think a robust co-op campaign with thoughtfulness about replayability will take the game to another level of accessibility and popularity. Both Call of Duty and Battlefield have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at trying to make their campaigns more exciting and innovative. And the biggest thing they lack? Co-op and verticality, two things Titanfall can make their own.
Variety of Titans and weapons
The most consistent thing I’ve read and even heard from the people I play with has been that the Titans and weapons lacked variety. To a degree I want to defend Titanfall by paralleling what they’ve done to the iPhone. When the iPhone first launched it was incredibly limited and couldn’t send picture messages and wasn’t even 3G. Almost all of the restrictive development decisions came from an immense priority placed on stability. And this has been one of biggest draws and selling points of the iPhone: it works. Many smart phones at the time were sluggish, buggy, and plagued with freezes and firmware issues. So, in a time where games consistently launch with game breaking glitches and buggy connections it should be noted that both the beta and launch of Titanfall were incredibly smooth. I think in a same way to the how the iPhone launched and has since expanded, Titanfall can do the same thing. Yes, the weapons and Titans were limited, but they were treading on new and potentially unstable and rocky ground. It’s a tall order to have balance in a game where giant mech suits can run around on their own or be piloted by live players with parkour abilities allowing any player to scale walls and climb up buildings. The easiest way to ensure all of these variables worked in conjunction with each other was to keep certain elements smaller in scope than players may have wanted or expected. Sure, they could have thrown twice as many weapons and Titan classes at us, but the result could have been an unbalanced and buggy game which would have received much more criticism.
Challenges and Incentives
Almost all competitive shooters have leveling mechanics that eventually need reset. In Titanfall once you hit level 50, you can roll it over, get a new badge, and have all your weapons and progress reset. This reset, however, became problematic when they assigned very specific challenges to each one. So when you wanted to progress past level 2 and get your level 3 badge, you couldn’t just play a bunch of games, get a lot of xp, and roll it over. You would almost certainly hit the required xp before getting a certain number of specific kills with a specific weapon. This lead many players to ignore objectives and winning, and focus only on very narrow requirements they had to meet in order to get to the next level. Gameplay already suffers from self-focus in PVP shooters and these types of challenges magnify the problem as the only path forward if you want to level up is to focus on very specific achievements. Game developers really need to foster activity and behavior that promotes the gameplay they work so hard to create. Why make different game modes, objectives, and environments if you’re just going to motivate behavior that causes that gameplay to breakdown, flattening all your vibrant content? Align the achievements and challenges with game modes where they make sense, promoting success in a given game mode over individual performance and accolades.
Lastly, I’ve already written about and have a video about how PVP shooters incentivize the wrong behavior, and that is certainly something Titanfall needs to work on. It’s similarities to Call of Duty with the movement and feel is apparent which means those types of players need to be properly motivated. I hadn’t played Titanfall in months and jumped into some games a few weeks ago, and was shocked but a little unsurprised at how predictable most of the player behavior went. You are going to consistently hear me advocate for objective game modes scoring and displaying a scoreboard completely differently, with the first and more important thing being to ignore kills almost entirely. In a competition the players are motivated by what is tracked and displayed, and if kills took a back seat to objective focused stats on the scoreboard, gameplay and cooperation would probably improve. Yes, it would potentially thin the objective game modes out a bit with respect to how many people played them, but they would be better for it. These types of scoring changes and incentives would allow objective game modes to utilize specific classes with different strengths, weakness, and roles. And a variety of classes would function properly without self-focus and kill death ratio mongers throwing the game into disarray. If Titanfall 2 launches with the same old tired game modes and scoring mechanics, many gamers, myself included, will probably quickly find the game too frustrating and boring to bother with for any lengthy amount of time. Titanfall 2 can become the dominate force in the militaristic style shooter as both Battlefield and Call of Duty have failed to garner the traction and massive communities they used to have.
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