Since its reveal in Game Informer last June and subsequent showing at E3 2013, Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall has been high at the top of a LOT of people’s must have lists for 2014. That is, until recently. Apparently news that there will be no single player campaign and no local multiplayer has just hit some gamers and judging from the reaction from these people, it has hit like a ton of bricks.
From the announcement it has been known that Titanfall would be an online-only multiplayer game focused completely on competitive multiplayer with AI “popcorn,” as Respawn called it, running off of cloud servers giving each match a larger feel. Whether you like the fact that game is 6v6 and complimented by AI “fodder” is another debate entirely. The fact here is that gamers seem to want Titanfall to be all things to all people, and design vision and execution of this vision be damned. Suddenly something that has been a known quantity for the past 7 months is now seen as a “rip-off” or disappointing to a very vocal minority.
Why am I paying this vocal minority mind? Because it’s become increasingly clear that there are contingents of gamers that think there is something wrong with a hyped game if it doesn’t adhere to every single desire they have. The problem is, Titanfall can’t be a game for all people, regardless of the hype it has earned since it’s initial reveal in June. And that is perfectly OK.
You will never be alone
In my 30 plus years of gaming, a significant majority of it has been spent playing alone. Single player campaigns have been the bulk of my gaming diet and if I had the choice I would always take a single player campaign over a multiplayer game. In fact, even being the huge Call of Duty fan that I am, I have never played multiplayer before playing the campaign. Yes, even Call of Duty. I am always looking for that single player experience and have always seen multiplayer as a bonus.
I grew up with an Atari 2600, the NES, the SNES, the PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and the original Xbox. I’ve spent over 300 hours in Skyrim, beaten games like Tomb Raider and Uncharted 2 more than 3 times, gotten every single Achievement in Sleeping Dogs, and Bioshock: Infinite, and have played all of the mainline Final Fantasy games save for 3. I love single player games and will continue to do so.
That said, I also quite enjoy multiplayer. Especially ones that are well-designed, which is why I have always enjoyed Call of Duty. Addictive, fun to play, great controls, progression and unlocks – all the reasons why I have been a fan since Call of Duty 4 which, to me, reigns supreme as the best multiplayer game I have ever played. I also quite enjoy the Rainbow Six: Vegas, Splinter Cell, and Ghost Recon multiplayer suites. Do I play all of games with multiplayer? Nope, nor do I want to. I know what I like and I stick to that.
When I first learned of Respawn’s intentions to have Titanfall be an online only multiplayer game, I will admit, intially I was a tad disappointed. Not because I feel like it should have a single player campaign, but rather because I quite enjoyed their Call of Duty campaigns when the team was working at Infinity Ward. That disappointment lasted all of minutes when I read what they were trying to do with the game. It became clear that there was no need for a single player component and I was OK with that.
What Respawn is doing is taking elements of single player campaigns, such as a narrative, and using it to contextualize the multiplayer matches. In Call of Duty you simply play as the “good guys” and the “bad guys” on a map, with the only real delineation of the conflict being where each team spawns. In Titanfall, however, the “campaign multiplayer” will provide context to the conflicts, characters, reason and motivation beyond the usual “win the match” thrust in most multiplayer games. By doing this they can build the world of Titanfall without having to create a whole campaign. It’s a novel approach that should work really well in theory – though I imagine after playing it a few times, it will simply be ignored by most players in favor of straight multiplayer game types.
The halfs and half-nots
Respawn’s approach and design for Titanfall completely ignores the whole single player only contingent and it seems that this is a point of contention. I’ve read plenty of posts, comments and the like saying things like “No single player = no buy” which I totally get. There are plenty of genres I don’t buy because nothing about them speaks to my sensibilities or interests as a gamer. They know what they like and what they want. They simply move on to another game that interests them.
However, there seems to be a group of people that think the game should have a single player campaign and the fact that there isn’t one is being presented as some kind of personal affront to them. These people say things like “It shouldn’t be $60 if it’s half a game.”
I’m not sure where these people arrived at the notion that a multiplayer only game is ‘half a game” when the WHOLE game is designed to be multiplayer. And by this same “logic,” should single player only games, with no online multiplayer not cost $60 either? As a primarily single player gamer, I can say that I like that idea a whole lot more since I’ve spent $60 on games that I have beaten in 2 to 3 days; only to then turn around and trade in or sell the game. Sure this works for me because it amounts to me having really only spent $20-30 on the game and takes the sting off, but if we are judging games as “whole” based purely on whether or not there are single player or multiplayer components to each and every game, that sends a horrible message to content creators and why we wind up with half-baked multiplayer modes in games like Tomb Raider; a game which stands on it’s own without even looking at multiplayer.
Does the multiplayer add inherent value to an already robust single player campaign? For some, sure, but in the case of Tomb Raider, my 2013 Game of the Year, I feel the $60 was well spent without even setting an e-foot into multiplayer – which, for all intents and purposes, wasn’t very good.
Returning to the notion that Titanfall is only “half a game,” this completely ignores the fact that this is the whole game as intended by Respawn and is no different from a single player game insofar as it was designed to be what you get on the disc (or in the download) and nothing more. The value is up to the end user. I have spent months playing multiplayer games when the campaign lasted 6 -8 hours. For gamers like me, the $60 is an extreme value because these games last well beyond the days of their single player brethren.
Single player not included
I guess am having trouble reconciling the idea that Titanfall is somehow at fault for eschewing a single player campaign in favor of their vision for an online only competitive multiplayer game and that there are people that think it should have a single player campaign in order for it to be considered a value. Again, I don’t have an issue with people not being interested in Titanfall for whatever their reasons are, but saying that a game that wasn’t designed with your specific wants in mind isn’t worth it for everyone else is just about the most bull-headed and entitled thing I have ever heard.
What’s worse is that there seems to be no real creative rationale for this game to have a single player campaign. The game is called “Titanfall” and is based around the concept that warring factions are killing each other or completing objectives until the time counts down and your Titan falls from the sky to be used against the other team. The better you do, the faster your Titan falls. This continues until the match is over and the losing team has to reach an evac point while being hunted by the winning team. It’s a pretty simple concept that doesn’t even remotely lend itself to a single player campaign.
At the end of the day, not all games can or should be for all people. I don’t like racing, sports, fighting, dancing, or rhythm games. I’m OK with it and I certainly don’t think these games should cater to my wants as a gamer. There is a vast expanse of games out there, ones that will appeal to each individual’s tastes and wants and definition of value. If Titanfall isn’t one of them, that should be perfectly OK.