Electronic Art’s and Respawn Entertainment’s upcoming “Titanfall” looks like a tour de force of action, both of the FPS and mecha varieties. With the final box art, the beta completed, and a firm release date of March 11th in hand, the rumors of Titanfall being a killer app may come to fruition, especially with the Xbox One losing ground early to the Playstation 4 in the new console wars. However, I have concerns over “Titanfall”, especially if it winds up becoming a success for Microsoft, as I feel that “Titanfall” may bring unforeseen consequences to the future of video games that may not be so great.
1. The game is unplayable unless you pay for Xbox Live Gold.
“Titanfall” is the first game of its kind where it completely dispenses with a single-player story mode. Instead, the story mode is integrated into the multi-player (though not well, by my own experience with the beta). Basically, “Titanfall” is a dead game unless you cough up the $60 for Xbox Live Gold. Essentially, you’re paying $120 for a bunch of multiplayer maps that have a few cutscenes in them.
2. What does this mean for story modes going forward?
If “Titanfall” exceeds expectations, what will this do to the whole concept of a story mode? Granted, story modes in FPSs aren’t the greatest things since sliced bread. Oftentimes people only play them for Achievements (or the Sony equivalent thereof) or out of boredom if there aren’t any good matches going on online. “Titanfall” doesn’t even go through the pretense of a story mode. Essentially, whatever’s there is a thin excuse for people to jump in mechs and blast each other. It’s one thing if it’s a $15 Xbox Live Arcade game. It’s entirely another if we’re going to be paying, as I said above, $120 for the game. If game developers realize they can get away without story modes, and thus can have people pay $60 for multiplayer maps and another $50-60 for Playstation Plus or Xbox Live Gold just for the right to play it, they will do it. Less manpower, fewer resources, and more profit. This could permanently alter FPSs, and video games in general, and not in a good way.
3. Considering the popularity of DLC . . .
To continue from my above point, there’s a strong possibility that “Titanfall” will not launch complete. There’ll be DLC packs with more weapons, mechs, costumes, levels, etc., that will come out. The industry standard for a big “AAA” title like this is to make the packs cost $14.99. That’s an additional $15 added onto the $60 you paid for what essentially is a bunch of multiplayer maps in the first place. Now imagine paying another $15. And another. Perhaps they’ll even release a 4th package. That’s another $60, on top of the original $60, and then the $60 for Xbox Live Gold. That’s potentially $180 for one game.
Now, granted, I admit a flaw in my argument, Xbox Live Gold gets spread around multiple games. But it is a huge price tag, for something that is unplayable unless it’s online, and does not offer any more than the barest of narratives for why you are fighting. As someone who loves layered, engaging narratives in story modes (yes, I am one of the few who does not skip the cutscenes), this portent is undesirable and takes away a lot of the enjoyment from the game itself, especially taking into account the full price tag.
4. Does this take away from the fun factor?
Of course not! “Titanfall” was an absolute blast to play. A few too many matches turned into “who can get inside the mechs first” but from a gameplay standpoint it was a breath of fresh air. My criticism of “Titanfall” has nothing to do with the gameplay. The gameplay is fantastic. It’s the above that has me worried.
I plan on going more detail into this in the future. But I wanted to start a little bit of discussion now. “Titanfall” represents a possible future for FPSs and video games in general. But I don’t like the potential consequences that may come with “Titanfall” becoming a success. I invite anyone who wishes to participate to the Bilateral Warp forums where we can discuss this in further detail and I will write a follow-up around the time the game is formally released.
Until then, a trio of badass screenshots.