Why do we care about Titanfall? Why? It's difficult to explain without resorting to all those dead video game words we're not supposed to be using any more. Yes, I guess Titanfall is quite 'visceral'. It's 'cinematic'. It's um... frantic, it's — what else. Next-gen?
Christ, I'll just come right out and say it: Titanfall is a mountain-dew soaked extravaganza. I will munch upon copious amount of Doritos, I will wash them down with some sort of caffeinated drink. I will place my cheese-dust covered digits on my Xbox controller and I will play the ever-loving shit out of this game.
Because Titanfall is good. It is very good. It's so good that it's hard to describe without resorting to hyperbole, to words that just don't really mean anything anymore. So I'll try and describe Titanfall with a more grounded word. It's an adjective.
That word is 'familiar'. Let me explain why that is a good thing.
Titanfall is familiar. If you've watched any in-game footage of Titanfall in action you'll know precisely what I'm talking about. You've played Call of Duty, you've played Battlefield. If you've ever pulled a left trigger, aimed down iron sights and shot a moving opponent, you've played Titanfall. It feels like that. Precisely like that.
I remember sitting at E3 not playing Titanfall, just watching. But because the core of the game was so 'familiar' I could easily imagine what Titanfall would feel like. That's what makes Titanfall such an exciting prospect. We know the core is solid — pure Call of Duty in the best sense of that phrase. We know the under-the-hood grunt work will take care of itself therefore the crazy, over-the-top sci-fi ballistics is — almost literally — the 'visceral' icing atop that cake. The familiarity of Titanfall is such that it allows us to accurately imagine how the crazy stuff will play: the mechs, the double jumps, wall-running. It feels like an organic addition. It has that 'why didn't I think of this' vibe about it.
Familiar is the word. Titanfall feels like a pedestrian task redefined by something completely outlandish. Like washing the dishes, except the dishwater is lemonade. Like taking your dog for a walk in the park, except the park is now a jungle filled with spider monkeys. Like going to Woolworths for milk, except the tellers are now Oompa loompas and the aisles are littered with Ninja Warriors-esque obstacles that you must navigate to pick up your muesli.
After playing Titanfall someone casually mentioned to me that it was a video game that 'felt next-gen'. Again, that phrase. It's almost as dead and meaningless as 'visceral' or 'cinematic' — but it makes perfect sense in the context that is Titanfall. Titanfall feels next-gen because it takes an experience that is completely familiar to us and re-situates it; expands upon it seamlessly. We are so used to shooting guns in video games — it's as familiar and banal as folding laundry — but in Titanfall this experience is redefined, it's made sublime by just a handful of tweaks. It's an idea that seems so simple in hindsight.
Take something familiar and make it... unfamiliar. That's Titanfall.