Titanfall Dropped The Ball On Longevity

Titanfall is a damn good game. I’m really happy Respawn was able to emerge through all of its legal challenges and produce a genuine competitor to Call of Duty. Something that actually pushed forward a genre that was in dire need of it. And it’s wonderful we got our local servers. But it’ll be a short-lived victory. Here’s why.

First of all, while Titanfall is a step forward for FPS in that it incorporates mastering movement as well as aim, it’s not that much of a step forward. Incremental progress can be expected with a triple-A title, and I wasn’t expected movement to have as much of an impact on play as something like the fantastic Tribes: Ascend. But I at least expected there to be more use of their core movement gameplay.

Some maps seem to make great use of parkour, and some seem to be terrible. Some have interesting open spaces where pilots are forced to confront titans, whereas others have open spaces which seem like they were designed for a different game. And no map gives you the ability to load up an offline game to simply practice your movement.

That’s key. For anyone wanting to get good at the game, this is a serious obstacle, and many won’t bother vaulting over it. There’s been a lot less YouTube videos showcasing impressive play than expected for a game this big, and a lot less tutorials, because people simply aren’t as good as they could be. There’s a type of player that loves figuring out the quickest route from A to B, while working in a nade throw halfway through to make sure the landing is clear. That player isn’t being serviced.

Another player not getting as much out of the game as possible is your competitive gamer. Also a fan of figuring out the quickest routes, albeit not for the pure love of exploration, but moreso the joy of dominating peers.

You can clan up and take on public servers in Titanfall, but that proves nothing. The ability to host a private match just came in, though it looks like even after future updates we’ll still only have barebones options like round time. No options to facilitate eSports, such as clan vs clan or spectator functionality.

Why does that matter? Because those are the players who keep things interesting. Playing Titanfall right now feels like all the strategies, routes, and philosophies have already been discovered. No one is pushing things forward, discovering new ways to play. The elite players might be a small portion of a game’s population, but they’re crucial to keeping it going.

So we come back to longevity. If players feel that there’s nothing left to discover, conquer, or achieve, why keep playing? They’ll walk away, think “yeah, Titanfall was pretty fun”, and play something else. And with the amount of space it takes on PC, they’ll very likely uninstall to free up 50GB on their SSD.

While it feels good to (finally) be in an ecosystem where ignoring competitive play actually hurts the bottom line, it’s discouraging to see developers still not acting on it. Now that DLC is expected, longevity is lucrative. No one’s going to buy your new maps and weapons if no one is there.

With the many different types of players, there have been a few different systems trying to categorise players, but I always come back to the Bartle system. It’s simple, and has no unnecessary fat. We’ve talked about those who like to explore the game’s new systems. We’ve talked about competitive gamers. What about Achievers?

What is there for them, aside from a few virtual numbers and achievements that really, when all is said and done, just say “I spent a lot of time in this game”? That’s an okay enough treadmill for some people, and some I’ve talked to in-game are even addicted to Titanfall’s equivalent of prestige, but for others, it’s a hollow progression system. It’s unfortunate that’s what passes for a metagame these days, as I’d love to have something meaningful to display on my profile, be that Steam, Origin, or anything. But achievements and ranks that require effort, skill, or just playing the game in a different/fun/interesting way are far too rare.

Last up is the Socialiser, which Titanfall isn’t really targeting. And most players I’ve seen trying to chat get overlooked as they reach out for a connection in that tiny font Titanfall gives you. I have no server population numbers, and can’t comment on whether players are dwindling. But I do know it’s already 20% off on Origin.

Longevity is lucrative. And Titanfall shot itself in the foot when it comes to longevity. Let’s see if they can expand the custom match feature, and give us more ways to properly explore their game. All we want to do is play better. If it’s too hard, a potential Game of the Year will instead be something we all remember as “pretty fun”, before we uninstalled and played something else.


Comments

    Could not agree more. I got to level 42 and stopped. Why? No Skins, No Custom paintwork. Nothing. Had no reason to keep on playing.

      Kind of a shame that this is needed. Back in the day (Doom, Quake, UT) that wasn't needed. You'd just spend hour after hour playing because it was fun, not because you unlock a new skin.

        I clocked 26 hours in the beta and so far I've clocked 56 in the final product. I intend on many more. The game is easy to get into, hard to get good at, and always has something interesting happening.

        Customisation would be nice, but I don't care that it isn't there.

          I'm waiting to buy. I was initially put off by the CoD-like fanfare surrounding the game, but now I am just waiting for the player base to settle down so I can play with people who like the game and aren't playing it simply for 'points'.

        Yeah I remember games with no unlocks that I'd play for ages. MOH:AA etc.

        Back then people didn't have steam accounts with over 100 games sitting there they bought and never played - back then you didn't have a new game coming out every month.
        I remember playing Doom and Doom 2 at my friends house because my parents wouldnt buy a computer that could play them. I ended up getting a Master System II and would only have 5 games so you had to play them over and over.

          As much as I loved Q3, I only played it for as long as I did because there wasnt anything else to play (that I liked), or FreezeTag. If it wasnt for FreezeTag, Id have stopped a lot sooner.

        Yeah, but they were the pioneers

        So true, but that was a different time. Setting up a LAN at a computer store, Making your teams and deciding on the weapons, having an Avatar that didn't have 12 X's or 234 at the end. (my old online name was Avatar, we used to call them nicks)

        Christ I feel old now, and it wasn't even that long ago

        There's stock those of us that play for fun. It does seem we're dying off though.

      "I played but stopped when I couldn't draw a cock and balls on my robot" Ha - everything wrong with the game right there. The fact that you think "it moved the FPS genre forward" Junglist is why no-one takes you seriously.

      I honestly dont care about any of this, i had every diamond skin in black ops 2, every gold gun in black ops 2, and almost every skin in every other cod apart from ghosts but i still played for fun. I still play CS:source which has no skins or unlocks because the act of doing well against skilled competition is all I need. I really dislike the A.D.D. route that achievements and unlocks have caused games to take, so many feel that if there is nothing to unlock there is no point playing.

      Last edited 26/04/14 8:50 pm

      You stopped at level 42 lol and because of pretty pictures for your guns? Ive just got to prestige 10 and the game is still fun.

    Tribes ascend pffftttttt. Tribes 2 foreva nub.

    But yeah titanfall did not do the longetivity right. Games need to think bigger about long term rewards like MMOs to keep people playing - respawns experience is only with the cod player base who repetitively play even the tiniest of content, but that playerbase is getting smaller as they have milked it far too long. I have already moved on.

    The key thing I think a lot of developers don't realize is longetivity is also relative to how long it takes to get in and play. I despise it when a game makes me watch 3 different developer/pub/engine movies before loading a title screen before then finding a game and then loading the map. A lot of games that do well in the long term, like tf2 or blizzards, have a very fast open to playing time. Titanfalls is woeful.

    Last edited 20/04/14 5:37 pm

    I moved on during the beta. Something told me I was seeing the finished product already and not much has shown me otherwise since

    Agreed. Such a shame, however I it will only help pave the way for better FPS' moving forward. Hopefully ones that offer the longevity found in (my opinion) MW2 and Halo 3!

    I've been playing less since they "improved matchmaking" I had zero problems with being matched with better players, it forced me to improve my game. Now? Lose or win a couple of games and it'll rip your game apart while it hunts for an opposing team. I've waited over 10 minutes in the past for it to find another team to match with. It got to the point where every time it ripped a game apart to match-make, I just quit and go back and search for a new game. It finds one instantly, a hell of a lot quicker.

    You need more and easier ways to play with your friends, and if you insist on ripping our games apart for matchmaking, make damn sure we'll have a new team in opposition within 30 seconds. They also keep pushing for season pass, but when are the actual expansions coming? I'm not buying on hopes and dreams. I've been burnt too hard by battlefield and COD previously buying season passes and then seeing either performance improvements lacking, or private servers hosting only non expansion maps anyway.

    As for customisation and rubbish, I'm actually so glad there isn't stupid paint and camo unlocks to grind through, and the small number of weapons makes re-gen'ing far more appealing.

      This is the biggest problem I see with almost all games that use matchmaking, The inability to easily have clan on clan competitive matches. All I can say is bring back server browsers for competitive matches or have a hybrid system like Team Fortress 2 or CS:GO does. Long live valves approach to cater for both casual and competitive players equaly.

      Last edited 26/04/14 8:57 pm

    Wtf.... How about playing because the core gameplay is amazing?! Holy crap are people ridiculous .

    Seems to be the same everywhere. For a short time everyone who played it loved it. Then almost in unison people just didnt care. The game was and still is fantastic, I dont think anyone could dispute that, but it surprisingly didnt have that "thing" that keeps people going like with Halo, CoD or BF. Even when I think back to how many people were talking about this even during beta play its still surprises me how quickly it died off.

    With this and the decline in numbers for CoD its clear something new will be needed and while this was a step in the right direction I think we will have to suffer another iteration or 2 of CoD before anything fresh comes along to stay.

    Praise the Sun I dont play any of these anymore!!!

    Yeah nailed it. I was amazed at its awesomeness at first then it died out pretty quick as each match became like the last.

      I have found that each match is the same only if you dont activly search for new tactics constantly, there really are so many ways to play this game but I see so many people use the same tactics every game. I guess we are creatures of habit after all.

      Last edited 26/04/14 9:33 pm

    While I don't haven't played it so can't really judge, it seems to me for a full priced game it doesn't really have enough "stuff". I mean, CoD, BF etc have SP campaigns too, and despite apparently being ignored by most players, it still kind of "justifies" how much it costs to make the game. Titanfall appears to have basically the same or less amount of multiplayer "stuff" than those games do, so... where'd the rest of the money go? Am I missing something? I guess you can count on foot vs in titan as being two different systems so is twice the work to develop, but then you can say the same about the vehicles in BF or Halo...?

    I dunno, just seems in an age where companies are releasing entire games F2P, a full price AAA flagship game should have "more"?

    Last edited 20/04/14 6:56 pm

      This actually retails for less than COD releases, here in aus at least it is $30 cheaper than black ops 2 which is still selling for the same as it was when it was released almost 2 years ago.
      Also, let's be honest, the single player in COD or BF only adds a few hours to longevity. I don't know anyone personally that replays the single player in any of those games day in, day out.

      Last edited 26/04/14 9:12 pm

    Wow... I completely disagree.
    The beauty of Titanfall lies in it's simplicity and balance. It brought back a level of FPS fun I haven't really experienced since the original Modern Warfare.. People complain about lack of emblems, customisation etc and I think that's what the downfall of the last few generations of the FPS was: too much chaff, not enough focus on the core gameplay. I keep coming back to it for the same reason I enjoyed CS, Doom and other games of that generation. It's simple, and it WORKS.

    If players feel that there’s nothing left to discover, conquer, or achieve, why keep playing?

    What's weird is that I've found even players don't really move towards this anymore. Usually becoming complacent and relying on the same tricks over and over again to get easy victories. I remember I even once suggested trying out a Halo Reach, SWAT gametype with the Assault Rifle instead of the DMR, just to see how it will play out. Instead I was violently attacked for daring to destroy a game, that they were constantly bitching about anyways.

    Can't say I'm too surprised, but at the same time, after finishing the shortish story of inFamous I haven't gone back to it since. I'll put this down to both Sony and Microsoft needing something new for their consoles since the launch titles and them not being pumped full of longevity. Hopefully come the end of this year we can start seeing some games with proper replayability for the new consoles. High hopes for Batman being the first proper 'next gen' game really being worth playing over and over

    I really enjoyed my time in Titanfall and then I stopped. I am not even sure why. Overall it was an interesting way to fill the hole left when I lost interest in BF4 after being a long time battlefield fan.

    The mode that was the most interesting to me was Last Titan Standing... and that was essentially a very limited one-life mode which almost ignores the on foot half the game.

    I am not 100% sure if I was getting weary of just Titanfall or the online FPS merry go round where you run through the meat grinder time and time again with the aim of grinding more than getting grinded. Death is such a minor setback that you will often risk it carelessly or recklessly. The thrills are fading, the monkeys have grown accustomed to the flashing lights.

    The games that have gotten my heart racing and sucked me in now are things like Rust. Where shit matters. Where you can have your heart literally broken or choose to crush the dreams of others. Where the stakes are high and decisions matter. Going back to the merry go round shooter maybe just doesn't cut it for me any more.

    I want to see more competitive shooters where death (and therefore life) means more. Counterstrike did it. And I am sick of a plethora of modern weapons. Over it. Focus on interesting combat, the weapons should support that. Tribes, Quake 3 did that right.

    Last edited 20/04/14 7:41 pm

    It's funny how the gamer's attitudes have changed so much. Full disclosure: I don't own Titanfall because I'm currently without internet. These days people seem to think a game isn't worth the investment if there isn't some digital gold stars being dangled in front of them, like: play 2,000 matches and we'll give you an arbitrary and useless virtual pat on the back to make you feel like you've accomplished something. When Halo 2 came out it played thousands of matches online cause it was damn fun, cause the mechanics were fun, capturing the flag was fun, driving and flipping warthogs was fun. There was barely any customization, just pick your armor colour and play for years and enjoy all the fun narratives and stories that unfolded in multiplayer. How the hell did I enjoy Halo 2 for so long without any of this almost insulting carrot/stick hoo-ha? I think a lot of gamers have become mice in a mice wheel.

    Last edited 21/04/14 12:24 am

      Yeah games just aren't actually "fun" anymore. This metagame nonsense is a symptom of the disease. When the actual game isn't fun enough, you need psychological manipulation to keep people on the hook. Developers tacking on metagame elements reminds me of companies that try and fail, embarrassingly, to create viral web content. It's unoriginal and your audience will see right through it.

      It's about mastering that 30 second gameplay thing that Halo did up until Halo 4 (Riddled with progression systems, interestingly) that matters most of all. Every 30 seconds is filled with fun, gratifying gameplay. Gears of War, i believe, is another game that really got that right. Up until, surprise, surprise, the latest iteration, where they introduced the elements that made Call of Duty popular.

        It feels insulting doesn't it, like the devs are exploiting our completionist nature. I'm not 100% against it, I think it has its place. If you're going to play thousands of games it's nice to see some bar slowly ticking up even if the only reward is a little emblem or something. But it's when the meta game starts invading the actual game that it becomes sickening. I'm talking about the guy that's jeopardising your game by only throwing grenades in order for an achievement/unlock/skin, or your friend who's ignoring game requests because they've spent 5 months joylessly grinding Halo firefight for a completely useless rank. Where does the madness stop?

        I totally agree. I was a die hard fan of the gears of war series until the latest one. What made the old ones so fun was that it was intense and different than call of duty and the like. When they changed the game to basically be a call of duty clone, I played for maybe 5 hours and never picked it up again.

          Yeah team based one-life combat (specifically Execution mode) made Gears unique and gripping. You used tactics and thought hard about what your next move would be. Victories meant something because defeat meant something. If you acted like a cowboy and charged in guns blazing you'd generally be taught a lesson immediately and have to sit out the rest of the round.

          There was nothing more satisfying than having your whole team wiped out by the other team, without any casualties, and somehow, against the odds, turning things around and winning the match. You knew your teammates were watching you because of the team camera when you die, and you knew that you had pulled off something amazing. That sort of feeling only happens when you have something to lose.

          In Gears 3, with Team Deathmatch mode, it not only emptied out the Execution games (you'd pretty much always have to play against bots) but also killed the spirit of the game. When you could respawn, you didn't need to worry about dying, there would be people rolling in with sawed off shotguns with reckless abandon all around you. With Judgement they made it Free-For-All Deathmatch. Which was even worse.

          I did find solace in The Last Of Us' multiplayer. Even though it was slightly closer to Call Of Duty in the mechanics and the chances of you dying pretty much instantly without knowing how, it at least preserved that whole "if you die, there are consequences" thing. Looking forward to playing that when I get the PS4 version and the servers become populated all over again.

          Last edited 27/04/14 12:20 pm

        I couldn't agree more, I have said exactly this since mw2 came out. I couldn't care less about unlocks and progression systems but I still do them because i have to. I just find them a grind and a wall between me playing the game the way I want to.

      You don't own Titanfall? Oh no, that must mean you missed out on the pre-order digital weapon skin for one of your starting weapons you won't use anymore after an hour of gameplay and the skip to level 5 faster xp bonus from your favourite retail store.

      But be sure to tune in next weekend for a 1.25 xp boost.

        I read this and grinned. Thank you so much for summing up what modern gaming has become in just a few short sentences.

        I forget how good it was when I was sixteen when Quake came out (yep, more than half my life ago) and how the game didn't need any bullshit skins or xp boosts to entice you to buy. It was a decent single player experience, it let you play the game however you wanted in multiplayer and what really kept me coming back was knowing that being able to beat people at dm, team dm, tf and the like was just really satisfying, especially when they were top notch players (anyone remember King Camo in qwtf?)

        Those were the days...

    There's almost no social aspect on PC AU servers. Nobody talks, nobody does anything. It may as well be single player because I don't care who's on my team, I don't care who I'm shooting at (pilots = more points) and I don't care if I win or lose because I'm only trying to unlock HCOG sight anyway.
    I'm up to gen3 and haven't regen'd yet because I wanted to enjoy the unlocks longer, and now I'm bored stupid.
    Let's also not forget the aimbot is rampant and FairFights wave banning taks tooooo long.
    Here's a video from the other night
    http://youtu.be/Ke_rSBrTtZw
    Aimbot + smart pistol? *sigh...

    Last edited 20/04/14 8:05 pm

      I talk if there's a reason to. So many shit heads just got on and started saying racist shit and being obnoxious. It was like playing on Xbox.

      When you get into a good match with good players, a bit of useful talk is great.

        Don't come across that often, and after midnight it seems like it's attrition or nothing.

        On Xbox most of the time when I come across talking it's an entire opposing team, who you know are going to rape you and be co-ordinated. I haven't come across any random talking players. In fact, ironically since every Xbox comes with a headset and Kinect, there are stuff all talking players in anything, everyone is in party chat.

    Shame this game didn't have a story game mode.. I never play online.

    It seems single-player is a dirty word (compound noun) these days. Pity. Perhaps if Respawn start seeing numbers dropping they'll put out some single-player DLC to give the game some longevity!

      It's funny, they said they didn't bother with single player because only like 10% of people who bought the game play it in call of duty, or something like that. But... MW3 sold 26 million units (according to a quick google seach), that 10% is still bigger than the total sales of most games!

    I have to agree...and here's a little different "why." I suck. I am at best an average player that enjoys FPS's. Ghost's Squads totally saved my ass for online participation as I do OK and don't get slaughtered the minute I enter the field. With all the noise over Titanfall, I had hoped for a fresh chance with original gameplay, that I might have another opportunity to be OK online. But without the ability to practice in any way, no single player to try different styles, I still get butchered by the run-and-gunners. Sadly, Ghosts Squads (and the Ripper) still is a better online experience for the average (or below) player.

    This x 100

    The core gameplay is solid and amazing.. Respawn not only did a great job by stripping back all the chaff that bloated the recent COD and BF games, and at the same time evolved the gameplay.. I am still finding new ways to play and new tactics based on weapon/skill combos, and I'm halfway through Gen4 .. We seem to live in the age of the entitled gamer *sigh*

    Yeah what's a video game without single player storyline I mean the thought of just online battle is awesome but not for a game of this type

    the problem is, when a game releases so laggy and with horrible match making. It puts people off and it's hard to get them back.

    Then it dies and when people come back they don't stay.

    You people ate terrible, you're supposed to play the game because it's fun. It actually makes the game less fun if you get rewarded with skins or paint and that isn't my opinion, that's what all the research says about reward motivation. Next time you write an article research it first.

    Just another article that is unnecessarily bashing Titanfall for not having completely useless features. I'm sorry, but you don't get better by going into unmanned maps and practicing routes. You do it under live fire conditions. I'm not playing with barbies, I don't need to dress up my pilots. There are plenty of weapons, as each one has it's own characteristics, pros and cons. I can't name my customized spots? Boohoo. I guess I don't have a memory to remember what each one has, or as if the screen doesn't show it. For real, people. The game is oodles of apeshit fun, and that's that.

    Good points and I hope they can update to patch some of these issues. It's definitely a great game and would be hard to improve on without actual player feedback.

    It's ridiculous how much the media hyped this game, it's good to know they can't force a game to be popular.

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