It wasn’t too long ago that first person shooters introduced epic campaign or story modes. Who else remembers Call of Duty or Medal of Honour? And who can forget the heart wrenching scene in the back of a helicopter when a nuclear device goes off, or storming the Reichstag in the closing days of World War II. The stories made headlines, and made sure that first person shooters were flying off the shelves. However, the stories themselves were just that, stories. You could play them over and over again, but still fall somewhere inside scripted plot points. Titanfall breaks away from all that. It rides the cresting wave of player generated content.
It has been occurring since last September. Much like a titan rocketing from the stratosphere, it has arrived with a shock wave so great that it is changing the landscape of gaming as we know it. Respawn Entertainment’s maiden voyage, Titanfall, is making gamers tell their story.
There are many games that have dipped their toe into the pool of player generated content. Minecraft was the first, Grand Theft Auto V attempted it with their online multiplayer; even indie games like Shadowrun Returns, are trying to see what player generated content can make. The jury is still out on those experiments. Maybe they were too broad in scope, maybe no one knows how to channel an untapped potential of content. What we know with Titanfall is that they have found the sweet spot.
There are many reasons to buy Titanfall. The action is great, the graphics are top of the line, and the controls are solid. You can feel the roots of Call of Duty leaking through this game. They’ve taken the twitch factor from CoD, the free running parkour from Mirror’s Edge, and then frosted it over with giant robots from MechWarrior / Robotech (anime). Even after all those perks, it’s the campaign mode that will bring you back for more.
What makes the campaign mode in Titanfall so different? The biggest difference is, it’s all player generated. The story involves nine maps and your own story will differ depending on if you win or lose in each scenario. We’re no longer on the rails for storytelling. We’ve gone from being read stories in bed, to choosing our own adventure, pen in hand. The responsibility of the story is put on us. Do we want our side to win? We better start acting like a team and organizing if we want to see that. It’s the small details that transition the scenarios together.
Titanfall is a near perfect mixture of controlling our own fates, while working together with others. It may not be the first one to do this, but it does it the best. There is a beginning, middle and end to the story. It does take place in a modulated sand box. What makes it compelling though is getting your hands in the grit, feeling like you’re part of a struggle. You may be fighting for revenge against the Militia blew up your supply dock, or you may be trying to cut that last escape route to crush the IMC once and for all. No one can tell you the same story, because everyone has made their own. It also means you can go back in and play it over again. You will find a new narrative. You and your team are the heroes.
This is the change that is happening. We have become the Clouds, the Marios, and Solid Snakes. In Titanfall you are cutting your own chronicles out of granite. You will build a sense of rivalry when you play. You’ll remember the names of pilots who got you, or kept you from winning.
That’s just the campaign mode, there’s still the multiplayer to consider.
There is a big change in gaming happening. We will see it advance in 2014. We’ve moved from a story set on rails, to a story where we direct the plot. If you want to see the first footsteps, then Titanfall is for you.
It’s going to be fun riding the first wave in, on a giant robot.