While 'Titanfall' Lacks Content, It Isn't Overpriced

Mar 16 2014, 10:58am CDT | by

While 'Titanfall' Lacks Content, It Isn't Overpriced
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

In the week since its release, Titanfall has sparked a lot of debate among fans and critics alike. Reception of the gameplay seems to be generally positive. The game has been praised as a “revolution” for shooter multiplayer while insults usually sound like “it’s just an upgraded Call of Duty,” which still can be taken as a compliment, given the success of that series.

Rather, the main criticism from fans and journalists alike is about the actual content of the game, and what it does, or more importantly does not, contain.

The last few years of shooters have gotten us into a mindset that a new game in the genre should have two or three fixed components. That would be a single player campaign, a multiplayer mode and more recently a third pillar of co-operative gameplay like Zombies, Firefight, Extinction, Spec Ops and so on. While series like Halo and Call of Duty satisfy these requirements, even as the latter is churning out a new installment year after year, Titanfall only has one of them, despite a lengthy development time.

Furthermore, within that mode, multiplayer can feel a bit sparse. There are only five modes of play and nothing like a ranked ladder. Every match is the same 6v6-plus-bots format, with little variance on the core game. There are generally less guns and perks than its competitors, and less customization options. Really, the only thing Titanfall has in abundance are maps, 15 of them with a bunch more coming via DLC.

All of this leads to the same conclusion for many. “Titanfall is overpriced, you’re paying for a third of the content as a regular shooter, but it’s still $60.”

I understand where people are coming from, I just don’t agree with them in this specific case. I’ve encountered many games over the years that have felt overpriced, mainly because of their shallowness. I don’t think it’s even been fair to say because a game is bad that it’s overpriced, the way you don’t get to complain that a Rotten Tomatoes score doesn’t translate into how much a ticket for a particular film costs. But if you paid $15 for a twenty minute movie, you might be a little miffed.

I think replayability and longevity are the key factors here. I fully stand behind the notion that games like say, The Force Unleashed 2, were horribly priced at $60 when new, given the fact that the entire game consisted of a roughly four hour campaign with little else to do beside that. I resented paying $60 for Halo Wars, a promising strategy game that was very clearly only 30% finished. It was apparent a “full” version of the game would have included two more playable races, had the game been given more time and resources to fully develop.

But in the case of Titanfall, even though potential hours have been shaved off by the lack of a campaign or co-op mode, the amount of effort that was put into making the central 6v6 multiplayer mode so far is making for an incredibly replayable game with potentially a very long shelf life. It was a risk to scrap those other modes to focus solely on multiplayer, but Respawn knew that the largest portion of hours in any shooter were spent in the competitive mode, and within that mode, those five game types were probably the most likely to be played.

Titanfall is a game that many will easily sink dozens or hundreds of hours into. Though the depth of the different gameplay options is relatively shallow, the amount of things that can happen within a match is off the charts, given how many moving pieces there are to a given match. Most players probably already have their “coolest Titanfall kill” moment so far, and will forever be trying to top it. To me it doesn’t matter how deep a game is if replayability is there. To this day, I still play the same two or three modes in Super Smash Bros. 64 and I still see crazy things happen in matches for the very first time even after 15 years of owning the game (did Fox just reflect that shell into a bomb that launched DK into the laser blast of an Arwing?). The same qualities presented themselves in Halo 3 (did that sticky nade just blow up a barrel that launched a Mongoose into that guy’s face?) and I can already see the same sort of thing happening in Titanfall, even in these early stages. It’s that kind of game.

Not everyone will share this opinion, and the market is pushing back against the $60 price model. Other infinitely replayable games like League of Legends are completely free, relying on microtransactions to pay the bills with their massive monthly player count. But it’s a matter of choice. Would you rather have that model and pay extra for new Titan chassis and Burn Cards? Maybe yes, but many would say no.

It’s true that certain games feel more worthwhile than others when it comes to just how much you can get out of  a $60 purchase. It seems almost insane that Skyrim and The Force Unleashed 2 cost the same amount, given the “hours of content” disparity between the two. But it’s up to developers to convince gamers that their investment was worth it. In some cases, a huge amount of modes and gameplay options will be enticing in that regard. Other times, doing one thing really, really well is enough to keep players coming back for hundreds or even thousands of hours.

With Titanfall, in my estimation, Respawn has done one thing really, really well. I do miss the additional content the game could have come with like an actual campaign and more multiplayer modes, but I think that what the game does provide is worth $60 all the same.

Over time, I think more depth will be patched into the game, and I expect a lot more content out of a now-inevitable sequel. But so far, Titanfall is a great start, and I don’t feel cheated in the slightest.

Follow me on Twitter, subscribe to my Forbes feed, and pick up a copy of my sci-fi novel, The Last Exodus, and its sequel, The Exiled Earthborn.

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

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