Titanfall: where is my story?
Immersion is a key element to any sci-fi title – movie or game – and it is critical for the writer(s) to be able to capture ones’ imagination and hold onto it in order for the series to be successful. While not having played Titanfall myself (and thus this will not be a post regarding game play) I have dived into the story arc a bit, and what I see is disappointing to say the least. The universe has potential, and indeed being a ‘newborn’ so to speak, has the potential to expand into something wonderful: think back to when the first Mass Effect game was released. Now with that said, Titanfall is not meant to be the next Mass Effect, but such potential is incredible, and it would be a shame to see it go to waste in the blink of an eye.
Indeed one has to wonder why did the developers – with such freedom – would squander their opening move and produce a lack luster campaign. The fact that it is a multiplayer campaign is of no concern; after all plenty of games have given the player(s) a choice of having their friends and random strangers drop into their story arc to aid them and so forth. Yet when you look at Titanfall, it was as though the developers failed to realize what potential their new title had, and instead opted to compete – more or less – with current shooters which, while having a singleplayer campaign, are very much multiplayer oriented.
Now there is some highlights of the campaign, as the dialogue between characters is well suited to the title, and indeed it adds to the game play, rather than forcing the player to stop and watch a cutscene and so forth. However cutscenes are there to enhance the experience, and really place the player in a situation where they feel part of the universe. The bits that are in the game really help to reinforce the fact that you are in a frontier war, and that every move you make is for the cause: but this falls apart as well in the end. After the Militia campaign, there is the IMC campaign which is needed in order to unlock – I believe – another few Titan variants. Yet when you play the IMC, the story definitely feels scripted as even though you ‘win’ a match, you technically lose because the story was sculpted to favour the Militia, rather than the IMC.
Did the developers even look at titles like Dawn of War? Did the developers even play Command and Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars? The two games mentioned offer the player a chance to change the course of the story – or even play the story out from a completely different view. Example being Dawn of War Dark Crusade – a title I am familiar with: when you play the Imperial Guard, after your victory the cutscene is that your faction was victorious on Kronus, and that the other factions (even the Space Marines) were utterly beaten into submission. Flipping that to the Space Marines and the story plays out in a totally different manner. Why cannot the IMC win the war instead of The Militia? Why does the IMC campaign have to be a complete mockery of the faction, and make a player feel utterly worthless in an age when choice in games via dialogue and actions is part of the experience?
Yes yes there is the excuse that because it is a multiplayer campaign, the IMC has to lose in order for the story to progress. Yet why not have alternating cutscenes where if one faction wins, the cutscene depicting their victory is shown, and the same goes for the other faction? Instead what you get is literally the same experience, just from another point of view; even then the story could have been better.
Titanfall is a newborn to this world, and hopefully next time around the story arc will be better. Ultimately video games is another form of entertainment and media, and it can be used to tell stories much like books and movies: there is real potential in this format, it just has to be used and not thrown aside in favour of the flavour of the month.