Now that we’re officially into March, it’s been one full year since the launch of Titanfall, the first game from Respawn Entertainment. It had a lot of hype going in – a new FPS IP from the creators of the Modern Call of Duty format. Add in that it was coming from EA – not Call of Duty‘s publisher Activision and the story was rich enough before the game even was released. There was extra pressure since it was also Exclusive to Microsoft – PC and Xbox only. And to tell the truth there was a lot riding on the success of the game for the Xbox One. It was the first FPS that really was built for the “Next-Gen” system’s abilities. Running on the Microsoft Cloud was supposed to keep lag at a minimum – and the game also had the ability for players to choose their server locations to help that further.
The question then is, one year later, did the game live up to the expectations? The short answer is yes, but there’s a lot more going on here. Sure, it sold well, and had a pretty solid player base for a while – although the numbers have really dropped. I played a couple games this week to refresh myself and the biggest player count was in Attrition with just about 6,000 worldwide players. But the impact really goes beyond the numbers with Titanfall. It gave the Xbox One some life early on in the console’s lifespan – which it really needed. The PS4 came in with a bit more receptive audience than the Xbox One, which you could argue is still the case, but with Titanfall the public began to look at the Xbox with a little more positive views. Having an exclusive, especially one that’s an FPS, was a huge plus for the early days of the Xbox One. Beyond that, Titanfall also helped illustrate a fundamental shift in the design of FPS games. We’ve seen it now with Advanced Warfare and Destiny as well, and even in Halo 5. The days of waist high walls are seemingly past, and we now have games that are built around movement and speed. Each game has approached it in different ways, but I still think that Titanfall has done it best. The emphasis on wall running really helps keep the flow of pilot combat fast paced – it was rare to see much down time in a full lobby. Even the Titans had a lot more mobility than I think anyone really expected.
Titanfall I think will end up being one of those games that in a few years, we’ll look back at as one of the first true Next-Gen games. It was a completely fresh take on a genre that’s as old as any – and one that tends to get stagnant after a couple years. Regardless of how long this trend of mobility-focused shooters lasts, Titanfall will have been the first one out. There’s really no way, without talking with all the developers out there, to know exactly how much influence the game has had right now; but I do think if we look at what FPS games look like at E3 we might be able to start to see just how important it was. The post-launch DLC season was kind of short – only three packs with three maps in each; but the season pass was also cheaper than usual – it was $30 instead of the usual $50. But Respawn also had a bunch of free updates that were rolled in with patches that added in tons of content – the Black Market for Burn Cards, Private Matches, Titan Customization and the Co-op Frontier Defense all were free content add-ons. I would have liked to see the player-base hang on to the game for a bit longer, but we’ll see how it goes with the sequel. While it hasn’t been officially confirmed, I think it’s a given that EA and Respawn will have a second game out in a year or so.