Titanfall has always been fun to play but it still suffers from a lack lore and context.
Recently at gamescom Titanfall released a new trailer for its upcoming DLC. And just like pretty much every trailer and video for Titanfall, this one is pretty badass looking. Take a few minutes to watch it if you haven’t already (or even if you have for that matter).
The action is certainly over the top but that is how Titanfall has been since its reveal last year. And just to add a little bit more coolness to it, everything the pilot does in that live action trailer you can actually do in game. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who says the action and combat in Titanfall isn’t very slick and exciting to play. It absolutely is and Titanfall is very good at what it does but what it does is not very deep. This where I start run into some issues with the game.
I want to really love Titanfall but I have a hard time really caring about the game. As fun as the online matches are they feel like they are just a very thin layer stretched over a gaping hole. I feel this huge disconnect between the exciting gameplay and the “lore” of the game. Despite it having been out for months I still have a lot of the same questions I had before the game launched. Who are the militia and the IMC? Why are they fighting? How did humanity get to the ‘frontier’? Why should I care?
I find myself even more frustrated because there are several tantalizing clues that give me enough to want more but then leave me with nothing. For instance as a pilot its clear you are one of the elite soldiers of group and are a total badass. The previous trailer should be enough to convince you of that. Even in-universe you are one; the regular grunts you pass all excitedly cheer and praise when you walk by. I am reminded of when the marines in Halo are excited to Master Chief join them or when the Imperial Guardsmen thank Captain Titus in Warhammer 40K: Space Marine for saving them. So if pilots are the Titanfall equivalent of Spartans and Space Marines, then how did you get that way?
Well again the game teases with a loading screen that reveals that pilot training has something like a 98% attrition rate. First of all who the hell is insane enough to ever attempt such training. And second, I want to know what that training is like. While we can clearly see the results of the training as you tear through grunts and enemy pilots alike, it still feels kind of hollow. It feels like Respawn started to tell you what was going on and then just kinda forgot about it. I know I’m a badass as a pilot, now I want to see how I got that way.
Pilot training was just the easiest example to pick out but there are plenty of others. For instance even after playing the “campaign” twice to unlock all the titans for play, I still do not have a great grasp of the climate of the “frontier” region of space and why I should care about the IMC or the militia. (Well the militia pilots wear an awesome scarf of asskicking so I tend to like them more.) And I like the “mission control” characters from both sides but I still barely know anything about them. Like how in the hell did Spy Glass, a robot, gain such a high ranking position in the IMC when every other robot we met is a simple combat mech.
I feel like the Titanfall world has some really cool stories to tell and I so want to hear them. But at the moment with its pure multiplayer focus I feel as if Titanfall is more then a bit hollow. Maybe once Respawn is done adding all the new maps and modes they want they’ll consider adding a true single player campaign where I don’t have to worry about being shot while listening to the characters talk to each other. I can hope at least.