Titanfall: Multiplayer Single Player Campaign The Wave Of The Future?

The Titanfall multiplayer mode is also a single player campaign, albeit done in a completely different fashion. But is this a new trend that should be welcomed or shunned?

In a related report by The Inquisitr, a Titanfall PS4 port is highly desired, but EA canceled the port because they assumed the Xbox One would win the day.

Years ago, I recall executives at various video games publishers talking about the diminishing returns of the single player campaigns, especially in relation to first person shooters like Call Of Duty and the Battlefield series. While next gen visuals are nice, they’re also incredibly expensive to develop, costing millions of dollars. In response, the single player campaigns noticeably began to shorten in length, but even then developers noticed an astonishing trend: less than 20 percent of gamers ever finished the single player mode!

While Titanfall developer Respawn is a “new” company, they’re mostly comprised of old hats who worked on the Call Of Duty series. So when they were working on their first big title, Vince Zampella said they decided their time would be best spent by not finishing the planned single player campaign:

“We make these single-player missions that take up all the focus of the studio, that take a huge team six months to make, and players run through it in 8 minutes. And how many people finish the single-player game? It’s a small percentage. It’s like, everyone plays through the first level, but 5 percent of people finish the game. Really, you split the team. They’re two different games. They’re balanced differently, they’re scoped differently. But people spend hundreds of hours in the multiplayer experience versus ‘as little time as possible rushing to the end’ [in single-player]. So why do all the resources go there? To us it made sense to put it here. Now everybody sees all those resources, and multiplayer is better. For us it made sense.”

But it’s not like there isn’t a story at all. Titanfall opens with a movie explaining a synopsis for how the war began. If anything, it almost sounds exactly like the beginning of Halo: Reach, with colony worlds starting a civil war over how they’re being mistreated by foreign interests. I just finished Titanfall’s campaign mode myself, and I can say it’s definitely more interesting than a standard multiplayer match because it gives a reason for why you’re fighting.

At the same time, Paul Tassi of Forbes makes the great point that while Titanfall’s multiplayer has an interesting backstory, it still lacks any serious depth:

Titanfall needs its Captain Price. Its Marcus Fenix. Its Master Chief. I don’t think it’s enough to just have a collection of expendable Titans and soldiers running around. Players shouldn’t have to read internet wikis to have a proper picture painted of the story…. Titanfall needs characters who can become legends, not just cannon fodder.”

There’s other games on the horizon that may pull this off. Bungie’s Destiny hopes to create a massively multiplayer world that’s also a single play campaign in a fashion. The Elder Scrolls Online beta also plays a lot like the single player Skyrim when it comes to the story. I’m also hoping that at E3 2014 Microsoft will announce Halo will become an episodic gaming experience combined with a Halo TV show.

Still, all of those games may have a multiplayer campaign mode which is focused on cooperative play and not PvP. Part of the issue with storytelling is balancing out multiplayer gameplay and making it fair. The aforementioned characters wipe the map with their enemies, but in Titanfall the soldiers are nameless precisely because neither side has an overwhelming advantage.

Also, if you’re playing a named character, how do you explain the player’s ability to die and then respawn in a multiplayer environment? (Besides a story that involves clones, hive minds, etc.) The only alternative is to make the other characters so interesting that the main character’s shortcomings, or lack of depth, are never noticed. After all, everyone remembers Half Life but Gordon Freeman was voiceless.

Do you think Titanfall‘s campaign mode should start a trend with other games or do you like the clear distinction between single player and multiplayer modes?