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Analysis – Titanfall Is Poised To Set Industry Trends

The Titanfall beta is still in full swing, and if you’re available to play now, Microsoft is conducting a big stress test. Before you jump into your 20 foot tall robotic shell though, here are some things to look for while you’re playing that will have an impact on the industry.

The value of good, frequent communication
While Titanfall is still in beta (and therefore, free), Respawn has approached the short-term test as if it were a live fire exercise. Servers went down on Friday, and many involved with the game's development shared a number of updates. This includes EA’s community manager, Respawn community manager Abbie Heppe, company founder Vince Zampella, and Microsoft employees handling the servers.

At no point were we in the dark about what was going on and why we couldn’t connect. The response from the community seemed largely positive, as gamers could quickly determine that the problem was both known and widespread. EA can learn a lot from the Respawn team and, should the next DICE project suffer the same issues as Battlefield 4, this should be the roadmap for working with the community.

Goodbye cover-based stop-and-pop, hello fancy traversal mechanics
Titanfall’s main hook might be the giant metal beasts that rocket to the ground throughout the match, but it isn’t the only thing that makes Titanfall interesting to play. Running, jumping, cloaking, and climbing as a pilot feels fun and natural.

Gears of War set the tone for cover last generation. Titanfall is set to push some developers away from chest-high walls and into faster, more vertical combat.

Multiplayer-only will be proven viable at retail
One of the big questions surrounding Titanfall following its reveal was how it will play at retail as a multiplayer-only title. In reality, Respawn is giving players exactly what they’ve demanded for years. 

We lament bullet-point gameplay. Usually that’s tacked on multiplayer, but in the case of Titanfall, it would have been a single player campaign that detracted from the core development focus. 2K Games has pushed to drop extraneous multiplayer (The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, BioShock Infinite). Respawn is going to show other developers that it’s ok not to force a campaign in a multiplayer-focused environment.

Player count is just a number
I find it surprising that people still talk about Titanfall “only” supporting six-vs-six multiplayer. (This is different from disliking the A.I., and something I suspect will be a frequently revisited conversation over the coming months.) The map design we’ve seen so far feels balanced for the player count, and love them or hate them, the computer-controlled entities do flesh out the map (especially when you hack Spectres). 

There has been a push toward bigger team sizes, especially given the scope of games like Battlefield 4. I expect that we might see greater diversity should Titanfall be the success I expect. Player count should fit the design vision and not the other way around.

Haven’t had a chance to check out the Titanfall beta yet? It’s open to all on Xbox One and PC right now through February 19 at 6 pm Pacific. You can read more about Titanfall with PC editor Dan Tack’s beta impressions and check out our archived live stream.

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