Titanfall: impressions for those who aren’t shooter fans

If you’re like me it takes a special kind of first person shooter to hold your attention. So much of what makes many current shooters popular — twitch gameplay, adversarial online multiplayer, crafting loadouts from unlocked items and perks — appeals to me in a way, but really needs something else behind it to keep me motivated. So it was with some trepidation that I began playing the Titanfall beta last week, and I spent quite a lot of time playing it until yesterday when it closed.

So often this game has been compared to and contrasted against Call of Duty. I was never sure whether this meant it out-CoDed CoD, or whether it meant it took the genre and made it something I would actually enjoy. Since I’ve only ever played online Call of Duty in short bursts I won’t insult fans by attempt to make an in-depth comparison, but I can report that I had much more fun in the week of Titanfall beta than I ever did in a CoD game post Modern Warfare. Here’s my impressions on what you might find in Titanfall that isn’t prevalent in many other competitive shooters :

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Loss of first always online console sucks

More than a week after the close of E3 the ripples of its events still reverberate through most of the games media and its output. As a frequent lurker of games article comments sections I’ve extracted some talking points for each platform holder that web denizens still all seem to have an opinion on. Be sure to also check out what Sony didn’t say at their conference and why Retro Studios’ Metroid and other expected Wii U games are missing for a reason.

First things first: Microsoft’s messaging leading up to E3 regarding its plan for Xbox One, digital rights management and used games was extremely poor. Whether stemming from an internal confusion over how these systems would work or from sheer arrogance in thinking gamers would be blind to potential issues in the face of a shiny new Xbox, the company’s baffling talk about always-online consoles, always-connected cameras and game licences shared between family but not new friends got potential customers offside for good reason.

Yet there were intriguing, game-changing ideas hinted at for Xbox One as well. For the first time in a long time it looked like the three big console makers were heading in different directions, with Sony likely to build on what they have with games consoles and Microsoft taking a left turn to make an always online, cloud-assisted entertainment stream-box.

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E3 speculation machine part 3: Xbox One

While it’s tempting to call out the botched reveal of Xbox One that caused some widespread hate and even genuine panic through the internet, the truth is all that drama isn’t really in play. Microsoft’s done the smart thing by releasing exhaustive details about how online, Kinect and used games will work in he week just passed, and if they can convince consumers of their console’s chops at their E3 press conference the last month with all its hysteria will be lost to the annals of google caches and never spoken of again.

With just hours to go until the conference there are still very few confirmed Microsoft exclusives for the new console, despite the company’s claim that it will publish 15 games in the first year of Xbox One’s life. So far the games we know are Microsoft are publishing for Xbox One and so will most likely be at E3 are:

  • Quantum Break
  • Forza Motorsport 5
  • Ryse
  • LocoCycle
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Quantum Break

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Xbox One: Microsoft doesn’t care if you can’t share or resell games

The Xbox One will require a constant internet connection and you’ll need to pay a fee to play a game disc that somebody’s already played.

Wait, no that’s not right.

The Xbox One will not require a constant connection, but developers will have the option to utilize cloud processing in their software, meaning a constant connection would be required for those games. Also that re-authorization fee is full retail price. Even if you want to play the game on two separate accounts on the same machine, you’ll need to pay for the game twice.

Wait, no. Sorry, I misspoke.

The Xbox One will require a regular internet connection (not constant but regular, how silly of me) to allow for automatic authentications that ensure you’re the only one playing under the licence you bought. The disc will house the game install only and will be played from the hard drive or the cloud. There will apparently be no fee for the disc to work in another console, but it will be deactivated on the original console. Glad we got that straightened out.

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Halo Prime

The booths have been dismantled, the corporate hyperbole holstered and the Zelda fanboys’ salty salty tears mopped up and properly stored. Before moving on from E3 2012 once and for all however I thought I’d take a look one detail you may have missed, namely Halo 4’s link to blockbuster Nintendo franchise Metroid.

The Halo 4 demo that kicked off Microsoft’s press conference was gorgeous. There was something stylistically familiar about it right from the start, as a sheeny silver and orange ball materialises behind Master Chief and zooms into the forest. Once the action picks up, the similarities between 343 Industries’ first original Halo game and Retro Studios’ Metroid Prime series come thick and fast.

Several sources around the interwebs have mentioned these similarities. A fact largely overlooked however is that Kynan Pearson, formerly a Senior Designer at Retro Studios who is credited in both Metroid Prime 2 and Metroid Prime 3, has for the last couple years been Lead Designer at 343 Industries. His influence is pretty evident.

Is this a screen grab from Metroid Prime 3 or Halo 4? How long has Master Chief’s visor even been this shape?

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E3 speculation machine day 2: Microsoft

With the Electronic Entertainment Expo kicking off next week, console gamers are looking to Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony to make big announcements and hyberbolic claims about the experiences they’ll be bringing us in the year to come. Over three days I’ll be taking a look at what the ‘Big Three’ are likely to have in store.

Now that Master Chief is back, does that mean we’ll all be shouting “DUAL WIELD!” at our Kinect? I hope not, because that phrase is really hard to say quickly.

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Master Chief takes on the Commander in Chief

An announcement from Microsoft last week revealed the launch of Halo 4 will be in direct competition not just with other games, but with the American election.

The first game in an entirely new trilogy of Halo games has been confirmed for worldwide release on November 6, the same day Americans (or those Americans that choose to) go to the polls to decide whether or not to retain Barack Obama for another term as president.

This is no small matter. In 2004 Halo 2 sold 2.4 million copies in the first day of US sale, grossing $125 million. Three years later Halo 3 topped that by grossing $170 million, becoming the fastest-selling game in history.

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