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Titanfall – A Retrospective –

Titanfall was released in March 2014 as one of the most heavily anticipated games of the year. Fans were teased with an early beta release and screenshots and videos during the last few years. Rumors of the game being an Xbox exclusive (with a PC port) led many to believe that the game would be used to show off the Xbox One’s power. When the game was finally released, many people were underwhelmed. At the time, there were many reasons people gave for the game’s poor reception, including the lack of a campaign or predictable Titans and weapons.

Titanfall is a very special game. It is a game that has stuck with me for almost a year after its initial release, and has come to be my go-to game for having fun. It is a game that has had updates almost every week since release, and has added new content and modes on a very frequent basis. The community is still very much active and it is a game that I still play regularly. It has also seen the release of a DLC campaign, and is still very much alive in the gaming community.

It is the connection to the Titan BT-7274 Vanguard, affectionately known as BT, that is the emotional core of this story. The two form an unlikely partnership, and you play both pilot and titan on several major linear levels to thwart the IMC’s plans. The growing trust between the two in each mission, along with BT’s humorous statements, help to transform the franchise from a simple shooter into something much more. If you have no feelings for BT at the end of the story, you are colder than a BMI soldier.

And then there is Research and Reason. According to many, this is the best mission in Titanfall 2. Your task is simple: Find the deadly weapons the IMC is using to turn the war in their favor. In contrast to the more simplistic mechanics of shooting enemies, climbing walls and fighting mechas, Effect and Cause introduces a time travel anomaly that allows you to switch between an abandoned military base and the vibrant, enemy-filled past.

As you progress through the level, you’ll go back and forth in time, passing malfunctioning robots and stampeding animals in the present, and dodging enemy fire and security barriers in the past – all by pressing the button to switch between time periods. It’s so easy to rant about the stakes, design and fun of Effect and Cause, but ultimately the best way to experience it is to play it for yourself.

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Titanfall 2 did everything Respawn promised the first time around, but failed to deliver. It greatly expanded the story fans have been waiting for and built on the best aspects of the multiplayer. Unfortunately, these good intentions were overshadowed by poor sales: The first week’s results are only a quarter of those of the original Titanfall. Maybe it’s bad luck, but it certainly didn’t help that Titanfall 2’s October 2016 release was sandwiched between Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, two of the biggest releases of the year, hitting shelves within days of each other.

These setbacks, and EA’s acquisition of Respawn in 2018, have left the third game in the series hanging by a thread. Apex Legends, a free-to-play battle royale game based on the Titanfall universe but lacking the titanic combat and wall-running mechanics of the previous games, unexpectedly came out a year later and many saw it as an opportunity for the series to be revived. But in light of the explosive success of Epic Games’ giant Fortnite, which surpassed 25 million players in its first week, it quickly became clear that Apex Legends would not be the return to Titanfall that fans were hoping for. Apex has appropriated its inspiration, and the titans of old have been left behind.

That’s not to say we’ll never see a proper Titanfall sequel in the future, but given Apex’s 100 million players, it’s getting harder and harder to imagine Titanfall 3 ever becoming a reality. Fortunately, the legacy somehow lives on, as Valkyrie appears in the ninth season of Apex, sparking new interest in the existing world of Titans and Pilots. But a sequel still seems like a pipe dream, and that’s a shame.

The fact that Titanfall is still being talked about years later, and that the gaming community is focusing on it again thanks to a re-release on Steam and the recent release of the Boost FPS mode on the Xbox Series X, shows how much the series is still respected and honoured. Despite all the hype and failed sequels, Titanfall remains a gem in the crowded world of FPSs, and there’s no better time than now to dive back into Titanfall and experience its fall on the battlefield.

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