I’d been waiting for Titanfall a long time. A looooong time. Perhaps my whole life. OK, not that long. But definitely a long time. 2013 was a dud year for console releases as developers seemed to take a breath before the next generation came out. Call of Duty and Battlefield bought out games that were very similar to the previous titles in their franchises and console FPS seemed more stagnant than ever. So when I saw the first trailer for Titanfall I fell in lust. With its hybridisation of mech combat and agile pilots this game promised a fresh perspective on my favourite genre. And it delivers. So why am I finding myself bored with Titanfall?
I’ve spent a while scratching my head over this question. After all, Titanfall was the main reason I spent a fair chunk of money buying an xbone – why was I so disinterested in this game? When I’ve found myself in this position before it has been because reality didn’t live up to my expectations. But Titanfall lives up to expectations. Things work exactly the way I expected them to work. I haven’t noticed any big bugs, servers have been fine (rare for a big release nowadays) and, most importantly, the new gameplay feels fresh.
The problem is not that this isn’t a great FPS, it’s that I’m no longer as interested in shooters as I once was. You see, I’d been looking forward to this game because I missed the days of my youth playing shooters non-stop (Literally: Days. Non-stop). I had a bunch of mates I’d play with (many I’d met online) and when a new release came out we’d all be gaming together. Those days are gone. Xbox live is no longer the social hub that it was for me in my teens. My friends have moved on. I’ve moved on. Thankfully, I no longer obsess over my K/D ratio. Nor do I spend hours learning every tip and trick to get a slight edge over my competition. I don’t regret the time I spent doing that – I had a lot of fun – but I have different priorities now.
As I’ve become less of a child (to say I’m more of an adult seems wrong) I have greater control over my life. I no longer live with my parents or have to abide by their rules (yes, chocolate cake is a perfectly acceptable breakfast food) nor do I have to attend the disempowering tedium that was/is high school. One’s skill at a FPS is determined by a number of factors, including how hard one works at improving. This is something that an otherwise powerless teenager, given little responsibility in life, can control. Now, as a 24 year old coming to terms with adult responsibility, I want fewer things to control. Gaming gets left by the wayside. If there’s a choice between improving my Titanfall K/D or writing an article for BHM, I know which one I’ll choose.
I am still a chronic gamer. What interested me in days of yore was spending hours leading guilds, planning strategies, improving K/Ds. That’s changed. Like many former MMO players I still log on occasionally and interact with my guild. Not to lead or to follow, just for social reasons. I still have a notepad that I’ll scribble on occasionally when I want to solidify a game plan (RPGs, I’m looking at you) but I no longer spend hours inputting data into spreadsheets in order to figure out if the iron sword + 5 is better than the steel sword + 4. I remember the moment when I logged on to battlefield 4’s battlelog and realised how many stats were tracked. I didn’t have the time or interest in keeping them all up to a high standard. In fact, I no longer had the time or interest in improving my K/D. Surely it was better to PTFO than learn how to become the best long range sniper that ever was or will be.
So with all this change I finally get to enjoy Titanfall. I don’t stress out when I’m on the losing team. I don’t have to boost to unlock that OP weapon. I get to use loadouts that are fun, even if they’re not the best. I miss the social side of xbox live but then I remember how much time it took to sort out the decent human beings from the a-holes and cultivate gaming friendships and suddenly I don’t mind being that player who’s not on mic.
Titanfall is a great game. Undoubtedly there are people experiencing their golden years on Titanfall, as I once did on Halo, CoD and Battlefield. I’m going to continue playing (and enjoying!) but for me the real value of Titanfall is it’s taught me that those carefree, caffeinated days are gone. And that’s a good thing.