Titanfall is an interesting beast. It’s easily forgotten now, but it had a lot of hype surrounding it initially. It demoed incredibly well; it was fast, fluid, conceptually strong and of course had some of the biggest names in first-person shooters attached to it. Of course, exclusivity to Microsoft platforms (PC included) was a disappointment for those on PlayStation, but regardless, it performed reasonably well. At first, that is.
Personally, I got super addicted to the game, clocking in excess of 20 hours in the beta before an additional 50 in the full game, all in the space of a couple of weeks. However, my interest in the game, and the interest of the Titanfall community at large, soon dwindled.
It’s always hard to pinpoint exactly why video game communities come and go, but in the case of TItanfall, it was perhaps the lack of variety in the game. At its core, Titanfall was strictly multiplayer, light on progression, customisation, maps and modes. Sure, the way it was packaged at times varied, but the core gameplay was always the same. We soon become numbed to the exhilaration experienced in those first couple of matches in a crowded exhibition floor and there was little else to do.
Players clamoured for single-player, and they were right in doing so. Respawn had created such a cool world that was designed for set pieces, and not just those created in multiplayer. We we’re drip fed aspects of story and lore, but the river could run so much deeper.
Let’s look at Destiny as an example (whilst not an ideal one at that). Sure, the story was brief and poorly executed, but with Bungie at the helm and a curious set-up, it brought people on board. It introduced environments, characters, mechanics and began leveling up players, embedding those hooks that amassed an incredibly enthused player base.
Ultimately, that’s all a single player experience has to do. That’s all Call of Duty’s campaigns do. Tell a reasonably interesting story, create some awesome set pieces and get us into your game. Once you’ve piqued our give us a wealth of multiplayer content to engage with, to extend the experience and bring our friends into the mix.
Singleplayer is important in establishing fans of a game outside of a competitive scene embroiled with repetition and an emphasis of numbers and stats. Let players just enjoy the game first, get a hang of its mechanics and then invite them into multiplayer.
But that’s not all it needs. A community needs depth, it needs ongoing cultivation and growth, support and events. Destiny excelled in this regard; despite all the flack it go, new maps, weapons and events dropped on a weekly, monthly and seasonal basis, always giving you a reason to come back for more.
Respawn, get players involved, get them excited, show them the ropes, bounce from one insane moment to the next, then tempt them into a deep and fleshed out multiplayer experience with the promise of ongoing support and content drops. It’s no small undertaking, but that’s what communities expect from AAA games.