Titanfall is one of the best games of 2014.
No ifs or buts. On a purely objective and mechanical level, Titanfall's gameplay is impeccable, blowing the multiplayer shooter genre wide open with mobility, verticality, parkour, massive stompy robots and some of the best maps of the decade. It certainly isn't the first FPS to feature mechs and jet packs, but no game has ever managed to make these features so fluid and accessible, allowing anyone to get involved while providing veterans with a near-infinite skill ceiling as their abilities improve.
As such, I've returned to it on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis simply because it's that good.
Unfortunately, however, I lied. There was an "if" and a "but," and it's a doozy, because there's no denying that Titanfall was also wicked skinny for a full-priced game. Limited gametypes and throwaway singleplayer notwithstanding, these days most shooter fans expect comprehensive customisation, deep progression systems, addictive metagame and hefty on-paper value that Titanfall just didn't provide. Coupled with matchmaking issues as the population declined, many players angrily upped sticks and never returned.
Perhaps you were one of them. That's okay. But it's also a shame, since you'll have missed out on a huge amount of major improvements, tweaks and upgrades that bulk up and flesh out Respawn's sensational shooter. Now that Update 8 is live, I'd advise you to give it another shot.
The headline act of Update 8 is naturally the new co-op horde mode, which allows you and three mates to take on increasingly powerful armies of AI grunts, spectres and titans as they rampage towards your power core. Beefed-up AI, the ability for Spectres to Rodeo you and new deployable turrets make for a surprisingly stern and enjoyable challenge, while new 'stars' give you an extra progression system to work towards on all maps. Not bad for a freebie!
But it's not the only thing you've missed. The Black Market added a major new compelling core to the game, as level 50 players unlock credits to spend on new emblems and burn cards. Update 8 improves this system even further with new Titan voice packs (the Japanese Titan OS makes Titanfall feel like a sequel to Phantom Crash!) and the ability to save up to automatically bypass regen challenges, meaning that you can finally get past a particular objective that once forced you to ragequit!
Personally I found that the regen challenges actually... you know... challenged me to use weapons I thought I hated in new and exciting ways, making some guns and titans I once despised a regular part of my loadout these days, but choice is good and you've got it in abundance.
Then we have the matchmaking and workflow improvements. Titanfall has come a long way since the dog days of early summer. Matchmaking is now speedy and slick, unnecessary menu steps have been excised and the whole experience now flows much more readily, without those hateful delays.
And, of course, there's a lot more content. New gametypes abound, from 8v8 deathmatches to more nuanced modes. Three new DLC map packs are up for grabs -- Expedition, Frontier's Edge and IMC Rising -- all of which maintain an utterly superb level of quality and can be snapped up for £6.60 if you're an Xbox Live Gold Member! Completing challenges and metagame objectives unlock emblems to personalise your Titans. There's new ranked play, achievements, incoming gametypes and a slew of mechanical tweaks that make an impeccable game even smoother. Titanfall feels robust rather than slim.
If you haven't bought Titanfall, it's probably too late unless you find a screaming deal. Big new games are cresting the horizon, and the new metrics suggest that the player count is fairly compact to be charitable about it. But if you've got a copy languishing on your shelf, hard drive or Origin library, I'd strongly recommend firing it up and giving it another shot. I suspect that what you find will surprise you, and remind you exactly why Titanfall earned -- and ultimately deserved -- such glowing reviews.