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Titanfall is a masterpiece in decline - can the new update win us back?

Jonathan Lester
PC games, Respawn Entertainment, Xbox One Games

Titanfall is a masterpiece in decline - can the new update win us back?

I love Titanfall. Though light on cosmetic customisation and all the extraneous fluff we're used to from modern console shooters, it delivered where it counts: numerous exceptional maps and forward-thinking mechanics that makes most other games feel flat and sluggish. Also massive robots. Who doesn't like massive robots?

We scored it accordingly, but over the last few months, things have taken a turn for the bizarre and macabre. Despite a great new map pack hitting all platforms and the core gameplay remaining effortlessly entertaining, Titanfall's matchmaking has somehow been getting worse, not better. Due both to a declining player base and some foibles of the Azure cloud servers (and the last update being broken), we've often had to wait several minutes just to find a session even in the most popular gametype, while the community becomes increasingly irate at the lack of customisation options and modes.

The moaning began. Understandably. Something has to give, and soon, because a shooter I play on a daily basis is now more difficult to recommend than empirically worse games.

Thankfully, Respawn has now revealed a massive new update that... if it works... will fix almost everything we had a problem with; from the overpowered Carbine to the paucity of gametypes.

Titanfall is a masterpiece in decline - can the new update win us back?

You can read the details on the official site - and you should. It's a seriously impressive list of fixes, tweaks and, more importantly, meaningful additions to the experience.

In terms of the big new features, Update 4 is set to add a new Featured Game Mode into the mix. This extra gametype will cycle every so often, providing a new experience to dip into alongside the existing modes. As we've often seen in Halo and CoD, fan-favourites could well become permanent fixtures. The first game mode will be 'Marked For Death,' which challenges each team to hunt down an opposing MVP while defending their own.

Fans of cosmetic customisation will finally get to express a little of their personality thanks to Titan Insignias, which are unlocked via completing challenges. This feature is long overdue and comes complete with an optional Challenge Tracker to keep an eye on your personal objectives.

Titanfall is a masterpiece in decline - can the new update win us back?

Titans will also receive a new selection of weapon-specific burn cards, which should be easier to keep track of thanks to an expanded card limit that increases with Generation Level and the ability to earn cards over your maximum threshold. There's more, too, from more intelligent auto-Titans to selectable voiceovers that let you make your metallic pal sound like a British butler.

I'm delighted to report that the Carbine is also receiving some much-needed attention. The default weapon was simply too versatile, overshadowing situational weapons in point-blank at extreme distances while locking down mid-range. In effect, using anything else was purposefully hobbling yourself. Brilliantly the Carbine will now recoil too significantly to be used effectively at long-range, making the newly beefed-up Hemlok a more viable option.

And then we have bug fixes, UI tweaks, achievements and more. Again, be sure to read up on the post.

Titanfall is a masterpiece in decline - can the new update win us back?

All fantastic stuff, all things we need and want, but none of it will matter if the matchmaking doesn't improve.

Despite working brilliantly at launch, some borderline-broken updates turned Titanfall's matchmaking into a bit of a farce. The Azure servers tend to be obsessed with lumping random PUGs together rather than finding us active sessions or creating new ones, leading to tedious and in many cases deal-breaking wait times on both PC and Xbox One.

"We've made improvements to matchmaking & team balancing," promises Respawn. "Now, teams are rearranged just before the level loads, to further balance the teams' skill and player counts. You'll notice that you're greyed out in the lobby until teams are set. You'll also notice "Connecting…" as players join a match."

Promises, promises. And very promising. As a Titanfall fan myself, I'd love to be able to wholeheartedly recommend it again.

Add a comment4 comments
Tsung  Jun. 25, 2014 at 13:28

I do hope so, I really enjoy the game but the whole match making delays and results really kill the experience. In it's current (pre-patch) state I'd struggle to recommend it to anyone.

Even at the weekend I ended up against a team of Gen 10 x level 50 players (maxed out basically) vs. randoms including people who only just started playing.

rorytmeadows  Jun. 25, 2014 at 14:23

The game was in decline after the beta

eman3d  Jun. 25, 2014 at 16:48

I always tell gamers that automated lobbies are a joke and kills the community aspect of video game culture. If you haven't noticed, most games played via automated lobbies are silent when it comes to people talking to one another, it's truly a crime and ruins the experience. TitanFall would be so much better with human controlled lobbies.

Human controlled lobbies offer a more personal experience. If a particular guy has a lobby opened I will make it a point to join his lobby because I like playing with that guy. Also, the people you play with become your friends because you make it a point to play with one another, you began to develop a relationship (surprise!!!) And when you have a relationship you talk to one another (surprise!!!) And when you talk to one another the game becomes 10x better (surprise!!)
TitanFall is a game the exudes strategy as a team but with NO COMMUNICATIONS it's an non orchestrated hot mess which ruins the experience and honestly why I don't play it as much. I really thought I would be a part of multiple teams using headphones and communication to destroy our opponents but no such thing exist primarily because of automated lobbies.
Ironically, another mech based game that appeared on the original Xbox was full of amazing communication amongst it's players and really made the game a better experience then Titanfall was Mech Assault. Anyone who had that game will back me up on it being a better experience then Titanfall with a large part of it due to the communication of the players while playing the game.

Games are suppose to create relationships much like the arcade did way back when and automated lobbies have destroyed that component of online gaming. This really needs to be addressed.

Late  Jun. 26, 2014 at 10:42

I suspect it's too little too late. (Actually, scratch the "too little" part of that. It's plenty. But it definitely seems too late...)

I love Titanfall, but have probably only played about 2 matches in the last month or so, because the matchmaking is so broken.

I'm with Jon's comments (I think in a different, recent, article) - I find it so frustrating to be sat in a lobby of 6 people in one team (people I don't know, which is perfectly fine by me) while the server spends half an hour looking for another team for us to play against. It should be splitting our team of six into two teams of 3. More would likely fill the teams before the match started, but even if they didn't I'd rather have a few games of 3v3 than sit there watching a lobby of six people dwindle over half an hour as people get bored and leave.

Some fantastic changes in those patch notes, including a lot of things we've long wanted, so it all sounds good - and I'll definitely get back to playing the game soon.
I just hope matchmaking is fixed and I can actually get more than one or two games per hour.

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