Stop moaning! Only real gamers appreciate the joy of player limits
16th Jan 2014 | 13:02
Unique 6v6 gameplay should be celebrated and enjoyed
Age before beauty - that's how the saying goes, right Rob?
Aoife Wilson here, your new Xbox Gamer columnist. Just as Mr Crossley over in the blue corner will be bringing you the latest PlayStation chatter every Tuesday, I'll be following up with my own Xbox-related insights every Thursday.
Sworn nemeses. Nemesi? Whatever; we circle each other like cobras.
Whilst PlayStation Gamer had the serendipity of a rather exciting PlayStation Now announcement just in time for its first instalment, it's been a comparatively quiet week in the world of Xbox. With one exception, of course.
Have you heard the one about the furore surrounding the revelation that Xbox and PC exclusive - Titanfall - will have multiplayer combat capped at a 6v6 player count? No? Well take a seat.
Starter for 6
If, unlike me, you don't spend most of your days agonising over the ins and outs of gaming news, the story is this:
Respawn Entertainment boss Vince Zampella confirmed last week via his personal Twitter feed that Titanfall's multiplayer would host no more than twelve players per match, and popular gaming forums took this fairly bald statement and ran with it in a way that only the deepest darkest recesses of the internet can.
In its defence, Respawn never said Titanfall would be a big team shooter; we all just assumed it would be because that's simply How Things Are Done these days.
It blows my mind that so many people actually renounced any previous vested interest in the game based on this one revelation.
Conclusions were divided. Whilst many in the anti-Microsoft camp theorised that the cap was an indication of the Xbox One's inferior processing power (despite Battlefield 4's 64-player Conquest mode already comfortably running on the console), others praised Respawn for apparently prioritising player experience over bare numbers.
Meanwhile, sensing a sizeable disturbance in the force, Zampella was compelled to return to Twitter and confirm that Titanfall was theoretically capable of hosting more players – it just didn't want to, alright? 6v6 is a design choice - pure and simple.
Titanfall's mechs: Titans, as they're officially known, come in several different varieties. Some are faster, whilst others boast superior armour, but all operate on a timer which counts down until your Titan can be deployed. If you don't fancy piloting it yourself, you can order its AI to cover you as you move around the map.
Until you're familiar with the dynamics of a game, how can you possibly know that the experience of playing it will be vastly improved by ushering a few extra people into the arena?
Portal only had one 'gun' - does that mean it isn't as good or as worthy an experience as Call of Duty, which had dozens of the things? Hell no. Larger numbers do not necessarily correlate to a better experience, and frankly it's invigorating to see Respawn standing up and saying "You know what, sod the figures and sod the trends, this is how it's going to be with us, and if you don't like it, tough."
If all you want is a full-on fragfest, there are plenty of other games out there, purpose-built to scratch that itchy trigger finger.
I'll admit I'm not much of a fan of competitive online multiplayer modes, particularly those that fall into the first person shooter variety. But to me, 64 person multiplayer sounds pretty damn dull. It can never be more than your typical run and gun scenario; shoot, kill, win, die, rinse and repeat, over and over.
Titanfall's premise, on the other hand, is a genuinely thrilling prospect. I mean, giant robots? As someone who has a full set of Dinobots sitting on their living room mantelpiece and an assortment of G1 Transformers taking up space in their kitchen, this game had me at hello.
From what my spies tell me, TitanFall is shaping up to be something special, and the cap on smaller teams only adds to my excitement. Tighter squads sound like they'll encourage team co-operation, allowing for far more tactical play on the battlefield.
And Titanfall may be a shooter, but there are new elements at play here. The verticality and fluidity added with its wall-running and double-jump features, for example, open up so many possibilities for trick-shots, flanks, and takedowns.
There's a beautiful, insane moment in one of Titanfall's official gameplay videos when an opponent is ejected from their mech and the player characters snipes them right out of the sky.
Good luck taking a shot like that when you've got 62 other players up your ass. TitanFall - or at least, what I've seen of it - isn't about brute strength and the suppression of your enemies; it's about finesse, skill, and just a touch of theatricality.
Let me tell you something that I don't often like admitting to myself - we gamers aren't always right. As consumers we like to throw our weight around online, and I think we may be a little too used to having our own way lately.
So hey, internet dudes; try and keep an open mind and reserve judgement until you've actually had a go on Titanfall yourself, yeah?
Then you can worry about cold hard numbers all you want. I won't be able to hear you, mind, over the sound of my wicked sweet giant robot laying the smackdown on my enemies - all six of them.