With Titanfall 2 confirmed to include a single player campaign, we explore the possibility that this game mode will improve the multiplayer experience overall.
When Titanfall was released in early 2014, it came with the promise of an enthralling multiplayer experience for players, hoping to become the first big multiplayer hit of the Xbox One. One thing that the Respawn Entertainment title didn't come with, however, was a single player mode. That's all going to change with the game's sequel, though, as the developer has confirmed that Titanfall 2 will be getting a single player campaign.
The news was met with interest from the gaming community, particularly given that Titanfall distinctly lacked any semblance of a single player mode. The news, however, had been a long time coming. Rumors surrounding the inclusion of a Titanfall 2 campaign have been whispered for months, with Respawn Entertainment's community manager even hinting at the prospect last year.
The move appears to fly in the face of modern game development trends, however, with a number of big budget titles eschewing a single player campaign entirely. Star Wars Battlefront caught the ire of fans of the sci-fi franchise when publisher EA confirmed that the title would not have a story mode, in spite of the popularity of prior campaigns in the series. With that in mind, some have wondered what the Titanfall property has to gain from sticking to traditional game content, after dropping single player for the original title.
A single player mode can vastly improve the overall quality of a game, beyond the simple fact that more content (with a different dynamic) is going to be delivered to the player. In fact, a single player campaign can even help improve the multiplayer modes. Rather than simply giving players something to do when the servers eventually shut down, a worthwhile solo aspect can make the multiplayer an even better experience overall.
The reason for this comes down to the level of context that a player has before entering the multiplayer game modes. A single player campaign can help bring this context to the player, and it does so in a couple of important ways. First, a story-based campaign mode allows the user to get a quick and relaxed grasp on the game's mechanics.
This is perhaps one of the main reasons that the Call of Duty franchise has persevered with single player campaigns so far. Although the last-gen versions of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 did not reach stores with a single player mode intact, in general Activision has made sure that the series maintains campaign inclusion. Although the franchise's various plot lines have come under scrutiny over quality, that doesn't stop these single player experiences from being useful for new and rusty users.
The single player campaign can allow fans to get an immediate understanding of the game. Not only that, but it also allows recurring players to gain quick understanding of any new mechanics that have been introduced to an ongoing franchise, as well as providing useful examples of when these new mechanics or items can be used effectively. Throwing players into a game without this sense of direction is a quick way to turn off new users, and a campaign can stop this from becoming an issue.
Of course, this effect can also be created by means other than single player campaign. A game may offer up an in-depth tutorial akin to League of Legends, or even allow the player to participate in bot matches with computer-controlled characters such as the custom options of Rainbow Six Siege. However, the inclusion of a campaign also has another strength – providing that the story mode is of a high enough quality for it to improve the player's experience.
Perhaps the most important role of a campaign mode in augmenting multiplayer is that it allows the player to learn the lore of the game that they are playing, beyond the simple mechanics of how to play. This can give an added layer of depth to the gameplay, particularly in terms of team deathmatch situations. It's an added reason for the player to pick a side, putting an extra layer of tension into the gameplay.
Not every game needs this, of course. Star Wars Battlefront lacked a single player mode, but players most likely knew enough about Star Wars lore to fill several books. Meanwhile, the likes of Left 4 Dead and World of Warcraft have multiplayer modes with plenty of narrative involved, with the games in question generally putting co-operation over player versus player gameplay.
The foundations of the game in question also might allow no need for a campaign. Quake 3's plot was summed up in little more than a sentence, yet still became a multiplayer smash due to the beloved Quake gameplay mechanics. A number of Valve multiplayer titles also avoided a plot, including Counter-Strike and Team Fortress 2, due to their origins as additional content for titles in the Half-Life series. However, there are even exceptions here, with Counter-Strike: Condition Zero offering up a campaign mode alongside the traditional multiplayer gameplay.
Without these established traits, therefore, the inclusion of a single player campaign can truly augment a multiplayer experience. A story mode is particularly helpful for new franchises, or those franchises that are branching out to a wider audience. Titanfall certainly falls into this category, as in spite of a fairly sizeable milestone of 10 million copies sold, the property is still but a fledgling in the world of video games.
What's more, with Titanfall 2 Respawn Entertainment is going to try and bring the franchise to an entirely new audience. Whilst previously the game had remained tied intrinsically to Microsoft, the sophomore effort is also going to be available to PS4 owners. With this new market to try and break, allowing players to gain some context on the story behind Titanfall could prove vital to ensuring that those new players find the game as enjoyable and long-lasting as possible.
Only time will tell as to whether Titanfall 2's campaign proves to be an important addition. The game is not scheduled to be released for some time yet, with EA pencilling in a release date of some point before March 2017. However, there's every chance that the inclusion of this campaign will prove to be a popular and worthwhile addition to the sequel.