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As the Xbox One X game patches have come rolling in, it's been mostly good news for Microsoft and its new console. It's perhaps not been the 'true 4K' showcase many were hoping for and techniques like dynamic resolution are deployed to scale up current-gen 900p and 1080p games to better suit 4K displays. But the presentations have been convincing and the upgrade palpable - which made Titanfall 2's initial sub-par presentation so disappointing. Based on the findings of our report, Respawn Entertainment spent several days retooling the code and a new title update arrived at the tail-end of last week.
Titanfall 2 made big headlines for Xbox One X during the preview period, when Respawn Entertainment's Drew McCoy noted that the game's dynamic scaler hit a maximum of 6K resolution during pre-production testing. The Xbox One X patch dropped last week, but it's clear that something isn't quite right with the upgrade. While enhancements are present, repeatable tests in the campaign can see resolution drop lower than the PlayStation 4 Pro version, producing a noticeably blurrier presentation in many scenes.
Titanfall 2 is brilliant. Well, Titanfall 1 wasn't bad at all, but Titanfall 2 is actually brilliant: multiplayer that's both fleet-footed and stompy, accompanied by a wonderful, brisk, inventive and explosive single-player campaign that manages to mix things up every 15 minutes and offer a story that serves as a masterclass in bringing a little humanity to the business of shooting indentikit strangers until their hats pop off. Titanfall 2 was one of the surprises of last year, and one of the year's best games too.
We're going to be talking about the entire story of Titanfall 2 here, so be warned - there will be spoilers for the whole game, up to and including the ending.
Every so often a games comes along that is so revolutionary that it inadvertently kills its genre as everyone scrambles to replicate its success. For shooters, that game was Epic's 2006 shooter Gears of War. As covered in Tom Bissell's excellent book Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter, Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski re-imagined the shooter genre as one of chaos and fear. Where big meaty soldiers would still feel vulnerable when faced with the onslaught of enemy fire chipping away at concrete mere inches from their face. In short, Gears of War wanted to change the old nature of "war is horrible, but isn't this fun?!" with "war is terrifying for even the most macho of soldiers, but doesn't it make you feel alive?" It's a subtle distinction, but an important one. Shooters were no longer about catharsis - or rather they weren't just about catharsis: they had to instil a feeling of vulnerability.
Here's what's clear: big console game sales are down. Titanfall 2, Watch Dogs 2, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Dishonored 2 and more all failed to even match the sales of their predecessors at launch. People I've spoken to in the UK retail business are in panic mode. The PS4 has been a huge success. Xbox One is doing well. What's going on?
I've seen plenty of theories, some better than others. Writing on Eurogamer's sister site, Gamesindustry.biz, Rob Fahey puts forward one of the better ones: that the rise of digital means fewer physical game sales are in people's hands to trade-in. Certainly in the UK, which has a huge pre-owned video game market, that makes a lot of sense.
Fahey also suggests more and more games are designed to keep us playing week after week and, as a result, we're not interested in playing as many new games. Think Destiny or Minecraft or FIFA. Again, I agree this plays a part. I played Destiny for pretty much two years solid, tuning in each week to the detriment of trying out new games.
Right, although we recorded this podcast yesterday, Donlan isn't around to write this week's blog post. So, as a result, don't be expecting any clever tangents in which I delight in some historical anecdote I've just read in The Guardian, or whatever it is he usually does. I'm here to tell you about the contents of today's episode. And that's your lot.
Titanfall 2 is a wonderful game, with a deliriously inventive single-player campaign that has taken us all a bit by surprise. What's taken Johnny by surprise even more, however, is one of the enemies you face as the story progresses - an enemy with the capacity to do such damage to its own side, you kind of wonder why anybody greenlit the thing.
This piece contains spoilers for a mission in Titanfall 2 that you really don't want spoiled.
Be warned, this article contains substantial spoilers for part of Titanfall 2's campaign
The developers of Titanfall 2 have come up with a brilliant way to keep players occupied while the game installs.
One of the oddest themes that recurred during discussions of 2014's ebullient robots-and-rangers shooter Titanfall, was that it would have been better had it rid itself of the titular Titans. Those who honed their skills on the battlefield of COD and, well, Battlefield, yearned for a mode where Pilots (Tianfall's player characters) could wage war without the building high metallic monstrosities getting in the way; a shooter that benefitted from the free-running, double jumping fluidity Titanfall had in abundance, but did away with half of its charm.
Titanfall! The first big platform exclusive game of the new generation that really inspired anything more than a shrug of the shoulders, and a damn fine multiplayer shooter to boot. When it launched early in 2014 it was all anyone could talk about, a breath of rarefied fresh air in the increasingly stale world of first-person shooters.
'If only you could talk to these creatures', proclaimed the now infamous Edge review of the original Doom in an endearing and enduring daydream. It's a sentiment that's been mocked ever since, but they may have had a point - and at the very least it's something that's crossed the minds of Respawn as its worked on Titanfall 2's single-player. The original proved with some style that wall-running, double-jumping and relishing in automated headshots via a smart pistol can make for an awful lot of fun, but what if you could talk to the Titans?
The boys from Respawn are back. By the time Titanfall 2 launches, it will have been two-and-a half years since their mech-focused first-person shooter first touched down on Xbox One.
Titanfall 2 makes the franchise - finally - multiplatform. Not just PC but PlayStation 4, too. There's a campaign, too, and a whole load of free DLC.
But there's also increased competition - not only from a new Call of Duty, which has gone more sci-fi than ever, but from the enhanced edition of that game with the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare remaster.