The original Titanfall still has a small but dedicated fanbase, despite the fact said fans have been completely unable to play the game for several years. If you sign into the Titanfall servers on PC today, you’ll see why – a number of racist hackers have ensured that the entire game is a cesspool of hate speech, and neither EA nor Respawn has done anything about it. Its Steam page is currently marked as Overwhelmingly Negative, with 121 recent reviews at the time of writing. This lies in stark contrast to Titanfall 2’s Overwhelmingly Positive rating.
The situation was recently revived over on Reddit in the wake of the Titanfall anniversary. The post has 4,500 upvotes at the time of writing, as well as over 400 comments. This is a widespread issue that affects every single player who owns Titanfall on PC, and yet it seems to have been completely swept under the rug in spite of the community’s continued attempts to get in touch with relevant officials.
This Reddit post specifically refers to one of several hackers who uses a slur in their username. This group has ensured that anyone who boots up the original Titanfall on PC is either kicked, disconnected, or hit with hate speech – finding a game is hard enough, but playing a full match free of racism is purportedly impossible. As pointed out in the Reddit post, it’s hypocritical to implement BLM badges across tons of EA games while continuing to ignore racist hackers who have been permitted to run rampant in one of its older games for three years.
“There are hundreds of us who wish to play this game,” the poster writes. “And several more who are still currently purchasing it only to realize it is literally unplayable. This is just leaving a bad stain on a good company. I trust you guys and know you are all good people.”
There’s also a megathread for this issue designed to break it down in simple terms. Apparently Titanfall’s servers have had unpatched vulnerabilities for a long time, which allows hackers to fully populate the servers with bots as a means of preventing regular layers from queuing, or to simply crash them entirely. Despite this, EA and Respawn decided to launch the game on Steam.
Dozens of comments in the Reddit thread draw attention to the fact that a hacker with the exact same handle – slur included – has also plagued the Team Fortress 2 servers for years unchecked. Whether or not this is the same person is unclear.
“He used to play without cheats, was a terrible player and extremely racially toxic,” the OP writes on the thread. “The whole community hated him already. So his way of getting back was shutting the game down. He’s a pathetic disgrace who will never achieve anything in life.”
The entire thread is filled with people reporting similar experiences and lamenting the fact that the servers haven’t been fixed for so long. Many players actually own the game on Xbox already, but were excited about the prospect of playing with mouse and keyboard. To their dismay, the price for doing so is to deal with racist hate speech, and even at that the entire server can be – and almost always is – crashed at will.
It’s not just on Reddit, either. Another user recently took to the EA forums to address the issue. However, instead of hearing back from EA or Respawn, some of the hackers simply took the slur out of their bot names – this was yesterday, three years after the problem initially arose. This means the hackers eventually toned the names of their server-crashing bots down before any of the developers did anything. Their purpose for overwhelming the servers remains the same.
“The group has shifted the names of the bots to now randomly generate names, but they no longer contain racist profanity,” the post reads. “These still aren’t real users. They continue to hang around in private lobbies taking up space to prevent other users from playing at all hours of the day.” The original post below yesterday’s update describes the process of how this works in great detail. Titanfall apparently doesn’t verify that a user’s Origin name is what their linked account is named, or the fact that Valve Source 2009 didn’t even allow for usernames to be as long as Origin API does.
“Despite the slot not being reserved by a real Titanfall client, the script can still reserve a slot because it fails to provide anything when the servers request verification, allowing the script to take up space on servers while it waits until it expires via timeout,” the post reads. “The script can retry faster than a real Titanfall client can, keeping slots reserved. Because the slot is reserved by the server, it won’t allow any user with an actual client join request to replace it until the server gives up the connection by timeout (which is around three minutes).”
Even when you find legitimate games – which can take several hours – the people behind this effort make sure to boot you back out. Titanfall might crash, or lose connection to the server – should both of these internal obstacles fail, the hackers will manually intervene with a prompt like the one below.
“Respawn your legacy is rotting,” the post reads. “Literally. The state of the first game is so dire that it’s literally unplayable on PC, not because the user count is too low to sustain matches, but because you have let this problem go on for three years. Players have spent those past three years trying to get your attention on this matter. We’ve tried making noise with the EA Support channels with both the Chat and Call function. We’ve tried making noise on Reddit. We’ve tried making noise on the EA Answers HQ forums. We’ve tried making noise on Twitter. We’re now making noise on the Steam Community forums. We have yet to get your attention.
“People who have spent money on this game in the past three years have bought a licence to view the main menu background video and music, not to play a game. If anyone at EA or Respawn who could possibly fix this issue has heard about our plights, we have heard nothing back. The lack of communication has disgusted many in the community. If the team at Respawn or whoever is contracted to fix these issues needs help to be directed where they need to start, there are members in the community I (MOM-2236) can put you in contact with who will know where to direct them.” MOM-2236 also includes a link to their official Remnant Fleet Discord channel, which is still over 800 people strong despite the hackers’ continued efforts to make Titanfall unplayable.
TheGamer.com has reached out to both EA and Respawn for comment and will update the story accordingly.
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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.
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