This eagerly awaited, and majorly hyped, Xbox One first-person shooter (FPS) hit retail shelves today and my first few hours were pure robotic mayhem. Titanfall proves to be an extremely fun FPS that has introduced a new mechanic to the seemingly repetitive feel of the genre. Forget camping or calling in air-strikes, you get to call in your own mech warrior called a “Titan,” and wreak havoc upon enemies.
For anyone familiar with FPS games, especially the Call of Duty series, the controls are familiar and easy to pick up. You can still sprint, crouch, aim down sights, lob grenades, and perform melee strikes. As a pilot, you’re also given the ability to do Prince-of-Persia-esque wall runs and jetpack double jumps to reach newer heights or cover longer distances. The Titans add a nice new layer to the game, but you won’t get access to your metal friend until you get enough kills/points to do so.
Basically, your Titan is being prepped for battle. Meeting certain objectives or killing baddies will cut down the prep time until your Titan is ready to be deployed. Once you’ve gained the ability to call it in, it will drop in from space ready for your use.
Game modes are your typical FPS game modes including Attrition (Team Kills), Hardpoint Domination (Control Checkpoints for time), Capture the Flag, and Last Man Standing (everyone starts with a Titan). There’s a different mode called Pilot Hunter, where only killing the pilot nets you points. You’ll also find very familiar customizable weapons and load-outs with various weapon types (long range, close range, stealth, etc…), ordinance/explosives (frag grenades, remote detonators, etc.), heavy weapons, and some special abilities for your pilot and tech (sprint longer, regenerate abilities faster, etc.). On top if it all, you’ll find yet another familiar system, the ranking system, that allows you to unlock new weapon types or abilities to outfit your pilot or Titan with. But the defining feature of the game—a two-story tall bad-guy-bashing-buddy, that can serve as a vehicle OR an AI-controlled guard dog—opens up some new strategies/tactics.
For me, I felt rather restricted when riding the steel beasts (maybe that’s due to me being used to running around on foot in other games), but I often set the Titan to follow as I would sneak around taking out pilots and grunts alike. There was something very satisfying about sprinting up two-story buildings, jumping onto the back of a Titan, ripping off a plate at the back of the neck, and taking it down with a flurry of bullets to the exposed panel. In a Hardpoint Domination match, a couple of my teammates left the Titans to defend a checkpoint while pursuing another one by foot. In another team kill match, I set my Titan to follow as I rode the shoulders of a teammate’s Titan, giving me a mobile vantage point.
If you’re looking for an epic story, you’re not going to find one here. There is a campaign mode, but it’s more of a random matchmaking system that places you in one of two different factions. Aside from that, I can’t really tell you much else about the storyline because you get lost in all of the craziness when the battle starts. There is some in-game dialogue that happens to help push the story forward, but it’s overshadowed by your main mission objectives and concentration to not get stepped on by an enemy Titan. Plus, the cut-scenes prior to the start of a match are far less important than making sure you have the correct setup for optimal fraggin’.
Overall Verdict (as of 3/11/2014): “Falls” short of being great
I’m an FPS fan, but I do get tired of the same old game types and the monotony of the genre. Although Titanfall brings new gameplay mechanics to multi-player, there was something underwhelming about it all. Don’t get me wrong… I’m having a blast playing the game and can’t wait to join up with some friends, but I’m wondering just how long the fun will actually last.
Updates (as of 3/13/2014):
After a few more hours of multiplayer matches, I’ve lowered the game to 3.5 stars. Main reason being that this game will not be loved by everyone and is not worth the $59.99 price tag (especially considering that we’ve seen great titles that have a great single player campaign, co-op, AND multiplayer).
Missing Key Features
There seem to be a lot of features and things that are missing from the game. For instance, the tutorial gives you a quick overview of the basics, but doesn’t give a proper explanation of the “burn” cards system (similar to Call of Duty’s perk system, except these perks are single-use only), the ability to take down a Titan as a pilot, or the ability to ride a teammate’s Titan. Although not difficult to figure out, it seems trivial to leave them out of the instructional walkthrough.
Titanfall is clearly catering to the hardcore, competitive FPS fans. It’s easy to see how this could become huge in major league gaming, but even the matchmaking system doesn’t have ranked matches or clan matches (a huge miss).
I think there are maybe 10+ different maps, but it’s difficult to tell the difference between them all. Sure, some are wider and more open, while others are more confined and the battles are frantic. But after a while, they all begin to blur together and you don’t really get to appreciate the nuances of each terrain and structures given the hectic pace of the battles.
Others have dubbed this Call of Duty with mechs, but that’s a very short-sighted way to describe the game. My suggestion for anyone on the fence is to simply try it out before you purchase it. Get it off Gamefly or Redbox, and judge for yourself. There is a lot to enjoy within the gameplay and it still provides an enjoyable experience… but for how long depends on how much you enjoy competitive gaming.