Standby for Titanfall impressions

Next-gen Call of Duty or is there more on the Frontier than that?

Sorry, I couldn’t resist that title, one of the many things they’ve done right with the game is the marketing taglines.

Titanfall is an interesting game, made by a decidedly smaller teams than Call of Duty and Battlefield, a highlight of past Call of Duty games for me personally was the single player. If I was being completely honest the last Call of Duty I properly played online for any length of time was actually Call of Duty 3 made by Treyarch in 2006. So to draw me in this game needed a hook because modern warfare style shooters clearly dont do it for me, my go-to online multiplayer shooter is (was?) Gears of War 3.

Titanfall’s hook is the controllable Titan’s (or robots/mechs whichever you prefer) and the parkour elements whilst being a Pilot. A Titan is a big ass robot/mech that can be controlled with by the AI or by the character who will need to enter the Titan to control it, the Titan’s are big and their weapon includes a (very large/powerful) primary weapon such  as a machine gun, rockets, arc cannon and plasma railgun, a secondary weapon like guided and unguided missiles as well as a mêlée punch referred to as a “beat down”. There are also two abilities for each Titan such as a shield that catches incoming enemy fire and can then shoot it back towards the enemy, a nuclear ejection upon the Titan being destroyed which can kill enemy Titan’s or soldiers and electrical smoke which is used to hurt enemy pilots and Titans.

There are three types of Titan: Atlas, Ogre and Stryder. The Ogre is the heavy style Titan with powerful weapons at the cost of speed, Stryder is lighter, faster and more agile but at the cost of power and the Atlas (my chosen class) is a mix between the two.

The Pilots are foot soldiers with a difference thanks to the parkour elements, you can run along walls, do double jumps with a jetpack, climb up tall buildings, jump on Titans (referred to as a rodeo!) and other movements. It adds in a new element of vertical gameplay as people can get to higher and harder to reach places than before. In a normal multiplayer game you would expect people to use stairs and regular walkways but in Titanfall people can literally be anywhere, when Titan’s are doomed you can eject high into the air which allows you to look down on the battlefield and shoot with anti-Titan weapons that can avenge your Titan or attack other players.

The choice of weaponry is a big part of a Pilot’s abilities with SMG, Carbines, Rifles, Snipers and Pistols which all have attachments that are unlocked after completing various challenges. A particularly interesting weapon is the smart pistol which will automatically find the weak points on soldiers, and AI controlled grunts and spectres  and once it has locked on you press the trigger and it shoots the weak points. It might seem like its cheating or something but actually it takes a few seconds to lock on, for pilots there are 9 or so points that need to be hit in the auto-aim to kill a soldier and they lock-on in sets of 3 which doesn’t unbalance the game as the lock-on time is long enough for someone to respond.

There are abilities for Pilots as well, my favourite is the cloak which makes you mostly invisible but you can still be seen and shot, the game might sound unbalanced but aspects like the smart pistol and cloaks are executed just right to make sure they dont unbalance the game.

Anti-Titan weaponry is where the game really provides its balance, you don’t shoot Titan’s with your regular Carbine as that would be crazy instead every Pilot comes with a weapon that is effective against TItan’s. If you look at my GameDVR videos page you will see some Titan take-downs at some point in my Titanfall videos and the Archer lock-on rockets and Sidewinder are particularly useful in my experience and really does mean you can easily take-down a TItan will Pilots. As mentioned earlier you can rodeo on Titan’s in which for enemy Titan’s you open up a valve on their armour and use your normal weapon to shoot the weak point which takes a bit of time but is useful for destroying Titans too.

Burn cards are an important element of the game too with 3 cards allowed per match they give you options to swap weapons, or new abilities like a constant clock, show enemy positions positions, respawn where you died for a rematch, double XP, quicker Titan build times when killing specific enemies, calling down Titans without waiting for build, there is a huge variety of them which you earn through levelling up and actions performed in matches, its important to choose the right 3 for a match.

There are around 15 maps, ive mostly played the campaign to get the achievements, and the campaign is a bit lacklustre, just multiplayer matches with a small box in the top right hand corner purveying a fairly irrelevant story but ive played all the game modes at least once.

The maps are very well designed which was obviously a core part of the game, areas for Titan’s to go head-to-head whilst giving buildings for Pilots to use to fight each other and the Titans, the design of the maps is used to to offer a vertical aspect of the parkour elements and fighting in Titan’s .My favourite maps are Corporate, Boneyard, Demeter and Fracture. Each has its own distinct style and multiple approach points to situations including zip lines which you can travel either way on which is quite fun.

My favourite mode is hardpoint domination, which is to hold defense points on the map to build up a score and the first to 400 points wins. With the levels well designed there’s a good balance between the hold points of which there are 3 in a level. Attrition is just Team Deathmatch first to 300 points and you’re awarded points depending on what you kill. Pilot Hunter and Last Titan Standing are just opposites of each other for collecting pilot kills or destroying all the enemy Titan’s and capture the flag is fairly self-explanatory.

When levelling up you gain XP for the kills, assists and other things that you do during a match but there are also specific challenges relating to weaponry, Titan’s and executions can give you a big XP boost there’s a lot to unlock as well for weapon attachments and other abilities. Swapping weapons is somewhat important to helping you leveling up, using the same weapon and Titan style all the time will mean when you get to the higher levels it will take longer to level up due to higher XP needed but you’ll earn it at a lower rate than if you switch between the different choices to keep things fresh.

Conclusion:

Titanfall is an evolution, not revolution of the multiplayer FPS. The Pilot’s are a notable upgrade on being a regular soldier due to the parkour elements which can allow you to get to high places and travel much more quickly around the maps – not to mention its just pretty cool walking along walls and other stuff. Titan’s further expand the gameplay in interesting ways, as you can do things like rodeo kills, jumping from ziplines to Titan’s to jet-pack and take on enemies by yourself or with teammates. Maps are well varied, designed and interesting, there is always a lot going on which means

There is so much customisation of weapons, abilities, Titan’s that players can really choose a loadout to suit their style and its a game that feel very epic, in the sense of taking of Titan’s, and switching between that and being a pilot, Respawn have come up with an interesting way to change-up multiplayer FPS and I think we’ll see reactions to that certainly from the Call of Duty entry this year and Destiny is going for a similar epic scale of multiplayer that could really move the genre forwards.

The only really disappointing aspect is the lack of a single player campaign, it’s not a value perception issue for me personally, it just sounds like something that could be very interesting and worthwhile in the world Respawn have created. This would have had a big impact when creating the core game to the point where we might not have seen it until 2015, the campaigns in Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty games were also good in my experience and perhaps this is something they can consider later.

The foundations laid for the first game in a new series are very good, I’m not sure personally where I stand yet on buying an annual or bi-annual Titanfall release but if Respawn can keep up the high quality of the game so far and improve it with patches as times goes on that would certainly help keep my interest. There is certainly a great game here and one that will I think will change the future of multiplayer FPS this generation.

Played on Xbox One


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