In the first-person shooter genre, there are two distinct types of games.
One type, the twitch shooters, consists of your Quakes, Dooms and the ilk. Then you have the modern shooter, the Call of Duties, Battlefields, Halos and other types of today’s shooters.
Then, you have Titanfall, which combines many of today’s mechanics with the running, jumping and gunning of old-school shooters. However, Respawn Entertainment goes a step farther, adding giant mechs to the mix that will make this game memorable for quite some time.
Let me start off by saying you’ve seen most of the elements in Titanfall before. There’s no breaking of the mold here, even with the mech battles. Instead, Respawn has just finely polished all aspects of the game to make it worth playing for any shooter fan.
Unlike most modern shooters that shoehorn in a shoddy single player mode and focus most of their time on multiplayer, all Titanfall features is the multiplayer. The campaign mode consists of multiplayer modes that tell a bit of backstory on the two factions at war.
The mode tells the story with some audio between matches and short scenes that play out during combat in the top corner of the screen. It’s a good way to handle a campaign in a shooter, as the multiplayer is what’s going to have people coming back to play more. However, the campaign could easily be skipped over for just straight multiplayer gameplay. I thought of the campaign as multiplayer training, but some will continue coming back to this mode just to get victories in all levels.
As a quick side note, it is worth playing the campaign modes just to unlock the other two types of Titans: the Stryder and Ogre. Depending on your type of gameplay, they can come in handy later on when making custom classes.
Outside of a quick training mode, you’ll be spending most of your time with five different gameplay modes or a variety of them. The game features all of the fan favorites, such as Attrition (team deathmatch), Capture the Flag, Hardpoint (hold control points), Pilot Hunter (a variation of team deathmatch) and Last Titan Standing.
The first thing you’ll notice after you get dropped into combat is you and your human teammates aren’t alone. AI grunts and Specters roam the battlefield, fighting each other and sometimes taking shots at human players. While it can be entertaining for a bit to watch them fight and go about their lives, the best way to think of these guys is experience and Titan fodder. After all, killing them shortens the time it takes for your Titan to get ready to spawn, and they can even give you Attrition points when playing that mode.
This ties into one of the big points on this game: kill everything in sight. Don’t ignore the AI just because it gives less XP than killing a pilot. Instead, take down everything (or at least shoot at Titans) to help speed up the time it takes to spawn your next Titan. While it’s fun to run around and shoot as a pilot, you’ll find yourself really enjoying the time you get with a Titan.
Titans can be handled in one of two ways: you can either set them up as automatic to defend an area or follow you around the map, or hop in yourself and take control. The first option is great for decoy attacks. I’ve lost count of the many times I’ve set my Titan up as a decoy and flanked an enemy Titan to rodeo it and take it down.
Most people will enjoy just hopping into their mechs and running around levels. After you call it down from the sky (possibly taking down another Titan in the process), you’ll find that the mechs handle smoothly, basically like an extension of your pilot. You can dash around as the Titan to move quicker, and Titans have a secondary weapon and ability that recharge over time.
However, your Titan is far from invincible. If you get double-teamed by two Titans or a Titan and anti-Titan weapon, you can get ready to kiss your mech goodbye. Mechs do respawn after two minutes, though, and, as I mentioned earlier, you can decrease the time by doing better.
As I mentioned above, mechs come in three forms: the Stryder, Atlus and Ogre. The first one is quicker with three dashes, the middle is a combo of the two, with decent speed and health, and the latter has high health and slow speed. Each also have an extra ability that can activate if the Titan stays alive long enough, such as bonus damage or infinite dashes.
When you’re outside of the mech, you’ll find out that the game encourages you to freely move around. Besides being built out, many levels are also built up to encourage the parkour mechanics in the game.
Wall running, double jumping and wall-hanging are encouraged to help get you to more advantageous areas for better vantage points. There are very few places you can’t get to, with enough patience. In fact, the parkour can also come in handy when you have to reach an escape ship at the end of the level if you lose. You can easily sneak by enemy Titans and jump in a ship with a few good wall runs and jumps.
Assisting you in matches are up to three Burn Cards, or enhancements that last as long as you stay alive. They can range from powered-up weapons to cutting down Titan time and more. There are also rare cards you can sometimes get, so knowing when to use them and hold on to them for later is key.
Cards aren’t used automatically, though, and you have to make sure you keep using them in matches and reequipping them in between matches. Otherwise, you’ll quickly find yourself running out of room in your deck to hold extra cards.
The game also features custom classes and custom Titan classes. However, the customization seems a bit lacking when compared to other modern shooters today. I felt a bit more could have been added here, whether it is with other abilities and weapons to use or even cosmetic changes. The ability to customize your Titan would have been great.
Also, don’t worry about getting tired of the maps immediately. There are 16 different maps already available, with more planned post-launch. The maps are also all pretty expansive and always nice to check out as you dart from building to building.
As a final point, I want to mention server stability, since this is an online-only game. Servers are handled by Microsoft and they have been fairly stable, outside of a small problem the first day. I get maybe one match with a bit of lag out of every 15, and even then it’s not bad lag like other shooters.
- Gameplay has been finely polished.
- It’s a great feeling running around with a Titan.
- Very little lag for an online-only game.
- AI seems worthless.
- No mech customization.
- Secondary weapons for pilots seem worthless with as much ammo as you have.
Titanfall doesn’t introduce anything groundbreaking to the genre. What it does do is combined the new and old of the genre into a great title that all shooter fans will enjoy. This is a must-have title for Xbox One owners.
Final Score: 4.4 out of 5