First person shooters, particularly ones with good multiplayer, have dominated the gaming community as of late.
The ongoing battle between Call of Duty and Battlefield for the lauded title of Best FPS, and so many challengers that have stepped up to the plate have been battered back by the legions of players devoted to the multiplayer juggernauts. Now there’s a new FPS on the block, but does Titanfall measure up? Let’s find out.
I managed to play the PC version of Titanfall at this year’s Eurogamer Expo, throwing myself and 19 other players into a 10 vs 10 match. I knew going in that the game was multiplayer only, but I actually expected some singleplayer content even if it was just a tutorial or training exercise, and though that the available demo would be along those lines.
Getting thrown in at the deep end proved to be much better, because I can unequivocally say that Titanfall is the best FPS I’ve ever played.
The heads of Respawn Entertainment -also the minds behind Call of Duty Modern Warfare – have brought some very interesting ideas and mechanics to the table with their latest game. Small changes that mix up the traditional FPS formula have resulted in a game that really stands out from the chaff and entices you to keep playing.
First up, let’s talk about the eponymous Titan mechsuits. Whilst you’re playing you’re counting down the seconds until your next Titanfall, and there’s a handy AI that keeps you appraised of how long you’ve got until the next time you can summon your personal mech to get into the fray.
These mechs really give you a sense of power; from the instant you clamber into one all the way up to forcibly ejecting yourself from the suit as it draws fire from enemies everywhere. There’s something incredibly satisfying about knowing you’re a moving tower of destruction, and rightfully feeling so with the huge weapons that Titans bring to bear.
Your Titan is a huge target on the battlefield, but it can be worth the risk.
If you don’t want to draw fire from every single enemy on the map then you’re free to abandon your mech after summoning it, and the AI will take control for you (this doesn’t stop you from getting in the pilot seat though).
Each Titan carries either a huge machine gun or an equally massive rocket launcher, making them either anti-infantry or anti-tank, so it’s up to you to decide what you’re best suited to.
Whilst the mech is every bit as powerful as you might imagine, there are downsides still. The sheer size and acknowledge-able power of the suit, and every enemy in the vicinity will be know exactly where you are, and will try to bring you down.
Standard infantry have anti-Titan machine guns and can more easily target the vulnerable power packs on your back, giving them a small advantage. You can still turn enemy infantry into paste though, so it’s not all bad.
The suit is much slower than your infantry counterpart, and it might take a little getting used to at first (especially when there are alerts from every which direction telling you that you’re being shot at). When you make the switch from on foot to in mech the difference in control is a little jarring, but it still blends quite smoothly.
On foot is a completely different story to being in the mech.
You’re faster, more nimble, have a small jet pack, and access to a wider variety of weapons. Whilst on foot you can traverse through buildings by jumping through windows and running through doors, or you can use your jetpack to aid in your free-running skills by bouncing off of walls and street signs to bring yourself closer to the enemy.
You can already double jump thanks to a boost from your jetpack, and this allows you to climb buildings faster without having to take the stairs. You automatically grab and kick off walls and ledges when you’re close to them, which makes the free-running controls very smooth and natural.
The animations are generally quick, so there is little to no break of flow as you make your way around the map.
Enemy Titans will be a ripe target for you since they’re such an easy target, and you’re given an anti-mech machine gun that fires HV rounds for tackling the robotic leviathans. If you’re smart, you’ll be able to use your free-running skills to scale and land on top of the mechs and take them out whilst they can’t hit you.
The gameplay is still the classic FPS feeling that we’re used to after years of the likes of Call of Duty dominating the market, but as I said above; the formula has changed just enough that this game feels fresh.
It stands out on its own merits, and will leave a lasting memory with you of what game developers can do with classic genres in order to improve them. Entire genres don’t need to lean towards homogenization, and Jason West and Vince Zampella have really proved that with Titanfall.
Story is interwoven into the multiplayer elements, meaning that you’ll still be able to enjoy the writing and direction of a singleplayer campaign whilst still having fun playing against your friends online.
Not only that, but each game has a number of AI controlled militia flitting about for you to kill, so you don’t necessarily have to be fighting other players all the while. You can still provide support to your team by taking on the militia and enacting upon the orders that your AI commander will be giving to your team intermittently throughout the match.
As a cherry on top to the highly enjoyable gameplay, the end of each match sees the losing team make their way to an evac ship with no respawns. The winning team (also devoid of respawns) needs to hunt down as many enemy players as they can, and take out the dropship if necessary.
Like with the gameplay features that mix things up, this just adds a little layer to the gameplay that makes the whole product just a bit more fun. It allows the winning team to get a bit of gloating in, and it also allows the losing team to buff up their score.
It is difficult to explain in mere words why Titanfall is so much fun. The gameplay shake up makes it refreshing for anybody that is burned out on the military themed FPS side of things, but it still retains so much core gameplay of that genre that it should be able to attract an audience from the legions of Call of Duty and Battlefield players.
Free-running and titans are fluidly controlled, and let you have even more fun with all the gameplay that you’re used to. The experience as a whole is something different from what we’re used to, but at the same time familiar enough that it will fit in with many of the AAA titles that will be released for both the current and next generations of gaming.
If you have a chance to try out Titanfall for yourself, then I highly recommend doing so as it is the only way to experience just how good the game is.
I’m not usually so impressed by multiplayer titles, but Titanfall has already secured my support as a day one purchase, and I expect it will be the same for many other people who got to play it this weekend.