Many shooters try to be that “Call of Duty killer” they already know they can’t be. Therefore, part of the strength of Titanfall isn’t trying to beat the formula their creators once thought up, but rather that it’s changing the game.
Aside from that, it can still pit from the same expertise and bring a robotic wild ride unlike any other, where chaos rules and incisive use of technology pierces its veil. There may even be a lot more to come.
Even though the multiplayer-focused shooter throws in giant mechs to its pot of gold, it would still need some eye candy to truly distance itself from the pack. Luckily, an excess of futuristic flash is one of publisher EA’s strong suits, so it complements the theme perfectly.
Highly detailed Titan robots stand atop the large battlefields where destroyed buildings reside next to other burning rubble. Walls are boarded up and coated in graffiti. Vines and other vegetation crawl their way through pipes.
Additional effects seal the deal to make a credible atmosphere. Dust casts off the incoming sunbeams and newspapers rustle through the wind made by all the commotion. Electricity sparks from disconnected wires, fire rages from war-torn structures; the battlefield is real in this dystopia.
Sound equally lets its power roar through hydraulic noises from groaning Titans, rumbling explosions or quickly firing pilots. Additionally, the field is kept lively by constantly incoming chatter from soldiers directing the fight.
Frequent prompts tell of incoming hostiles at certain points, enemy convergence of Titans or points to be captured. Alternatively, this is used to stay updated on the arrival of mechs, waiting for deployment.
There is tremendous care put into making this struggle seem as authentic as possible and that’s a hard feat to pull off, considering that there are Transformers dropping from the sky in this game. Perhaps all the action going around is what suspends the disbelief, since there’s no time to question any of Titanfall’s logic.
Starting off, loadouts need to be chosen both for what human will join the factions, as well as a separate Titan setup, each sporting unique weaponry, skills and additional accessories. After that, it’s equally possible to pick a game mode, with standard deathmatch and control points included.
Teams usually attack each other head on from each side. Unless otherwise noted, modes always start with pilots being dropped in the hot zone.
Humans use their brains to their advantage, to reach spots quickly and assert dominance. On foot, it’s possible to make use of extreme mobility.
Jetpacks allow for double jumps to bridge gaps, but also the ability to run on walls. This spider-like scurrying sees the team hopping on buldings, then hopping again; climbing on rooftops and leaping into windows.
Surprisingly, handling the free running element is just as easy as normal movement. Sticking to walls and adjusting to edges is detected properly on all but the oddest attempts, making it perfectly possible to predict a trajectory.
Moreover, level design is clear and open at the same time, offering many different paths to spot at any time. In no time, Titanfall transforms into a first person platform title.
On the bulkier side, Titans use pure strength to blast through defenses. This does take away jumping, but that gets replaced with rechargeable dodging mechanisms for slightly more mobility.
Robots have to make smart use of their tools to stay footed. Varying assaults with shoulder missiles and other accessories is more important than just using a big gun, which makes gameplay more tactical. Knowing just when to strike makes all the difference.
While slightly less agile, controlling a Titan still goes smoothly, more so than its size would indicate. Here, automatically maneuvering over shallow level height is what really stands out in execution to facilitate gameplay.
Controlling in Titanfall is made as easy as possible, so gameplay can stand in focus. With the tools at hand for both big and small units, that’s a perfect pairing.
What truly drives a round of Titanfall, however, is the equal footing any team has. Victory is never about just who has the most colossal robots. It’s all about skill.
While Titans are powerful, pilots are incredibly flexible in their approach.
For instance, it’s possible for humans to board a robot and start shooting at its core to destroy it. In turn, the opponent can unleash an electric cloud that obscures vision and sizzles any living being inside of it.
Pilots can use a Smart Pistol that locks onto targets automatically, which compensates for a lack of power in contrast to rifles. A shotgun is brutally punishing, though naturally its range is limited in environments that also allow giant enemies.
Rockets are made extra slow, to offset their great power. Locking on assures a hit, but comes with quite a bit of exposure. It’s possible to instantly kill a soldier with a melee hit, but given the activity on the map, it becomes a gamble. Every yin has a yang.
To balance things even further, factions are assigned artificial intelligence (AI) that roams the map with grunts. These AI serve as a way to keep players on their toes and can easily use their numbers to kill as well.
Making for a twofold use, grunts also populate the areas less frequented by players, adding meat to rounds. They’re easily dispatched, but that doesn’t make them less deadly.
It’s downright impressive at the amount of customizable versatility that goes into Titanfall. Loadouts can be pointed towards a certain style, but there’s bound to be another option that counters that very play.
In addition, level design makes it so that there are usually multiple approaches for people to engage each other. That’s also true for the scale of battle, from hard to reach corridors to open fields. There’s something for everyone and it all serves a duplicate purpose, at the least.
Should all else fail, there are burn cards to turn the tide. These items can be activated and give players a temporary boost, based on their effect. It’s possible to call upon Titans early for backup, reveal enemies on the map or trade out weapons to fit the need better.
They even thought of ways beyond the game itself to make sure all rounds remain fair with these cards. That is beyond commendable.
While there is nearly nothing to really ruin the fun yet, there is still some room for things to at least blemish the experience when thinking of additional content. For instance, the leveling system can open up a ton of helpful trinkets, with some giving quite the advantage over starting players.
Especially when thinking of the Smart Pistol that locks on automatically, making it even better through upgrades would also kill the balance it currently has against other weapons. There would be less room to counter that through weapon upgrades from the other side, since the pistol doesn’t need aiming.
Additionally, while gameplay is fun and stays entertaining for some time, simply calling standard game modes a different name isn’t enough. Titanfall needs its own thing; those few possibilities that can only be achieved by what it’s serving.
They’re small concerns, but it is vital to achieve nonetheless.
It’s going to take a miracle for Titanfall not to deliver on the things it has already shown. Chaotic and fast gameplay that stays almost perfectly balanced on its many facets; few shooters can say they’re doing the same. It’s hard to believe there’s even a duality in the system that allows humans to take on giant robots and somehow come out victorious.
Fans of shooters need to keep watching, because it’s going to cater to the quick fixes they need. In turn, people outside of that realm should pay attention too, because its mobility and accessible approaches allow all comers to participate and find some way to play well.
Titanfall is the literal game changer. It doesn’t need the modern military genre to make a multiplayer powerhouse; it’s making its own.
Daav has been playing games since Atari was a thing and still likes games that look old, but also new stuff. There's no allegiance to platforms or genres; anything big and small can make a good game. This gives him a ton of perspectives to write about.