This article is the opinion of the author and in no way reflects a side-wide opinion. Each author attended Eurogamer separately – look out for other opinions in due course…
I will be honest, since Titanfall’s announcement back at E3, it had not grabbed my full attention. This is completely down to FPS game fatigue more then anything else, after a decade of playing FPS game series which churn out sequels which are familiar and known. The FPS genre has a lot of games, all doing the same thing, feeling the same way and not really doing anything new and just playing it safe giving their fans what they expect and nothing more.
At this year’s Eurogamer Expo at Earl’s Court, the UK gaming community finally got the chance to have actual hands on time with Titanfall and see for themselves why it is the game to watch as the next generation of gaming comes into our lives in November. It was by far the most popular game of the expo. For each of the 4 days the queue for Titanfall was the longest for any game at the Expo, all day every day.
The hands on demo featured the Multiplayer game mode ‘Attrition’. For the demo, Attrition plays out the story of the attempted escape of top Militia pilot Barker from Angel City. One team plays as the Militia faction M-Cor whose task is to defend and distract the IMC in combat as Barker escapes.The other team,playing as the IMC forces must wipe out the M-Cor forces from the area.
Before the game starts, players can select the class of pilot they will play as, with weapon sets dependant on the class as well as the type of Titan they will get to pilot, which again determines the weapon loadout for the Titan. With 3 options for each in this demo, the combinations of playing styles is varied. I chose to go with an assault class for my pilot but picked a Titan with the heavy weapons loadout. Pilots have their primary weapon based on class, a secondary pistol and every Pilot comes with an anti-Titan weapon so if you encounter one on the field of play you wont suddenly feel over matched. Titans have their primary weapon but also a defensive option governed by type. My Heavy Weapon Titan had the magnetic smoke defense, which when used against another Titan will surround them in an electrical smoke cloud which will mess up the other Titan’s visual systems.
The gameplay is fast and fluid. Movement as a pilot uses jump packs and wall running to navigate the map. This is so intuitive and easily mastered and I found myself scaling up buildings to seize the high ground to take out enemies on the ground and then moving quickly between buildings to escape oncoming enemy Titans. The freedom to explore the game area gives players the freedom to explore and battle across the whole play area, from ground level fire fights to scaling buildings quickly to get to high ground or just to manoeuvre to flank an enemy team, this allows the game to be different every time and tactics will inspire team work across the map to co-ordinate the battle.
Of course, there is one moment that stands out for me, which I never expected it to do so until it finally happened. As I was exploring how to use the wall running, taking out the enemy team, a voice via comms told me “Two Minutes to Titanfall”, I carried on fighting and then “one minute to Titanfall”. I have to admit, the build up to being able to call in my first Titan gave me a buzz. Then it happened, “Titan is available for drop” and the ability to call your Titan down when you want, so its not forced on you is great aspect to the Titanfall. You can select where you want your Titan to drop, and the visuals of looking up to see this flaming trail blazing down from the sky to the noise and impact of your Titan landing before you never gets old. Changing to Titan is as simple as jumping on to it from above or holding a button for your titan to grab you and place you inside.
In other games that use Mec’s, the dynamic between being a human character and a large Mech has often meant a slower combat experience with limited movement. Not so in Titanfall. What was surprising to me, was that piloting the Titan was as quick and agile. You get the sensation of being one of the largest and most powerful objects on the field of play but movement is quick enough that you can immediately get in the action the moment you take control. Taking out standard soldiers is impressive, but its when you come across your first enemy Titan and head into combat that the sensation of power really kicks in. My first encounter saw my Heavy Weapon Titan come up against an Assault Titan, as I was firing off my rockets I noticed that one of my fellow pilots was on the back of the enemy titan trying to disable it. Our combination of my power and his sabotage made it a quick end for the Titan but to see how the combination of playing styles taking down a Titan was very impressive, and not something I have experienced in a FPS title before.
As the match came to a close, and sadly my team, of which I was second top scorer, were declared the losers. But with other FPS game this would be the end, a final kill cam then black screen and game is done. But not with Titanfall. Respawn Entertainment have added a nice little bonus element to Attrition, The Epilogue. Epilogue gives the losing team the opportunity to escape via evac ship whilst the winning team has to stop them escaping. Extra XP can be earned even for the losing team and the challenge of escaping is dramatic.
First you have to wait for your drop ship to come into the map, a point on the map is highlighted and using wall runnning you make your way to it as enemy pilots reign down fire on you. I believe I was the only member of my team to actually make it to the evac ship but just as I was about to climb aboard, the ship blew up as the enemy took it down. I can see this possibly being a chance for the losing team to have to sacrifice some members to defend the others escaping till the last possible moment to ensure a successful evac.
I also had the privilege and pleasure of speaking with Mathew Everett, EA Community Manager for Titanfall, and discussed how Respawn Entertainment set out to bring something new to the FPS genre, and it was important to give fans the best gaming experience they could whilst doing that. As Titanfall does its PR thing, the team is still working tirelessly on finishing the game and they are very excited to be bringing Titanfall to Xbox One and Xbox 360 in early 2014.
For me, Titanfall more then lives up to the hype. As a FPS fan I have played just about every FPS game in the last decade of this generation. I feel that the genre has become stagnant. Whilst the games released now are still fun to play and fans happy enough, for some time now the gaming community has been crying out for something new, something different. EA and Respawn Entertainment have delivered this on a huge Titan size silver platter. Playing Titanfall was the most refreshing FPS experience I have had in years, its new and impactful and really deserves the hype and buzz it is generating with gamers and the Gaming Media.
Playing the demo and speaking with Mathew Everett totally won me over, I went from thinking it was just going to be another FPS game to believing Titanfall to be a genre changing title. With the next generation of gaming coming in, Titanfall will be leading the charge and it will be up to other developers to follow their example. Titanfall was my game of Eurogamer Expo 2013 and this is a game that will sell Xbox One consoles without any doubt.
Would like to say a huge heartfelt thank you to both Dan Sheridan and Mathew Everett for being so generous with their time to talk with me and for working so hard for so many fans at the Expo. Titanfall is set for release on Xbox 360 and Xbox One early 2014 and is definitely going to set the bar for what can be done in FPS for years to come.