Titanfall is the Xbox One’s most successful title to date and already the hottest selling game of 2014 thanks to a marketing push that is working its charm across the globe. In the UK alone Titanfall has helped the Xbox One sell almost double units in the first week, but what makes the sci-fi shooter such hot property? I would say it is largely due to capturing the magic of Call of Duty in its early days and successfully breathing new life into a genre that was once dominated by Infinity Ward and Treyarch. Titanfall is EA’s Call of Duty killer, at least on Xbox One – finally the software giant has found a weapon against Activision that may take pursuit where both Crysis and Battlefield have failed to take Call of Duty off its throne!
Titanfall is a real next-gen multiplayer shooter.
As popular as Titanfall is and we’re only a week after release in the UK, whether the hype will last is in EA’s court. For a game with no real story driven campaign, the foundation of the gameplay is purely multiplayer based in a similar fashion to Xbox 360’s biggest online failures: ShadowRun and BRINK. Having taken E3, Eurogamer and other preview events by storm, the real charm of Titanfall is all thanks to the developers Respawn Entertainment; a team comprising of key original Call of Duty founders and staff who helped create the Modern Warfare franchise. No doubt born from the minds of experience and the imagination no longer constrained to a theatrical war against Russian Military, Titanfall is a winning mix of objectives and large scale maps that will transport you into a sci-fi fantasy to satisfy the competitive online beast you have lurking in your soul. Where other multiplayer only titles have failed, Respawn seems to have taken the winning Call of Duty formula and evolved it in new ways. Titanfall has the potential to be very successful in the new generation of console gaming, my only concern is that EA does not seem to have the Midas touch and have previously left a bitter taste in many a gamers mouth with their server shut-downs and online pass required titles from the latter life of the Xbox 360 generation. Here is hoping that all this has changed from hereon in since Titanfall lacks the ton of micro-transactions and pay-per-boost options it is already a promising start!
Although Titanfall does have its very own Campaign menu, this is still a multiplayer only offering which adds scripted events and team dialogue to give it a story-like feel as gameplay commences. The campaign part of multiplayer is based around completing objective game types across the maps from each team’s perspective and purpose of war, but it is within this Campaign that you can unlock extra Titan’s (the super-sized Titan Mech’s within the game if you’re unfamiliar that fall from the sky at certain intervals for you to control) and Campaign specific Achievements to unlock. There wouldn’t be a war without opposition, and Titanfall is based around two opposing team factions who are fighting each other in a near-future frontier. You have the IMC, an Interstellar Manufacturing Company who create and maintain futuristic technologies whilst keeping a focus on profits and shareholders. Then there is the Militia, an army comprising of locals who are made up with all kinds of rogues believing the IMC does not act in the best interests of the people (so to speak) – and the two factions battle it out soldier to solder, Titan to Titan!
For the more familiar multiplayer menu’s the are Classic gameplay options enabling a six vs six range of objective based matches across fifteen different multiplayer maps. Currently there are five Classic gameplay modes available with more heading our way in the near future. Attrition is the team deathmatch you’ll know how to instantly play – just basically shoot anything that is on the other team! Last Titan Standing is one of the most fun modes available where everyone starts in their own Titan, but the battle begins immediately and the winning team is the one who has eliminated all of the oppositions Titans – and there is no respawning to add extra difficulty to the mix. Hardpoint, this is the domination based game-type where you have to capture and hold three hardpoints across the maps, the more hardpoints you hold the faster you win. Capture the Flag is pretty self-explanatory as you must capture the enemy flag and return it to your base. I’ve never been a great fan of this mode, not even in Call of Duty, but it is there for those who enjoy this mode as it rears its head in almost everything from Halo to Battlefield. Finally, there is Pilot Hunter – a kill or be killed hunting mode where all enemy Pilots must be taken out; this a faster paced killing spree version of Attrition where the more kills in your team will allow a win if the score limit is successfully reached.
Maps within Titanfall vary in size, but all are exceptionally larger than what you are likely used to in other team vs team based multiplayer games and offer more verticality and areas to explore than any other multiplayer game I have played. Titanfall lacks destructible environments, but feature interactive elements such as Heavy Turrets and Zip lines which can be used to gain advantages. As a futuristic shooter, all maps are sci-fi themed in a world where technology is advanced, but not all that futuristic on the terrains where deserts, ice and grassy environments still exist to vary the look and atmosphere within each map. Desert wastelands, Corporate Office blocks, research facilities and war-torn cities are just some of the environments you’ll fight out your war in Titanfall. It is so hard not to compare this game to Halo Reach, but you might find that with all Pilots having jet packs, high areas to explore and grunt AI’s coming at you from all angles – it does have a Halo feel to the gameplay which could just be down to its futuristic settings. There is so much ground to cover in the maps you could easily lose yourself, but with such a large area to explore and only six vs six matches it doesn’t present itself as a limited experience – with Titan’s being so massively HUGE their presence on the maps are dominating and only add to the frantic action of survival.
If you fancy dolling up your online presence, customisation options are present in Titanfall where you can set up load-outs for both your Pilot and Titan. Pilot load-outs enable you to set Primary weapons which consist of unlockable (based on rank) shotguns, Sniper’s, SMG’s, LMG’s and Rifles all with additional unlockable attachments or Mods to improve sights with the ability to throw on some suppressors. Pilots must also equip themselves with Anti-Titan weapons, such equipment capable of destroying the godly killing machines which include heavy rockets and hard-hitting weaponry to take them out after a few hits. Pilot Load-outs are quite basic and there doesn’t seem to be an option to re-name your customisations as you’re stuck with Custom Pilot 1 – 5. Titan’s also feature the same customisation options but you can unlock three different types of Chassis to drop an Atlas, Stryder or Ogre Titan – each with varying durability, speed and acceleration. The heavier the Titan, the slower it moves and the weaker appearance in Titan has the shortest durability, but the fastest speed. Regardless of your choice of Titan its survival is dependent upon how many times an enemy pilot or group of, can destroy it with anti-titan weaponry. To help aid in survival, each Titan features a separate core ranging from Damage to boost weapon damage, Dash, to speed around the maps, and Shield, which boosts body shields when activated. Titan’s also have customisable weapons that range from rockets and cannons, as well as Tactical Abilites and Ordnance to improve firing rates and offer protection from enemy attacks.
To offer variation in gameplay, Titanfall features a Burn Card system where you can earn boosts for one life only by using cards in-game. The Burn Cards are earned by completing various challenges that will temporarily give your Pilot some special abilities ranging from weapon improvements, Ability Boosts and Titan Upgrades. You will be able to use up to three cards per match after ranking up to a Level 7 Pilot, but I didn’t find using them offered any real noticeable advantages. Burn Cards are hit and miss and you’ll soon find that you need not bother using them at all.
Obviously on Xbox One, you can expect some gorgeous visuals and a high-def world that fills the screen with clear, sharp resolutions. Titanfall is an experience on Xbox One, a whole new way to explore multiplayer worlds and each and every map is a vibrant, enthralling fast-paced competitive match. My only concern is that once you strip away the hype and get over-familiar with Titanfall you are left with fifteen maps and five game modes that could become stale rather quickly. When you have nothing more to earn, nothing short of a few friends to play online you could potentially get bored and start straying towards something else. I do hope that EA time the release of DLC and new game modes well to keep the game fresh and alive every few months.
Titanfall is an innovative new way to play multiplayer gaming and here is to hoping that Respawn doesn’t do a Modern Warfare 2 on us and throw out a cheap quick cash cow sequel in the next few years. Titanfall is something special and unique, for many it’s the only reason to warrant the purchase of an Xbox One. Don’t waste this moment; Titanfall will change how you think and play multiplayer games…
…Call of what?
Thank you to Xbox for providing the Titanfall review code