A new game from EA and Respawn Entertainment is about to hit the Xbox and PC market that couples a multiplayer online shooter with a robot-story. Titanfall is a AAA-shooter title that gives player a chance to not just pull out a gun and shoot other players, but also pilot a large mechanized combat chassis and wreak havoc. In a video game one might question the mixture of squishy humans with guns and giant robots; but Titanfall does a good job of mixing the two with a balance that makes the game fun and interesting.
Also to note, every player will get a chance to field a titan—the big robots—and run around as one. They’re not a special calldown that only high kill players get to call upon.
While piloting a titan is fun, and can change the course of battle, sometimes just running around as a pilot can be good as well. With the addition of a great deal of verticality to all the maps, and pilots with boosters giving them a double-jump and a parkour ability, it means that traversing the map is more than just trying to slip through chokepoints: it can also mean running up a wall, scaling a ledge, vanishing through a window, and then leaping down on an unsuspecting enemy.
Titanfall may only be in beta, but the maps currently deployed have shown quite a bit of thought and interesting strategy building.
Graphics and Sound: The excellent graphics engine only makes exploding more fun!
Developer Respawn Entertainment went with a heavily modified version of the Source engine when producing this game and the quality shows. While the beta has a very limited number of maps, the graphics in them show a fair amount of detail, and fair quality in textures. In general you can tell the difference between a player and the landscape (even at a far distance) and in the case of a titan.
Well, anyone who misses one of those needs new glasses.
At the beginning of missions , players are greeted with an interesting drop-animation that has them sitting in the back of a dropship alongside a robot with a big yellow Wal-Mart smilie-face painted on its chassis. Not exactly the last thing I want to see before jumping into a firefight, but there you go.
Strapping on a titan is a fun experience because mounting one is all about having it pick you up and shove you inside. The huge hand dominates the screen as the “mount” animation is being triggered—and it’s possible to mount a titan from almost any direction. Once inside an animation also runs that has the pilot capsule fold around, and then light up into a field-of-view simulation that’s just like seeing through the pilot’s eyes with some seams visible where the shell came together.
The sound are all visceral enough, but all fairly much boring to any-given-shooter. Guns, explosions, the loud thudding-footfalls of a two-story machine… Well perhaps not the last one but you get the picture. For the most part this game does just fine on the sound department.
What sets it apart really is the addition of the sound of a falling titan, rumbling like booster-rockets as it sears—on fire—through the air and then slams into the ground. And then there’s the constant buzz of the mission operator telling players that they’re near a domination point or how well/poorly the current battle is going.
Gameplay: This game is a AAA-quality shooter with all the perks and options (and big stompy robots.)
If you’ve played a shooter you’re already prepared for Titanfall’s primary elements: pull out gun, aim-down-sights, and shoot stuff.
However, there’s a few additions that set it apart from other games and gaming experiences. Most notably there’s the titans—big, two story-tall stompy robots that you can ride around the battlefield and kill stuff—and then there’s a strong element of parkour and verticality to every map. Titans may be big-mean-killing-machines (with a set of interesting vulnerabilities) but the squishy pilots can also rush around the battlefield, up walls, and onto roofs.
First: the parkour and shooting. Pilots are able to double-jump with the assistance of jets and can also hit a wall running and run along it for a notable distance. This means that pilots can leap over debris, bounce off of walls, and even run up to ledges with surprising ease. The maps are full of burnt out buildings, openings, second-story windows, and other spots a pilot can easily mantle up to get some vertical height. This means that pilots can come from almost anywhere inside buildings.
The game gets interesting when there’s open streets (for titans to stroll down between fusillades of machine gun fire) and buildings with multiple-stories and open windows for pilots to leap into (or out of) and run around within like ants to outflank one another.
Finally: the big-stompy-robots. The titan is a terrifying force on the battlefield and pilots automatically get one dropped in 2 minutes after they put boots in the dirt. This time gets reduced with each kill. Watching the titan fall from the sky (aka the name of the game) is a beautiful event that has it thundering through an atmospheric drop and then slam into the ground nearby. Mounting a titan is as easy as running up and hitting ‘E.’
Once inside, the pilot gains a lot of armor, a very hefty weapon, and some interesting abilities. Being in a titan is quite like being a lot larger and more heavily armored. Killing pilots in a titan is fairly easy as most of its weapons will kill an unarmored pilot with one hit. Splat. And with that gun, titans are also pretty successful at wreaking havoc on one another.
Titans, however, are not invulnerable. Of course, an enemy titan can go toe-to-toe with another and take it apart with weapons fire—or, once damaged, punch through the chest and yank out the pilot (for an instant kill.) Pilots engaging titans have a special heavy anti-titan weapon that they can use to wear them down (normal small arms and long-gun fire has no effect.) Or, for the truly brave—or suicidal—pilot, a player can leap onto an enemy titan and attempt to “rodeo kill” it. Basically, just jump on the titan, yank off the head covering and shoot it until it’s destroyed.
It’s also possible for a pilot to put their titan on autopilot. When commanded, a titan will either follow the pilot or guard an area. In both modes, it will fight on its own, putting yet another fighter in the battlefield. On autopilot, a titan can provide a significant distraction to enemy forces (and other titans) allowing a pilot to rodeo kill an enemy or even rain down fire on enemies more easily.
The interplay between pilots and titans on the field really makes for an interesting rock-paper-scissors and strategic decision-making when it comes to addressing different situations.
Buy to Play: Big box multiplayer-shooter, it will cost money
ZRight now Titanfall is in an invite-only open public beta—it’s more or less a marketing gimmick to give people a chance to jump into EA’s new game and get a feel for it before it hits the shelves.
The game is expected to launch March 11, 2014 and it will have a box price tag of $59.99–a respectable price point that has become the norm for titles of this kind. It’s more than likely we can expect DLC to come along that will supply new maps to the game as per other games of similar venues such as Call of Duty and Battlefield.
Conclusion: 2014 has a lot to look forward to with a game like Titanfall
It’s obvious that EA and Respawn Entertainment are trying to carve out a new niche in the multiplayer online shooter market that’s currently dominated largely by Call of Duty, Battlefield, and to a certain extent Halo. By adding the high verticality and the interesting element of the titans in game, Titanfall might just open up a niche for them to squeeze into.
The game already has all the hallmarks of an online shooter and it’s being built by a developer who already have experience making Call of Duty games. So it’s easy to tell that they know what they’re doing. In this case, instead of CoD-style calldowns and perks, players will class themselves with a pilot and a titan that fits their playstyle.
It’s hard to tell right now where the game will go, but with the current setup as a foundation, Titanfall has nowhere to go but up.