Developer: Respawn Entertainment | Publisher: Electronic Arts
Not since Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has the FPS genre made such giant strides forward, and although this can sometimes lead to missteps, Titanfall is much more hit than miss.
Respawn made a very bold decision with Titanfall, in that they decided to make a multiplayer-only game. In the world of the Console FPS blockbuster, this is largely unheard of. Although campaign modes have now dwindled to nothing more than a small add-on, they’re still considered essential by developers. Titanfall tries to merge it all together, by creating a campaign based on the maps and telling a story whilst you play Hardpoint and Attrition, the two main game modes based on flag capture and straight-up deathmatch.
And does it work? Well, not really. The story is flaccid, and with so much action going on around you it’s hard to concentrate on any dialogue or plot points. But what it does do is set a precedent. If games are to evolve and become better, risks have to be taken. And by taking this risk in removing a traditional campaign element, Respawn have showed what’s possible and where to go from here. It’s commendable, and the passion and intent of this new way of thinking bursts through.
By doing this, what they’re really trying do is focus solely on what matters most. The gameplay, it is here where Titanfall absolutely triumphs.
One thing that struck me that I’d never usually consider in most games is how well the levels are designed. With such a vast size difference between the Titans and the Pilots, it instantly makes it a challenge for the developer to create a game that is fun for both combatants. Each level never feels too big for a pilot, or too constricting for a Titan. Ledges and platforms are judged pixel-perfect, meaning there’s always multiple ways to traverse the map with your jump-jet. The same goes for Titans, with blasted-out walls in hangars and docks always allowing Titans clever access to key map points.
A game based on the idea of giant bipedal tanks and their pilots would usually generate a favourable bias towards the mechanical in most people’s minds, but here the balance is great. In fact, I found taking down Titans by climbing aboard and shooting their internal circuits in a ‘rodeo’ fashion one of my favourite aspects of the game. All the weapons I’ve played with all seem to balance well, offering different advantages in certain situations.
The game really endeavours to empower the player. Whereas Call of Duty or Battlefield may seem harsh and unforgiving to the outsider, Titanfall aims to cater for every skill level. AI bots run around the battlefield as glorified target practice, and if you’re using the Smart Pistol on these enemies, you don’t even to have to aim. Although at first this makes you feel like a complete bad-ass, over time I can see this process becoming tedious, and cheap. I don’t particularly begrudge this feature, I just can’t see how it adds that much to the game.
Titanfall feels like a truly next-gen game. Whilst it may feel similar, it’s always striving to be more, to be a better experience. And whilst the narrative largely falls flat, the gameplay mechanics and foundations it’s laid shows a great leap forward in the genre. And amongst games that tend to be slow to change, this is promising stuff.
Xbox One Version Reviewed. Also Available on PC