Respawn Entertainment , a company made up of people from the team behind the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare games, Infinity Ward released their first game Titanfall . After parting ways amidst controversy from Activision, the former Infinity Ward developers formed Respawn and worked with Electronic Arts to release their new game. EA in turn had long been looking for a game that could successfully compete with the Call of Duty franchise, and the talent and money behind this game left little doubt that the final product would be something special.
If you were a fan of Call of Duty’s chaotic multiplayer deathmatches, then Titanfall is a great new game to move to, but there’s a catch – the game only has multiplayer modes, without a single player campaign that you can play offline.
What do you do when the best game in recent times comes with the one “feature” that makes you avoid a game entirely? Simple, you grit your teeth, check your FUP, and start playing already because even as a multiplayer-only game, Titanfall is something that’s amazing.
There are two aspects to the game – you start off as a squishy human (a “pilot”, in the game’s jargon) who can run and gun with the best of them. In fact, just moving as a pilot feels amazing as you parkour your way quickly across the map, wall running and climbing past obstacles that would’ve stopped all progress in other games.
The freedom of movement is matched by a good selection of weapons. There’s nothing particularly unique here – the same balance of close up and long range guns that you’d find in most games. But Respawn’s developers know that you have to make the most repetitive actions the most enjoyable ones, and so running and gunning is pure joy, thanks to the excellent sound, recoil and handling. Add to that the smart pistol – keeping people in your targeting reticle “locks” onto them, and you get an experience where your movement trumps aiming, encouraging fluid shifts in the battlefield.
The twist comes from the eponymous Titans – these giant robots are armoured and hard to kill, packed with a huge array of weapons, and when they come into play, they completely change the dynamics of the game.
The games are 6 vs 6 matches, where you start off with just the pilots in the map. This sounds a little sparse, but there are also AI controlled opponents, some basic grunts called Marvins and the slightly more dangerous Spectres. Killing these gets you points that reduces the time required to call in your Titan.
Everyone gets a Titan, but you can upgrade your mech and also unlock new types of Titans, to choose ones that suit your particular playing style. These walking tanks really open up a lot of different options, and you don’t need to be sitting in your Titan either – you can set it to patrol automatically, while you run around flanking enemies.
There are some great moments in gameplay that emerge from this arrangement – the asymmetric nature of fighting between a Titan and a pilot can be intense, and there can be amazing moments such as climbing onto the back of an enemy Titan and blowing it to bits.
It helps that everything looks great. Titanfall’s visuals aren’t the sharpest and most detailed in the market, but there’s such a coherent sense of design that it’s hard not to marvel at the game. The maps are detailed and the Titans themselves look amazing.
Or you could have a moment where you call down your Titan a little late, and drop it right on the heads of your enemies. The handling of the Titans is as well thought out and executed as that of the pilots – the giant mechs can’t access all the areas that a pilot can get to and they won’t move as fluidly, but it’s still an incredible amount of fun to walk around and blast away, and Titan battles are intense.
The catch is that the matches themselves quickly become repetitive – with small team sizes, there’s only so much that can happen in each game, and while the gameplay loop is very satisfying, there’s never a feeling of building up to something.
The first Modern Warfare might be most famous for its multiplayer, but Infinity Ward also delivered an incredibly polished single player campaign, with some amazing narrative moments. Later games in the series focused on the bombast more than anything else, but Titanfall’s world is richly drawn, and its art and design practically beg for a strong single player campaign.
Instead, there are two multiplayer campaigns, which play out like the regular multiplayer games, and there’s really much incentive to keep playing the campaign, except for the fact that completing it unlocks a Titan.
Other game modes include Attrition (deathmatch), Capture the Flag, Hardpoint (fighting for control of three points on the map) and since you want to rack up experience and call your Titan down quickly, all play fairly similarly. Last Titan Standing starts you off in your Titan and has only one life per round, which changes things up a little, but there’s no way to play offline at all, which is very disappointing.
The game is an incredible achievement, and manages to be a lot of fun. It’s fairly forgiving and while higher level players have a bigger variety of weapons to choose from, catching up doesn’t take too long.
Titanfall plays remarkably fluidly, but there can be some problems with lag. With a ping in the lower double digits, there were still times where people I couldn’t see were eviscerating me. It’s not always like that, but that makes the times where lag causes problems feel even worse.
If you’ve got a gaming computer and a fast connection, Titanfall delivers an amazing experience. If you played Call of Duty multiplayer games, then the game can not be missed. But if you want any meaningful story, or a campaign you can play through with friends, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.