When Titanfall was announced last year there were some rather bold claims made by Microsoft and Respawn. This game promised to change multiplayer shooters forever and deliver a gaming experience like no other. After logging in close to 30 hours, I can honestly say that these claims were completely warranted.
I’m not one to quickly hop aboard any hype train. There have honestly been times where I’ve completely avoided a game because I was just so tired of hearing about it… *cough *cough Grand Theft Auto 5. Call me a hipster or any other internet buzzword that comes to mind, but sometimes the aggressive marketing of a game ruins its appeal for me. Titanfall is one of the few games I’ve played in the last couple years that actually lives up to the hype surrounding it. Not to sound like a generic quote off the back of the game’s case, but I’ve never played anything quite like it.
Many concerns arose when Respawn declared that Titanfall would be a multiplayer only title. Many were under the impression there would be no campaign whatsoever, but a rather interesting Left 4 Dead style campaign adds some life and depth to this expansive universe. It’s not the greatest story ever told, but the dynamic cutscenes and custom stage introductions add some production flair to your time in multiplayer.
In the campaign your team plays as either the IMC (Interstellar Mining Corporation), the corporate organization responsible for creating the Titans, or the Militia (MCOR or Frontier Militia), a group of ragtag soldiers trying to put a stop IMC’s massive destruction of world resources. The IMC is portrayed as an evil entity fueled strictly by greed and the Militia acts as the good or neutral force trying to save innocent people from the power of this corporation. You’ll play through a number of stages on each side each with their own introductions and story objectives, but the maps are always the same regardless of what team you’re on and the outcome doesn’t really seem to matter. I never really noticed a shift in the story if we failed or completed any of the objectives. Most of the dialogue from your squad and commanding officers is also hilariously generic and I found that to be entertaining enough to carry me through both campaigns several times. Like I said before, the campaign mode isn’t going to blow you away, but it’s a nice option for those looking for a little more depth from their multiplayer and it gives you a tour of all the beautiful and diverse stages in the game. Those not interested in the campaign can look forward to a wide variety of other rewarding game modes.
A somewhat forgettable campaign can’t take away from the frantic action and solid gameplay of Titanfall. Never before has a game combined air tight shooter controls, parkour, ziplining, and over the top mech combat. I’ve read many descriptions claiming this shooter is simply Call of Duty with robots, but that comparison is disgustingly simplified and absolutely inaccurate. Nothing quite matches the glorious feeling of fist-fighting another Titan until it explodes, ejecting hundreds of feet in the air after your Titan is critically damaged from the blast, and landing on a nearby rooftop to lethally jumpkick an enemy in the chest. There is no other game in existence that can deliver something like that and it puts Titanfall miles (hey, that’s me!) ahead of the competition.
Hardcore fans of Battlefield and Call of Duty will love the precision controls and aiming, but the ability to free-run and double-jump makes it nearly impossible to replicate annoying tactics from those franchises like “camping.” If you think you’ll be able to perch up on a rooftop and snipe for an entire match, you’re absolutely wrong. You will have somebody jumping up behind you and snapping your neck in a matter of seconds. Navigating the maps with your power suit is incredibly satisfying and it encourages players to keep moving. You never really feel safe staying in one spot for very long and this creates a incredibly hectic, but entertaining experience. I was genuinely impressed by how well the stages were designed. Everything was catered to your wide range of movement. Transferring from wall-running, to double-jumping, to sprinting is totally fluid and will make going back to shooters like Call of Duty and Halo rather disappointing.
No matter what shooter I’m playing, I always use the shotgun. For me, there’s nothing more satisfying than running into a group of enemies and blasting them with buckshot. The fantastic controls and a wide variety of tactical abilities, ordnances, and tier kits allow me to go on the shotgun rampage of my dreams. These modifications could be compared to “perks” in Call of Duty. They are euipable buffs and items that alter the way your loadouts perform. The tactical ability “stim” increases player movement speed and health regeneration for a short period of time, while “cloak” makes the user temporarily invisible. Players who prefer sneaking around and snapping necks would probably go with the cloaking ability, but players like myself that prefer to run straight into the center of action with a shotgun would probably want to stick with the stim. You are given the option to save up to five custom loadouts that you can equip with a variety of weapons and abilities that can be used for specific circumstances, which is very important considering how varied the maps are. Hey, but what about the Titans? Oh, don’t you worry. The Titans are there and they’re glorious.
After playing for a little while, players are given the option to customize their massive robo-buddies. The three different chassis have drastically different weights that really affect the way each one moves. The Stryder is the lightest and most agile frame and sacrifices durability for speed. The Atlas is the middle child of the bunch and offers a good balance of maneuverability and armor. Those looking for a giant sluggish tank will most likely be going with the Orge chassis. Even though these frames all play differently, one thing is certain. The Titans all control incredibly well. The game’s tutorial says it best when it explains that these machines are designed to be an extension of the pilot. Despite the fact that I was in a heaping hunk of metal, I never really felt restricted as I moved about the map. Of course, there are certain areas you can’t access in a Titan, but this is mainly to keep a strong balance between the pilots and Titans.
I was slightly disappointed by the number of weapons and customization options available for loadouts. There are only 10 primary weapons and 4 anti-Titan weapons available for pilots and 6 primary weapons for Titans. All of the weapons included in the game are diverse and deadly, but it could definitely benefit from a larger variety. The selection of tactical abilities and ordnances is rather small as well. Another minor thing to note is that there is no option to rename your custom loadouts. They are simply titled “Custom Loadout 1,” “Custom Loadout 2,” etc. This made selecting the right equipment for the job more confusing than it needed to be. I wanted badly to name my first loadout “Hobo with a Shotgun,” but my dreams were dashed… This is something that can easily be fixed with an update and hopefully it’s something Respawn attends to.
Even with a limited campaign and small selection of weapons Titanfall delivers an experience more fun and rewarding than the last couple Call of Duty titles combined. A wide selection of beautiful and varied maps is accompanied by a solid selection of multiplayer game modes. The frantic gameplay offers players a completely unique way to play online an online shooter and it completely sets a new standard for the genre. It’s not a perfect game, but it establishes a rock-solid foundation that opens up enormous potential for the series’ future. Right now, this is probably the most fun you’ll have playing a first-person shooter online and unlike IGN, I’m going to give Titanfall the extra 0.1 it deserves.