Billed as the first true next-gen shooter, Titanfall had a lot of pressure on its shoulders to be both hugely successful, and pave the way for how shooters should be designed over the coming years. Not only that, further pressures were added since as the game is the debut title from Respawn Studios, a UK developer built up primarily of the old Infinity Ward team. Thanks to their innovative efforts with the world-renowned Call Of Duty series, to say that there was a lot of hype for this game would have been an incredible understatement. That said however, it would appear that none of this has phased the team during development, and the hugely talented team have been able to deliver one of the most exciting FPS games of recent years.
Before I jump into the game itself and properly begin the review, I want to make a point in regards to the install process of the games files, of which is ridiculous. Titanfall’s files weigh in at a very large 50gb, and this is likely something that will cause problems for some players. Not only is 50gb a large chunk of hard drive space, it is also a massive amount to download, and if players are on a slow internet connection this is guaranteed to give them problems, potentially taking them days to download it all. To add insult to injury, the cause of such a large file size is due to 35gb of uncompressed audio being shipped with the game. The developers have announced the reason for this is because it helps the game run faster on slower machines, though I can’t just shake this annoyance away despite its (questionable) benefit.
You might be asking yourself, what exactly is it that makes Titanfall different and such a next-gen experience? Well in truth, it’s nothing to do with the gunplay. The gunplay is one of the few elements that actually feels very familiar, and to be honest it is near identical to Call Of Duty in the sense that aiming/navigating feels weightless and very loose. This kind of style suits Titanfall perfectly as it complements the fast-pace very well and allows players to be very nimble in the heat of battle. The features that exceed in creating a new found experience however are the abilities to execute parkour manoeuvres, and most importantly, call in your titan (a huge battle-mech) to the battlefield. The parkour mechanic is perhaps the most unique to the FPS genre, and it allows you to run across walls, climb up objects/buildings and jump between areas with ease and zero frustration. It’s surprisingly easy to pull off and after spending a few minutes using the mechanic you will feel like a pro and wonder how multiplayer games have gone so long without incorporating such a feature set.
Calling in your titan during the battle is a mechanic that changes the state of battle, meaning that players have to stay out of the open and attempt to take down the titan with their anit-titan weapon, or while inside their very own titan. If players work together taking one down, it is fairly straight forward to do so bearing in mind that you are approaching it tactically and efficiently. Titan combat involves just as much brains as on-foot pilot combat, so you will need to think on your toes, be wary of your environment, and make full use of all your weaponry and abilities (of which are completely customisable). Titan vs Titan gameplay is fun, and the challenging nature of playing as one is what keeps them a fun addition. Players cannot expect to call their Titan in and automatically gain an advantage over their enemy, as a player can easily destroy you if you let your guard down. To ensure fair gameplay, Titans can only be called in once the launch timer has decreased to zero. Thankfully though, players can decrease this time faster by performing well on the field and landing hits on the enemy. Setting up Titans this way means that they become a nice reward for those playing well.
One other nice and new addition that Titanfall brings with it is the inclusion of on-foot AI controlled enemies. While their AI isn’t smart at all and they are very slow to react to the player, they are there more so to act as cannon fodder and to give the illusion that the 6 vs. 6 battles are far more chaotic than they actually are. It’s an unusual feature to get to grips with at first, but it has great benefits, allowing you to reap easy XP from them and help you to feel like a bad-ass when you burst into a room and take down an entire team of them with ease. A few games in and you will wish that this feature is included into more games in the future.
I would probably have to say that Titanfall is one of the most rewarding multiplayer shooters ever made, and this is due in part to the fact that levelling up in this game is very easy. You will often find yourself levelling up after only playing a handful of matches, with the earlier levels being easy to achieve within one match alone. There are so many challenges built into the game that there is absolutely no excuse for burning through level after level in no time at all. The constant completion of challenges and earning of XP bonuses fuels the players urge to keep playing and provides an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. Because of this alone, players will find themselves playing the game for hours and hours feeling very satisfied the entire time.
As you would expect from a multiplayer shooter, there are multiple custom loadouts that are available for you to utilise across your time with Titanfall. While you have to level up a few times to unlock these custom slots, from there you have freedom to chop and change them as you wish using what you have unlocked. Loadouts comprise of a primary weapon (carbine, rifle, SMG, Shotgun etc), a secondary weapon (pistol), an anti-titan weapon, and ordanance (grenades, mines etc.). The weapons offering available isn’t too unique and sticks largely to conventional weapon styles. There are some weapons that are much more creative, with the Smart Pistol being most notable. This weapon has an auto-aim system built into it, requiring the player to lock on to their target for a long enough amount of time before they can be taken down in one shot. It’s a very bold weapon that sounds rather over-powered, but in truth fits in very well with everything else, requiring a completely different approach to attacking and defending to be of any use. That said however, the same could be said for most weapons here as they all bring different play styles with them, with each weapon feeling unique and requiring practice before you become a professional. As well as selected weaponry, loadouts also make room for physical enhancements in the way of a tactical ability that offers a temporary bonus, and two pilot kits that provide passive abilities. As with the weapons, these change up the way you play considerably and a simple change here and there can drastically change the way you operate on the battlefield. If you thought that there was enough variety in player customisation, you thought wrong, Respawn have also incorporated ‘Burn Cards’ into the game, a system whereby you play a card (collected from completing challenges and killing enemies) and you gain a new ability or weapon that lasts for just that one spawn. It’s a neat little system and can give you that helping hand if you are in the middle of a sticky situation without providing an unfair advantage. These cards are easily collected and so playing them regularly is encouraged and adds more fun to the battles.
When you first boot into Titanfall, the first thing you will be faced with is a comprehensive tutorial on how to play the game effectively. Due to the multiplayer-only nature of the game and subsequent lack of a singleplayer campaign, this is your only means of getting to grips with the game before being thrust into the multiplayer action. As such, the tutorial feels necessary and it does a great job of gearing you up with the right knowledge before you hit the battlefield. While it can be a little bit of a bore at times and is often dry in its delivery, it is over in 10 – 15 minutes and working through it is a breeze. Once the tutorial is completed, you then have freedom with what you want to do in the game with all modes unlocked to begin with, though the multiplayer campaign should probably be your first port of call.
The campaign can be summed up pretty easily as being regular matches with some exposition thrown in-between to give a sense of structure to the scenarios. But is that fair? Well, the answer is yes. Aside from great mission intro’s that contain flashes of cinematic brilliance, the campaign really feels like a missed opportunity as it tries to be nothing more than what you can experience in the ‘classic game modes’. To make matters worse, the 9 mission-long campaign only makes use of two game types (Attrition and Hardpoint), resulting in an experience that offers little variety apart from the maps used. The narrative tagged alongside it also fails to engage the player properly, with most of the narrative being given to you through audio clips inside the games lobby and even during the battles themselves, with the latter becoming the biggest problem due to how hard it is to concentrate on the story when you are in the heat of battle. If you are able to follow the story and strike an interest in it’s quite frankly uninteresting plot, players may find enjoyment in playing through the campaign once more but from the perspective of the IMC as opposed to the Militia you play as first time around. Largely however the only driving force encouraging players to complete the campaign is to unlock the other Titan chasis for your various Titan loadouts. Thanks to how unremarkable and vastly similar it is to the normal multiplayer modes, players are likely to play through the campaign once and leave it behind in the dust.
The ‘classic’ game modes which equate to the bulk of the game offer your usual array of game modes, each one a slight variation on familiar modes you’ve played many times over. Hardpoint Domination is a mode in which each team battle to capture and hold 3 points from across the map, and it is arguably the best game mode available due to how seamlessly it is able to showcase all of Titanfalls strengths. It has the perfect balance of offensive and defensive play, makes use of the games expansive map designs, and the interlinking combat between Pilots and Titans works extremely well. The other strongest game mode is Attrition, effectively Titanfall’s version of Team Deathmatch in which you gain points from killing enemy pilots/titans, and even the AI controlled units. This mode is a nice break away from hard tactics and allows the fast paced action to thrive to its fullest extent. Pilot Hunter is a mode very similar to Attrition, but points are only gained through killing enemy pilots and not through the destruction of titans, grunts or spectres. The most unique game mode available is Last Titan Standing, a mode dedicated solely to Titan Vs. Titan gameplay. While it is likely to not be played too often, it is a change in pace and works as a nice breather in between game sessions. It is a fun mode but it is certainly not without its problems, with some maps working better with the game mode than others, with the more open maps suiting the mode much better than the more dense, tightly spaced maps such as ‘Rise’. Strangely enough the last game mode, Capture The Flag, comes across as the weakest link out of the selection. Though it seems like a perfect fit on paper due to the parkour mechanics and natural fast-pace, these battles come across as messy and uncoordinated due to the consistently large map size making it difficult to catch up to the action and reach the capture flags. It also comes across a little unfair in these battles as players who have picked up the enemy flag are able to pilot their titan. As a result, this can make for some very easy getaways, and in my opinion, rids this mode of a lot of the challenge.
While the majority of these game modes are fun to play, they wouldn’t nearly be as enjoyable without the great number of fantastic maps that Titanfall has to offer. The most important thing to remember about Titanfall is that you are not restricted to the ground, and as such the maps are designed perfectly to accommodate this with lots of elevation and buildings to climb. There are multiple entry points in each area and thanks to the parkour mechanic; players can find their own paths to objectives and their enemies. Every map is extremely detailed and learning the maps and how to exploit certain areas is part of the fun, and once you are knowledgeable enough you can employ some tough tactics. The generous sizes of the maps not only allow seamless transition between pilot and Titan combat, but also open up to a lot of variety in how each battle plays out with lots of map styles, routes, areas and vantage points. If there is one sure thing to say about Titanfall, it is that no single game plays out the same, and this is a massive credit to the utterly brilliant level designers that Respawn employ.
It’s not just in their design that the maps succeed in, but in their presentation, of which is rife with great texture work and interesting environment art assets. Titanfalls maps range from a base overrun with wildlife in the middle of a desert, to a settlement based on the shoreline full of lush greens and clear blue waters, to urban environments such as towns and military bases. The environments strive to offer different flavours of the game world, and they are extremely diverse. Even the urban environments don’t look generic, with plenty of futuristic architecture and technology flooding the streets to give the world its own unique identity.
While Titanfall doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it most certainly achieves in creating a huge step forward within the currently stale FPS market, a move that takes elements of current game design and mixes it in with exciting new ideas and mechanics that can only be achieved in this generation . Titanfall is a fast-paced, action focussed and exhilarating package, and it’s for these reasons why it is able to stand out. Perfectly mixing the more unrelenting speed of games such as Unreal Tournament and Quake with the tactical and accurate gunplay of games such as Call Of Duty, Titanfall is an absolute joy to play where every match feels completely different from the last and full of epic moments. If this is what the future holds for first person shooters, than this is an exciting future for a genre that in recent years has taken a back seat where innovation is concerned.
- Gameplay like no other – perfectly mixing a fast pace with tactical gameplay
- Burn Cards are a nice addition.
- Thoughtful loadout options accommodate for plenty of playstyles and ensure tactics.
- Titans make you feel like a bad ass.
- Every battle feels busy and chaotic.
- Extremely rewarding gameplay with a wealth of challenges and unlocks.
- Excellent graphics.
- Fantastic map designs that allow for both elevation and conventional map traversal.
- Typical game modes that fail to add anything new.
- Campaign is a missed opportunity.
- 50gb install is ridiculous.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.