If Mirror’s Edge, Call of Duty and MechAssault had a baby it would probably look a lot like Titanfall. This isn’t going to be a review in the normal sense, IGN already covered the fact that it is an amazing game in the video at the bottom of this page. I’m going to talk more about what I personally liked about the game and what I think would have made it even better. I’ve had a number of questions about this game, usually something along the lines of “is it hard to control the pilot while free running?” and “why doesn’t everyone just get a Titan and mow down the opposite team?”. For those of you that have played the game you will know that it is a lot more complicated than that but for those who haven’t, I thought I would start by covering those topics.
Controls and movement
The game controls are surprisingly easy to get your head around. If you have played any of the recent First Person Shooter games then you will find the button layout quite familiar. Click the left stick to sprint, A to jump, left trigger to zoom and right trigger to shoot, etc. All the now standard FPS control features are there along with some older ones which we haven’t seen in a while, namely the ‘double jump’. I am so glad that Respawn brought back the double jump and implemented it into an FPS game. If anyone from Respawn is reading this, thank you! You play as a Pilot which you can customize the load outs and gender of, again, if you have played any recent FPS games you will be familiar with this system of leveling up to unlock new weapons, abilities and perks. Alongside the customization system you have the option to use Burn Cards – a series of cards which are unlocked after completing challenges and are used for a single game. Burn cards grant status effects, weapons and upgrades and can only be used once. The effect of the Burn Card goes away after you die. These little boosters add an extra element of customization to the game and are a welcomed feature.
Learning to chain together wall runs and double jumps is the key to getting around the map without dying. The thing that stood out for me in Titanfall is how vertical some of the maps are. If you want to survive the ever-present onslaught of an enemy Titan you have to get to the high ground otherwise you will end up a small stain on the boot of a Titan. Put some time into the Training Simulator to learn the ins and outs of Parkour in the game. It took me around 20 minutes to get the basics, I have been playing for just over 4 hours now and feel relatively comfortable with the jumping mechanics and how to use them effectively. After some time, which can be shortened by getting kills or using Burn Cards, your Titan will be ready to use and you will hear the oh-so-satisfying “standby for Titanfall”. Transferring from Pilot to Titan is as simple as holding X. You can do some pretty cool maneuvers to get into your Titan and I have found that the more confident that I get with the Parkour the further away I drop my Titan just so I can do some cool aerobatics to get in. Titan controls are exactly the same as Pilot controls with a few exceptions. The A button will make your Titan perform a ‘dash’ – a high speed, short burst of movement used to dodge incoming threats. The Titan can not jump, although dashing or walking off a ledge does technically get you in the air for a short time.
Titans comes in three classes. The Stryder is the most nimble of the three with the fastest movement speed but weakest armour, it was designed to be able to get in and out of combat faster than the other two classes. The Ogre is the toughest of the three Titans, what it loses in speed and agility it definitely makes up for in strength. If you like going in face first and blowing everything up then this is the Titan for you. Finally, there is The Atlas. The Atlas is the Jack of all trades of the three, it has a good balance between strength and agility. I personally use The Atlas because it is faster than The Ogre and stronger than The Stryder making it the perfect choice for someone like me who changes their play style based on the situation at hand. You can also customize your Titan’s load out with weapons, special weapons and upgrades.
One of my favorite parts of Titanfall is the awesome weapons. Now there aren’t that many compared to recent games like Borderlands and Battlefield but there is definitely enough to have fun. My favorite being the Smart Pistol MK5, which has the ability to lock onto multiple targets and take them down all at once. There’s something really rewarding about wall running and getting a lock on, then jumping down to kill your enemy mid air and land on their corpse making for some really cinematic and cool instant replays. My favorite Titan weapon is the Arc Cannon which is basically a thunder gun which fires concentrated electricity and can fry multiple enemies with one charged shot. Awesome. Although many of these weapons are nothing explicitly ‘new’ and have appeared in many games before hand in some way or another, it’s nice to see them all in the one place. All the weapons have upgrades like a silencer and upgraded sights. Burn Cards can also be used to provide you with “amped” versions of certain weapons which gives you things like explosive ammunition.
There is technically no campaign or story mode in Titanfall, which sucks because I genuinely think this would make an amazing backdrop for a story. From the amazing level design to the mesmerizing creatures, there really is a whole world here and I hope that the developers pursue a proper story in future titles of the series. Now it’s not all bad, Titanfall manages to combine elements of a story driven game into the multiplayer madness. Things like non player characters, character chatter and plot have been included although the plot is never really elaborated on or outlined. There are some references to things that have happened in the Titanfall universe but you as the player are left to fill in the blanks, which there are a lot of. That being said, the somewhat foggy outline of the plot is still quite interesting. In the campaign mode, before every match you are given a small snippet of dialogue and a mission statement from your team leader. Without giving anything away, these plot points are pretty generic and are only used to explain why you are capturing and holding point A, B or C instead of multiplayer mode where you are just capturing them for points. The levels are vast and well designed to take full advantage of the free running Pilots and the massive Titans. I haven’t felt like I was limited by a map when using a Titan even though they are huge. Likewise with the Pilot, I am still finding new and exciting ways to get to different vantage points to snipe or even just how to get around a map. The options are seemingly limitless and I can’t see myself getting bored of hopping around all the nooks and crannies as a Pilot or stomping around the more open areas as a Titan.
Balance plays a huge part in any online multiplayer game and I am happy to say that so far, I feel that Titanfall has nailed balancing perfectly. As a Pilot you have your standard weapons as well as a specific Anti-Titan weapon, there are a few to choose from including a rocket launcher that locks on to targets and a rapid fire rocket launcher. I have never felt like I couldn’t take on a Titan as a Pilot or vice versa, each are equipped with different means of dispatching enemies. There is still enough of a threat from both Pilot and Titan alike that I am cautious when attacking either, as either. Somehow, Titanfall remains challenging as well as fair and fun. The balance between the Pilot and Titan is something that I think Titanfall has over many other games. Take Battlefield 4 for example, another favorite of mine. In BF4 if you are being chased by a helicopter you are pretty much doomed and have to accept your fate. In Titanfall when a Titan starts shooting at me, I just use my cloak, do some Parkour wizardry and jump across a bunch of different walls and roofs to end up on the back of the Titan and kill it. Sometimes that works, other times the Pilot will jump out and kill me or use it’s electric smoke or whatever other special weapon it may have. It’s a constant game of skills, chance and wits, which I love. You never know what is going to happen in Titanfall and of the few hours I have played, I am very happy with the gameplay in general.
What I think the game needed
Obviously every game needs to have room for improvement otherwise they will never sell a sequel copy but there are some things that I think Titanfall really needed and that would have made it my favorite game. The thing that Titanfall does best is be refreshingly new. We’ve seen a few attempts at game changing before but nothing like Titanfall has stuck so well. Without a doubt this is a new heavy hitter franchise and I look forward to DLC and upcoming installments. Titanfall is something that the game industry needed so desperately, something new, something different and that’s why it’s my favourite game right now. Easy to learn, easy to play, difficult to master. That is the formula for a truly great game and Titanfall nails that perfectly. Where it falls short is in the limited amount of content within the game itself.
Nowadays with any FPS you pay $100 for, you expect to get a single player campaign, co-op mode, online multiplayer with various game modes and some kind of horde/wave survival mode. Titanfall only really has online multiplayer with only a handful of modes that honestly aren’t that compelling. While I did play all the modes, I kept finding myself going back to Attrition just because it’s the staple food of the game and the easiest to find a match for. The other game modes are fun to mix it up every once in a while but I suspect I am not the only person that felt a bit jipped with the less than Titan-sized lineup of modes. I would have loved to have seen some kind of co-op horde mode where you face off with your friends against wave after wave of Titans and enemy foot soldiers. They could have had CoD MW3 style package and perk drops along with the Titanfall. It could have been a great way to extend the game beyond the main mode and also provide bragging rights after surviving 20 Titans attacking at once. Hopefully they bring something similar like this in a future update or DLC.
Another thing I feel a bit let down about is the lack of interactivity in the environments. You have these epic set pieces with all these crazy things happening around you but you can’t interact with anything? I would have loved to be able to set a massive trap for an unsuspecting Titan to walk through and suddenly have it be crushed by some loose debris that I had to free run up to and shoot at the right time. I definitely think that given the scale of the maps and all the things that happen around you while you’re playing, that there should be a least some element of environmental interaction but I think this is something they are keeping safe for Titanfall 2. My last complaint is vehicles/map weapons, or the lack of. I already said there isn’t a huge amount of weapons but even worse than that there isn’t any in-map weapons. In games like Halo, CoD and BF you can run up to a mounted machine gun a go all Rambo on the enemy until you get picked off by a sniper, in some games you can even pull the turret off and run around with it. In Titanfall there are no weapons around the maps (that I have played or found) and that kind of takes away from the feeling that you are in a war zone that has been ruined by many years of battle. It’s a bit of a let down but not a deal breaker, even without these weapons selling you a pre-story, the gameplay and weapons that are provided allow for plenty of destruction. With the vehicles however, I am extremely let down. I would love to be driving around a map in a jeep with my buddy on a turret, weaving in and out of the giant feet of the TItans. You could drive right up to a Titan and get their attention, only to lure them back to where half your team is waiting with their Titans to blow them to smithereens. I feel like the Titans are great but it would have been nice to include some smaller vehicles to offset the sheer size of them. Small one man aircraft or little ATV’s would have been an amazing inclusion to the game and would have made it just that much more playable.
While I say these things, I should be clear that I still love the game but if I had to choose some things that could be improved upon, game modes, vehicles, environmental interaction and weapons along with more weapons to choose from would have made this game go from great to flawless. It is still an excellent first installment in a series which I am sure will redefine gaming and have many more sequels to follow. The future is definitely bright for this series.
I have made a video of one round of Attrition which you can view below, it was mainly just to go along with this article so you can all see what I am talking about. There is also a video review which IGN did which I thought I should post for a more in-depth review of the game. I will have a part 2 to this article which will wrap up my thoughts on Titanfall after I have played it for a bit longer. I hope you enjoyed the article and if you’re still asking “should I buy Titanfall?” The answer is yes!
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