Doom. GoldenEye. Halo. Call of Duty.
Since its early days, the first-person shooter genre has been through multiple evolutions. Doom really made the genre worth talking about, and ingrained itself into pop culture forever. GoldenEye remains one of the most popular multiplayer shooters of all time, and Halo revolutionized how FPS games were played on consoles. The Call of Duty franchise, which was created by some of the same minds behind Titanfall by the way, has absolutely dominated the FPS market for the last gaming generation, hitting numerous hallmarks, from Call of Duty 2 being a huge part of the successful Xbox 360 launch to Call of Duty 4 changing the face of online gaming forever. Now Respawn Entertainment, a studio created by old Infinity Ward developers, has given us the next step for the first-person shooter genre: Titanfall.
Titanfall’s debut at last year’s E3 gave the game an enormous amount of hype. Microsoft used Titanfall to cap off its E3 presentation, and after seeing the game in action, I immediately went to GameStop to pre-order an Xbox One. Titanfall is the trump card for the early days of the Xbox One system, and the bragging point that many Xbox One users are using against the PlayStation faithful. Is Titanfall good enough to warrant the purchase of an Xbox One? Absolutely.
Titanfall is an endless sequence of badass moments. The game is fast-paced and intense, and it provides a wide variety of styles to experiment with in the games. Players bounce between running on foot as pilots to piloting extremely powerful mechs called titans in a seamless fashion. Epic moments such as running across walls, using a jetpack to boost up to a roof across a street, and then blasting an enemy pilot in the face with shotgun are common.
Imagine the intensity of the Call of Duty multiplayer, but dialed up by a thousand. Titanfall’s multiplayer is extremely satisfying, challenging, and an absolute thrill from the beginning of the match to the end of the match. The liberal use of bots in the matches keep things interesting constantly, so there’s no running around the map looking for other players. In Titanfall, players are constantly doing something. There’s no downtime. There’s always something to do, and because of that, Titanfall is never boring.
The main game mode in Titanfall is called Attrition. It is a type of Team Deathmatch where players can earn points for their team by killing pilots (enemies controlled by real world players), titans, and the various bots. Killing pilots and titans is worth the most points, whereas killing the bots is worth less points but is still a vital part of the equation for a number of reasons.
For example, killing the bots can result in players earning the right to call in their titan quicker than usual. There’s also plenty of XP to gain from killing the bots. The bots themselves come in two different flavors. There’s Grunts, which are generic, kind of dumb enemy soldiers, and then there’s the Spectres. The Spectres are robots, and they are mainly in place to fight titans.
The bots are indeed dumb, but that is by design. I think it’s kind of goofy, however, to find a couple of bots on an opposing team just chilling out in buildings and waiting for you or someone else to run by to then battle each other in a canned fight animation. It’s kind of neat at first, but it starts to turn goofy about the millionth time.
Attrition is a fantastic game mode and incredibly addicting. Another mode in Titanfall that I love is Last Titan Standing. In this game mode, all players spawn in their titan. The round ends when every player on a team loses their titan. This mode has a lot more strategy and requires much more teamwork. It’s fantastic and it provides a nice change of pace from Attrition, slowing things down and resulting in close, personal, brutal encounters.
The other game modes are somewhat disappointing. There’s the usual inclusions of Capture the Flag and Hardpoint Domination. They’re fine. They’re more entertaining in Titanfall than most FPS games simply because the core gameplay in Titanfall is so fantastic, but they’re still just added for fluff purposes.
Meanwhile, there are other modes that I really miss that would’ve put Titanfall over the edge and would’ve made it a possible 10/10 game. For one, I’d like a true campaign mode. The “campaign mode” here is just a sequence of multiplayer matches, with a very thin and very cliche story thrown in.
Respawn said that the reason Titanfall lacks a true campaign mode is because players don’t want campaign modes. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We love campaigns. They help build the universe and the characters in a way that just can’t be done in multiplayer, as illustrated by the weak attempt we see in Titanfall. And this is especially disappointing considering the people at Respawn are behind some of the best FPS campaigns of all time.
It’s true that the new Infinity Ward consistently botches the Call of Duty campaign, but back in the day, when the Respawn talent worked there, the Call of Duty campaigns were a sight to behold. Call of Duty, Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 4, Modern Warfare 2…all of these games provide exciting campaigns that exemplify the gameplay mechanics perfectly.
I’d love to see the gameplay mechanics at work in the Titanfall multiplayer reworked into a single player experience, and Titanfall honestly doesn’t feel fully complete without a true campaign mode.
Another mode I really want is a Horde Mode of some sort, with the ability to set the bots at different difficulty settings.
In the meantime, Titanfall is a game that lacks any offline modes whatsoever, which proved to be a bit problematic when the game first launched. There were issues with the Xbox Live servers, and most players were completely unable to play Titanfall for the first 24 hours or so that the game was available. Gaming companies are pushing the idea of all digital pretty hard, but it is apparent to me that the world is simply not ready for everything to be all digital, and I don’t think we will be for many years yet to come.
I’m disappointed at the lack of split-screen options, just as I am disappointed at the lack of a campaign. Titanfall is one of those games that will be played for many years to come, so my usual argument that the game’s servers will go down and players will lose access to the content forever doesn’t really apply. Yes, Titanfall’s servers will likely go down completely one day down the road, but that is easily a decade away at the very least.
Titanfall also has a disappointing graphical presentation. The sound design is fantastic, but the graphics side of the presentation coin is lacking. Visually, Titanfall does not look like an eighth generation game. The draw distance is really impressive and the game runs like butter (when it isn’t hit with a random bout of lag, though this is uncommon and rarely a problem), but the detail in the textures and the like does not take full advantage of the Xbox One hardware and it honestly doesn’t even come close.
So yeah, Titanfall is plenty flawed…yet at the same time, it still feels like a true evolution of the FPS genre. The core gameplay is so tight, so fluid, so unbelievably fun that it is easy to look past its flaws and appreciate it for the pure artistry that is at work under the hood. This first Titanfall is a gaming achievement, and the foundation is set for a potential sequel to really hit it out of the park if Respawn addresses the issues that this first attempt has. Titanfall is the next evolution of FPS despite its issues, and it’s an absolute must play for all gamers. Standby for Titanfall.
Tested on Xbox One. Final Score: 9/10