Is Titanfall the Next Best First Person Shooter?
Gentlemen, sometimes the urge comes over us to run along walls with futuristic guns and jump into huge mechanic death machines to rain down destruction on any and all around us. Unfortunately, such actions are both highly frowned upon and rather expensive – have you seen the price of huge humanoid death machines these days. Fortunately there is an alternative, with the release of Xbox’s Titanfall. But is it as groundbreaking as we have been led to believe or just a rehash of the same first person shooter genre?
The original Xbox brought us Halo; the Xbox 360 introduced Gears of War and now the Xbox One hopes Titanfall can follow in the footsteps of these monster Microsoft exclusive shooters. The science-fiction, first person shooter (FPS) based around free running ‘pilots’ and giant mechanical ‘titans’ has been the talk of the gaming world, with FPS fanatics labelling it ‘the Call Of Duty killer’ long before they had got their hands on it. Needless to say, the hype surrounding this game was at fever pitch before its March 14th release date. Now that the game has been out for a couple weeks and the Northampton Gent team has had the opportunity to rack up an impressive 55 hours of playing time, we feel we’re capable of answering the big question, “Is the hype real?” In order to fully assess how impactful Titanfall is on the FPS genre and the Xbox One console, we will analyse the game on its campaign, multiplayer/matchmaking, customisation, balance and importantly longevity.
Set in the future, Titanfall centres on parkour soldiers, piloted humanoid mecha (much like in the movie Pacific Rim) and dragons (yes, dragons!) who battle it out on war torn planets. Being one of the Xbox One’s largest titles to have been released since the consoles launch, you would expect Titanfall’s campaign to be unlike anything else that has preceded it; and it is, just not in a good way. Titanfall’s ‘campaign’ (if you can call it that) is essentially nine online multiplayer matches where players are either on the side of the ‘Militia’ or the ‘Interstellar Manufacturing Company’; two factions at war with each other. How the campaign works is during the loading screen and throughout the match, radio messages are transmitted to the player detailing the storyline and objectives. There are two game types played in the nine matches; ‘Attrition’, which is essentailly kill everything (A.I. robots included) and ‘Hardpoint Domination’, which involves capturing and securing three different areas on the map. Regardless of whether you win or lose, the story stays the same, making the gameplay feel somewhat pointless because you cannot alter the end result. This means that following an irrelevant four hours of gameplay, you will be left saying to yourself “is that it?” With past Microsoft exclusive shooters such as Halo and Gears Of War, it was the main characters of Master Chief and Marcus Fenix that added an emotional connection between the gamer and the game, which made them so immersive and turned them into such long lasting and successful franchises, Titanfall is missing this key protagonist in the plot for the player to connect to and suffers massively because of it.
The first thing you’ll notice about the matchmaking experience is a friendly and attractive user interface; it clearly shows the map, game type and the gamertags of the twelve players in the game (six vs. six). Game types consist of: Attrition, Hardpoint Domination, Capture the Flag, Pilot Hunter, Last Titan Standing and Variety Pack which is a mix of all the aforementioned game types. Attrition and Pilot Hunter are your typical slayer game types and Hardpoint Domination and Capture the Flag are classic gametypes that have been around since the dawn of the FPS genre. The newest and most refreshing game type is Last Titan Standing, where each player starts in a Titan and only has one life with the goal of eliminating the enemy team; it creates some truly intense moments. Although the game types are not original, Titanfall is such a fresh and creative take on the FPS that it offers a different and enjoyable experience. What is not enjoyable however is entering a match half way through or even at the end of the game. The joining in progress parameters need to be adjusted so this can be avoided. Another flaw is one that can be said about most FPS games in recent years, and that is that skill ranks need to be introduced to avoid players and teams being decisively dominated as well. By having such ranks and linking them to objectives, it would also stop the dreaded ‘camper’, sitting in corners and laying in wait by encouraging them to play the objective. Overall the multiplayer does have some aspects which could be improved but regardless is still one of the more refreshing and exciting experiences available in the gaming world at the moment.
In a game where you have a combination of giant mechs with giant guns and comparably smaller pilots with comparably smaller guns, the balance of the multiplayer experience has to be questioned. The folks at Respawn Entertainment however did an amazing job of creating a balanced and fair multiplayer experience. All of the guns in Titanfall, whether pilot operated or titan operated have their pros and cons, giving all of them a purpose and making none of them overpowered. The tactical abilities of each pilot and titan also have their benefits and disadvantages over the others, with the only overpowered ability being ‘cloaking’ which is used by pilot’s to temporally go invisible. Although this ability is slightly overpowered, it’s not game breaking and simply means you have to enter each room with extreme caution. As far as battles between pilots and titans are concerned, it is no surprise that a giant mechanical robot is going to have the advantage; however the creators have managed to craft the playing experience in such a way as to greatly reduce this advantage. Each pilot is equipped with an anti-titan weapon capable of inflicting serious damage to titans and by thinking tactically, the Titan is at times at a disadvantage. After extensive hours of playing, it is plain to see that Respawn did a great job of covering all the angles to ensure nothing greatly tipped the balance in favour of one aspect of the multiplayer experience. The team are also already rolling out updates to address any potentially game breaking scenarios which may have crept in to ensure the game remains as fair and enjoyable as possible.
Customisation within shooters has become a big deal. The last couple of Halo titles had collectable and interchangeable armour whilst the latest Call of Duty had character customisation from clothes to weapon skins. In comparison, Titanfall offers very little customisation; in fact the only thing you can change is whether you are a male of female and depending on what weapon class you choose will determine how your character will look. There is no Titan customisation which is unfortunate as it could have been a cool feature and made the experience more personal. Imagine killing the same person three consecutive times and the last thing they see if your Titan covered in personalised colours and emblems. Or the fear as they see you approaching for a fourth kill. Respawn dropped the ball with the lack of customisation and it may hurt the game in the long run.
Respawn Entertainment are not the biggest development company and therefore it is highly unlikely they will take the Call of Duty approach and release a new game every year, (at least not yet that is) so creating a game built to last is important. No matter how fun a game is (and this game is incredibly fun) there becomes a certain point where the gameplay simply is not enough to keep you interested; there has to be other incentives. The regeneration system is incredibly short compared to the Call of Duty Ghosts prestige system and because there are no skill ranks, the feeling of needing to continuously play after the novelty has worn off is not there. There are few unlockables and collectables compared to its competitors and the achievements are relatively easy to achieve. With new FPS titles around the corner such as Destiny, Halo 5, a rumoured Halo 2 anniversary and an inevitable, new Call of Duty, we fear Titanfall will not stand the test of time despite how revolutionary the game is. With the conformation of a sequel, we hope Respawn and EA pay greater attention to detail and build a longer lasting experience.
Overall Score = 28/50
The game is undoubtedly exciting and entertaining. The gameplay is smooth, with the free running system working seamlessly in battle. It is fast paced, action packed and gets the adrenaline racing from the very beginning. It is unfortunate that the gameplay is let down by the lack of variation and longevity which means this game does have a shelf life.
With all that said, how many hours of Titanfall have you racked up?
Do you see yourselves playing this game a year from now?
Is it the ‘Call Of Duty killer’?
Let us know your thoughts below