In today’s day and age, across all platforms, it’s fair to say that there are probably too many first-person shooter games. More precisely, there are so many of them around that it is hard to get excited about an FPS game anymore.
Once in a few years, something exceptional like BioShock Infinite comes along, but it is the odd exception in an otherwise tired genre of games. The endless Call of Duty games featuring the same-old cinematic action with little gameplay, the Battlefield series of games with their stellar graphics but not much else and many others like them have saturated the FPS genre. Therefore, when something comes along that truly innovates the first-person shooter, it is something to watch out for. The early previews of Titanfall indicated that there was some light at the end of the tunnel. Its blend of mech-fighting coupled with parkour inspired movements looked fresh and more importantly, fun. While it seemed to be another shooter set in a futuristic military setting, it approached its environment differently. And now that the game has finally hit shelves, it’s pleasing to note that the game delivers on its promise.
The Quick & Dirty:
If you’ve played old-school multiplayer shooters like Quake or Unreal Tournament, you might find it a bit difficult at first to adjust to the physics of Titanfall. When you’ve got hyper-agile players performing jumps and maneuvers that would make Damien Walters proud, it’s hard not to get a little overwhelmed. However, much like real life, there is no better place to learn the art of war than the battlefield itself. While the tutorials the game presents will give you a primer into the basic movement and combat concepts such as controlling a titan and wall-running, you will only get truly comfortable with these mechanics once you enter actual combat. Pretty soon, you’ll also be scaling walls and jumping into mechs, blowing away your enemies, all in a fluid series of movements.
There are some interesting weapon choices available in Titanfall, one of which is the smart pistol. If your enemies spend enough time in the confines of your crosshair, you can target and lock on to multiple foes and deliver killing blows to them at once. This is a good strategy for punishing campers if you know where they’ve been hiding in the map. Against a mobile enemy however, the smart pistol is no good, and you’ll have to use some other weapons that allow you to be more mobile around the battlefield. Most of the game modes have AI opponents spawning across the map, and you can use them to gain some precious experience points that will help you to unlock more powerful guns, and increase your deadliness with your existing set of weapons.
In addition, Titanfall features ‘burn cards’ which are temporary powerups that enhance your abilities for a finite amount of time. These cards can increase your damage, increase your levels in a certain skill set, or reduce cooldowns for various abilities. You will receive burn cards at the end of most rounds, and since you only have so many inventory slots, it’s better to use them frequently than to hoard them and miss out on other stuff. You will have to figure out the right moment to use your cards so that you can turn a potentially dangerous situation to your advantage. Landing a kill-streak at the correct time can mean the difference between second or third place and winning a match. These cards also temporarily allow you to use abilities and guns that are beyond your current skill level, so use them well.
The Game Play:
Once you have figured out the different ways that battle plays out in Titanfall, you can really start to excel in the multiplayer modes. Most of the modes are immediately familiar if you’ve played online shooters before. You have Capture the Flag, Hardpoint Domination (which will remind you of Unreal Tournament) where you have to capture and hold specific points on the map, and also all out kill-fest modes like Attrition and Pilot Hunter. Both of the latter modes are similar, but with one major difference. Pilot Hunter doesn’t grant you any points for killing Titans, which means that you have to pick your battles wisely, and you have to use your Titans more defensively than you normally would. Attrition is where Titanfall truly shines, and switching to and from Titans to pilots, trying to kill as many enemies as you can across the map is a lot of fun. Pilots are more agile, and Titans are more powerful, so you have to pick the right moments when you want to be piloting a Titan. There’s another mode called Last Titan Standing, which basically is an elimination battle that pits two teams of Titans against each other over four rounds, where the objective of each round is to kill all the players on the opposite team.
Map awareness is key, as is the case in all competitive multiplayer shooters. Knowing the right cover spots and the fastest way to get from location A to B can create frag opportunities as well as escapes. You have to keep moving and shooting if you want to win. When you’re in a Titan, however, you can no longer perform agile jumps and wall-runs, so you have more firepower at your disposal at the cost of low mobility. You aren’t a simple lumbering target however, because Titans are capable of performing short dashes to escape enemy fire or move into and out of cover positions. You can also use your Vortex Shield which allows you to redirect enemy fire. This is an exciting ability that creates a lot of entertaining situations during matches.
Titanfall breathes new life into the multiplayer first person shooter. On the Xbox One, the graphics look amazing, with detailed mechs, fantastic draw distances, billows of smoke, gunfire and explosions. It builds on what has become commonplace in the online shooter arena and adds its own twists that make it feel fresh and exciting. Piloting Titans is tremendous fun, and when you’re on foot, watching your character move around the map like Prince of Persia is entertaining. While the lack of a meaty single-player experience might turn off some players, this is a game that is meant to be played online. Without a doubt, this is the best multiplayer shooter to have graced any platform in a long, long time.