Titanfall was released in March of 2014 on Xbox consoles and PC to much fervor. EA promoted the game as the next big thing in online gaming. The game had a huge media push and a massive open beta, played by 2 million people. Then it came out and the hype fizzled out quickly, the player base dropped and people moved on. I recently came into possession of an Xbox One and an EA Access subscription and I cannot possibly imagine why people quit.
Titanfall is at its core a simple Call of Duty-like twitch-based first person shooter (which is to be expected somewhat, as it is mostly made by ex-Call of Duty developers) but with three simple additions to the base mechanics that drive the experience to something higher (to the point where the most recent Call of Duty has completely aped two of them). The first of these three additions is wall running, which gives an amazing feel of momentum that may have ruined other, slower FPS games such as Battlefront for me forever. The second is the double jump, which works to accentuate what the wall run does for the game’s fluidity. The third and most obvious addition is the game’s big selling point. The titan. The titan is a giant, but quite fast mech the player takes control of, usually about 3 minutes into a match. It strikes the perfect balance between the more grounded designs of western mechs in sci-fi and the extravagant swiftness of the Japanese mecha designs you would see in anime such as Gundam or Gurren Lagann. These titans are satisfying to use and make you feel empowered without breaking the game’s balance in the slightest. The titans have the clear advantage in firepower but one of the most satisfying things in the game is the rodeo attack, in which you jump on the back of a titan, rip a panel off and start shooting up its insides.
Another triumph of balance is my favourite weapon in the game. The Smart Pistol Mk5. The weapon is a standard pistol but it, after a short time, automatically locks onto any target within a certain distance, even locking onto multiple at once. Hearing this may make you think it is a gamebreaker, surely a weapon you do not need to aim surpasses all the others but no, the lock on is fast enough to be viable, but just slow enough to keep it reasonable. The weapon feels clinical, like a precision instrument. You feel ruthlessly efficient using it. Every time the right trigger goes down you feel like a cold, calculating machine. And as all this is happening, you stop running for maybe a second to shoot before getting back to building momentum. The game has a tremendous pace. Life is short, death is fast, both are tremendously exciting. Titanfall is the first time since Battlefield 3 I have felt the desire to go back and play more of an FPS and I’ve missed it.
It does have some negatives. The lack of any offline gameplay is irritating. Even a Battlefront 2 style Galactic Conquest bot match would’ve sufficed. I am also lead to believe there wasn’t much content at launch, but this has become less of a problem as all the post-launch DLC is now free and pretty much mandatory unless you want to play nothing but private games.
Overall, Titanfall is a fantastic game everyone should play. It has dropped in price immensely since launch and I desperately hope the multiplatform sequel picks up more traction. It brought a new take on a genre that has grown entirely stagnatory.