Version Tested: PC
Titanfall is Respawn Entertainment’s first foray into the online shooter arena since their formation after the huge breakup at Infinity Ward several years ago. Hoping to carve out a space in the FPS for themselves, can giant mechs and the addition of A.I opponents to a traditionally player vs player environment will help set the game apart? Titanfall may be a year and a half old now but with the season’s pass going free to celebrate the game’s one year anniversary now might be the perfect time to hop into a titan.
As with most other modern shooters your primary method of transportation in Titanfall are your own two feet. You’ll spend a substantial amount of time gunning down other players on foot as you wait for your Titan to finish construction. What makes the on foot combat much more interesting than say Battlefield or Call of Duty are the thruster packs that come pre-equipped on your characters. This allows for added mobility such as the ability to wall-run along the sides of building or evade pursuit by double jumping onto a nearby roof or dashing forward in hopes of losing the enemies pursuing you. This puts an emphasis on vertical combat and thankfully the level designers and artists have given players a lot to play with in that regard.
The ability to move around the map freely is a great addition but in a warzone you are only as effective as your weapon of choice. Titanfall offers pilots ten primary weapons each with their own attachments and modifications that are tied to your pilot level (which is leveled up through accruing XP from kills and completed matches). Ten different weapons is a far cry from the dozens upon dozens of weapons offered in other games like Call of Duty; but Respawn Entertainment has ensured that each one lends itself to a different play style. Pilots looking for medium range but effective stopping power might chose the Longbow-DMR with its built in scope but small clip size while those who prize stealth might go for the Smart Pistol with its auto-lock on ability. During my ten hours or so with the game I experimented with a lot of different weapons and found that the smart pistol offered a sizeable advantage if you are willing to sneak around corners and be wary of your surroundings. If you are more of the run & gun type the obvious choices would be something like the R-101C Carbine or Spitfire LMG (Large Machine Gun) if you want something with a bit more flash.
You can find ground based combat in any number of FPS games on the market today but one thing you won’t find is giant fucking robots and this is one the areas where Titanfall truly shines. By giving every player access to the giant mechs regardless of player level or load out gives every player a sense of a fair shot. When a match begins (or you respawn) your titan will be on a 2 minute “construction cool down”. Once your titan has finished construction you can press down on the d-pad at any time to have your titan launched from orbit onto the battlefield. Once you’ve boarded your titan you are able to unleash absolute hell on your opponents- whether it’s using shoulder mounted rocket launchers, chainguns or large rifles there are a number of tools of destruction at your disposal. Just because you are a 200 foot tall mech doesn’t mean that you are invincible, each Pilot is equipped with an anti-titan rocket launcher and they can even latch onto your mech and shutdown its computer systems shutting down your navigation and weapon displays. Of course you always have the option to play Rock’em Sock’em robots with other titans or squish soldiers using your mech’s feet, both of these can sometimes be more satisfying than your titan’s arsenal of weapons.
As you may have noticed when describing the content nowhere did I mention Call of Duty like perks that given your pilot additional abilities. Instead of going the safe route and including perks that tie to your pilot level you are awarded “burn cards” with each advance in ranks. Burn cards are collectable, one time use, advantages that you can employ either at the start of a match or when respawning. These advantages can range from shorter titan construction times, to enhanced weapons with thermal scopes to faster parkour skills. Burn cards add another layer of strategy to Titanfall not seen in many modern shooters, choosing what burn cards to bring into battle and when to use them can really turn the tide of a match. As you complete matches you earn credits that can be used to purchase booster packs of random burn cards or single cards from a small selection on the black market. Did you happen to pull three duplicates of an advanced weapon in your last pack? Simply sell them on the black market and flip them around for a power-up you’ll actually use. Exploring and collecting the burn cards adds a layer of depth to Titanfall that I honestly wasn’t expecting and burn cards will certainly appeal to anyone that has played TCGs in the past.
Battles in Titanfall are fast paced, fun and each game is a little bit different even if you are familiar with all of the maps. What Titanfall lacks in terms of unlockable stashes of weapons it makes up for with unique elements like vertical parkour and the ever addicting burn cards to help keep you coming back for more. Watching your Titan fall from the sky and unloading volleys of rockets on the competition is extremely fun and rarely gets old. Even though the game is almost a year and a half old and the player base has shrunk considerably (about 3,000 players online during peak hours at the time of writing) it is still a great value for $20 and the fact that Respawn has included all of the game’s DLC for free makes the deal even sweeter. Here’s hoping they can improve upon this winning formula with their next game.. PREPARE FOR TITANFALL