When I first caught a glimpse of Titanfall in motion at last year's E3 conference, I was floored. The game blew me away as it promised to revolutionize multiplayer.
It's hard to say that I've been let down by this one, because I really haven't. Certainly, Titanfall has changed up multiplayer shooters for the better. I wouldn't call it a "revolution" quite like others have, but it is a darn good time.
In some ways, it's completely worthy of the hype its generated. It's easily one of the best titles on the Xbox One, it performed relatively admirably under the weight of launch week (those first few days were rough), it's already generated a ton of fun for several of us on the TechnoBuffalo staff and, at least for me, it's taken away any minor itch I had remaining for Call of Duty.
In that regard, Titanfall is exactly what Activision didn't want to see from the former Infinity Ward crowd. I'll be really interested to see what this franchise, combined with the growing, albeit stalled, popularity of Battlefield, does to Activision's yearly blockbuster this fall.
Titanfall isn't the best shooter I've ever played, though it's a lot of fun. It doesn't come as a nearly perfect package, and I'd even argue that maybe it was priced a bit too high at $60, something I really haven't seen from other critics surrounding this game.
Is this new shooter worth your time and scratch?
Breaking Up the Basics
By now, we all know what Titanfall brings to the table that makes it so interesting. This multiplayer shooter features Pilots on the ground, AI controlled grunts and spectres, giant mechs called Titans and combat between all entities.
The Pilots are your human controlled players. Imagine the characters in Call of Duty if they were equipped with jetpacks, unique special features like cloaking and the ability to run on walls and double jump. All of those elements bring completely new gameplay dynamics to the field of battle.
Pilots are the most agile players I've ever seen in a multiplayer shooter. Their movements are a blast to experience, and I feel that their ability to whip about the environment is the best deterrent to camping ever in an FPS. Why park it in a corner when you can be dashing across walls and leaping through the air from building to building?
Then there are the Titans. By introducing controllable mechs to the fray, Respawn created this really interesting multi-vantage battle system. Pilot on Pilot, Pilot on Titan and Titan on Titan. Those three scenarios play out constantly in this game, and they only get more complicated and fun when you add the aforementioned parkour action to the mix.
Titans are large, formidable characters. Piloting them makes you feel huge and powerful, but it also makes you feel extremely vulnerable. As Pilots engage you from nearly unseen points, you feel like a slow beast being brought down by an army of ants.
That exhilaration is practically doubled when you fill the boots of the Pilots going after one or several Titans. Just because you're small and underarmed doesn't mean you're dead. You can cloak past them, dodge their shots with your speed, bring them down with your Anti-Titan weapons or climb on top of their robotic heads, rip them open and blow their innards to shreds.
Every big move has a counter, and every counter has an equally interesting counter. In this regard, Respawn deserves a huge salute for their ability to introduce completely unique gameplay mechanics into a severely wrote formula while still being able to maintain a strong sense of balance.
In the opening week of play, nothing in the game feels incredibly cheap. Sure, the Smart Pistol that auto-locks onto players is a bit lame, but the higher up I got in level, the less I saw it in use. Whenever friends of mine tried it, they often found that the time it takes to lock-on and use is long enough to balance out its benefits. I wasn't really a fan, only because there's more interesting equipment available.
A Not So Valuable "Campaign"
Let me quickly point out that I'm the type of gamer who really enjoys a great story. When a game presents an environment and setup that's potentially as engaging as the one we see here in Titanfall, anything short of interesting might as well be a failure.
Respawn created settings with giant mechs, pilots wearing jetpacks, a struggle for resources, enormous dinosaur-looking beasts in the backgrounds and flying dragons. There's an engaging story here, I think, but Respawn never presents it.
The Campaign Multiplayer Mode is essentially nine maps repeated twice from different teams. The Militia gets a turn, then the IMC. In between each map, you'll hear an audio log from one of the big leaders. Then you'll fight.
During the fight, typically with bookends or more audio logs, you'll catch snippets of story from the major characters on the field of battle. Unfortunately, a lot of it happens while you're in the middle of trying to blow up an enemy Titan or getting shot to death yourself, so you literally can't even hear the storyline if you try.
When the story does try to present itself, it comes off as little more than Team A vs Team B with you somewhere in the middle. Any "epic moment" feels forced and silly, and the "campaign," or whatever, is hardly tangible.
It's 18 maps of play. That's it. 18 maps of play with a few interesting moments between NPCs. To even label it a Campaign is silly because it's the exact same thing as the main multiplayer only it's a set playlist that features audio. That's it.
Yeah, you didn't buy this thing for the campaign, and Respawn acknowledges that by producing an exceptionally cheap effort. It's because of that, and the overall package volume, that I started to question the value of Titanfall.
60 Bucks Might Be Too Much
At $60, you're getting a barely "Campaign," 15 multiplayer maps, five gameplay modes and basically 10 primary weapons.
I don't know, maybe I represent an aging generation of gamer that grew up on stuff like the original Counter-Strike and its offspring. There are games checking in today at $20 and $30 that deliver more content than what you see in Titanfall.
Sure, if you buy the game and get 30 hours out of the multiplayer, spending $2 per hour really isn't a rip off at all. I'm not suggesting that fans of Titanfall will be saddened by the price point.
I'm saying that for folks who expect full-fledged campaigns from their shooters alongside the other content, this one will certainly be a disappointment. If Respawn cut the campaign entirely and sold this for $40, I don't think I'd have an ounce of complaint in me.
But, to say the game features a story is a bit much. To let that story influence the price? Yeah, for those looking at this game as a complete package with a campaign, second guess your purchase. For everyone else, dig in.
A Promising New Shooter
It isn't the completely revolutionary game changer some thought it would be, but it's certainly a huge shot in the arm for the genre.
Titanfall is a great game. Xbox One owners especially have something to be excited for with this one. If and when EA takes the Microsoft platform exclusivity away, the whole world of gamers will have another amazing shooter to tool around with in future entries.
I had a hard time with the campaign and total amount of content below the $60 price tag. It's hard to decide what's valuable for each individual gamer, so keep that in mind when you consider my review. If you don't care at all about campaigns in shooters and are used to dropping $60 to only play the multiplayer side of a title, you'll be fine.
For those who value story as a big pillar of your purchase? Slow down, maybe wait for a price drop. It'll come, I'm sure of that, and the community likely won't have wanned by the time that it happens.
Respawn should be applauded for their ability to create a really engaging and unique multiplayer shooter that shakes up the world of FPS combat enough to deliver excitement. It isn't the completely revolutionary game changer some thought it would be, but it's certainly a huge shot in the arm for the genre.
I've been having fun, and for most of us that's enough to say this game is great.