Geek Review: Titanfall

Titanfall is indeed one of those games that comes along with the intention to blow its current competition out of the water. We’ve come a long way since Doom; from a single player only game, we’ve now evolved to the point where multiplayer is king. It is definitely more satisfying to crush another human as opposed to grinding the AI to dust. Respawn Entertainment with their massively anticipated FPS, strives to innovate and improve the genre that they had defined in recent years.

The big mech falls from the sky

Since the days of Mechwarrior, I’ve always been captivated by being able to pilot a giant robot and reign destruction on small puny humans plus go toe-to-toe with other similar oversized robots. With Titanfall, this is the perfect concept in lieu of an updated Mechwarrior. Summoning your own personal Titan is the reward for doing well in a match; the more enemies taken out by your hand shortens the time needed to call down the personal war machine.

This is where is all falls apart.

The Titan is weak. While it might be a balance issue, a single Titan does not make a big difference on the battlefield. Since the last time I’ve logged on, players have come to realize this and tend to summon all their Titans in at once to tip the scales on the battlefield. One Titan on the field is a sitting duck, but with six, that’s where it gets really sticky for the opposing team. This is a great example of emergent gameplay. Getting into a Titan does give you an aura of invincibility except it’s really not the case. A single human Pilot (game term for human controlled character) would be able take out a Titan by himself rather easily.

More often than not, piloting a Titan is similar to that of a roller coaster – too long a wait for too short of a thrill.

While the Titan has ways to deal with their short longevity, the ease at which a solo Titan can be taken out is a killjoy for a game whose biggest draw has to be duking it out in giant mechs. In my playthrough, I’ve estimated that the most an individual would be able to summon a Titan would be roughly two to three times per round. Skilled Titan pilots would likely stay within their first Titan from start to finish.

Each game round is far too short to get a good feel of being able to figure out the nuances of the abilities of the Titan and how your loadout choices actually matter on the battlefield. It’s really quite a hit-and-miss for Titanfall‘s biggest feature.

Perfecting the FPS formula

While piloting the Titan was really underwhelming, the core FPS portion of the game of playing as a Pilot is where Titanfall really shines. The game retains much of what Call of Duty was famed for such as solid controls and amazing weapon design. With the new addition to parkour to the mix, Titanfall is reaching towards to place where Team Fortress 2, Quake and Call of Duty collide.

Titanfall is the game Brink should have been.

The parkour system is amazing. I foresee that we would see plenty of tricks that players will discover how to get the most out of the system. As of writing, many individuals are still contented in travelling around the map purely by foot but I’ve seen a sniper head up to an insanely high vantage point to pick players off (myself included). The parkour systems adds a good layer of strategy to avoid incoming fire and helping you get into the perfect position to make a kill.

Get high and rain death down

As with all FPS-es with a leveling system, it was a great pleasure unlocking all the weapons and understanding how each attachment modified the gameplay. While we do have the usual shotgun, short to medium automatic weapons and sniper rifles, the feel of each weapon is distinct from each other. It might sound like a trivial thing but not many developers are able to nail down the differentiating factors for in-game weapons.

The smart pistol in Titanfall deserves a special mention. The smart pistol could be called a clutch weapon as it helps players lock on to opponents and once it has been established, simply click the fire button to clear a crowd of enemies. Plenty of fun to use and a great way to ease FPS novices into the genre.

Instead of relying on a myriad of passive perks, Titanfall tosses things up by introducing Burn cards. These cards add an additional depth to the game by upgrading existing weaponry to a higher level. I like the fact that it expires on death and allows the player to tactically mix things up by bringing in bigger boosts at opportune moments in a round to potentially turn the tide.

Plenty of toys to play with but you may only bring three to a round

A time to kill

Titanfall features rather well designed maps to accommodate both Titan and Pilot but because of how fragile each role is, there simply isn’t enough time to fully grasp the various routes offered in a map.

The time to kill (TTK) an opponent is far too low for my liking. I’m convinced that the individual who pulls the trigger first would certainly win a duel. Low TTK ratio is great as it contributes to very fast gameplay but I strongly feel that Titan fall could do with a higher TTK ratio simply because it would lead to much more tactical depth and more interesting gunplay.

A high time-to-kill means it is harder to solo mow down multiple people based on luck and encourages teamplay as if you have more people means you have a higher chance of survival. High TTK also means you have more leeway to approach an objective in objective based game modes. With only six human players per side in Titanfall, shouldn’t be the emphasis of teamwork be even higher?

Each round of Titanfall usually wraps up within 10 minutes which does not really afford a new player to get a sense of bearing and get to learn the map. This issue could be easily remedied with round time customisation but that feature is not available (but hopefully in the future it would)

Race to the finish

Titanfall could very well be the Shogo or Mechwarrior of the present generation and it also could be so much more. Respawn’s attempt for the next big jump might be a tad disappointing but if you were a fan of Call of Duty this is the title for you.

The game controls are tight and responsive which is the baseline of all FPS-es and I do have to reserve extra special praise for the network code for Titanfall. The challenges for creating a multiplayer only game is judged by the network it is built upon. Launch day issues have all been smoothed out and the game runs perfectly well on a fairly average ADSL connection. No need for fibre thankfully.

Additional thoughts by Dirty8

Titanfall is a superb multiplayer title. It’s fast, well balanced and all 15 maps are excellently designed. The main issue is the lack of content and the perception of the game. The majority of the reviews out there are glowing in praise of this “superb and innovative” shooter.

Yes it is good, but if this had been a Call of Duty DLC for Black Ops 2 or Ghosts, then most people would have dismissed it as the same old thing. Oh look. It’s Call of Duty with mechs, which at the end of the day is what Titanfall is.

The biggest strike against Titanfall is the lack of content. No single player campaign. No co-op options. It is a straight up multiplayer game. Even the multiplayer has key things missing such as no private lobbies, no deep customization. No offline bot options. If you don’t have a connection, you don’t play. The retail price of the game is a kicker too. It retails for the same price as GTA V and is more expensive than Battlefield 4; look at the content of these two games. This sets a dangerous precedent for future AAA games.

The next Call of Duty could strip out the single player and co-op options and charge the same or more. Imagine GTA VI with no open world story, just online multiplayer for the same price. Titanfall is a good online game no doubt, but the retail price should be a half of what it is as Respawn have only delivered half a game in my books.