Titanfall is the first triple-A game made on the next-gen consoles, and has reportedly contributed to more than one million XBOX One console sales for Microsoft alone.
To be fair, the game was actually developed and designed by the folks at Respawn Entertainment. Don’t know who they are? Sure you do. They were the brain trust behind creating Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2, but left Activision in a bitter feud with management, and brought dozens of Infinity Ward employees with them to start their own studio.
But you aren’t here for the back story. There are plenty of places you can find that. You aren’t here for me to spew sales numbers at you either, and to listen to me telling you that millions are buying the game, and you should too.
No, you’re here because I’ve actually played the game. And I’ve played Halo, Call of Duty, and Battlefield as well, and Titanfall is simply superior in every way. While I’m making the claim that Titanfall is the “best FPS ever made”, it doesn’t mean we won’t see better games in the future.
In fact, I fully expect to see many games piggyback the ideas from Titanfall, because it is one of those “once in a generation” games where in a few years we will look back and etch it into the Mount Rushmore of first person gaming alongside Wolfenstein 3D, GoldenEye 007, and Halo: Combat Evolved.
It’s one of those games that makes you realize you’ve been eating McDonald’s and Burger King your whole life when you thought you were actually eating a GOOD burger. It puts all of the most recent first person games (Battlefield 4, Halo 4, CoD: Ghosts) to extreme shame.
As a game designer, there’s plenty to love about the intricacy and creativity behind the game as well. So I come to you as both a designer and gamer, and I tell you that Titanfall is – right now – the best first person game to date. If you haven’t played it yet, here’s a few reasons to believe me:
Parkour! Wallrunning, Double Jumping, and Wall Hanging
Blasphemy! These game mechanics belong in 2D platformers, not first person shooters!
The Prince of Persia and Ninja Gaiden series popularized wall running and jumping into the 3D space, and Mirror’s Edge was really the first game that expanded the idea and used it creatively from the first person perspective.
Enter Titanfall where you get to sprint, jump onto wall, run for thirty feet horizontally, jump off the wall, double jump, run twenty feet (horizontally again), jump off the wall, double jump, grab a ledge, and pull yourself up to the top of the world.
Seriously though folks, the first time you get to do this in the heat of combat you feel like Jasmine on a magic carpet ride.
Okay, now that we’ve got that spot-on yet very awkward and semi-erotic metaphor out of the way, let’s talk about it. The wallrunning and jumping mechanics in Titanfall are smooth. So smooth in fact that you almost never get caught up trying to traverse a wall or building and fail. You will rarely (if ever) be frustrated with the mechanic because it’s very user-friendly and extremely liberating.
After playing Titanfall the last couple weeks, I went back and tried to play Battlefield 4. What a drag. I felt like my guy had steel blocks on his feet and everything was just so…rigid. Mind you, I LOVED Battlefield 4 not more than two months ago but I’ll probably never touch it again just based on the movement mechanics. Blegh.
There is one very specific reason this mechanic works well in Titanfall though. You actually move quite a bit faster while wallrunning and jumping, so you are encouraged to parkour your way around the map in order to get where you need to go faster than if you stay on the ground (a brilliant design decision by the developers).
Because of this, you begin to look at the maps, buildings, and terrain more creatively. You feel like Emmet from the Lego Movie when he becomes a master builder. Your mind engages with the terrain like never before, as you decipher which one of the two billion ways to get from point A to point B you will use. Movement becomes highly cerebral and tactical.
Best of Halo + Best of Battlefield + Best of Call of Duty
Another reason Titanfall instantly appeals to any first-person gamer is that no matter which mainstream series you come from, Titanfall has the gameplay to match it.
Want the gunplay and quick death combat of Call of Duty? Keep your boots on the ground and skirmish infantry while your Titan protects and roams on auto-pilot. Want the shielded dodge-and-duck combat of Halo? Take your skills to the cockpit of your Titan where shield recovery is essential to surviving prolonged combat.
Titanfall lets you dictate which style you prefer, and gives you the ability to play to your strengths. Inevitably you have to get skilled at both ground and mech combat to get better at the game, but the important thing is that they allow you to choose. Giving autonomy to the player is never a bad thing.
Furthermore, the Titans are not so overpowered that infantry don’t stand a chance (ahem…Battlefield). The anti-titan weapons that infantry carry pack quite a punch, and a single skilled infantry can take down a titan quite easily if they aren’t careful.
Map Design is Top Notch
It’s no coincidence that Titanfall has amazing map design considering the best maps in the Call of Duty series were far and away from Modern Warfare 2, and presumably this same crew had a hand in designing the maps for Titanfall.
All of the maps are clearly designed with the parkour mechanic in mind. Many objects are placed specifically as go-betweens for wallrunning between or climbing the sides of buildings. Because of this, there’s literally no place you can’t go.
There’s also very few good “camping” spots in the game, as most rooms inside buildings have multiple sight lines entering the room, and multiple entrances (remember, with double jumping and climbing, people can drop out of the ceiling and pop up through the floor).
Furthermore, each and every map is designed with Titans and infantry in mind. There are no maps that are wide open and favor Titans, and no maps that are so enclosed that they favor infantry. Both Titans and infantry are viable in almost every part of every map.
Weapon Design is Intuitive and Unique
Let’s be honest. In Call of Duty or Battlefield, there’s almost no difference between the dozen assault rifles that you can choose from. Sure, there’s always the quirky burst fire one or the single-shot one. But for the most part, all of the automatic rifles pretty much function the same with slight variations on fire rate, accuracy, and damage.
In Titanfall, the designers recognized this and boiled the weaponry down to its simplest form. You have one shotgun, one fully automatic assault rifle, one burst fire rifle, one single shot rifle, etc.
They don’t clutter you with too many weapons that are so similar that you can’t even remember which one does what (with the exception of the R-97 and C.A.R. SMG’s, which are probably the most similar).
While some people may criticize Titanfall for “lack of weapon variety”, I can guarantee you that it has the equivalent of every single gun you see in Call of Duty or Battlefield. They were able to take 60 guns and pare them down into 10, which only makes sense.
In addition, being a fictional sci-fi environment, I expect to see some more awesome and non-standard weaponry hit DLC (like the Smart Pistol).
Singleplayer is Multiplayer
Let me first get one thing out of the way.
The story in Titanfall is literally background noise during multiplayer matches. Which is actually a good thing, because the story is terrible. Some games force the story down your throat thinking you might actually care about the characters and world that they’ve created, and you might – if they are good.
But the fact that the singleplayer campaign is actually just a string of multiplayer matches with flavor text actually works in Titanfall’s favor simply because of the nature of the game. To be honest, I had to play the campaign through like six times before I even know what the heck was going on with the story.
Was this annoying? No. Because I’m not forced to sit there and watch something I don’t want to. Could Titanfall have benefitted from a better story and campaign? Absolutely. But the designers did exactly what they should have: deliver gamers a mechanically sound game without selling the game on story.
Expect to see a more involved storyline and characters as the Titanfall series evolves.
What are your thoughts on Titanfall? Do you agree or disagree with what I said? Anything to add? Please comment! You can also catch up with Gigaloth many places “on the line” such as Twitter and Facebook.