It’s easy to understand why Titanfall has garnered so much attention given its pedigree. Respawn was founded out of the ashes of developer Infinity Ward after the dissolution between co-founders Jason West and Vince Zampella in 2010. Within two months of their split, the Call of Duty veterans and dozens of other former Infinity Ward staff birthed the new studio and began development on the new IP.
Titanfall is a sci-fi shooter that employs a mix of both free-running action and mech-piloting combat. Its setting is a near-future region of the far reaches of space called The Frontier. Players will be going to battle for two opposing factions; the Interstellar Mining Corporation and the Frontier Militia. The game is strictly a multiplayer affair with some added single-player elements such as plot, character dialogue and non-playable characters. Blending elements of fast-paced online gaming and cinematic storytelling, the developers are billing this as the future of online multiplayer.
Experiencing a session of team deathmatch at the Gamestop Expo 2013 in Las Vegas left us thoroughly impressed. The match took place among the ruins of Angel City. Gamers initially take control of pilots with three classes to choose from, including assault, tactical and CQB (close quarters battle) classes. Each class offers a different mix of weapons, special abilities and ordnances. All pilots are equipped with jump jets that allow them to maneuver through the urban ruins of Angel City in style. While the game is mostly a simple pick-up-and-play experience for FPS gamers, the unique addition of jump jets take some getting used to. The jets add more of a quick boost for wall running and increased speed rather than the jetpacks in the Halo franchise that allow for a more lengthy hover or short flight.
The human combatants in Titanfall are called pilots for a reason. Each of them will have an opportunity to take control of Titans throughout the game. The first Titan drop takes place two minutes from the beginning of the match. The player will be prompted when their titan has been built. A quick press down on the d-pad spawns the giant war machine in the desired locale. Just like the pilots, the Titans have three classes. When a Titan is destroyed, the pilot is ejected and will have the opportunity to rejoin the fight without having to respawn, given an uninterrupted landing. Players will have to wait another two minutes for a Titan to be rebuilt after it is taken down.
The gameplay will feel very familiar to avid Call of Duty players, albeit with the added sci-fi and mech elements. Similarly to Call of Duty and Battlefield there are kill streaks bonuses for multiple kills in a row. Titanfall felt well balanced even when individual pilots were up against massive Titans. Anti-Titan weapons and the ability to “rodeo” an enemy mech to take it down helps to even the odds a bit.
Once a team has been defeated, they have a 45-second window to reach an evacuation point. It is unclear what the bonus is for making it out alive. Throughout the demo, which was running on an Alienware PC with an Xbox 360 controller, the game ran very smooth and featured crisp, clean and richly detailed graphics.
Titanfall will undoubtedly be the next big FPS franchise when it releases on Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC. The game is set to release in the spring of 2014.