Gaming industry titans fall to 'Titanfall'

Shooter topples ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Battlefield’

From the ashes of Infinity Ward, developer Respawn Entertainment dropped “Titanfall” into living rooms on March 11 to challenge the sapless landscape of military first person shooters.

It succeeded.

What makes “Titanfall” so unique compared to other titles such as “Call of Duty” or “Battlefield” is how exhilarating it is to navigate the map. “Titanfall” has the player start out as a nimble pilot, equipped with a jetpack, to seamlessly traverse the battlefield. It is liberating to leap, wall-run and double jump from place to place; it makes the maps feel more open and allows pilots to decide the best position to tackle the next battle.
“Titanfall” also introduces the hulking metal behemoths, titans. Each pilot has access to a titan once the player touches the ground and the timer starts ticking. In most game types, the pilot starts with a two-minute timer before they can drop their titan onto the battlefield. Pilots scramble the map looking for kills that reduce the timer depending on if they kill a human-controlled pilot or computer-controlled minion.

The game specializes in six vs. six multiplayer across all game types. To help fill out the maps, artificial intelligence-controlled minions spawn onto the map, similar to “League of Legends.” Pilots can kill the A.I. bots to reduce the time it takes to summon their titan and score additional points, but at a severe reduction when compared to killing an enemy pilot. It is key in “Titanfall” to balance killing both minions and pilots to maximize efficiency.

“Titanfall” is a fun game with a bunch of unique features to draw players toward it, but it still feels hollow, especially since it is sold as a multiplayer exclusive title, which means that there is no single player component. Franchises such as “Call of Duty,” “Battlefield” and “Halo” have always included a single player campaign to add context to the multiplayer elements and provide a worthwhile experience to those without an internet connection. “Titanfall” does have a campaign mode, but it is essentially regular multiplayer sprinkled with story elements to give the player some background plot. The story is paper thin at best and quickly becomes background noise that left me repeatedly confused as to who I was and why I was fighting.

The gamer is meant to play through the campaign twice to experience the perspective of the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC), the evil empire wanting to conquer the galaxy, and the Militia, a ragtag group of heroes that separated from the IMC and wanting to fight for their own freedom in space. By the end of both campaigns, I still had no idea who any of the main characters were — nor did I even care.

At launch, the title includes 10 primary weapons to equip a titan with, including three sidearms and four anti-titan weapons. There are 15 maps to play on alongside 12 perks, which give your pilot small performance boosts to customize your play style. Sure, that might sound like a lot, but I expected there to be a lot more content, considering this is a multiplayer-only title. There’s also no balance to the weapons loadout, which is a big problem in a competitive game environment. I often found myself sticking to one particular combination of weapons and perks, as most others felt inferior and provided minimal results. Most players have stuck with the beginning weapons because they are simply more effective and potent that any other weapon as you level up. This makes the game begin to feel stale, because you are seemingly punished for trying to do something different, and constrains you to only one play style. I found that the pilots were much more efficient than their titan counterparts and have dominated the battlefield ever since.

“Titanfall,” is a fun experience for Xbox One and PC owners to have. However, the game does not feel like it is worth the $60 price tag due to the sparse amount of content available. The game does not even include any means to host a private game lobby to play locally, or even online with friends until Respawn Entertainment decides to implement the feature into the game in a free patch. “Titanfall” is a skeleton of what a modern first person shooter offers, but mixes the mechanics of popular franchises to make it interesting. “Titanfall” is not the “Call of Duty” killer everyone thought it would be, but it has certainly earned its place at the table to be a major competitor to other first person shooters.

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