Titanfall is a multiplayer-only game from Respawn Entertainment, the studio that made the engine for the powerhouse, Call of Duty. But Titanfall is not just another multiplayer first-person shooter. It’s a game with mechs and highly mobile infantry straight out of an 80’s Japanese mecha science fiction flick. Players can control pilots so that they can jump through the air from platform to platform, performing acrobatic manoeuvres. Pilots also have the ability to run up walls to attack thirty-foot Titans. An added feature is the option for players to summon their own Titan from the heavens to lay waste to enemies, with a wide arsenal of weapons.
The game has the usual high twitch mechanics of popular FPS games today, but with enough new and fresh content to make it worth watching and waiting for. The familiar point bonuses for taking down enemies in a variety of methods using a weapons is pretty much expected from the people who made Call of Duty popular, but the contrast in gameplay gives it its “WOW!” factor. Each player, whether as a pilot, with or without armor, will have access to a variety of anti-infantry and anti-armor weapons; providing an explosive play and counter-play depending on your opponent. Obviously, the Titan suits will provide the advantage in an open killing field, but infantry, with their limited stealth and camouflage will be able to sneak through ruined buildings. Infantry will also be able to take objectives and ambush other infantry or enemy Titans, using guerrilla tactics and such impressive techniques as jumping on top of a hostile mech, ripping off a metal panel and destroying it from the inside out.
Even though the game is multiplayer-only, requiring a constant online connection, there is a universe to be explored. Instead of telling a personal story of a few grunts and their leaders, the cinematic mission briefings and epilogues provide a tale of struggle on a much larger scale. It describes desperate worlds with few resources, providing a backdrop for players to capture valuable assets for their side. Each mission will be influenced by the results of the previous mission, resulting in a layered multiplayer campaign, similar to what Brink attempted to do.
This result of this cinematic experience, is a very high body count. Whether it’s getting blown up, shot, electrocuted, or stepped on by a Titan, dying is not much fun. Respawn Entertainment’s solution is to populate the world with squads of A.I. bots to keep the point totals flowing and pad players’ scores. It’s interesting to know that these bots are going to be run on a cloud server, which will also act as a dedicated server on demand for Titanfall’s players. Using the Azure service from Microsoft, Respawn believes that this will take away the disadvantages faced by playing against a host player, improve matchmaking, and heighten player experience.
Winning Best of Show at E3, along with five other awards this year is no easy feat, and will definitely fuel the hype for Titanfall. Appealing to fans of mecha (Gundam), wide open battlefields (Battlefield 2142), high-speed twitch shooters (Tribes: Ascend) and parkour-like controls (Mirror’s Edge), this is definitely the game to watch for the Xbox 360 (handled by a third party), the Xbox One and PC coming out in the spring of 2014.
This article originally appeared in Comix Asylum Magazine, Issue 3 (July 2013).