[tl;dr] Titanfall on Xbox One: impressions

I must have missed a memo – I don’t understand the hype behind Titanfall. My theory is a combination of: it’s a new franchise in the popular online shooter genre, it’s an exclusive “near-launch” title for Xbox One, it’s developed by a company made up of former Infinity Ward veterans and everybody loves giant mech robots. Did I miss anything else?

Nevertheless, it’s the game that everyone’s buzzing about and so far it’s scored pretty high by critic reviews (86 on Metacritic at the time of writing).

Here are some of my quick impressions. Caveat: I admit to be a reluctant console gamer (I still prefer PC games).

  • It’s pretty much a cross between Battlefield, Halo and Call of Duty. If you played any of those (who hasn’t), you won’t be far from home.
  • Since the entire game is multiplayer-only (even the “campaign”), you’ll get used to waiting in a lobby for teammates or an opposing team.
  • Rounds are short and usually skewed towards one team, so you’ll either feel like a champion or continuously beaten down. A neat consolation prize for the losing team is the race to an evacuation ship at the end of a round which grants bonus points.
  • The controls, maps and characters are simple and straight-forward. Wall-running and double jumps are interesting but doesn’t change the core mechanics of gameplay (lots of shooting and running).
  • The levelling system and unlocks are consistent with most online shooters. New weapons and titans keeps things fresh without throwing the balance out the door.
  • The titans are fun while it lasts: enemy titans always seem invincible, my titans always die easily. You’ll never get of watching a titan drop from the sky.
  • Although it runs pretty smoothly, the graphics are just acceptable for a next-generation game. After all it’s based on the Source engine but you don’t spend a lot of time standing still to enjoy the scenery.
  • The little story you do get from the “campaign” by mission reports and voiceovers is pretty dry and generic space-colony uprising fluff.
  • The network ping/latency for Australian players will be a bit high, but it’s not unplayable (unless you’re a competitive type). It’s rumoured Australian servers will come. EDIT: Australian servers are coming March 14.

In conclusion, if you have an itch for an online shooter on Xbox One, Titanfall is as good as any and you’ll have a lot of fun. Otherwise, I’m not sure it or any other game for that matter could live up to it’s hype.

EDIT: The Titanfall Reviewer’s Guide supplied by EA is a great reading resource to understand the game.

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