Titanfall, the first title from Respawn Entertainment and arguably the first big game of this young generation of consoles, is set to launch on March 11th for Xbox One and PC, with an Xbox 360 port following on March 25th. It’s a multiplayer-only game brimming with ideas old and new, presenting itself as a polished coupling of fast-paced FPS and dramatic mech warfare. As the distinct pounding of enormous mechanized foot steps draws near, Wikia thought it was a great opportunity to pick the brains of some of Wikia’s elite community members about their thoughts on Respawn’s Titanfall.
Our Expert Panel
New BeginningsRespawn Entertainment is a brand new studio founded by ex-Infinity Ward senior employees Vince Zampella and Jason West after an especially messy falling out with Activision. Even though Titanfall is the company’s first game, due to pair’s impressive track record, having been at the helm of the wildly successful Call of Duty: Modern Warfare franchise, our community is optimistic about the game’s potential. “I think this is going to be a good start for Respawn,” says NinjaFatGuy, an admin at our Titanfall Wikia, suggesting that the team will draw from its experience on the Call of Duty titles: “they’ve taken what they did with Call of Duty 4 and made it even better.” For T3CHNOCIDE, an admin on our Halo and Destiny Wikias, Titanfall represents new horizons for ex-Call of Duty developers who may have become frustrated by that franchise’s limitations: “I feel that the Call of Duty franchise became diluted and lost its unique edge following the release of Black Ops and Modern Warfare 3,” he says, “I trust that a fresh restart and a brand new IP will allow Respawn to live up to its potential.”
Running, Jumping, GunningWith a whole new studio, free from Activision’s oversight, Respawn is definitely able to make some innovative leaps with their approach to the FPS genre. Titanfall’s multiplayer gameplay is asymmetrical. Players can either play on the ground as a Pilot or in one of the game’s Titan mechs. Despite the immense size difference, pilots actually have a number of tools and tricks at their disposal to take on — or outmaneuver — their mechanical counterparts.
From what gamers have seen it’s going to take a mix of dexterity, skill, and firepower for pilots to topple the hulking titans. T3CHNOCIDE, who played quite a bit of the open beta, agrees that the pilots are more than capable of holding their own on the battlefield, but that “the survival length and effectiveness of a Titan is solely based on its pilot’s skill and the responsiveness of the opposition.” In addition to the aforementioned parkour skills and diverse arsenal of heavy weaponry, pilots have the ability to “rodeo” enemy titans -- jumping on top of them and boarding them to inflict massive damage from up close -- though the titan pilots can usually exit their mechs in time to exterminate the aggressive hangers-on.
Juggernauts on the Horizon
Commanding a Titan is a completely different story. “Titanfall” is the term for when a pilot aerially deploys their Titan onto the battlefield, directing where it lands. It takes about two minutes for a Titan to be available, the wait time reducing gradually with each successive kill a pilot earns. “You can control Titans inside and out, and they have their own access to weapons and abilities,” NinjaFatGuy says, “giving them both an advantage and disadvantage against other Titans and Pilots.”
Sactage was originally worried that Titanfall’s eponymous mechs would be “overpowered beasts which can only be dealt with by another OP mech” but his fears were allayed after playing the beta, where he learned that, though “Titan weapons are pretty effective against pilots, their slow speed and large size make them easy targets for enemies of all kinds.”
Registered contributor agrees that the colossal Titans are a fantastic addition to what gamers have come to expect from FPS multiplayer, allowing players to “choose between playing a twitch shooter or a slower-paced mech shooter” and helping matches “feel like true battlefields where epic combat takes place.”
Playing with Friends
Respawn decided to take Titanfall in a novel direction by making the experience exclusively multiplayer. Though there is a campaign mode, it takes place in a multiplayer setting, the solar system-spanning narrative unfolding during multiplayer matches between the story’s two warring factions: the IMC and the Frontier Militia. Feelings are mixed regarding Respawn’s decision to completely eschew a traditional single player campaign. “I'm bittersweet about the fact that Titanfall is multiplayer-only,” Sactage says. “I think that a single-player campaign would be insanely fun, and would de-alienate those who might not always have a stable internet connection to play multiplayer.” That said, he knows that the more time developers have to focus on multiplayer, the better: “On the other hand, the lack of single-player means that all of the effort the devs put forward goes to multiplayer -- which, hopefully, ensures an insanely polished and fun multiplayer experience.”
T3CHNOCIDE, on the other hand, has never been a fan of the Call of Duty campaigns and he’s “actually pretty delighted that Titanfall is a solely multiplayer game.” He echoes Sactage’s sentiment on the developer’s multiplayer focus, asking “why waste resources on creating a single-player campaign which few are likely to enjoy when you can invest them into better functionality in multiplayer?”
Sharing a StoryNinjaFatGuy is optimistic about the format: “You'll basically be going through your own single-player in Titanfall, against real people instead of AI, tying a bonus story into the experience.” Others are more hesitant. T3CHNOCIDE feels that a campaign shouldn’t be forced: “While I want to explore the reasoning behind conflict between opposing factions, I don’t want the game to be diluted by unnecessary explanation of the artist’s imagination.” Interestingly, Registered contributor would prefer Respawn “make books or comics to explore the backstory of Titanfall’s world.” Meanwhile, though Sactage is himself interested in the narrative, he’s “afraid that most people who pick up Titanfall will ignore the backstory and just focus on playing the game to have fun.”
That said, Respawn has been working hard to build a world that seems authentic and lived in, establishing a distinct aesthetic for Titanfall’s many worlds. T3CHNOCIDE is a big fan of the game’s look. “You really get a sense of futurism in the game through the use of technology on the maps and the liveliness of spaceships and aircraft flying in above,” he says. “The world building is one of my favorite features of Titanfall.” NinjaFatGuy is also keen on the game world’s look and feel. “The Titanfall world is very unique,” he says. "They definitely nailed the look.” Registered contributor isn’t as impressed. “I think it looks a little bland to be honest. In Modern Warfare 2, all the colors were bright,” he says. But it isn’t all doom and gloom --he acknowledges that “the world seems very fun to be in with all the sci-fi elements.”
Making Sense of the Metagame
To maximize the fun, Respawn has incorporated a number of metagame elements, from now-common elements like an XP-based leveling system to a strategy piquing Burn Card mechanic. Players level up as they play through the game, acquiring experience by killing enemies, fulfilling objectives, or completing in-game challenges. These challenges range from weapon-specific (“get 10 kills with the SMG”), to movement based (“walk five miles in a Titan”), to more general (play Titanfall for 10 hours.) As characters level up, they gain access to new options for both their Titan and pilot loadouts, each of which can be customized based on the player’s preferences. “I like the leveling system a lot, and I think that there's plenty of weapon and perk variety,” Sactage says, “I can't wait to see how individual players adapt their own styles and loadouts -- it'll be interesting to see what becomes the bread and butter setup.”
The Burn Card mechanic is wholly unique to Titanfall. It allows players to collect cards that grant special abilities that they can deploy as one-offs on the battlefield. Their effects range from modest (“respawn where you last died”) to substantial (“spawn in a new Titan”). Players earn these cards by completing the aforementioned in-game challenges. “I think that the Burn Cards are a great idea,” Registered contributor says, “giving players an overpowered perk that last one life and one life only.” They also help incentivize playing as a team. “Completing challenges encourage players to help the team.”
It remains to be seen whether or not Titanfall has what it takes to dethrone the likes of FPS mainstays like Call of Duty or Halo -- but it’s looking good. What do you think? Sound off about Titanfall in the comments!