Titanfall Preview – The Next Hardcore Shooter, or a Casual Pastime?

Without a doubt, Titanfall is going to be one of the the most fun-filled and action-packed first-person shooters you will play this year. But is there enough depth to sustain and breathe life into this brand new IP from ex-Call of Duty creators, now called Respawn Entertainment?

First-person shooters are my jam. They’re all I really play. So, when I sat down to play Titanfall inside a retrofitted LA studio decked out with Titanfall-themed decals courtesy of EA, things clicked right away, despite it being an entirely new experience. We’ll get to what sort of implications that may hold in a bit.

We played a mixture of three game-modes; Attrition, Hardpoint Domination, and Last Titan Standing, in what we were told was the beta build of Titanfall. Side note: it looked and played pleasantly smooth for a beta build with little to no apparent bugs, at least that I experienced. Attrition and Hardpoint Domination are your standard FPS game modes that task you with either scoring the most kills as a team, or capturing and holding up to three different objectives the longest, respectively. New to us, however, was the game’s one-life-to-live mode, Last Titan Standing. Really, you have two lives to live; one life as a Titan, and one life as a Pilot, the two playable archetypes that define Titanfall’s unique gameplay. After surviving for as long as possible inside your Atlas Titan, the only Titan of three that was available to us in this build, your shields and health eventually whither down to a sliver as you eject high into the air as a Pilot. From then on, you’re on your own to take down enemy Titans and Pilots on foot with your arsenal of anti-Titan and anti-infantry weapons. The last man or woman standing wins the round for his or her team.

What was surprising about Last Titan Standing in particular was that it highlighted Titanfall’s remarkably balanced Titan vs. Titan, Titan vs. Pilot, and Pilot vs. Pilot gameplay. Each theater of war plays out in its own very different way, but due to the specific strengths and weaknesses of both Titans and Pilots, it keeps everyone on an even playing field. Keep in mind, however, that we were only given access to once class of Titan and one Pilot weapon from each weapon class, so we’ll see how the game’s balance holds up once players get their hands on more weapons and more Titan classes. In the end, I don’t doubt the experienced men and women of Respawn’s highly talented team to get it right.

During the play session, the Respawn team introduced us to Burn Cards, special abilities that only last for the entirety of one life while in-game, meaning you better make that life worth it. You can equip up to three of these cards, ranging in abilities that cut short the time it takes to call in your Titan, supply you with an improved version of certain weapon types, or earn you extra experience points. Upon death, you can choose to activate one of these three cards whose ability will be applied to your soldier in his or her next life. They encourage players to stay alive for as long as possible because once you die, that card or ability is lost forever, or at least until you earn it again. Burn Cards are awarded by completing in-game challenges.

Titanfall

Despite Titanfall’s 6 vs. 6 player count, there was no shortage of adrenaline-pumping action and unbelievable “wow” moments that would give Battlefield 4’s “only in Battlefield” moments a run for their money. The AI is really just there to keep the action going in the game’s slightly larger than average multiplayer maps to accommodate the larger-than-life Titans, and they do a good job in that regard. Available to us were two contrasting maps; Fracture and Angel City. While Fracture was a bit more open in concept, giving Titans plenty of room to maneuver, Angel City provided a playground of opportunities for free-running Pilots to wall-run and double jump up to higher vantage points.

So far, Respawn has demonstrated that throwing these towering Titans, nimble Pilots, and easy-to-kill AI all together in a cooking pot yields an exciting formula that is accessible, easy to play, and most of all, tons of fun. But, as I alluded to earlier, that’s also where I get a tad bit worried. I don’t want fun to be the only thing that Titanfall ever ends up being. It’s not a bad thing, per se, but while Titanfall’s initial appeal will undoubtedly have no trouble turning heads and luring in masses of FPS fans, I worry it won’t have the depth or learning curve to sustain a healthy community. I get the feeling that, after adjusting to the more acrobatic player movement and learning how to pilot a Titan, anyone with an average amount of background in first-person shooters will get Titanfall almost instantly. And while the inclusion of AI keeps things rolling, it takes away that drive for new players to want to improve when they already feel like a badass 90 percent of the time taking out dumb-as-nails AI. Add to that Titanfall’s casual, pick-up-and-play nature, and it all of a sudden becomes more comparable to a mobile game, rather than a triple-A shooter that you’d want to sink hours and hours into.

Titanfall

It’s clear that Titanfall is going to be a game for everyone, but I hope Respawn is able to deliver a shooter that more experienced vets will take seriously and won’t brush off as a casual pastime.

But don’t take my word for it. You’ll be able to see for yourself when you get your hands on Titanfall’s Xbox One and PC beta Friday, February 14.

Also, be sure to catch our exclusive Xbox One Titanfall gameplay right here.

Titanfall launches on the Xbox One and PC on March 11, exactly two weeks later on the Xbox 360.







David Veselka
Co-Founder / Editor-in-Chief
Musician, Gamer, Geek.
  • Noobslayr

    Still not sold on the AI nonsense, its certainly not conducive to a “hardcore shooter” and if anything cements its casual status.

    Which is fine, there are 10000 console kiddies for every 1 competitive player so they understand the demographics for the most sales.

    • Energize

      I agree, hardcore is all about teamwork and having mindless AI just doesn’t seem to fit.

      • VEX_VEHIX

        Yes, but why can’t hardcore or casuals for that matter, learn to use the AI as a resource?

        Respawn is trying to be innovative, I think people should give it a chance.

        • Energize

          Agree, that would be a nice addition to the game.

    • MegaMan3k

      It lies in the execution, not the idea.

      MOBAs are predicated on “AI nonsense” and they’re the biggest thing currently in high level competitive gaming.

    • Lol DerpSlayer II here ladies and gentleman and just like a lot of game sequel, new name, samebold bullshit.

    • awkenney

      I agree, but I’m willing to give it credit if it’s due. My approach is more one of an FPS gamer – if the competitive angle is clearly drowned out by a design that offers “something for everyone” then the game probably isn’t for me.

    • SamRock

      Sadly the AI is really really bad at the moment and does not add anything to the gameplay and fun. I could literally walk up to an AI and kill him in melee. Most of the time they crouched in an open field (no cover) and just shooting at your direction. They dont seem to look for Cover or intelligently flank you. They are just there waiting to be killed in a stupid way.

    • Eric

      I agree. I think the repetitive bot shooting will get old, fast.

  • vapor220

    Looks like COD.

    • VEX_VEHIX

      Good job.

    • zacflame

      To be honest, I have rather suppressed that thought for a while until I saw the video above, where after seeing the first half-minute of gameplay, I came back to this comment to give it an upvote and type this reply.

  • MegaMan3k

    Argh, David, I feel like you cut your article like two or three paragraphs short of where it needed to go!

    • Haha. Did you want more complaining? These are all just initial impressions from only a few hours of game time with very limited unlocks. Given that my thoughts on the game aren’t completely finalized, I didn’t want to give you guys the end-all-be-all verdict.

      • MegaMan3k

        There are a few places it could go …

        How this ties into the genre’s progression as a whole over the past few years, with more and more getting inbetween purist “skill” – in some ways, the Titan is a culmination of that, but in other ways, the AI is a culmination of that.

        Something about how TvT and PvP are, in many ways, polar opposites of each other in terms of competitive FPS game design, and how that interplays in relation to AI.

        What a “fun” game means long term as opposed to a “competitive” game and to the industry.

        I don’t know, man, I think a couple things …
        1. I’m anxious to share my thoughts once I’m in the Beta (hopefully Friday)
        2. I think video game previews often skew too “nice” and too “forgiving” – it’s a product of many things, and I’m aware of that, but at the end it seemed like you were about to dive into some good criticism (and speculative criticism), much of which I believe would be well seated within my own thoughts on the game.

        Didn’t mean to come across as a harsh comment, it’s a good article, I just wanted more of a “bite” at the game.

        • That’s totally cool. I hear you.

          But, yeah, I think that would be a great subject for a different article. There’s definitely a difference between a fun, accessible shooter and a more hardcore, competitive shooter. I think Titanfall leans a little more towards the former.

          With regards to Titanfall, I wasn’t going to elaborate any further on criticisms I’m still not 100% certain of. But should they carry over to the final release, then you’ll definitely see a more solid stance in the review!

          • awkenney

            I think competition is fun. And I think there are still ways to make a game competitive and still draw a general audience, but I’m speculating at the moment that Titanfall misses that boat completely.

  • VEX_VEHIX

    I trust your review, cannot wait for this game. It’s the main reason I decided to build a gaming PC.

    • theplantain

      hope you didn’t spend much, i can play this game on my homework laptop

      • VEX_VEHIX

        This won’t be the only game I play, just the first one I’m interested in. Thanks for your input.

      • SamRock

        Wrong! I tried playing on my “homework” laptop and the game takes up more resources than you thought. The loading is fairly slow even on a good CPU/GPU.

  • Kyle Jackson

    Oculus Rift support in the future please.

    • VEX_VEHIX

      You and that occlusion. Lol

      • Kyle Jackson

        If you have a half decent PC, it would be criminal not to buy one 😀

  • James Mulhall

    While it looks good and I’ll most likely pick it up for PC. I really don’t see the hype behind it, back it 2009 when MW2 was upon releasing you’d get hyped when a trailer would release or something new about MP came up, ain’t feeling it with this game though.

    Along with that, the colours seem so washed out in this game.. ;-; It’s like they let R* do a GTA IV all over the game, or Treyarch doing a Black Ops 1.. so dull with hardly any vibrant colours.

    • zacflame

      Black Ops has plenty of saturated/vibrant colors.

      • CoDforever

        Are you stupid? BO1 was so grey. BO2 was very colorful

        • James Mulhall

          No need to start calling people stupid because they have a different opinion. :p BOII isn’t even up the standard of colour that I’d want, I think MW2 was perfect when it came to colours.

          • CoDforever

            MW2 was almost as grey as MW3. BO2 was beyond exceptional in terms of color (mostly because treyarch wanted it to be entertaining to watch as they focused on esports) how could anyone say BO2 was not colorful enough?

        • zacflame

          Let’s just all agree on MW3 and GTA IV being gray.

        • Harrison King

          True that

  • VEX_VEHIX

    Of course this title is going to resemble COD, I mean, they did come that background. At least they are trying different things, not just another cookie cutter COD/BF wanna be. Just saying, give them some credit where credit is due. It’s not easy going up against AAA titles.

    • Mike

      being like CoD is not a good thing fellow gamer.

      • VEX_VEHIX

        Trust me, I’m no COD fan, I was merely stating a fact. They developed MW2, hence the similarities.

  • SamRock

    I got early access to the beta. I was only able to play the training so far…as there is no one playing online right now except few EA devs.

    First impression is unfortunately “Not Impressed”. Of course I still have to wait for an actual match, I am sure my impression will change later.

    The training throws few AI controlled opponents and a Titan at you, but they are very very easy to kill and are merely sitting ducks waiting for your bullets to kill them. The game takes ages to load a level, even the training, which is strange because the maps were fairly small and linear.

    Since the game is developed using the Source Engine, I was hoping there will be some kind of Server browser to search for a game and connect. But NO, you select the game mode, and the game looks for a match and available players for you(Match making?). Dunno if this limitation is for the Beta only.

    Honestly I hope PC version will get some kind of browser, else PC community is going to hate the game from day one.

    Looks like I have to wait for Public beta to open as all EA employees are probably asleep right now 🙁

    • Leon

      Interesting… Sam, I wasn’t able to apply for beta because of traveling schedule but I am interested whether your opinion/impression has changed after playing beta with other players.

      • SamRock

        Hey Leon, long time!

        I think today is the last day for the open beta, you should try it.

        Yes! my impression changed after couple of rounds. Honestly its addictive, a good change of pace after many hours on BF, and once started I couldnt stop playing it. However I finally hung up after playing the same two maps forever. Inspite of being developed on Source Engine, it looks beautiful, the two levels varied in environment. Riding a Titan is fun, more than that ‘Rodeo’ing a Titan is super fun. I had my “Only in Titanfall” moments 😀

        Now for the cons:
        I still hate the fact that there is no Server Browser. Now there are probably 1000s of players online and its easy to find a full match, but this will change after few months especially on PC. I still want to search for my favorite Map, Server, group of friend and play with them. I saw people with 300 to 400+ ping joining one match because they were just pooled in by the Matchmaking code.

        Even though its ‘fun’ to play against BoT (they are too dumb!), the lack of players is going to hurt the game in other modes like Domination or CTF. There are hardly anyone at a single location at the same time. 6 players are scattered all around the map. No scope for team based gameplay or objective. You mostly play Solo.

        Finally, even with variety of maps and modes, I dont think there is anything more to do other than Ride a Titan or Destroy a titan in a cool way. I feel people will probably get bored quickly after couple of months.

        I would play it if I wanted to have some quick, fast paced fun after a hard boring day at work.

        • Leon

          Thank you Sam! It was impossible for me to get beta keys even 3 days ago. On their website it is written: “We’ve reached the maximum number of sign-ups and can’t accept any more at this time.” I guess, I will have to base my purchase decision on yours and others opinions. 🙂 However, I am not going to pre-order and I will wait for the full game release and read more reviews. I am not so “hyped” about this game, but a change of pace from BF4 would be good from time to time and I can’t tolerate CoD:Ghosts, at all. So, I hope that it would fill the gap.

          • SamRock

            Good news! I have another spare Beta Key.. not sure if it will work now…

            You better try soon as today is the last day. How do I send u the key?

            • Leon

              I appreciate your kindness Sam! 🙂 But from I understood from Twitter the beta has already ended: https://twitter.com/Titanfallgame

            • SamRock

              Oh so sad! I thought it will end tonight! 🙁

            • Leon

              Not THAT sad. 🙂 Game will be released on March 11th, in 3 weeks already. If the reviews are decent I will get it then. I’ve already checked the prices on some CD keys websites and some of them are really cheap starting from 40$/30E (half the price on Origin) which makes me want to pre-order. 😉

            • SamRock

              LOL.
              Lesson learnt from BF3 never buy a EA game before reviews and initial patches 😀
              Lesson Two learnt from BF3: Wait for a discounts. I bought BF4 for 40% less during Black Friday sale. Today BF4 has a 50% discount. Waiting for Premium to go on discount as well 😛

              I doubt if I will buy TF. I will be very busy playing Thief when it comes out this month end!! 😀

            • Leon

              Wise advice, indeed! 🙂 But I know that if want want something, I won’t wait too long. 😛

              I pre-ordered BF4 Premium for 80 Euros from http://www.g2play.net You can also get Thief there for only 30$ or 22E.

            • SamRock

              You wont believe this. In my country the PC version of Thief with Bank Heist DLC is sold for about $16 😀
              Console versions are still priced at $60+.

            • Leon

              Wow! You can’t beat that, indeed! 🙂

  • Harrison King

    This is actually one of the first true FPS multiplayer games I have been hyped for in a while. Yes, I am a Call of Duty fan but the last one I was hyped for was BO2. For some reason I wasn’t to excited for COD: Ghosts multiplayer and once I picked up a copy and played multiplayer, in my opinion, it didn’t deliver. But this game looks spectacular with Titans, parkour, and a new atmosphere. To be honest though my favorite thing about this game right now, just from watching gameplay, is the Epilogue. The aspect of the Epilogue is brilliant and brings more to the table.

  • Aria68

    Destiny in my opinion looks way more appealing than this game. People say COD of duty is headless run n gun game, Well! This is even worst, at least in COD you compete with real players, in this game you heedlessly running and gunning and mostly encountering the enemy AI/bot …

    • Mike

      Yes, Destiny actually looks like a good time and rewards with time put into it.

    • Energize

      Destiny and Titanfall are two different games, you can’t really compare a fast paced, close quarters FPS to a beautiful open world FPS. I agree Destiny will probably be the better game, you just can’t really compare them.

  • big jobs

    Appears to be as cartoony as CoD; probably satisfying if you’re troubled with ADHD. I’lll waste the $60 on a case of beer instead.

    • Energize

      No duh it’s like CoD, it’s made by the MW2 developers. And enjoy your beer, while everyone else is having fun on Titanfall.

      • VEX_VEHIX

        This, WHOOT!

      • big jobs

        Make sure you stock up your Ritalin child.

        • Energize

          K?

      • Mike

        Proving my point, this is a kid. Kids dont need much to keep their brains busy. Ex:Titanfall, CoD Thats ok in my book because one day you will grow up and realize how many good game are out there you haven’t played because you couldn’t put CoD down. It happened to me.

        • Energize

          I’m not a CoD addict (I play BF4 on the PC) and I’m not sure why you guys are so butthurt right now. It’s a new FPS on the market, finally something different than the modern military shooter. I’m not sure how you couldn’t be excited for something different. Obviously you are a little to old for video games if you just criticize the game when I’m sure you haven’t even played it.

        • Energize

          And when you say “you will grow up and realize how many good games are out there.” I’ve played plenty of fantastic games, my favorite being Far Cry 3. Don’t judge people just because they enjoy a certain game that you might not.

  • Mike

    Looks like yet another boring repetitive FPS. This game will do well with kids but its run run shoot run run isnt diverse enough for adults. I guess I’m into rpg/fps type games where playing actually rewards. theres nothing to work for in these games unless k/d is your thing. willing to bet people bought the xbone just for this game, well I almost feel bad for you. Why? Because you dont know a good game if it hit you on your ass. Yes it will keep you busy BUT not for long. Its simply a kids game.

  • Mike

    I’ll wait for a real shooter, Destiny. You thought I was going to say CoD MW50 didnt ya?! I think its about Prices ghost haunting a spec ops team in a stranded cabin. Sounds EPIC!

  • Sniper

    Seems to me that titanfall is based loosely off of the anime Infinite Stratos and the online F2P Mech Quest ( though titanfall is 3d). I’m not gonna get it. Why? Cuz I’m on ps3 (sob)

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