Titanfall – Initial Impressions

I played Titanfall on the Xbox One for about 5 hours on launch day. Here are my quick impressions:titanfall_parkour

Good

  • Parkour is my favorite thing, even more than the mechs. I thought it would be confusing and hard to do, and that I’d lose track of my position especially when under threat of fire. But the controls are slick and easy, and you can really navigate well. Mirror’s Edge was a game all about first-person parkour but Titanfall is better at it.
  • Tied in with the parkour, the verticality of the levels. Being a pilot and scampering up onto roofs is awesome. Movement is quick, and I don’t feel at too big of a disadvantage going up against a Titan while on foot. I will probably die, but I always feel like I have a chance.
  • It doesn’t feel quite as twitchy as Call of Duty. I generally live longer than I do in CoD.
  • Watching the clouds overhead burn orange as your mech descends like a comet. I purposefully wander away from combat so I can watch the sky.
  • The Mechs are seriously awesome. It’s quite thrilling when you scamper inside and the screen goes dark before the screens representing your field of view wink on. The mechs move with a tangible, terrible, weight, and carry some serious ordinance. They are walking tanks, death incarnate. I do feel a bit exposed tromping around in them because you get everyone’s attention. Enemy pilots are actually more dangerous than other mechs because I see the other mech coming, but I don’t always notice the pilot scampering up my mech’s back. I think I live longer as a pilot than when I’m in a mech!
  • Love the Mech weapons and abilities. The Vortex shield you start with is still my favorite.
  • Punching out of a dying mech and soaring up into the sky is pretty sweet.
  • Rushing for an evacuation ship as the losing team. Get to the choppa!
  • Mech on Mech melee action. Ripping the other pilot out of his mech and flinging his dead body never gets old.
  • There isn’t the huge, confusing, glut of weapons that CoD was infamous for. Similar to CoD, you can customize your build-out, and unlock new attachments as you level.
  • There is none of that junk from CoD where the best players unlock drones and other BS and rape everyone. Instead, the more kills you get, the faster your mech comes available. The maximum wait time is only a few minutes, so even if you suck, you’ll still get to use a mech several times in a match.
  • The AI Grunts don’t serve for much other than fodder, but it makes the skirmishes feel a lot bigger than 6-on-6. Good addition.
  • Playing Burn Cards for a one-time bonus. Things like – reduce time for Titanfall by 80 seconds. Better Anti-Titan weapon, Etc. The card expires once you die, so it doesn’t drastically alter gameplay, but they are pretty cool mechanic.

The Not So Good

  • Feels similar to CoD, so in some ways Titanfall is more of an evolution than a revolution of the military FPS. This isn’t helped much by the fact that…
  • … it’s 100% multiplayer. That wasn’t a surprise going in, but it doesn’t feel like there is a lot of game here. It basically amounts to team deathmatch or controlling points on the map every time. There may be other variants, but I’ve yet to see them so far working through the campaign.
  • Campaign is strange. It’s kinda like Spartan Ops in Halo 4 if the Covenant were Human-controlled and there was no narrative framing the action. There is some dialog at the beginning telling you why you are about to do something, and NPCs talk during the game about what’s going on, but after finishing 90% of the campaign, I couldn’t tell you wtf the story is about. It’s confusing more than anything else.
  • Sensory overload. There is so much going on at once – all the displays on the HUD, dudes running around fighting, and the game trying to audibly tell you a story while all this shooting is going on. It can feel a little jumbled and overwhelming at times, especially when you’re in the mech and are already drawing undue attention.
  • The pilot weapons are so-so, though the shottie is awesome.
  • I’m so tired of dudes jumping on my back and tearing up the mech I’m in. There is a sense of violation, of intrusion, kinda like when your ghost gets jacked in Halo multiplayer. Except, in Titanfall, you usually don’t see the other player coming. In Halo, most of the time you saw the other guy. In fact, most likely you tried to run him over and missed, so it was your own damn fault you were jacked. Titanfall gives you prompts when somebody perches on your mech’s shoulder and unloads on the soft inner flesh, but because there is so much stuff going on, its easy to miss the prompts until your mech is almost dead. At least, it has been for me so far.
  • These are next-gen graphics? Granted, I could care less about resolutions and all that, but going to the next gen, I expected to see a noticeable difference after the upgrade. Have we reached a point of diminishing returns for graphical improvements? Or is this more indicative of an issue with the hardware (not to open that can of worms again) or developer? I understand some sacrifices were made graphically to keep to 60 frames per second, and I agree that should be the priority. But I still can’t help feeling a little disappointed.
  • The introduction of Mechs should have produced some new variants to the old FPS multiplayer formula of slayer/CTF/control points, kinda like how Horde mode in Gears of War 2 blew the doors off. The absence of any such innovations feels like a lost opportunity.

Negatives aside, I’m having a blast with Titanfall. It’s the type of game I find myself thinking of at off-hours, and I look forward to the end of the day so that I can “Mech-up” again. I am curious to see how much staying power Titanfall has though, and how Respawn plans on adding new content. Can Respawn release additional weapons or Titans without upsetting the balance? Will all DLC strictly be map packs?
titanfall_battleXbox One owners will be playing Titanfall until September even if only for lack of better content, but once Destiny hits, I wonder if players will leave in search of newer, fresher, fare. Until then, I’ll keep watching the skies for the telltale glow of imminent Titanfall.

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