Titanfall – Don’t Fall For The Hype
Last week I had the chance to play Titanfall at an EA press event, giving me early access to the incoming beta with a bunch of other media outlets.
It was an important moment for me – I hadn’t played Titanfall before and heard nothing but praise for Respawn’s robot basher. Finally I’d get to find out just how great it was.
To say Titanfall has been hyped beyond repair is a bit of an overstatement; Microsoft’s Xbox One is seemingly reliant on the success of this shooter and everyone and their mum seem to be eagerly anticipating it.
A large portion of this is courtesy of the media, which has presented the game as a reason to own an Xbox One and the Next Big Thing. Hard to deny when the guys who made Call Of Duty what it is are making it.
I pay more heed to the opinions of gamers, however, and from those of you who had managed to play it at various events like Eurogamer Expo it did seem like it could live up to this hype.
Having played it now, however, I’ve got to say I’m left feeling a little disappointed.
The Problem With Titanfall
Now this isn’t to say Titanfall isn’t a good game, far from it. With the three or so hours I had with the game I got a good feel for it – and even did pretty well, coming top most games.
The Titan/Pilot contrast works surprisingly well, and the distinct difference in viewpoint can make maps seem entirely different depending on the form you’re taking.
Freerunning is slick – if not a little glitchy – combat is great fun and those Titans are suitably empowering (but not overpowered).
Overall, Titanfall is a great game.
But it’s not exactly the innovative experience many are pitching it as. I’ll admit that I went into it expecting little more than Call Of Duty with mechs, and by and large that’s what it feels like.
Complain all you like about the ‘last-gen’ 6v6 arenas – that was a non-issue from the start – but it’s hard to overlook the similarities between Titanfall and Respawn’s heritage title Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare.
‘Ludicrous’, you might think, ‘how can an FPS with huge, lumbering robots feel like twitch-shooter Call Of Duty?’
Well, quite easily actually.
Call Of Duty, With Mechs
As a Pilot you’re able to dash across walls – practically any wall, in fact – scramble over ledges and even double-jump. It’s all about mobility and getting the advantage over an opponent.
Kind of like in Call Of Duty where you sprint to that one spot you know you can get a couple of kills before sprinting to another. It’s not a slow, methodical game, and neither is Titanfall.
The Titans, too, aren’t exactly sloth-like. Sure their turning reticle isn’t as oiled-up as you might want, but you can still dash around corners with an in-built boost system. There are limits, but Titans aren’t slow.
This might seem like a criticism, but it’s not. The speed of gameplay works really well for Titanfall, and it offers up the right amount of adrenaline to keep you hooked.
But it’s not exactly innovation on show here. Maybe I expected a bit more, maybe the hype involved was always going to have this effect – but if I was left wanting something more, surely you will be too?
It’s just that Titanfall for as long as it’s been known has been pitched as a ‘totally new’ experience. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is new here, though.
Is it the mechs? If so, fair enough as a concept having tiny people in the same match against giant robots is novel enough, but it doesn’t feel new when playing it.
What’s New In Titanfall?
It feels – and this is perhaps a more negative word than I’m willing to apply to Titanfall – like a gimmick. As though it’s being sold as the Next Big Thing, but actually it is just a reskin of the same things we’ve seen before.
Namely a guy pointing a gun at another thing and shooting ‘til it’s dead.
So it’s not that Titanfall is a bad game – it really, definitely isn’t. If you have an Xbox One, you should probably get this, chances are you’ll have a blast with it and it’s not like there’s much else of note to play at the moment.
But if you’ve fallen for the hype you may be led to believe it is something it isn’t. You may believe that this is an entirely new, ‘only possible with the Power Of The Cloud™’ experience.
It’s not. It’s Call Of Duty: Real Steel Edition, minus Hugh Jackman.
To add to this there was one other niggling concern after the three hours I had with Titanfall.
Sure there had been some exhilarating moments: the first time a Titan is called in, leaping out of a window into the waiting arms of your own automated metallic warrior or the bullet-riddled game of tennis you play with a Titan’s Vortex Shield.
But as exciting as these moments are, Titanfall can’t sustain itself on such fleeting memories. These actions will eventually lose that novelty, and ultimately you’d be left with just another shooter.
Beware Titanfall’s Hype
After the three hours I had with the game it felt like that was all I needed to see. It was the beta so limited in terms of maps (only two) and customisation options, but it wasn’t because of this that Titanfall felt restrained. It was the lack of real, tangible new ideas.
It felt more like a game you’d put on for an hour at the end of a long day so you don’t really need to think. Something you just use to kill some time before bed, to just switch off and watch the explosions happen.
And there’s merit to a game like that, especially one as fun as Titanfall – and, negativity of this article notwithstanding, you should remember that Titanfall is a great game – it’s just hard to believe that everyone and their mum is excited for a game you’d only play in short bursts.
All I’m saying is, perhaps let’s just calm down a little bit. Everyone has had their fill of Call Of Duty these days, let’s not just replace one franchise for another.