(Spacer Speaks is a new feature where I, Isaac Wagner, ramble on about certain video game nonsense. Theoretically this will be a weekly feature where I find some other thing to talk about. But we'll see. Sorry for the rough video. Kinda my first time.)
If you were on the internet for any length of time this past week, you probably read various seemingly hyperbolic statements about how awesome the Titanfall beta was, including the likes of: “What Titanfall can teach the industry about next-gen development” and “Why Titanfall feels like a breath of fresh air” and other such nonsense like that. The hype for it was verging on overwhelming and was getting harder and harder to believe as the beta pushed ever onward. But thankfully EA and Respawn Entertainment opened it up for everyone to play. While an undeniably smart marketing move, it was just a good idea to stress test the Xbox One servers and to let other people decide for themselves if the hype had any merit whatsoever.
After spending over five hours with it, I can comfortably say that Titanfall isn’t the next big revolution for the First-Person Shooter genre, or even for the competitive multiplayer scene. But that’s unreasonable to expect, and not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, Titanfall could potentially be one of the most engaging and exciting multiplayer shooters I’ve played since Halo: Reach and Bad Company 2, and I absolutely cannot wait to try the full game when it comes out.
The dark secret that no one wants to admit out loud is that Titanfall feels very much like a Call of Duty game. Despite the amount of hate that franchise still gets, it’s still one of the most satisfying shooters ever, so that’s quite a compliment to Titanfall (Even if unsurprising when you realize that it’s coming from the ex-Modern Warfare people.) Indeed, Titanfall feels quite noticeable faster than Call of Duty: Ghosts after going between the two games.
This is because of the faster base character speed and, more importantly, the generally well-executed parkour element. While not as sophisticated as something like Mirror’s Edge, it’s much more flexible and satisfying than the underwhelming Brink (I suppose this is where I admit that I’ve unlocked all of the achievements in Brink. Mistakes have been made in my life, I admit.) For the most part it’s an intuitive system, jet packing and wall running around, but several times I had some weird, hitch-y moments where my character would start running on walls that I didn't want him to or times where he couldn’t get through a simple window. Mastering this system is important as your maneuverability is your main advantage over the powerful Titans.
Man, the Titans! They’re basically giant, less mobile versions of your future warfare man but carrying huge guns and with giant missile launchers installed on their back. They are a ton of fun to play as, but there’s a slight learning curve in discovering the best ways to keep your giant robot man alive while figuring out the best way to kill the other giant robot men. But once you get the hang of it, murdering puny humans and other Titans alike it a ton of fun. The Titans really separate this game apart from other multiplayer shooters, and some of the most satisfying moments in the game like calling a Titan to fall and kill another Titan accidentally or ripping a pilot out of his mech and throwing him across the level never, ever, ever gets old.
And everyone will eventually get a Titan. Respawn has crafted a smart system here where everything you do from capturing objectives to killing the AI minions will reduce your cool down on calling down your Titan. The system effectively replaces the Call of Duty style Killstreaks, and all for the better in my opinion.
Actually, this feeling is pervasive in every aspect of Titanfall’s design. It knows what to copy from other shooters, like the tight and speedy feeling of Call of Duty, and what new features to add like the Freerunning systems and the badass Titans. Titanfall by no means is the thing that will innovate shooters like Halo of Call of Duty did, but it’s definitely one of the most satisfying First-Person Shooters that I’ve played in the past few years. The question is if Respawn will make this multiplayer-only experience appeal in the long term with a ton of weapons, customization elements and playlist update support. Regardless, the Titanfall beta convinced me that while some of the hype for it borders on the hyperbolic, it really seems to be shaping up to be a damn fine video game. I can’t wait to drop into it come March.
Though on the other hand, Dark Souls II comes out the same day. So what I’m basically saying is Titanfall can go fuck off.