Note: Thor’s review is specific to the PC version of Titanfall. George reviews the Xbox One game at Ruthless Reviews.
Right off the bat, I am going to say my feelings on this game are mixed. It’s not a bad game. In fact, it is loads of fun. But it could have been so much better. The gameplay is far and away the best and most fun part of the game. I suspect that once some of my friends pick it up and I have people to play with that aren’t raging fucking Call of Duty idiot stoners the game might become more fun. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that it helps to be high if you want to enjoy Call of Duty for more than ten minutes. But honestly, one of the worst things about Titanfall thus far has been hearing “Dude, I need some more weed” every five minutes. They actually say “dude.”
I am going to start with the bad: The weapons are boring. The character models are generic and boring. Everything is the same color. And titan weapons are also boring.
So, let us start with the weapons. Apparently, modern weapons are perfect. At least according to Titanfall. That’s the only way you can explain creating a game set hundreds or thousands of years in the future, where your weapons are Assault Rifle, Shotgun, SMG, Sniper Rifle, and Pistol. No lasers, no interesting or compelling weapon design at all. This is one of the most disappointing things about the game.
Even at level fifty there are only ten primary weapons to unlock. The last four are basically cooler looking, slightly more powerful versions of the first four. That’s right. Two shotguns, two SMGs, two Assault Rifles, and two Sniper Rifles. All of them so similar to what exists right now, that I am fairly certain there are currently custom gunmakers making cooler real life weapons than these. Hell, I’ve seen movies with custom weapons in them that are cooler than the weapons in Titanfall. Take a page out of fucking Quake and Unreal Tournament: In a universe where humanity has mastered interstellar flight, galactic colonization, and builds giant fucking war robots, we are expected to believe that no improvements at all were made to the SMG, Shotgun, Pistol, or Sniper Rifle. The guns even start out with just iron sights. IRON SIGHTS PEOPLE, WHAT THE FUCK? The weapons are like the fucking shitty starter weapons in a a Free to Play (pay to win) game. The ones they give you in order to force you to spend either hundreds of dollars or hundreds of hours to get a decent fucking gun so you can have fun. (Except Tribes. Even the basic weapons in Tribes are miles ahead of Titanfall.)
Speaking of Goddamn Titans, how the hell is it even possible to make boring titan weapons? Respawn managed to pull that off too by just making them gigantic versions of what the Pilots carry! OH SHIT, YOU MEAN THE TITAN WEAPON FIRES FOUR ROCKETS AT A TIME INSTEAD OF ONE, WOW WHO SAW THAT COMING? Here is a PSA for future developers of video games: Don’t be fucking lazy. If you’re going to make an awesome futuristic shooter, GET CREATIVE WITH THE FUCKING GUNS. Honestly, the weapon selection in this game is actually worse than Call of Duty.
The character models are also god awful. Seriously, one of the skins looks like a shitty version of the Dead Space armor, and the other one looks like a ripoff of the rebel fighters’ gear on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. Which would be fine if this were the 1970s, or even ‘80s.
Speaking of boring: Everything is the same goddamn color. That color is grey. Blue-grey, brown-grey, gunmetal-grey, rust-grey, yellow-grey (yes apparently this is a shade of grey). By everything I mean the character skins, the titan skins, the buildings, the boxes, the rubble. I’m surprised they didn’t make the flames grey. They honestly could have named this game 500 Shades of Grey.
On the PC, if you’re bad at Titanfall, you know it. No excuses allowed.
By this point you’ve probably decided not to buy the game. But please finish reading, because there are a lot of good things about Titanfall. The mechanics are the best we’ve seen in a multiplayer FPS in years. Despite its flaws, the game is fun (and that’s saying something considering the flaws). Even though the game makes some allowances for casuals (smart pistol, grunts, everybody gets a titan), on the PC, if you’re bad, you know you’re bad.
Thing is, for all the bullshit you get along with the package, Titanfall’s mechanics are as close to perfect as you will find in a modern shooter. I’m of the opinion that mechanics are the most important part of game design. I will play a game with shitty, graphics if the mechanics are way fucking better than the competition, and Titanfall accomplishes this. The movement is streamlined, and once you get the hang of movement combos like wallrun>doublejump>wallrun>doublejump-through-a-window-kill-a-guy-capture-a-point you will be able to move around the map at top speed and feel like a god of war while doing it. If you manage to get to the point where you can do all that and aim and kill people, you will be a god among men.
I can see people having issues with things like the Smart Pistol on the XBone. When your opponents have a hard time aiming with a clunky controller, you might have a bit of an advantage, but on the PC, Smart Pistol abusers get destroyed by somebody that can aim their more powerful piece. Sure you can rack up a bunch of grunt kills with a smart pistol but you can do that with any weapon, and everybody knows the guy with one pilot kill and 30 grunt kills is shitty at the game anyway.
Having the ability to jump on top of an opposing Titan and pump it full of lead (because guns will not change over the next 400 years. NO I WILL NOT LET THIS GO) is completely fucking badass. So yeah, even if you are pissed because you’re looking at a boring old SMG in your hand, you’re still using it to shoot the shit out of a Titan you just mounted. Little feels better than running along a rooftop, taking a huge leap off the edge, double jumping, landing on top of an enemy Titan, and blowing the shit out of it. In fact, that’s my primary goal in all the game modes: Find an enemy Titan, get on top of it, and blow it up. This should be your number one priority if you buy this game.
For all its bullshit, Titanfall lets you be a God among Men.
The Titans control fine. It feels a little clunky in the beginning, but once you get used to the differences between a pilot and a Titan, it mostly feels smooth. However, I prefer to set my Titan to follow or guard mode so it can fight an opposing Titan while I get on top of said opposing Titan and blow it to fucking hell. This keeps the opposing pilot from dismounting unless he wants to get blown to shit by splash damage from my Auto-Titan.
Most of the games I play in grunts are almost completely ignored. This is because killing grunts reveals your position on the map and sets you up to get ambushed by a radar-savvy player. The people that do run around killing grunts tend to get slaughtered because everybody knows where they are at any given time.
One of the biggest design issues Respawn faced is that the levels had to be big because otherwise what would be the point of having giant badass robots? The 6v6 makes sense because having 24 Titans on the field during a 12v12 would make things really crowded for Titans and players wouldn’t be able to step outside a building without getting crushed. It would also probably double the system requirements. However, because the levels are big, you can go a while without seeing another Pilot. High traffic areas tend to get camped in creative and infuriating ways. The good news though is that the radar will show you the location of opposing pilots, and the movement is so fast, you can always manage to get into the fray eventually. I’ve consistently run into a couple weird lulls in every match, but it’s nowhere near as bad as respawning in Battlefield 4 and having to drive ten miles for the privilege of being instantly shot by an annoying ass sniper.
Speaking of sniping: Nobody does it. The sniper rifles are underpowered, by which I mean unless you are a master at leading players moving fast and unpredictably, you will fail. The best sniper rifle is a one shot kill, which might seem overpowered, but it’s not when you consider the player has to lead his target. Targets move fast. If you get sniped, don’t bitch about the rifle being OP, because it’s your fault for not moving better.
Overall the game is polished (though not beautiful by any means), and the gameplay is fantastic. These two factors are enough to outweigh some of the more run of the mill, boring aspects of the game. I desperately hope that the developers rectify the awful weapon selection in the future, or at least in the inevitable sequel. Is the game worth $60 bucks? Probably not in the grand scheme of things for most people, but if you really like multiplayer FPS games and have some friends to play with, I’d say it’s worth it.
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC (Reviewed)