At a glance, Titanfall is a next-gen shooter set in a sci-fi world with human characters called “Pilots” and giant mech-like walkers called “Titans”. However, Titanfall adds a healthy dose of single-player RPG-like elements to its repertoire that sets it apart as a game to watch. Although Titanfall will be multiplayer-only, it will feel very story-driven due to the heavy use of story elements, character chatter, and non-player characters (NPCs) that fight alongside players to complete team-based objectives.
Titanfall was first revealed at the 2013 Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles and is the first title to be released by developer, Respawn Entertainment. The history and foundation of Respawn Entertainment is a story all itself; essentially it’s the guys from Infinity Ward behind Call of Duty, Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Following a dispute with publisher, Activision, the Infinity Ward co-founders founded another studio appropriately named Respawn Entertainment. Check out Game Informer issue 243, for more gritty details.
I enjoy a first-person shooter now and again. The genre is pretty crowded these days so I’ve become really picky as to what I play; but hell, I grew up playing Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, Heretic, Hexen, and Quake. I even recall kicking some ass in James Bond 007: Goldeneye on the N64. Later I picked up Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (ironically also created by Infinity Ward) and Delta Force: Task Force Dagger. And most recently I’ve played some Team Fortress 2, Planetside 2, and have been beta testing both FireFall and Smite.
I typically prefer a strategy or RPG title, but that doesn’t mean to say I don’t enjoy some competitive free for all, king of the hill, capture the flag, or other cooperative team-based matches. What excites me about Titanfall is that small groups of NPC “Pilots” will deploy regularly at specific control points to either aid in the defense or assault of mission objectives. NPCs will be no match for players, but their presence adds an element of depth and strategy beyond that of a typical multiplayer match. Think advanced artificial intelligence (AI) for League of Legends’ minions and monster camps. Their constant (albeit non-threatening) barrage certainly won’t win the fight, but their threat is always present and felt, making the scope of the game much larger. Imagine if League of Legends had no minions, monster camps, or towers…
Multiplayer first-person shooters didn’t change much besides graphics and game modes from Wolfenstein 3D all the way to the early Call of Duty games . Since then, new weapons, vehicles, online leaderboards, achievements, unlocks, map packs and other DLC have come available. More recently, several new FPS titles have begun including NPCs and other RPG-like elements into their games. Take Sony’s PlanetSide 2 for example. The region map is divided up by three factions, all fighting for dominance in the region. By capturing strategic points such as mining and research facilities, as well as a larger portion of the overall region, the entire controlling faction is granted a bonus or buff such as experience gains, damage increases, damage reductions, ammunition and vehicle types, etc.
FireFall is a competitive first-person shooter that has already combined the single-player and multiplayer experiences. Players can level their characters solo via gathering/killing/delivery missions, team-based missions such as control points and Thumping, or entirely via the multiplayer matches. FireFall also has a jet-pack like feature. It is unknown if this was any influence to Titanfall or not. Given the development cycle, I think we can rule this out.
Regardless of where Respawn Entertainment gained their inspiration, Titanfall’s visuals are great, the gameplay videos appear to be smooth and solid, and the IP appears to have a deep story suitable for a sequel or two or three or four. Surly publisher Electronic Arts will want more from the guys over a Respawn. Here’s to a new studio, aptly name Respawn Entertainment, rising amidst the ashes of Infinity Ward.
Below I’ve rounded up some Titanfall goodies, so have a view and let me know in the comments if you’re looking forward to it! Until 2014, good luck and have fun!