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There are many things to like about Titanfall, from it’s slick gameplay to its incredible level design. The core concept is having two vastly different character types to play as: Pilot and Titan. While this idea is fresh enough in its own right, add in the parkour elements and double jump mechanic, and this game feels like something altogether new. In fact, the feel of this game is the most remarkable part of the entire experience. The visual spectacle on display is impressive and the sound design is top notch, however, the gameplay is the main attraction.
Given the amount of different things a pilot is capable of doing at any point in a match, I never felt frustrated by the controls. Which is really saying something – Think about all of the different things you can do in this game: wallrun, wall hang, mantle onto a rooftop or into a window, double jump, any combination of these moves, and more. With all of this mobility at my disposal, not once did I feel like my pilot was out of my control. If I did something stupid like get stuck in a corner or miss a window, it was my fault. I recall all of the frustration from popular third-person shooters throughout the last eight years or so with getting stuck on walls, glitching through geometry, and so on.
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I remember the clunkiness of first person shooters with things like: jet packs in Halo that never felt as responsive as I’d liked, the way I felt like an out of control speeding bus in Call of Duty when they introduced sprint, or how some of the parkour of Mirror’s Edge felt like I was trying to fold origami while wearing a blindfold. This game has yet to frustrate me with any such quirks. A feat, in my opinion, to be admired. I expect to see, just like what we saw with Modern Warfare during this last generation, a legion of copycat control schemes to emerge in this highly iterative first person shooter market. Ultimately, if done right, this would be a great trend to see catch on.
The controls and gameplay being what they are, wouldn’t have worked nearly as well, if the level design wasn’t some of the best I’ve ever experienced in a shooter of any kind, ever. These maps are tightly designed and well thought out, as evidenced by simultaneously feeling hand crafted for close quarters pilot-on-pilot skirmishes, as well as, massive titan-on-titan slugfests. The way most matches play out feels akin to what it must be like to play a match of Call of Duty set in the middle of an epic battle scene from Transformers. And I mean that in the BEST way possible.
From the moment you drop in to a match of ‘Hardpoint’ or ‘Attrition’ you know exactly where to go and how to get there. By simply following the flow of what feels right while hopping across rooftops, sprinting through underground tunnels, or even wall running across the spine of a massive skeleton that is stretched across the entire map. You never find yourself stuck or at a loss for momentum. Mobility, momentum, and agility are all catered to by the design of these maps. Impressively, the Titans aren’t left out in the cold here, either.
Obvious lanes of attack and structures clearly designed for cover reveal themselves the moment you climb into your fresh new mech. Sharp eyed pilots will immediately notice how dramatically the level architecture changes in context when transitioning to and from their Titans. From the eyes of a pilot on foot, a wall exists to run on in order to get a speed boost; however from the cockpit of a Titan that wall is valuable cover or a piece of geometry they can use to keep the opposing team from flanking them.
The design and feel of this game is so well crafted, that the shortcomings of the limp script writing, lack of diversity in game types, and complete absence of private matches really stick out as low points in the experience. However, these low points don’t directly obstruct the enjoyment of the game overall, but keep it from feeling like an experience that hits the same level of quality across the board.
That being said, there is more than enough room for growth with this game as time goes on. For instance, Respawn Entertainment has already reported that they will bring private matches to the game in an update in the future. Couple that with bringing something new to the table with additional gametypes, this title could easily be one of the best first person shooters on the market for years to come. As it stands, it’s the best Xbox One shooter, hands down. We will just have to wait and see if it can continue to grow into its own potential of being one of the best shooters period. I think it can, it’s only a matter of time.