Titanfall review: drop zone

From finishing off a rival Titan by ripping out its pilot, to detonating a Titan to destroy a squad of enemy soldiers, Titanfall is filled with numerous moments of sheer fun.


From finishing off a rival Titan by ripping out its pilot, to detonating a Titan to destroy a squad of enemy soldiers, Titanfall is filled with numerous moments of sheer fun. Whether you're jumping on a Titan's back and shooting away at its battery like a mosquito sucking blood, or ripping the arms off a rival unit and beating it to death with them, there are so many OMG moments that, even after several hours of play, there's still little surprises to discover.

The focus on fun is evident in every aspect of Titanfall's design. Even basic traversal is engaging, with double-jumps and wall-runs allowing players to easily reach higher ground. Whereas infantry are agile, the titular Titans tower above other players, and it's easy to feel like a lumbering threat whenever jumping into the cockpit. Respawn has done a remarkable job conveying scale, but piloting is still accessible to anyone that's familiar with the core first-person controls. Their abilities are seemingly over-powered, with devastating firepower and a shield that can deflect enemy projectiles. However, there are numerous other abilities that make sure that neither soldiers nor Titans ever get too much of an upper hand.

Titanfall takes place in the distant future, where the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC) and a rival militia are battling for control of the land. War has gone beyond simple ground combat; giant roving mechs called Titans are called in to turn the tides.

There isn't much of a story here, but it provides enough context for the killing. By incorporating elements of a traditional shooter campaign, developer Respawn Entertainment has created a more immersive experience with multiplayer, augmenting Call of Duty-style twitch gameplay with added weight. Individual matches feel like small narrative experiences: there's a clear beginning, middle, and end, as infantry battles evolve with the introduction of Titans, and the endgame introduces new objectives for both the winning and losing side.

Progression is also enhanced by Titanfall's minor narrative. In lieu of a traditional campaign, players learn more of the game's systems by leveling up. There's a staggering amount of unlockables, and the gating does a good job at slowly introducing new mechanics. For example, custom classes only unlock after level 5, while Burn Cards are introduced even later on. Like other top-tier multiplayer games, rookies are quickly rewarded and empowered, while veterans continue to discover new tactical options.

The 15 maps available at launch are sized just about perfectly, giving players ample room to run around and do some damage. While it may lack the scale of Battlefield 4's immense maps, the more intimate environment--and the inclusion of AI-powered NPCs--ensure you're not out of the action long. That's a good thing.

Titanfall also has several modes where you can jump into combat right away. Attrition is a deathmatch-style mode, giving teams numerous ways of turning the tide of battle. By running around in a Titan for a couple of minutes or laying waste to a group of AI minions with a few well-timed shotgun blasts, the ability to score points from a variety of activities regularly makes for engaging battles.

Other modes include the Last Titan Standing, where all players duke it out in Titans; Hardpoint, where players control specific objectives on a map; Capture the Flag, self-explanatory; Pilot Hunter, where players hunt down the main soldiers on an enemy team; and Variety Pack, which puts everything in a blender and mixes it together. No matter which mode you choose, you'll find plenty of action to go around--although Attrition is the most popular mode right now.

After playing through 40-plus matches over ten hours of play, I'm still digging to see what I can unlock as well as what I can do. And while there has been some concern about how smoothly the servers run, the problems since launch have been minimal, with the occasional "retrying connection" error. But even with the usual launch jitters, Respawn has reinvigorated the multiplayer experience by incorporating campaign elements, and focusing on fun. While the long-term enjoyment of competitive play will be tested over the coming months, Titanfall establishes a solid base--one that should be rewarding for those who invest in the game for a prolonged period of time. This is no "flash in the pan," and we're eager for more. [9]

This review is based on downloadable Xbox One code provided by the publisher. Titanfall is available now on Xbox One and PC for $59.99, and will release on Xbox 360 on March 25th. The game is rated M.

Robert Workman was previously a games journalist creating content at Shacknews.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 11, 2014 11:00 AM

    Robert Workman posted a new article, Titanfall review: drop zone.

    From finishing off a rival Titan by ripping out its pilot, to detonating a Titan to destroy a squad of enemy soldiers, Titanfall is filled with numerous moments of sheer fun.

    • reply
      March 11, 2014 11:10 AM

      I'm really interested to see how long this game lasts. For me, during the Beta, I felt like I had experienced it all with a few hours of play. It starting getting stale, for me. But at first I was all 'OMG AMAZING'. It has great first impressions, for sure.

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        March 11, 2014 11:28 AM

        You know what I would like.... Titanfall but an open world game like Skyrim, yeah that's right it would own full RPG and gear upgards and a massive world to explore and you continue to build up your Titan to pimp status and of course your dude gets stronger and better weps for the on foot FPS would still be there when you got to go in buildings, caves etc where your Titan can not go.

        Anyways I really hope some FPS start going open world but not MMO, what I would do is have a coop and sp wrapped around a MP game that be in the center of the world as a war zone to capture some mega resource or key struggle int he story.

        It be really great to then go from SP or COOP and jump into MP when you feel like it but have that transition seamless, say your crew or your self go into a restricted zone where something has to carry you into a battle zone or some transition that plays and when you connect then your in the MP game.

        The key is there is a offline SP or COOP that is not on a server and only when you go to the warzone do you have to then sync up with a server(during that transition period).

        Anyways I doubt this is going to happen for a long time :( that is where I would like to see things to progress. It be like having FarCry 3 game and in the heart would be a warzone which would be your MP that you can dip into at anytime seamlessly.

        That would OWN \m/

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          March 11, 2014 11:46 AM

          TitanSkyrimSouls? I'd play it.

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          March 11, 2014 11:50 AM

          Giant robots and open world probably wouldn't mix pretty well. You're so big it would be hard pressed to give context as to why there are so many other colossal giants across the globe.

          Also... everything else you've said: Borderlands

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            March 11, 2014 12:02 PM

            Yeah Borderlands does all the other stuff very well, I would love that stuff in Titanfall with the Titan and with a seamless MP(what Titanfall has now) around the core of Borderlands SP and COOP.

            It be crazy if done right, it be so cool to kick out of the MP that is in Titanfall into a SP or coop world and jump in and out at will. Basically there would not be two games and two exes like COD does it and others.

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              March 11, 2014 12:06 PM

              I was going to say you need to check out Borderlands, but it looks like you have that covered. Destiny should be right up your alley (minus mechs, unfortunately).

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                March 11, 2014 12:33 PM

                Yeah Destiny sounds like ti will own that one is high on my list I am going to be all over it. Is there a offline mode or more built in SP with MP when ever you want but always connected to a server?

                From what I gather it is a D3 or MMO model but you don't have to play with others but it is cool when playing MP.

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            March 11, 2014 12:23 PM

            Lies... X from Monolith will be awesome.

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              March 11, 2014 12:31 PM

              I can not wait for that game ^^ YES, they said it is out this year too I think?

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              March 11, 2014 1:01 PM

              Hmm good point.

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          March 11, 2014 11:57 AM

          I'd much prefer a tighter SP campaign that has open ended story and missions which can change the course of the game much like Freespace. Being part of a struggle and your Titan vehicle is your personal vehicle that stays with you throughout the campaign. I wouldn't want it to just be another skin you can interchange with another if it blows up. You can unlock new Titans like ships in X-Wing Alliance perhaps and choose them for certain roles in a mission but it would have negative consequences as well for not being able to handle every parameter of a mission, hence the non-linear aspect of the campaign.

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          March 11, 2014 11:58 AM

          Correction: Freespace 2

      • reply
        March 11, 2014 11:52 AM

        I think its something that will be fun for a few months. New Maps can probably extend the interest and maybe even new kinds of mechs .... if that is even possible.

      • reply
        March 11, 2014 12:09 PM

        I had the same experience with the beta. Sadly I'm already reaching that point again after only a couple hours of the actual game. The first time playing a map is really fun but after that the story element wears off and your left with just running around shooting guys. I really enjoyed the titan battles during the beta and I'm already getting bored with them now as well. I've actually been just calling in my titan a lot and just staying on the ground letting the ai control it while I just shoot everyone trying to take it down. I really hope there's some cool stuff I'm missing because so far this game is great for shooting people but not much else.

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          March 11, 2014 12:23 PM

          What else do you want from a FPS?
          Movement + Shooting + Titans. If anyone told you anything else they were lieing.

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            March 11, 2014 12:55 PM

            I was hoping for more things to mix up the shooting. Like a bunch of really unique weapons, More objectives, a campaign that is more than just regular multiplayer matches, abilities that can help the team out, objects that can be destroyed/interacted with that can change the flow of battle.
            Like I said I'm only a couple hours in so I'm sure there are more things in the game than what I've seen though. So hopefully I'll find some stuff that'll make it interesting again!

      • reply
        March 11, 2014 1:09 PM

        Yeah, the beta got boring after a few days. Battlefield is just way more up my alley I guess.

    • reply
      March 11, 2014 12:34 PM

      Whatever happened to that dropzone Shacker?

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