Titanfall – Review


Brendan and Chris make a visit to Hammond Robotics and review Respawn’s debut title.


It’s not everyday that a brand new IP takes the gaming scene by storm, but after playing an early build at the EB Games Expo in 2013, it was understandable that the hype behind Titanfall was well and truly justified. Developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by EA, Titanfall is a first person, multiplayer shooter which released in Australia on 13 March 2014.


The storyline of Titanfall focuses on the far point of explored space, known as The Frontier. With the edge of civilisation open for further exploration and exploitation, the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC) will do everything in its power to obtain resources within The Frontier. Their pursuit for resources has come at a great cost, with much of the world within The Frontier destroyed at their expense. Hammond Robotics are the parent company of the IMC and create most of the technology utilised within the IMC, including the Titans. The Frontier Militia (Militia) are formed of local settlers and outlaws with the key intention of defending The Frontier from whatever threats arise, such as the IMC.


With the game being multiplayer focused, players verse their opponents in a Six vs. Six match as either the IMC or the Militia. The battle between factions occurs in two ways: Either on-foot as a Pilot which comes off as your conventional style of FPS gameplay, or inside a giant mech called a Titan.


The game comes fresh out of the box with 15 different maps, with the Season Pass also available as an additional purchase for future additions (Maps, Game Modes etc). Out of the 15 maps, 9 of them are featured in the Campaign portion of the game, with all 15 available in multiplayer. For those that like delving into the nitty gritty of each map as a ‘Strategy Guide’ of sorts, Digital Trends have a nice run-down of all 15 maps available. When it comes to the multiplayer aspect of games though, maps are not everything. Along with these well-designed maps, there are five game modes to select from, which consist of:


Attrition – Essentially team deathmatch.

Hardpoint Domination – Capture points A, B and C throughout the map, with the match winners being the team earning the most points.

Last Titan Standing – All pilots start their game in a Titan, with the last surviving Titan being the faction winner for that round (respawn is disabled, imagine Counter-Strike with Titans).

Capture The Flag – Name says itself, faction bases are positioned at furthermost point on map.

Pilot Hunter – Similar to Attrition, but only pilot kills are counted.


It is easy to differentiate between the identities of the IMC and the Militia in Titanfall during a match. With Hammond Robotics supplying assets to the IMC, their uniform, Titans and weaponry are all shiny and appear to be state of the art. This is in contrast to the Militia who wear green worn-out uniforms and utilise battle-scarred assets.


The thought of having to remember a list of Pilot and Titan controls seems very confronting at first, but Respawn have managed to remove these dilemmas by integrating a comprehensive Tutorial. This starts when the game is played for the first time. The player is run through 15 simulations, demonstrating all the Pilot and Titan combat techniques such as wall jumping, stealth, and defending yourself from other Titans on the field, as well as going through the usual list of standard weaponry.


In typical FPS fashion, you can customise the loadouts for your Pilot and your Titan – from changing weapons & ordnances to selecting what mods to use. You will initially start out with three pre-chosen loadouts before you unlock further custom loadouts (five) to build yourself – this is for both your Pilot and your Titan. If there was one gripe to have regarding this system, it is that you are unable to name the custom loadouts. Although it’s not a huge deal perse, it is nice to be able to customise it completely so that you can easily pick your named loadouts for the game.


Players are rewarded after each match and/or challenge with perks called Burn Cards. These are a great addition to the game and can be used in matches for a multitude of tasks, depending on the card you activate. Up to three Burn Cards can be used in a match, where you make your selection beforehand. Burn Cards will last from when you activate them during a match until you die. There are currently 50 known Burn Cards (at time of writing the review), inclusive of some rare ones which sport a Gold emblem in the top-left corner to differentiate. There’s a neat little rundown of each known card and what it does over on the IGN Wiki.


Having control of your Titan also extends to being outside of its body. Once you have jumped out, your Titan can be set to auto mode (Guard or Follow), which adds an entirely new dimension to the game by giving you choice on how to action out objectives.


An interesting twist to the gameplay in Titanfall is that when the match ends, the game doesn’t finish just there. An evac drop ship is called to pick up opponents from the losing faction, so from there it becomes a race to make it to the ship or to kill your opponents from boarding it. The drop ship doesn’t arrive instantly though – there is a 30 second wait until it arrives. So for the players of the losing faction that make it to the landing point, all tactics to defend yourself are paramount. It becomes the longest 30 second wait you will encounter in a match.


What makes Titanfall so enjoying is seeing how balanced the gameplay experience is. While there are many in-game encounters that can make one player look more powerful than another, everyone is on equal ground, with the only differentiation being skill as well as experience. All Pilots are equipped with the weapons necessary to take down a Titan, with Titans equipped with defensive manoeuvres to escape damage from Pilots as well as other Titans. This also spans across to weapons used for Pilot vs. Pilot combat. An example is the Smart Pistol – a handgun that locks onto enemy targets, thus eliminating the need for actual aiming. While it sounds very overpowering (“noob-tubing” is a more colloquial term), it was found that the Smart Pistol is only useful for certain tactics such as an assassination, or anything that isn’t one-on-one combat.


You’re probably wondering by now why the campaign has not been discussed earlier on. Titanfall does have a campaign consisting of nine missions with two stories, one told from the IMC side, the other from the Militia side. The problem with the campaign though is that it isn’t captivating, nor is it justified to the player. The gameplay differs slightly from the normal Multiplayer modes in that only 9 of the 15 maps are used in sequential order. The outcome of each mission is always the same, regardless of faction and whether you win or lose. The main differences between a campaign and a multiplayer match is that only two game modes are available (Attrition and Hardpoint), as well as hearing in-game story dialog that explains the reasons to why you’re fighting a war.


The campaign doesn’t get you fully involved into the story. Unlike most FPS titles, you’re not the hero character of Titanfall – you’re just another IMC/Militia troop on the ground battling it out. The story dialog is also very easy to look over. You end up focusing yourself more on what is happening in the game rather than paying attention to the dialog being played over. Unless you really appreciate the history behind the IMC and Militia and why there is a war, then it isn’t crucial for you to know this to enjoy the game. While it is nice having a little backstory presented to you, it is for the most part an unnecessary addition. That being said if it was fleshed out a little more, it could have been a different stance.


While the campaign may be lacklustre, the overall multiplayer experience in Titanfall is amazing, and this is what the game was designed for. With a simple premise, balanced gameplay and a satisfactory range of game modes to select from, Titanfall stands out as one of the most enjoyable and easy to play titles in the FPS genre.


Rating: 9/10