Can Titanfall Actually Be The Next Big Shooter?

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So. Titanfall. On Friday I got into the beta which is looking like it’s gonna be open now, so if you own an Xbox One or a capable gaming PC (that 8800GT is still truckin’) you can see for yourself what the hype is all about. Personally, I think Titanfall has the potential to be a really popular shooter, even if it might not be for me.

One of the main reasons so many people like Call of Duty is because of how responsive, fast, and frantic it can be compared to almost all other modern console shooters. It’s all about fast movement, responsive shooting, and having a short period of time between each kill. Titanfall manages to be even faster and more frantic than COD, yet also plays quite differently.

In the face of all these shooters trying to be like COD, Titanfall looks like it’s actually trying to change and enhance the flavor, though whether it does that enough is debatable. The Titanfall beta’s modes are pretty much your standard deathmatch and domination, plus one unique “Last Titan Standing” mode. The pacing and mechanics may feel different, but the underlying rules feel the same.

Titanfall’s sense of speed and movement is slightly more reminiscent of old PC shooters, bringing back things like auto-strafe and what essentially amounts to a modern equivalent to bunny hopping. The parkour mechanics make that Quake-style traversal viable on a controller (I’m playing it on PC with a keyboard). This is what makes Titanfall’s pace feel noticeably faster than COD or nearly any recent multiplayer FPS I’ve played.

And the eponymous vehicles, while definitely on another scale of combat, feel very well-balanced versus pilots. The verticality of the maps gives pilots ways to overcome titans. At the same time players have a lot of options upon exiting titans as they’re shot into the air. Adding AI control options to unmanned titans is probably going to prove to be a versatile feature when the player base develops.

In short, Titanfall actually tries to extol the elements that made COD popular, but in a way console gamers probably aren’t used to.

Whether or not it becomes the game-changer Microsoft hopes it will be depends on how many people buy the Xbox 360 version versus the Xbox One version. I firmly believe that one piece of software can change the whole equation for market share between software platforms, and Microsoft is undoubtedly betting on Titanfall being that killer app. Microsoft wants it to sell Xbox Ones but it’s hard to tell if regular joes will see it necessary to upgrade from their 360’s. The PC version on high settings, running on the 10-year-old Source engine, definitely doesn’t look definitively “next-gen.” As for whether it sets the tone for future shooters, we won’t really know that until one or two years down the line.

My biggest hope for Titanfall though is that EA doesn’t burn the series out by releasing sequels too frequently. EA hasn’t been a company to annualize, but somehow I feel like even a new Titanfall game every two years would be a bit too much. Maybe it’s just because I’m the kind of person to stick with one multiplayer game for years on end.

That brings me to why I personally probably won’t drop $60 on Titanfall come March. I’ve just started to realize the kind of shooter it is — the kind of shooter most people seem to want these days, isn’t really the kind of multiplayer game that draws me in. It’s great for quick bouts of easy gratification, but it isn’t the kind of thing to suck me in long-term. That’s getting into another discussion however…

BULLETS:

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One thought on “Can Titanfall Actually Be The Next Big Shooter?

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