The temptation to compare Call of Duty and Titanfall is strong, and with good reason—Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment was formed by former CoD devs from Infinity Ward.
But when Jason West and Vince Zampella left that franchise behind them, they also threw away the rule book.
For a game that on the surface looks like Call of Duty with mechs, Titanfall could not be more different. And at a preview event in Los Angeles we got to find out just how different it really is.
Prepare for Titanfall
The addition of those giant armored mechs, called Titans, is not a superficial one. They fundamentally change the game, and gameplay is totally focused around them. As a pilot on the ground, you rack up kills in order to speed up your moment of "Titanfall," when your custom-outfitted Titan is dropped from orbit onto the battlefield.
As part of your soldier's loadout you'll carry anti-Titan weapons like guided rockets and chain guns that shoot missiles. In a one-on-one fight soldiers will usually lose to Titans, but if you're sneaky you can jump on their backs and beat them up from there.
Getting up there isn't as hard as it might be in a different game, because Titanfall is all about movement. That's another difference from Call of Duty: camping is discouraged, and constant movement is key. New abilities like double jumps, wall runs and ledge grabs help with that.
There's also no prone position, so you can't lie down in wait for other players to run by. And pulling up your weapon's sights doesn't auto-aim at the nearest target like it does in CoD, so Titanfall is much more about raw skill.
During the preview we played two levels: the cramped, urban Angel City, and the more wide open Fracture. We also played three game types: Attrition, a standard team deathmatch; hard points domination, capturing and holding strategic points; and a last titan standing elimination mode.
As we gained levels we outfitted our soldiers and Titans with crazier and crazier weaponry and perks, like a "smart pistol" that locked onto other players' heads, Titan-crippling arc grenades, electrified smokescreen emitters, and even defensive boosts for faster shield regeneration.
The ultimate weapon for us was definitely the sniper rifle, though, especially after we traded out the long range scope for a medium range one. The rest of our playtime was spent hopping from rooftop to rooftop capping players from above, putting our Titan on autopilot so it would engage enemies while we sniped. Yeah, you can do that.
That Feeling of Power
The most remarkable thing about Titanfall may be how powerful you feel as a combatant. There are only 12 players in each match, but there are dozens of AI-controlled grunts running around as well. They're easy to pick off, but they don't provide many points.
More importantly, you feel like a god the first time you get in a Titan. They're equipped with a crazy arsenal of weapons and abilities, like automatic missile launchers and a Vortex Shield that absorbs enemies' bullets and rockets and shoots them right back. Titan-on-Titan combat can be a game of cat and mouse, or it can be two behemoths butting heads like stags—or it can be a chaotic storm of metal and explosions as multiple Titans join the fray.
To get some more perspective on all the craziness, we also spoke with Respawn Entertainment Community Manager Abbie Heppe about the game. Head to page 2 to read our Q&A.
Titanfall enters open beta on Xbox One and PC this Friday.