Titanfall looks amazing, but it plays much, much better than it looks
EA showed off a new game mode for Titanfall, the first game to come from Respawn Entertainment, at Gamescom this week. The accompanying trailer is embedded in this post, although if you really want to get a sense of the game’s visuals you’ll want to download the high resolution version of the file. Watching the game being played via Youtube isn’t going to show you everything you should be seeing.
Titanfall is one of the first games that looks like a true next-generation title, filled with beautiful, high-detail madness that runs at a constant 60 frames-per-second. Other games have details that point to their pedigree as next-gen titles, but you almost have to know what you’re looking for. Titanfall, on the other hand, announces itself to even the casual observer.
I could spill more words about the game’s visuals, but I want to talk about the real reason the game is going to blow you away. In short, it plays even better than it looks.
The power of intuition
I recently had the chance to try the game, and played through two entire rounds against other human players. It’s hard to talk about the mixture of narrative elements in the game with such a brief time to really dig into the atmosphere and see how things would play differently across multiple runs through a map. That’s the sort of thing we’re going to have to explore on longer demos, or when we have the full game in our hands.
What’s important is that the game feels like it wants to be played, and played well. It’s much, much faster than we’re used to from other big-name first-person shooters, including Call of Duty. It’s also a vertical experience, since you have the ability to double-jump, use your jet pack in a limited fashion, and run along walls before pushing off to get even more distance.
Watch the embedded video again to see how much of the map is accessible to the player, and how it’s reachable in a shockingly quick manner. If you see an enemy off in the distance, they can be right on top of you in a matter of moments. Sniping from the rooftops gives you less protection than you think.
This sort of reliance on movement and use of vertical momentum is more Tribes than Battlefield, and the moves you see in the trailer aren’t the result of weeks of practice. You’ll be able to pull those sorts of maneuvers within minutes of picking up the controller and getting a feel for how everything works.
The control layout simply makes sense, to the point where I can’t even describe it to you. The buttons your fingers reach for to do the thing you want them to do? Those buttons work the way you expect. It all snaps into place quickly, and the game opens up for even beginning players to feel like they’re masters of the environment.
It's hard to go back to other shooters after playing Titanfall; everything else begins to feel slow and clumsy. The speed of the game, combined with the precision of the controls, makes you feel like a surgeon as much as a soldier. It's a beautiful game to watch, sure, but it comes to life once the controller is in your hand, and you get a sense for what is now possible in terms of movement.
Titanfall is going to get a lot of attention for its visuals, and rightly so, but the praise it's receiving may seem like hyperbole until more people get their hands on it. Let's hope that's sooner rather than later.