Roll up: Titanfall, the Xbox One’s star attraction, is open for business
This month… Thief steals attention / Nine Inch Nails go darker / Gravity gives 3D a purpose / Sherlock enlists your app skills
When EA’s online-only shooter Titanfall was first opened to the public at Gamescom in Cologne last year, it caused a bit of a stir. Queues for hands-ons were so gargantuan, in fact, that wads of 100-euro bills exchanged hands for a bit of cheeky line-jumping.
Microsoft has made no bones about its importance, slapping Titanfall’s hightech face on all Xbox One ads from day one, four months ahead of release, as the primary reason to bag its new console.
This faith hasn’t been unwarranted, either. Created by Respawn, the developer formed by former Call of Duty head honchos Vince Zampella and Jason West, Titanfall is a tour de force, dividing up combatants into two teams on a battlefield where pint-sized, jet pack-wearing soldiers battle giant “Titan” battle mechs.
Much has been made of the slim number of simultaneous online players – 12 vs 64 on EA’s other big run-and-gun, Battlefield 4 – but this and the tight maps are what makes it unique, an intimate rollercoaster teeming with possibilities and bolstered by the cloud.
“We’re using dualcore servers to run all our matches, so there’s a significant
amount of CPU power available,” Respawn programmer Jon Shiring tells our sister mag OXM, “while the extra bandwidth lets us fill the world with moving things. It’s not just bullets flying through the air that’s using network data, it’s the physics of the Titans and the actual AI that’s making decisions.”
Once you’ve racked up a number of kills as infantry, you get to summon these Titans, pulling them out of the sky like a portable Robot Jox, setting them up as defence turrets or jumping in for a ride around town. Titans are powerful but cumbersome; you can’t jump and are stuck to the main streets, but your weaponry is strong. The best plan of
perf ect your kill skills and you ’ll be given the keys toamassi ve tita n
attack is to give other mechs the runaround as you target bunched infantry groups before cornering the big guys to be pulverised later.
If your mech suit is damaged beyond repair, a quick eject sees you fly into the air before it explodes, showering your enemies with return fire if you so wish (we very much did).
Pilots are less powerful yet agile and able to hang out in any of the map’s three tiers, be it firefighting ground troops, sniping from windows or scaling roofs to fight from above. Indeed, the verticality of the space is something to behold, the double-jump and free-running combo letting you scale buildings in seconds.
While FPS players will feel at home, with setup familiar and head shots instinctive, it’s the dynamic between Titan and Pilot that makes for an expertly balanced high-tech cat and mouse game, with neither team able to get the upper hand easily. Industry shows are often a difficult barometer to read, but the buzz around Titanfall has been impossible to ignore. It’s already the people’s champion, but the people, it seems, have great taste. From $90 titanfall.com/au, out march 13 on Xbox One, X360, PC
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