Hands-on First Impressions of Xbox One’s ‘Titanfall’

By February 17, 2014
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Perhaps one of the most anticipated game releases of 2014 (which is saying something, since we’re not very far into it yet), new upstart Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall is the first major current-gen platform exclusive for the Xbox One console (in addition to PC and Xbox360 releases), and it seems as though the developers are doing everything they can to make the play experience as far from a secret ahead of release as possible. To that end, the once closed beta test for the game has gone completely open to all Xbox One owners, and I have to say: playing this game is quite a doozy.

While this beta is only a sample of what the full game experience will be, it’s already clear that Titanfall is going to be something pretty special. The game is, basically, a first-person shooter with a futuristic bent. Not so basic is the fact that it throws giant mech robots into the equation, making for quite a wide scale and a frenetic gameplay experience. Titanfall puts you in the role of a pilot fighting a war for one of two sides: the IMC, or Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation, or the Militia, a group of rag-tag rebels. Each battle takes place on the surface of a war-torn planet, and players have to engage in conceptually typical first-person shooter combat until their Titan is ready to drop from orbit.

Those words, “conceptually typical,” basically mean that it’s ground-based FPS combat. Even without throwing the massive Titans into the mix, though, Titanfall makes some pretty unique and creative additions to the FPS tropes. Each human-controlled Titan pilot is equipped with a short-burst jetpack that allows players to do a lot of really cool things: running and jumping off of walls, or double jumping to the roof of a two-story building just to name a couple. The weapons largely feel familiar, so that FPS-devotees can jump right into the action with a degree of familiarity, but new weapons like the “Smart Pistol” allow you to lock onto enemies and get a perfect shot, regardless of where you are actively aiming.

If you don't get to your Titan, you'll either have to face another one on the ground or maybe get stomped. Better run!

If you don’t get to your Titan, you’ll either have to face another one on the ground or maybe get stomped. Better run!

All of the “regular” FPS elements of the game feel enhanced, largely because of the verticality and multiple levels on which combat can take place (on the ground, in mid-air, on rooftops, or in basements). All of these things would make for a fun game experience by themselves, until your team’s operator says three words that change the entire experience dramatically: “Standby for Titanfall.

When you call your Titan down from the sky, every aspect of gameplay is heightened. As a pilot fighting on the ground, your strategy has to completely change when Titans enter the mix, since they fundamentally up the ante of the conflict and force you to think of a multitude of different factors. If your Titan hasn’t been called down yet, you can choose to try and engage them with a specific anti-Titan weapon, by jumping on their backs and “rodeo-ing” a Titan before shooting out some of its important circuitry, or by waiting to jump into one of your own and do some Titan-on-Titan battling.

The Titans themselves can certainly crush anyone at your feet, but human pilots aren’t exactly helpless: doing a rodeo can severely damage a Titan for another friendly mech to deliver a killing blow, and anti-Titan weapons shouldn’t be underestimated. Even a doomed Titan that’s on the verge of defeat can also be a weapon in and of itself. If a pilot is rodeo-ing you, you can eject and shoot him down as you head into the sky, and then make your Titan go nuclear to try and take out as many other enemy players as possible. And, like I said, this is just the beginning.

Be sure to come back to GeekNation in mid-March for our full review of Titanfall for Xbox One, and if you own the console then jump into the beta! It’s only going for a couple of more days!

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.
  • Man, sounds like this might almost be worth getting an Xbox One just to play this bad boy…