A quick look at Titanfall before our full review

Check out our full review of Titanfall.

Titanfall is out for PC and Xbox One tomorrow, March 11, but we’re allowed to start talking about it today. We’ve been enjoying our time with Respawn Entertainment’s debut effort thus far, but after some discussion, we’ve decided to hold off on delivering a full review until we can play the game in a live, post-release setting. The reasons for this should be obvious. Titanfall is a multiplayer-only game of 6v6 first-person shooter gameplay. It’s success or failure hinges on an active community playing on functional servers. The availability of different matches and modes prior to the full release has been difficult to predict, so we’ve decided to wait.

All that said, we’ve still managed to put considerable time in so far. We may not be able to vouch yet for what connectivity is going to feel like post-release, but we’re certainly able to share our early impressions of the game. Read on for ‘first hours’ takes from DT Gaming editors Adam Rosenberg and Ryan Fleming. Look for Adam’s review later this week.

Adam’s take

As many of us had already gathered from the recent beta, Titanfall is a polished shooter. Putting aside any concerns over content or performance, the foundational elements that make up the running and gunning achieve a level of silky smooth that most other shooters dream of. If there was any doubt before over whether the years of iterative work on Call of Duty dulled the skills of the ex-Infinity Ward-ers making up Respawn Entertainment, you can cast them aside. This game is a good time.

Titanfall Screen 8

That said, there are several elements I’m wary of as I take notes for this week’s review. The dearth of content is a big one: ultimately, there’s not a whole lot to Titanfall. The handful of multiplayer modes is complemented by a nine-mission campaign that’s really just an assortment of map-specific Attrition (read: Team Deathmatch) and Hardpoint Domination (read: Call of Duty-style Domination) matches injected with a bit of narrative flair. Strip away the hype and the fresh ideas – the latter of which is no small thing, to be clear – and you’re left with a multiplayer-only game of a sort that we’ve seen released in the past as a download-only Xbox Live Arcade type of proposition. In dark corners of the Internet, expect plenty of people to complain about the price-to-content ratio.

Performance is also something I’m watching closely. Matches are difficult to connect to right now because there’s so few people playing, but more than once I’ve run into server disconnect errors that ended a match prematurely. I’ve also seen some bizarre matchmaking, like one incident in which the game stuck all six people in a lobby on the same team instead of starting the match with a 3v3 setup. Some of this could certainly be a product of the relatively empty servers, but we’ll be watching Titanfall‘s performance closely post-release to see how the game handles the influx of players.

Ryan’s take

Titanfall is the game Call of Duty fans desperate for an update to the franchise have been clamoring for. It takes the ideas and concepts that the core unit at Respawn Entertainment created back when they were with Infinity Ward, and evolves them without reinventing them. It is familiar, and yet unique. In that, Titanfall is the shooter we’ve been waiting years for. In other ways though, it is far behind the curve.

Titanfall Screen 7

The amount of content – or the lack thereof – is a major concern. In total there are just five game modes, and none of them are particularly original. You have three variations on team deathmatch, capture the flag, domination, and that’s it. That lack of content extends to weapons and loadouts as well, and there are only a handful of perk-like Tactical Abilities to unlock. Pilots, for example, only have 10 primary weapons to choose from. There is a serious risk that players will quickly grow tired of the game.

In terms of gameplay, there’s a lot of polish and a wider array of mobility and tactical options than you’d expect from a multiplayer shooter. The addition of Titans, as well as the ability to wall run and take the battle into vertical spaces, opens up the game to strategies we haven’t seen before in other games like this. It will be interesting to see what Titanfall becomes when tens of thousands of players descend on it and begin to create new strategies based on that.

(Images and video © Electronic Arts Inc.)