Titanfall: Microsoft’s ace in the hole?

Titanfall_box_artAs Gamescom came to a close yesterday, we couldn’t help but feel that Sony had somehow, once again, ‘won the show’. Neither company really wowed in the same way Sony did at E3, but Sony had at least saved some big announcements for Gamescom (the launch date of PS4). Microsoft had a big FIFA announcement (that was met with a luke-warm reception at the conference, but has been very popular with fans), but there was little else to really pull fans in. That is, of course, until we saw a little more of Titanfall.

Titanfall is described as a ‘mecha’ first-person-shooter and will be the debut game from Respawn Entertainment and published by EA. Respawn is the studio founded by ex-Infinity Ward employees (and Call of Duty creators), Jason West and Vince Zampella. West, Zampella and at least 38 of the 46 Infinity Ward employees who resigned after West and Zampella were fired from Infinity Ward in 2010, have spent the last 3 years developing Titanfall and if their Gamescom showing was anything to go by, it should be an absolute belter!

Even if Microsoft hadn’t presented such a meager showing at Gamescom, Titanfall would have still stood out. Not just because it’s the first game from Respawn Entertainment (although that alone would get it noticed), but because of how ambitious, frantic and exciting it looks.

As you can see in the trailer, West and Zampella are returning to familiar ground with an FPS,but it’s what they’ve added to that formula that has set tongues wagging. The ability to do a double ‘boost’ jump to access higher ground, run across walls and drop from towering heights means that every square inch of the vast, sprawling maps will be used. The amazing use of vertical combat is something we haven’t seen used effectively in a Call of Duty game since the first Modern Warfare! Then, of course, there are those mechs!

Giant mechanical beasts, called Titans, that are player controlled instantly change the landscape of battles, as players either turn their focus to destroying the opposition mech OR run around trying to take down the distracted opponents and protect the mech. That is, unless YOU are the one controlling the mech! In that instance, death and destruction on a large scale are the order of the day!

Run on walls, battle giant robots. What's not to love?
Run on walls, battle giant robots. What’s not to love?

At certain points in the battle, you can call in support in the form of your Titan which will then ‘fall’ (hence the title) into the battle zone at a location of your choosing. Stepping into the Titan looks amazing! Players retain the first-person perspective, but now from within the mech, movement is slower, weapons are MUCH more powerful and your own health is protected by that of the Titan. From this elevated viewpoint, you can stomp around, blasting tiny, ant-like opposing forces to smithereens – or take on enemy Titans!

One, jaw-dropping, moment from the demo (around the 3 minute mark) sees the player controlled Titan punch the opposing mech in the ‘face’, smashing through the hull and actually grabbing the enemy player straight out of the Titan and discarding him (or her) like an old piece of rubbish! It looks truly staggering, what Respawn have achieved!

Titan vs. Man, I think we know who's won this one already.
Titan vs. Man, I think we know who’s won this one already.

So why is this Microsoft’s ace in the hole? Well, scheduled for a Q1, 2014 release, the game will be exclusively available on Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC. After an E3 of own goals, followed by Microsoft patting themselves on the back whilst reversing every unpopular decision – like they were doing us a huge favour, this is one aspect of the Xbox One hype that Sony really WON’T be able to take pot-shots at, more of this Microsoft please!

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