Titanfall is quite possibly the most fun any of us will have with a video game in 2014. It’s not perfect, it’s not especially robust, it doesn’t offer limitless customization or even a real campaign, but the sheer joy of movement coupled with some of the most intense action of any online shooter in console history more than makes up for any missing features.
In Jim Sterling’s review of Titanfall over at The Escapist, he poses the question, “does Titanfall live up to the hype?” His answer is no, which is the same answer that many critics have given over the past week. I’m inclined to disagree.
Titanfall isn’t a revolution, but its laser focus on a satisfying gameplay loop is a revelation for triple A gaming. The new standard in game development is the kitchen sink approach: give consumers a single-player campaign, competitive multiplayer, unlockable outfits, dozens of modes and the promise of a whole lot more to come. Sometimes it works, other times it’s Battlefield 4.
Titanfall lives up to the hype because it does everything it promised to do, and it does those things really, really well.
As I’ve already mentioned in this article and my Titanfall beta impressions, the sensation of traversal as a Pilot in Titanfall is unmatched by any other game in the genre, even the speedy Unreal Tournament and the vertigo-inducing Tribes. Once you become proficient with wall-running and double jumping, you’ll be racing from one end of the map to the other without ever losing momentum. Unless you get shot.
Titanfall lives up to the hype because it’s balanced right out of the box. From the dozen or so hours I’ve played, I have yet to run into a map that isn’t perfectly scaled to handle both Titans and Pilots. I’ve yet to go more than a few rotten rounds without finding success in a new strategy, even when my team is lagging behind.
Speaking of lag, I’m cautiously optimistic about the infrastructure behind Titanfall after a relatively flawless first week. The servers were struggling on launch night, but other than an Xbox Live hiccup on Wednesday, I haven’t had any notable issues with connectivity. If Respawn Entertainment can make it through the first weekend unscathed, Titanfall will be one step closer to single-handedly proving the viability of an online-only console shooter.
In the end, though, Titanfall lives up to the hype because I can’t stop playing it. It’s been a long time since I invested myself in a shooter. I never prestiged in Call of Duty and Battlefield 4 didn’t stay connected long enough to hold my interest, but the rinse and repeat of Titanfall — sprinting across the map for early takedowns, escaping threats within an inch of my life, calling down a Titan and unleashing hell on my opponents — is all sublime. Although I find myself involuntarily itching for more maps, more modes, more weapons, Titanfall keeps reminding me that sometimes less is more.