The first time you see a player call a Titan mech down from the sky, climb in, and go on the attack, it is a breath-taking moment. The multiplayer battles in Titanfall, the first game from Respawn Entertainment (the top-tier developers formed from the aftermath of a massive Activision-Infinity Ward fallout) are actually two games combined into one, say the team. “It’s a large scale game and a small scale game. You’ll see how the Titans battle the Titans, how the pilots fight the pilots – but most important is how the pilots and Titans intersect.”
In a replay of the same mission as the one shown during the Microsoft Press Conference, Respawn was able to go considerably more in-depth in their behind-closed-doors session at EA’s massive booth at E3 2013. Taking more time in the battle, showing off some of the more spectacular moves and stunts both pilots and Titans can pull, and playing through to the bitter end of the match, Respawn had a lot to show in a short presentation.
Starting the match as a pilot, it was interesting to see how the pilots move through the world. Slightly augmented humans, their movement is fast and incredibly fluid – it’s like parkour, in a way, hopping across tiny legends and scaling walls with relative ease (all from a first person point of view), but thanks to the jets attached to the pilot’s back, more like parkour-by-flying. If you could slightly float over the surfaces you’re touching, that would give you the best idea of how this looks.
Initially, the timer in the demo was set to 1 minute and 30 seconds for a Titan to be built and ready for drop. After battling with that Titan and subsequently seeing it go boom, or after any respawns (when you die and wait to come back into the game), the Titan build takes a bit longer, but not much. Respawn wants you to be playing with the massive mechanical armor (and seeing how the pilots can, at times, be just as powerful), so expect to see them coming in and out of the game at a rapid pace.
The demo showed off some of the weapons, like the smart pistol, which actually locks on to nearby enemies to make even the smallest handgun into a powerful multiplayer weapon. The sequence of Eject-Fire while coming down-Land on enemy Titan-Destroy by removing panel and shooting is just so damn fun to watch, I can’t imagine it’ll ever get old when actually playing the game. Equally fun to see, though, was when that went horribly wrong – a player ejected from his Titan, flew into the sky, and the enemy Titan shot him mid-air with a rocket launcher. The entire room erupted with hollers and laughter at the sight, and the Respawn guys just grinned ear-to-ear.
Likewise, when the battle was over, a dropship came to pick them up. The final player boarded the dropship as it was taking off, giving an especially satisfying (and rare, they said) ending to our demo.
When Titanfall comes in 2014 to PC, Xbox One, and Xbox 360, it may well be the first killer app for the newest console from Microsoft. The crisp visuals and extra processing power of the new unit will allow for faster-paced and more exciting battles. It’s clear that the folks at Respawn have not lost a single step since leaving that other shooter franchise behind, and the future of mech battle is exciting.