Gameplay in Titanfall is split into two distinct categories, pilot and Titan. You start most missions as a regular pilot, while you wait for the engineers to build and air drop your Titan midway through matches. Pilots are designed to be nimble foils to the hulking 12-metre tall Titans they face.
Pilot gameplay is very similar to that of Call of Duty, to the point that it features a nearly identical control system. At a basic level pilots are just regular soldiers and fall into battle with basic primary and secondary weapons and a set of grenades, meaning that on paper they are woefully ill-equipped to fight Titans.
To help with this, Titanfall pilots come equipped with jump kits. The jump kits make pilots seriously nimble. The jump packs create a first-person perspective, free-running mechanic similar to that seen on Mirrors Edge and make navigating Titanfall's complex multilayer maps an absolute joy. They let players instruct their pilots to sprint along walls and jump up to high ledges using the thrust packs simply by clicking the A button.
We also found that the pilots' advanced movement speeds help encourage players to avoid adopting the "camping" gaming style that has plagued other online shooters, making it so there is never any one place a player can sit still and snipe without fear of being flanked.
Titanfall further encourages players to stay mobile during matches by arming each side with an army of computer controlled soldiers. The AI controlled squads appear from drop crates during matches and act as cannon fodder for Titans and pilots. Their presence is important, as from a distance they can be confused with enemy pilots and they are also fairly deadly in their own right if left unmonitored.
The addition of the AI controlled grunts is doubly welcome, as it makes Titanfall matches feel fairly epic. The inclusion of the grunts makes maps feel heavily populated and more action packed and ensures that there are never more than a few breaths between fights before you're drawn back into the action.
Titanfall's epic nature is further aided by its stellar next-generation graphics. Reviewing Titanfall on the Xbox One, and running on Valve's Source engine, we found it is one of the best looking console games we've ever seen. Playing through Titanfall's extensive array of multiplayer maps, we were astounded by how good the game looks, featuring full bump mapping, wonderfully detailed textures and particle lighting effects that make Call of Duty: Ghosts, look downright dull.
Pilots also come loaded with a special Tactical Ability, which can be set using the game's varied upgrade and loadout systems - more on this later. Special abilities are activated using the LB button. You start the game with a basic camouflage ability that lets you make yourself close to invisible for a brief period. The game also features more advanced options, like a Stim ability that rapidly improves the pilot's health regeneration rate and speed, and Active Radar Pulse that lets you spot enemy players through walls. Playing Titanfall, we found that the abilities were great additions to the game, and our camouflage capability regularly proved to be a lifesaver while trying to sneak past a hulking Titan or hide when wounded.
Next: The Titan experience.