At the end of the day, nobody really cares about the drama. Nobody cares about Zampella and West and their fight with Activision. In the end it’s about a good team making a great product. Electronic Arts stepped up to the plate, gave Zampella and West the control over their IP they needed, and turned them loose to build Respawn Entertainment. While the ex-Infinity Ward heavyweights may have parted ways, Zampella kept the reins of Respawn and came to E3 to fight. They knew they would be up against titles like Destiny, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Killzone: Shadow Fall, and more, yet they stepped into the ring and knocked each and every one of those titles right out. Let me tell you why Titanfall was the best damned thing we saw at E3.
We sat down with Steve Fukuda and Joel Elmsley to see Titanfall, live and unscripted – a point well-proven as Fukuda pulled back the curtain, literally, to show the rest of the Respawn team in another room to fill out the rest of the live player match. The game is billed as two games in one – Titan warfare and small-scale gameplay, seamlessly welded together. The demo mode we got to see is called Hardpoint. The MCOR and IMC factions are battling over a refuel point deep in enemy territory. With Joel Elmsley playing as callsign “Roughneck” and Steve Fukuda launching lead as “Gunslinger”, we kicked off the carnage.
Coming in on an orbital drop ship, we fold space and jump into the city. The civilian fleet is awaiting a chance to refuel as they are running on fumes. Captain Dunham, your Commanding Officer, has tasked us and our fellow Titan pilots to secure this area. In Hardpoint we have three areas to secure, Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie, that must be captured and held until the enemy will is broken. Like the Battlefield series, a counter slowly ticks upwards for each side as they capture and hold – it’s gonna be a long war.
As the two minute charge-up time ticks away we don our jetpack and wallrun, engaging in some of the most frenetic and seamless action I’ve seen in any FPS. Coordinating, Gunslinger and Roughneck call in both of their Titans to assault an enemy hardpoint. Point values pop up not unlike Call of Duty, rewarding us for things like gunning down foes with the Titan Arc Cannon, giving a friend a lift on your Titan (complete with a small icon to indicate your rider), dominating for 50 points, and then rampaging your foes for 100, and ultimately nabbing 750 points for capturing a hardpoint. Everything you do earns you points, whether you are assaulting, supporting, or crushing your enemies under the high-speed boot of your 24-foot mechanized Titan.
Some of the best part about shooters is the balance in weapons. The amateurs of the industry give us the pistol, shotgun, chaingun, rocket launcher progression, but Titanfall wants to give us something new. For instance, the Smart Pistol has a special attack that seeks headshots, but has very limited ammunition. The Guided Anti-Titan Rocket and Archer AT-Rocket can gib an enemy on foot pretty easily, but they are meant to be trained on the steel behemoths ripping through the battlefield. Of course, you’ll need something so powerful when they start unleashing the cluster-munition Titan Rocket Launcher, the 40mm howitzer, the Titan Arc (which has lighting jumping from foe to foe), or the Titan XO-16 heavy rifle. The action is frantic and constantly in motion, as are the battle reports from our squad mates on the right side of our HUD.
The action is frantic and constantly in motion. The Titans are not the hulking steel beasts we played in games like MechWarrior. These massive machines glide through the battlefield with as much speed and grace as the warriors holding the ground. When you factor in that you can “Rodeo” enemy Titans by jumping on top, ripping open a hatch, and hammering the vitals with your pistol to take them down, you can see how this game aims to take the crown from all other shooters.
With success under our belt, our HUD flickers the 51 second countdown for the EVAC on the Dropship. As this “Epilogue” unfolds and the battle continues we scramble towards the designated evacuation point. As we pick up a whopping 4000 points for escaping (“Get to the Chopper!”) we close out the demo. I looked around at the fellow press in the room and we all had the same look on our face – shock and disbelief. What we just watched was easily the most cinematic, seamless, and fantastic shooter we’d ever seen. It was like we were getting to play all those awesome cutscenes we’ve sat back and watched for so many years. As the demo closed it was clear – Titanfall was a nominee for Best New Franchise, and our winner of Best Game of E3 2013. It’ll be hard to wait until the Q1 2014 release for Xbox One, PC, and Xbox 360.
We also got to chat with the producer of the game, Drew McCoy: