Can Titanfall respawn the former Call of Duty developers’ place in the gaming world?

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Titanfall has a bit of a storied history.  Respawn Entertainment was formed by Jason West and Vince Zampella after being ousted from their positions at Activision in a bitter internal dispute that got rather ugly.  They were responsible for much of the development of the wildly successful Call of Duty franchise, and were quickly scooped up by Activision’s rival EA to work on a competing product.  Everyone waited with baited breath as to what that product would be until E3 2013 when Titanfall was revealed, winning 60 awards in the process.

So what is Titanfall?  It’s an online multiplayer only first person shooter that combines many of the gameplay elements of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare games with Mirror’s Edge style free-running and most amazingly mech combat.  These “Titans” are smaller more agile walkers than what you’d normally see in the likes of Mechwarrior, but still feature quite a bit of heavy firepower.  They aren’t nearly as nimble as the standard soldiers on the ground, or “Pilots”, that can string together wall jumping maneuvers to avoid the heavy fire of Titans, duck into cover, and possibly get into a good position to take them out at their weak points.  Titan’s can only be dropped into the map after a set time, and when one falls in combat the timer is then reset.  There are also other tools available to players such as electrified smoke that prevents Pilots from re-entering Titans after being ejected.

This to scale statue at E3 demonstrates the size of the Titans versus standard soldiers on the field.
This to scale statue at E3 demonstrates the size of the Titans versus standard soldiers on the field.

Despite being multiplayer online, the game will feature singleplayer elements such as voice acted NPCs and plot oriented goals for players on both sides of the war.  The two factions allotted to players are called the Intersteller Manufacturing Corporation and the Militia, though very little about the plot has been revealed.  Most of the focus given to the press and to the general public has focused on the action and gameplay.

The biggest news was the recent announcement that the game would be “exclusive to Microsoft platforms.”  In a growing trend, the word “exclusive” has become less exclusive as it once was, as it has been revealed that the game will still be getting a full PC release alongside the 360 and Xbox One offerings, though many Playstation 4 owners were disappointed to hear the news.  Twitter chatter between the developers and awaiting fans also seemed to give the impression that they were just as shocked that EA struck the deal with Microsoft, hinting that the game was being developed for at least the PS4 up until this point.

The game is set for a March 11th launch date in North America, March 13th for Europe and Australia, and 14th for New Zealand and the United Kingdom.  Anticipation for the game is high, especially considering that many critics and fans have noted a stark decline in quality from the Call of Duty franchise since the developers of Titanfall left Activsion for Respawn.  Many are expecting Titanfall to strike down the current titans of multiplayer action, and they have a lofty set of expectation to meet.

Will Respawn climb back to the top of the scoreboard, or will they fall in the face of unrealistic hype and a battlefield already chalk full of giants?

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