My Top Picks for 2014 in Gaming

Now that 2015 is here, I thought it was my turn to look back over last year’s games and pick my choices for the best of the year. Instead of picking ten games and listing them in some arbitrary order, I just thought I’d list out what I thought were the best games of the year.

Titanfall

We’ll start with the two games that I think were the best of last year. For me, it was a year of shooters – starting in March with Titanfall and then in the fall with Destiny. Now, I get that neither really had much in the way of a story/campaign, but what both games did well was the most important aspect – the gameplay. Titanfall was the first shooter in years to feel fresh, with a focus of movement and speed instead of cover-to-cover combat. Add in the massive titular Titans and you had a wonderful mix of action that was totally refreshing to play. The DLC for the game kept it in rotation through most, if not all of, the year – adding a free co-op mode was a great idea by Respawn. I’m excited to see where the studio heads now – I would expect to see something maybe at E3 this year.

Destiny

As for Destiny, a lot has been made about the story already, so there’s no reason to belabor the point. However, I have been playing it consistently since it released in September. The gameplay is that good – it gets all of the Bungie trademarks right. The gunplay feels great, the melee and grenades and super abilities all add in a good variety to the combat, and the game itself looks incredible. The PvP is a little iffy at times, but playing through the raids is always exciting, and even just running the bounties everyday is still pretty enjoyable. There’s still one more content pack that we know of coming soonish, so we get another good look at Bungie’s work at keeping the game in good shape. I just hope that with Destiny 2, whenever that comes out, that Bungie uses the Lore that they have on hand with the Grimoire and finds a way to put it into a great story in-game.

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition

While I think those two were my favorite games of this past year, there were a bunch of other great games that I got to play last year. First was the Xbox One version of Guacamelee – a game I knew nothing about when I downloaded it. It was free with Gold this summer, and I would have rather spent some money on it to support Drinkbox games – it was that good. It nailed the Metroidvania style game perfectly, while managing to feel unique with its art and music and usage of Mexican lore. Fantastic game, from top to bottom – you really owe it to yourself to play it.

This was also a great year for a couple really tough, old-school platformers. Shovel Knight and Volgarr the Viking both harken back to the classic days of gaming – both evoking the feel of NES and SNES platformers respectively. They require patience to learn the patterns, precision to nail the platforming and timing to get through the combat. Shovel Knight was just announced for PlayStation platforms with the added ability to play as Kratos, which not only could look pretty cool, but also could help the game reach a new, larger audience. Volgarr is still free with Gold on the Xbox One, so you really should pick it up – even if it’s not your cup of tea, it’s free.

Sunset Overdrive Cover

As for other major releases this past year, I really thought that Sunset Overdrive managed to standout. It’s got the movement and speed that looks to be the trend of current-gen action games, but the game is so self-aware and irreverent that it’s humor is actually funny. Sometimes games try to be funny and it comes across flat – Sunset Overdrive is a good example of a game that is funny, but also has really tight gameplay to back up the wackiness. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is another great example. The series has always been keen on the humor, and each game has been phenomenal examples of action-RPG values. The action is tight, but the RPG elements have grown in each game, which allows for growth both within the game world as well as the player base. People who started with the first game and took a more straightforward approach to the action element can grow with the RPG side which helps open up the whole genre to them.

We also got new entries in the two biggest shooter franchises on consoles – Halo and Call of Duty. Both were strong games for sure – Master Chief Collection was just plagued by major networking issues at launch, primarily because of the scope of the game. As time has gone, the game has gotten much more stable, which is great, since all four games are still fun as hell to play. Adding in Halo 3: ODST and a remastered version of the Halo 2 map Relic is a great move by 343 to show some support for the dedicated fans. Now we just need to continue with the Halo 5: Guardians beta being solid and I think the feeling going into this year will be good. On the other side of things, Advanced Warfare didn’t have a particularly rocky launch – just a little laggy, which is to be expected with a major launch; and has grown stronger since then. It’s the Call of Duty that Activision needed, especially going up against Titanfall, which was already established this year. Moving forward, we’re set up for a really interesting 2015 – there’s bound to be a new Call of Duty game in the fall, plus the DLC for Advanced Warfare still, add in the new Battlefield Hardline, Halo 5, and Star Wars Battlefront coming this year, and I think you can see why it was so important for Advanced Warfare to do well. It shows that the series still has a place in the Current-gen world.

There were a couple other games that I know got lots of press, but I just didn’t have the time or funds to get – Far Cry 4, Shadow of Mordor, Assassins Creed Unity and Rogue, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire remakes, Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros for Wii U/3DS. That’s not even the beginning of it either – there were tons of great games this past year, and 2015 is already shaping up to be just as strong, if not more so. Hopefully we can put the focus back on the games, move on as a community and really become a mature subculture in the mainstream of pop culture.

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The Modern FPS Genre – The Trendiest of Genres

Call of Duty: Modern WarfareI’ve been a fan of First Person Shooters for a long time, going way back Quake II on the PC. As I’ve gotten more cognizant of how the industry works over the years though, I’ve come to notice something about the genre that goes back almost to those early days. It’s easy to look at the games in the genre and say that they all look alike. The basic form and function of the genre really hasn’t changed much since Wolfenstein 3D all those years ago. What really defines the whole genre is the trends the games follow, which tend to come in waves. With the new console generation, this is actually a great time to look at the genre, since we’re getting a whole bunch of new shooters; they may be all different games and tones, but they all have the same basic new trend behind them.

Looking back first though, I think that the major trend of the last wave of shooters really can be difficult to pinpoint. There was a big influx of 3rd Person Shooters that were really popular with the Gears of War series and the Mass Effect games. With those games, it was incredibly important to have a good cover system in place. That idea sneaked into FPS games as well, especially in the Call of Duty and Battlefield games. As those games added in the ability for weapons to penetrate certain materials, picking and choosing cover became a part of the game; as was recognizing what cover you could be behind and be protected, but also shoot over (head-glitching). That said though, I think the major trend really can be traced to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, both in multiplayer and single player capacities. That was the game that really started the trend of huge set pieces during the campaign – something that has become sort of a calling card for the franchise now. In the multiplayer though, it was the first game to have the custom class system. It gave players the ability to tweak how they would play the game – they weren’t reliant on weapon spawns on the map, or forced into playing a specific class. It was super popular, and it wasn’t long before we saw that system creep into other major shooters too. Halo adopted it with Halo: Reach, letting players set up their grenades, weapons and armor abilities, which would continue in Halo 4. And while Battlefield 3 still had the traditional class system that was present in the series since day one, it did allow for a bit more customization within those classes, which is definitely more prevalent in Battlefield 4. Because of the degree of flexibility that the custom classes offer shooters, I really don’t see this leaving the genre, even though there has been a bit of a demand for a return to a more classic arcade/arena style shooter.

Titanfall

As the next batch of shooters gets closer and closer this fall, I think it’s become pretty apparent what the trend will be for these “next-gen” experience shooters. It started with Titanfall and now that we know more about Advanced Warfare, Destiny, Evolve and even Sunset Overdrive, I think it’s pretty easy to see that this trend is pretty solidly set in. It looks like the name of the game with shooters this gen will be movement. Titanfall added it to increase the vertical nature of the combat, mainly to ensure pilots had a chance against the Titans. Wallrunning and double jumping all over the map really adds a dynamic to the action that was missing in previous shooters. As the game did well early in the year, I was waiting to see if the other shooters were going to follow suit, and sure enough, in their own different ways, they have. Advanced Warfare uses the Exo-Skeleton suit to add in a quick dash to jumps, in any direction, as well as a double jump, bring verticality into the Call of Duty formula. I’m sure that there will still be some amount of traditional cover combat in the game, but I really hope that the general flow of combat is much more fluid and involves more dynamic combat. Destiny has movement tied directly into the leveling of your Guardian. Each class has a different manner of adding in a double jump, with different mechanics as to how they actually work. That ability to get up above the enemy is important not only in the PvE story, but will definitely impact how matches flow in the Crucible. Even with Evolve being delayed till next year, we’ve seen plenty of gameplay footage showing off all sorts of different aspects of the action. Both the Monster and the hunters look to have plenty of aerial options to not only move around the huge maps, but also for combating the other side. Finally, even though Sunset Overdrive is a 3rd person game, and not exactly a traditional style shooter, they’ve taken the idea of movement and motion to heart. Wallrunning, jumping, sliding and grinding all play into not only how you move around the world, but also the action as well.

Shooters tend to be generally the most popular games every year, and while this year isn’t as much about Call of Duty VS. Halo VS. Battlefield, it’s still a stacked lineup of shooters this fall. It’s still really early in this generation of games, way too early to tell if this emphasis on movement will stick around the whole generation, but it definitely has infused a sense of energy into the genre, which I think kicks the fun level up a couple notches.

Titanfall Frontier’s Edge DLC Overview

TitanfallTo help ease the pain of the Destiny beta closing last week, EA and Respawn were nice enough to give us the second DLC pack for Titanfall, the Frontier’s Edge pack. Just like the Expedition pack, it comes with three brand new maps, and a new game update to go along with it. I’ve spent a pretty good amount of time since it dropped learning the maps, so let’s walk through the DLC and game update 5.

DIG SITE
The back story behind the map selection for Frontier’s Edge begins with Dig Site, a huge mining complex set way out on the outskirts of the Colonies. On first glance the map can be a bit overwhelming – there’s a hell of a lot going on in this map. Not only doe the map have the necessary open spaces for Titan combat, including longer sight lines, but there is also a large number of interior settings, meaning Pilots have tons of different routes to take, both vertically, and horizontally. After a few rounds on the map though, it starts to click – at it’s core, it’s essentially a big circle. Picking and choosing how you navigate around the map really is how the flow of the game can change. I’ve had a couple matches where the complexity of the map resulted in decent chunks of time where I never saw other Pilots. What surprised me about this map is how well Titan combat works on it – there are large chunks of the map that are open and built for Titans, along with plenty of side routes to take to get behind enemies. Achievement-wise, Dig Site has very similar map specific achievements to War Games from Expedition; all three maps have one to get a win, and another to play every game mode on them. Dig Site’s map specific ones require you to get 12 Pilot kills in one match, and to kill 50 Pilots total on the map. They aren’t too difficult, playing CTF or Hardpoint makes getting the 12 kills a lot easier.

Titanfall Frontier's Edge

EXPORT
Following the path of the story, we leave the mines to head to the shipping center with Export. Of the three, I think Export might be my personal favorite to play. It’s got nice sight lines that make it easy to pick up on Pilots, as well as plan your wall runs and jumps to get from point A to point B. It also has a good balance of interior spots that give you a little protection from Titans, as well as housing objectives in other gamemodes. This is also the first Titanfall map that features a map specific set piece – inside the top floor of the main warehouse, there’s a large electrical column. Shooting that column sends a massive electrical attack up the main supports to the opposite side of the map – electrifying a fence, and eliminating any enemies in the area. It’s a map that it’s really possible to use just about any play style. One thing that I wasn’t a huge fan of is how the Last Titan Standing match I played went. It could have been just the team I was playing, but one spawn really seems to promote sitting back on the high ground and letting they others come to you. The achievements for Export aren’t too bad – win a match, play each game mode, get a kill with the electro trap, and kill 25 enemies while cloaked. The cloak one is made easier by allowing AI kills to count, plus the map just allows cloak to work really well.

HAVEN
Finishing out the back story, we’ve reached the nearby luxury resort town that has been rolled up into the conflict, Haven. To me, Haven feels like the first map that really allows the snipers to shine – there are some really long sight lines on this map, plus a real strong emphasis on vertical combat, with lots of different levels to be on. Titan combat feels a little bit more “plain” since there aren’t quite as many ways around the map – mainly focusing on the outer roads and the main courtyard. For the most part, all of the buildings, save for one, are open only to Pilots. The building all have multiple floors, as well as multiple ways in and out on those different floors. Haven is a map where you really get good at wallrunning and making your jumps count, especially with a close range loadout. Cloak works well to keep you hidden while sniping, or making your runs out in the open; stim helps you get through those runs faster, and with the upgraded health regen; while radar pulse really is useful to help see people that might be above or below you. The Achievements on this map are a little different – the standard win a match and play each mode achievements; but the map specific ones need you to be good with Titans. First, you need to kill 15 Titans while you have a Titan burncard active – some of the Titan cards will really make this much easier – especially the Amped Cluster Missile or Amped primary weapons; secondly, you need to execute two Titans in one match. This one is a little trickier since it not only requires you kill Titans, in a Titan; but also you have to rely on the enemy not having Auto-Eject on. From what I have been able to tell, auto-Titans don’t count, but I’m not 100% on that yet.

Titanfall Black Market

TITLE UPDATE 5
One thing that I think Respawn has done tremendously well with Titanfall is supporting the game post-launch. Both DLC map packs have been very strong offerings, as well as the actual title updates addressing the issues in the game, and adding in extra features to boot. The fixed Titans in CTF early, they added in the Titan customization, they added in featured gamemodes; all while addressing other gameplay issues. With title update five, Respawn has added in the Black Market, a way for max level characters to still get Burn Cards, even after challenges have been completed. Performing well earn you credits which you buy the packs with. The other nice thing is that they’ve said no microtransactions at all, instead all the credits come from in game. Also added in with this update was daily challenges, giving more ways to earn credits and XP.

E3 2014 – Microsoft Conference Impressions

E3 LogoWe’ve finally arrived at the magical week that gamers wait for all year long – E3. Today is the first day, which means there’s going to be a ton of information coming out all afternoon. Expect multiple posts, and definitely stay up to date on twitter.

First up today was Microsoft, who I think was going in with a lot to prove after a somewhat down year last year. They caught a lot of flak from fans for focusing on the console and kinect instead of the games. They took that to heart and this year their show was, as Phil Spector put it, “90 minutes of games.” It was exactly the show that they needed to have, and they really did nail it. I’ll do a quick rundown of the games they showed, with some first impressions, and probably will be talking E3 all month, narrowing down to specific games.

Before the show even got started, they tucked two nice announcements in the pre-stream. Titanfall is showing new content this week, including a new game mode, Titan burn cards and customization. My guess is that it will be in a game update that we see pretty soon. They also sneaked in a Gears of War announcement in the pre-show, as well as Threes coming to the Snap window on the Xbox One.

Call of Duty: Advance Warfare
They opened, as usual, with the latest Call of Duty: Advance Warfare footage. My stream got a little screwy at the beginning, but I managed to catch most of the gameplay. In general, the first thing that struck me was obviously the new graphics engine – the game looks really smooth and awesome. I also immediately liked the new HUD design, tying all the relevant info directly to the gun is a neat touch I think.

Forza
They showed a couple cool Forza things – first was the free track, the iconic track at Nürburgring, available today. Second, was showing off the first footage of Forza Horizon 2, an open world take on the Forza formula. The Forza engine has always looked incredible, and this is no different. The game launches on September 30.

Evolve Cover

Evolve
The game that has been right toward the top of my list since I first saw it showed off a new monster character, as well as a little bit of new gameplay, and announced an open beta for this fall. Really excited to see more of the new monster in action as the summer rolls on.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity
Ubisoft brought their flagship franchise out and showed a little bit more of the latest installment, set during the French Revolution. The big announcement though was that this will be the first Assassin’s Creed game to include four-player co-op tied into the actual story, showing it off on the main stage during an assassination mission. Plus the actual game looks gorgeous.

Dragon Age: Inquisition
The third installment in BioWare’s fantasy RPG got a new story trailer, showing off a little bit more than we had seen. I have a feeling that this will be one of the games that as the summer goes on, we get a lot more teases of. Plus, as is a trend with these Xbox One titles, it just looks amazing. We also got a solid release date – October 7th.

Sunset Overdrive
Insomniac’s new shooter got a really killer trailer/gameplay combo. The lead in trailer I think did a good job of setting the tone of the game, poking fun at “modern” shooters and cover mechanics. The gameplay demo did a better job of showing off the idea of velocity in combat in action though. It was a short example, but man, it looks just like pure fun. The other big announcement was that there is an 8-player co-op mode included with the game, which drops October 28th.

Dead Rising 3
In a somewhat surprising twist, Capcom showed off brand new Dead Rising 3 DLC that is available now, which basically looked like a love letter to Capcom games of past. Each previous Dead Rising character is playable, and the content itself looks like a more arcade take on Dead Rising.

Harmonix
Harmonix came out with some new info – but not for the game I was expecting. I was going in anticipating to see some new Fanstasia footage, instead, we got the announcement of the new Dance Central: Spotlight, coming this fall as a digital only release.

Fable: Legends
Despite being a big Fable fan, I had stayed pretty out of the loop with this game, so seeing the new trailer and gameplay was really nice. Four player co-op tied directly into the story I think just fits perfectly with the Fable universe. Plus the option to play as The Villain is a really neat twist that could be a lot of fun. It looks like there is a Beta planned for the Holiday, so we’ll see more by then.

Project Spark
Another game I’m not super familiar with, but know some people who are much more so. It looks like a pretty intriguing experience, and the new confirmed co-op campaign, plus mutiplayer looks kinda cool. Plus they have Conker exclusive in the game, so that’s a plus.

Ori and the Blind Forest
It was kind of hard to tell exactly what this game is gonna shape up to be, but it reminded me a lot of Dust: An Elyssian Tail, probably because I was just playing it last month. I really like the art style, so as more comes out, then I’ll make my call on it.

Halo-Logo

Halo
I went in today expecting the Halo 2 Anniversary edition to be announced, but what we got was so so much more. The Halo: The Master Chief Collection is everything that a Halo fan could want – the first four main series entries, on one disc, with a full anniversary update to Halo 2. They’ve gone all out with it, adding cross-game mission playlists, every single multiplayer map, running on the original multiplayer engines, plus 4,000 Gamerscore in achievements to get. But that’s not all – it’ll also come with Halo: Nightfall which looks like the Halo 5: The Guardians version of Forward Unto Dawn, plus entry into the Halo 5 multiplayer beta. And in typical Halo fashion, it’ll be out in November, on the 11, with the beta launching on December 27, lasting a full month. To me, this was the killer announcement of the conference. Plus they trolled the hell out of fans with the opening to the trailer.

Looking ahead
Wisely, after the major Halo announcement, Microsoft shifted focus to games that are expected to land sometime next year or even beyond. What this amounted to was a series of trailers and gameplay footage in various states of completion, plus a good section focused solely on the ID@Xbox program. Playdead announced Inside, which looked a lot like Limbo, Square showed off the first trailer for Rise of the Tomb Raider, which I think is a terrible title, but should be a great game. We saw a good section of gameplay of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which got me totally on board – although I need to play the first games still. Phantom Dust, a game from the Original Xbox is getting a reboot next year. We also saw new MP footage of Tom Clancy’s The Division which looked really interesting, and I think will be a big player next year. We also got a new game from Platinum – Scalebound, which looks kinda interesting, but it’s hard to tell exactly what to expect from it. And finally, Microsoft closed with a trailer showing off the next Crackdown game, which doesn’t surprise me, but I’m gonna remain a little skeptical for now – I liked the original, but the sequel did nothing for me.

All in all, I thought Microsoft did exactly what they needed to with their conference – focused solely on games, had a lot of good footage and content, a couple surprises, nothing major and played it a little safe. I think as the actual games get a bit more play and info out this coming week, it’ll be a hell of an E3. Buckle up folks, it’s gonna be a fantastic week.

Let’s Talk About Destiny (The Game)

Special Friday post this week, mainly because I was still totally in vacation mode on Monday, but it ultimately worked out, since there was some pretty big news this week. Before I get to Destiny, I thought I should touch on the news of the week, as well as the TitanfallDLC. First, the big Xbox news – Kinect-less Xbox One and a $100 price drop; part of me is kind of upset about the price drop, just because it comes so soon after the initial launch, but at the same time, there’s a part of me that is somewhat prideful of being a Day One adapter for the Xbox One still. As for the Kinect becoming optional, I kinda thought that would be inevitable, now we just have to see what benefits that will have. The other nice bit of Xbox news is that they are changing the Gold membership a little bit, making entertainment apps no longer require a paid subscription. Again, I’m not totally surprised by this move, nor the extension of the Games with Gold to the Xbox One along with Deals with Gold. It all just makes total sense for subscriber retention and helps maybe bring people on the fence on over.

Titanfall Expedition

The first Titanfall DLC dropped Thursday as well, the Expedition map pack, bringing three new maps with it, along with Title Update 3. I’ve run through the three maps, and I have to say, each map plays really well within the Titanfall playstyle. The parkour options on each map are varied, but they really feel smooth, making moving around the map really easy and fun. And playing in a Titan totally works on each map really well too, with good sight lines and options for some real good fights.

Destiny

Now then, I want to talk a little bit about Destiny, since the Devil’s Lair gameplay trailer came out before I went away. First – the day that the trailer dropped, I saw a headline from one of the gaming blogs saying that they felt that Destiny looked “boring.” Having watched the Devil’s Lair trailer about 5 times, as well as the new ViDoc about the loot process, I disagree totally. Instead, what I think is happening here is that people are still going in expecting a new Halo style experience. I think it’s very clear now that Destiny is much closer in style to Borderlands. As for the trailer, it’s a bit slow because it’s the first real chance we’ve had to see the gameplay in action, so it’s showing off the environments, just as much as the action. In terms of the action they showed, it’s presented totally without commentary, which I think is both a good and bad thing – good is that it keeps the focus on the gameplay, bad is that some of the details might get lost. For example, we have to just infer which classes are being featured at any given point – it’s not terribly difficult using the info we know about each class, but still, a little direction would have been nice. The actual gunplay and action looks very solid so far, and definitely reminds me of Borderlands which is in no way a bad thing. The other thing that struck me is the scope of the game – as the trailer begins and shows all the different areas in the game, it got me thinking that there must be a number of different zones in each different planet to explore, making me think the game is going to be massive. And combined with Bungie’s support after launch I have a hunch that Destiny will end up being a giant game. Really looking forward to July when I can play the beta, and for the September launch.

Why The Death of Manuals is Bad for Gaming

This is something that I’ve been keeping my eye on for a pretty long time now. Every time I get a new game, I always make a point to look and see if it even has a manual at all these days. More and more I’m seeing less manuals in games in general. The three Xbox One titles I have physical copies of, none have manuals at all. Now I understand why publishers are moving away from manuals – they cost extra money to print, green business practices are all the rage these days, and I think they just want to put everything necessary onto the actual game disc.

Good Manuals

But there’s more to this than just losing a place to stick the controller layout, credits and legal terms. One of my favorite parts of buying a game back in the day was reading through the manuals on my way home – getting familiarized with the story and setting and characters and game mechanics well before I ever put the game in. All of that is lost now, which has actually affected game design. I fully believe that as manuals have disappeared, game developers have been forced to put some of that information into the actual core game. Tutorial levels have gotten longer and more in depth – not to mention more direct with how they are presented. There’s a joke image floating around online of World 1-1 from Super Mario Bros. with a text box explaining that the A Button makes Mario jump. A few years ago, that really was a joke image, but these days, text boxes like that are starting to become the norm – even in simple games like that.

Bad Manuals

This isn’t an anti-tutorial piece either, not by any means. I actually believe that a tutorial level can add to the value of a game, if it’s done correctly. I think that the first two Modern Warfare games do it well – it’s a simple tutorial, but it makes sense within the game world. Same thing for Titanfall – it introduces some of the new mechanics, but in a way that makes sense within the universe. The first BioShock does it in a similar manner – there’s not really a tutorial level, but as new gameplay mechanics are introduced, Atlas helps you with them – using the key phrase “Would Ya Kindly” which ties into the story and game world. I would much rather play through a tutorial like any of them, than a game where simple mechanics are explained through pop-up boxes that stop gameplay. Essentially, I want the game developers to teach me how the game works in a way that fits within the confines of the universe they’ve spent so much time creating.

I don’t think we’ll ever see full game manuals like we used to, unless green printing drops in price tremendously and there’s a strong market demand; but I really think that there still is a place for them in gaming. I also truly believe that by removing them, publishers have affected the way that developers create games – and not always in good ways. This is one of those gaming trends that is still evolving, we just have to wait and see where we go with it.

Titanfall Has Landed

I ran through my thoughts on the beta for Titanfall a few weeks ago, but now that the full game is out I thought it would be prudent to give you my impressions of the real deal.

Titanfall

First off, Titanfall has the possibility to really shake up the online shooter space – not only is it a brand new IP that’s getting a major marketing push, but it’s taking a slightly different approach from the Call of Duty/Battlefield path; which is the removal of the traditional single player campaign. I think ultimately with what Titanfall is at heart, this decision works well – the campaign is a great sampling of what the Multiplayer offers, giving you nine maps to experience. I do think a traditional campaign would have been pretty cool to experience, but I think because Respawn has focused on providing a totally unique and fun multiplayer game, the route they decided to go with works just fine.

Not a lot really changed from the beta that was a few weeks ago, aside from the obvious things like adding in all the maps, weapons, Titans and abilities. The balance still is there – Titans can absolutely get taken down by Pilots on foot, and each Titan model feels like they fill a different role on the battlefield. Perhaps most importantly the player movement is still as frenetic as it was in the beta, and really shines on some of the new maps, Rise in particular. Pilots zip around the map, running on the walls to get up to crazy vantage points, using multiple paths throughout every level – it really is a major change from the norm. Instead of trying to find a great cover spot, I find myself trying to run as fast as possible, using crazy wall jumps to get as high as possible to make my runs at the enemy. It’s a total shift from the way I’ve been playing online shooters for the last six years or so, which is absolutely a great thing.


Dropping a Titan on another is supremely satisfying

In general, each map feels different enough to have a unique persona to it, including nice little touches like giant flying creatures or the ability to alter the enemies Spectres. Likewise, the weapons each fill their roles well – they didn’t go overboard with the weapons – there’s pretty much one example of every type of gun you expect in a shooter these days, and each works pretty well. The Burn Cards also adds in a nice little bit of strategy to the game, deciding when to use which cards.

Overall, I’ve absolutely been enjoying my time with Titanfall and it’s a game that I can really see having a pretty long lifespan. It really feels like it’s the first “must-have” game on the Xbox One and definitely is on the right track to being a “game-changer” in the realm of FPS games.