Titanfall: First-person shooter lands with a boom on Xbox One, but will it save Microsoft's console?

James Vincent dons a jetpack and gets chased by huge automatons to find out

When most firms start suffering from dwindling sales, they might call in a team of auditors or hire a new advertising agency. When video-game companies run into trouble, they summon giant, gun-toting robots. Or at least Microsoft has done with Titanfall, a much-hyped first-person shooter that it's hoped will revitalise the fortunes of the Xbox One console.

Although both the Xbox One and its rival, Sony's PS4, launched last year to a lot of media hoopla, critics were quick to point that both systems were missing a killer app – a single, system-exclusive game that would convince sceptical consumers to shell out the hundreds of pounds necessary to buy either console.

Read more: Where to get Titanfall, what to do once you've got it

Once customers are over this first, expensive hurdle, the received wisdom is that convincing them to buy the games – where the actual money is made; consoles are sold at near cost – becomes easier. It's been a winning formula ever since Sonic the Hedgehog revived sales of the Sega Mega Drive in 1991.

While Microsoft doesn't have any hyperkinetic hedgehogs on its side, it does have the key talent behind the popular 2007 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Vince Zampella, who created the entire CoD franchise, is the founder of Respawn, Titanfall's developer), a title credited by game reviewers with perfecting a particular style of addictive multiplayer experience, as well as being 2007's best-selling game.

The gameplay that Modern Warfare offered has been variously referred to as "arena-based combat" or "progressive multiplayer"; it pits players against each other as individuals or teams, battling with assault rifles, pistols and shotguns in a number of different game types where the aim is to capture territory or simply to kill as many enemies as possible.

 

Players become hooked not only thanks to a points system that unlocks new equipment the more they play, but also by the game's social element. Gaming isn't just sitting alone in a darkened room, it's sitting alone in a darkened room chatting with your friends to coordinate tactics, or trash-talking with strangers on the other side of the world. How addictive can this be? So far players have cumulatively logged more than 2.85 million years of play time in the Call of Duty series.

Titles such as Call of Duty don't do much to convince people that video games are a credible artistic medium and nor do they amass as much cultural credibility as the likes of Grand Theft Auto – but they do fulfil the core function of a game beautifully: they get people playing. The last instalment in the series – Call of Duty: Ghosts – was popular enough to hit $1bn in sales in a single day, that's 48 hours faster than the previous record holder, GTA 5.

Read more: Titanfall reviews: 'Plot? Narrative? We've got giant robots'

With Sony's PS4 currently outselling the Xbox One two to one in 2014, Microsoft could do with this sort of a shot in the arm. So does Titanfall deliver? Judging by the time that I've spent playing Titanfall, I'd say the game more than delivers. As a science-fiction first-person shooter, Titanfall has been described, not unfairly, as Call of Duty meets Halo. It offers the barest skeleton of a story about an evil (or at least bureaucratic) corporation, battling a ragtag collection of minutemen and colonisers for territory and resources in outer space.

Players take on the role of a pilot – a soldier who fights on foot and with a jetpack, running up walls and bouncing over roofs like a gymnast in low gravity. Once players have racked up enough points (or simply waited out the three-minute "build time"), they can summon a Titan – a giant mechanised suit of armour.

Not only is the gameplay perfectly balanced (I never felt totally outgunned, even when staring down the barrel of a rocket launcher the size of a Mini), the experience of playing is cinematic and completely immersive. For a brief moment, jetpacking across a rooftop with shotgun in hand before riding an 18ft-high robot down the street rodeo-style felt something I'd be capable of in real life. Sharing this sort of an experience with friends (or even strangers) will be an instant draw for gamers. For Microsoft, I think calling in the giant robots might just work.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

    £40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

    £20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

    Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer / Web Designer

    £20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leader in the e-cigarette ...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

    £32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

    Day In a Page

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future