How Titanfall Moves Me

I stand by my statement that Titanfall has the cleanest movement system in any game that I have played to date. Titanfall 2 will only improve on that experience.

Every action that you take in that game feels responsive, be it wall running, to your parkour to even just running along the ground. It is not only that the movement system feels clean that makes me enjoy it so much, but also what the movement system is forcing players to do. I'm going to take a step back here and explain what I mean.

Looking Up

Titanfall began an FPS revolution by forcing people to look up. It sounds really stupid, but let me explain what I mean. When you think of older FPS games where they focused on 'boots-on-the-ground' combat, you as a player knew that the only threats that you would have to deal with would be on the ground. This deeply restricted the field of view that you had to be worried about a threat coming from. With topography changes and high and low areas it becomes more complex, but the principle remains the same: the only danger comes from your eye level.

And that game design makes sense. There are psychological studies that people are more likely to eat a snack found at eye level than anything else, simply because it is the first thing that they are going to notice. For the purposes of having a player notice an enemy as soon as possible, having them at eye level is key. What I'm proposing is that is bad design, that you don't want players to easily see enemies. I don't want a player to see something immediately, I want them to have to be engaged, to have to be actively searching and looking around them to find the threats. And that's what Titanfall does so well.

Because of the parkour, because of the ability to launch high into the air out of the titans, because of the vertical design that is found in Titanfall maps, everything in the game's design leads towards the concept that a threat can come from any angle. If you don't look up, you can get shot. You don't look down? Shot. You're in a titan and think you're safe? Somebody drops down from above and rodeos you. Playing Titanfall you are forced to stay on your toes because unlike something like Gears of War, threats are fast, vertically mobile and can come from any angle.

That is not to say that Titanfall is the only game that does this, but Titanfall was the first game that showed it could be done well enough that other games are trying to emulate it now. Look no further than how Call of Duty changed its movement for Advanced Warfare, with its boosting and exoskeletons. Or look at how fast DOOM is, and how the focus is on constant movement? That is not to say that a game such as Overwatch wouldn't have been made without Titanfall's existence, but you wonder how much it influenced the verticality of the game design. Regardless of other influences, Titanfall's quick movement and 360 degree field of danger have definitely influenced FPS games in one way or another.

Titanfall 2 Cannot Mess This Up

I'm not saying that Titanfall 2 is not allowed to change their formula, rather, that it is impossible for the developers to change something so fundamental to their game and call it a sequel. At its core, Titanfall is parkour and shooting. The movement system is integral to the game, necessary to have the same experience. Like creating a Sonic game without speed, a Dark Souls game without huge bosses (not the difficulty level, that's a whole other can of worms), like a puzzle game with no difficulty curve, it is not the same game without the core experience.

I wait in baited breath to see how they improve the movement for Titanfall 2.

A game designer, producer, production designer, writer and editor, Jason has dipped his toes into many creative fields, perhaps too many. He lives in Toronto, writing, making games and thinking about dogs. Follows Jason on Twitter at @jwestonwong.