On March 11, Electronic Arts will release Titanfall (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC; $60), an online first-person shooter that promises to reinvent shooting-your-friends-in-the-face technology. Developed by Respawn Entertainment, it comes with a notable pedigree. Respawn co-founder Vince Zampella created the Call of Duty franchise before leaving Activision, and his team has the best track record in the business for creating preternaturally compelling games (the CoD series has sold more than 100 million copies). With new gameplay concepts and technology, Titanfall will be this year’s shooter to beat. Here’s why.
Zampella’s team devised CoD’s grabbiest feature, an awards system that gives players weapons based on experience points. It’s an extremely effective method for keeping players engaged. Titanfall adds several twists, such as “burn cards,” single-use items that provide a quick stat boost or extra muscle.
Bodies In Motion
Most shooters are played on the ground, but Titanfall lets players move like parkour athletes—running on walls and taking massive leaps. “People start playing it normally,” says Zampella, “but after a certain point it clicks: ‘I can jump over that fence.’ Now, when I play a game without wall running, I feel like something’s missing.”
Network-induced delays in multiplayer sessions (a.k.a. “lag”) are instant immersion killers and the bane of a gamer’s existence. All Titanfall games will be hosted on Microsoft’s global network of servers, Xbox Live Compute, which promises to make multiplayer scenarios less susceptible to interruption.
This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Popular Science.