Titanfall: Hands-On With Xbox One’s First Real Game

The Xbox One’s first major title is out, and we were there at the official launch party to see it all go down.

To say gamers were excited about Titanfall, a first-person shooter with a twist, is beyond an understatement. Between the storied history of Respawn (the game’s talented development team) and Microsoft’s somewhat barren next-generation console, Titanfall means a lot to the Xbox One and the gaming community alike.


Case in point.

Marred by early server issues, Titanfall’s launch didn’t go quite according to plan. The game revolves entirely around its online multiplayer arenas, which makes a lack of connectivity crippling. Then again, launch days rarely go according to plan, so hopefully everything will be smoothed out in time. According to Respawn, the issue is Microsoft-side, as Titanfall relies on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.

Launch attendees could take photos with the titular giant mechs on their way in the VIP entrance. Titanfall’s titans are the game’s most fun innovations: Each player, or “pilot,” has their own titan, which they can hop aboard and wreak some havoc with.

The Launch party was a fun mix of celebrities, enthusiastic gamers and Titanfall’s wearily excited team. We had a chance to speak with Respawn’s founder, Vince Zampella (more on that to come!), who’s looking forward to having a few spare minutes to actually play the game he created.

Remember when gaming wasn’t cool? Yeah, me too. The event was headlined by Childish Gambino, a.k.a. Donald Glover, the rapper/comedian best known from his role on NBC’s Community. (Unfortunately, we had to miss the performance to catch our own party.)

DJ Run DMT provided the beats as gamers played Titanfall late into the night. 

An example early load-out from Titanfall. We’re not l33t quite yet.

Taking down one of Titanfall’s enemy mechs with the game’s special anti-mech weapons ain’t easy—but it is satisfying. (That’s me giving it the ol’ college try.)

Titanfall has a handful of game modes at launch, including “Attrition,” a classic mode in which you basically just shoot anything that moves, and “Hardpoint Domination,” a more advanced mode that requires players to capture and defend strategic points on the map, which highlights unique aspects of Titanfall’s combat system as gamers get to play both offense and defense.

We’ve only had a few hours of hands-on gameplay time, but so far Titanfall is a breath of fresh air in a genre increasingly criticized for its lack of innovation. The titan system keeps gameplay fast and dynamic, but the game is designed so different fighting modes (on the ground vs. in a titan) has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. We never quite made it to the dropship, but we certainly had a lot of fun in the process.

All images by Taylor Hatmaker and Selena Larson for ReadWrite.

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