LOS ANGELES -- The Titans are coming -- and they're dropping something new on gamers.
"Titanfall," the much-anticipated sci-fi shoot-'em-up from Respawn Entertainment set for release March 11 on Xbox One and PC and March 25 on Xbox 360, is aiming to shake up a genre that's long been dominated by military franchises like "Call of Duty" and "Battlefield" with a mix of new gameplay elements.
Vince Zampella, the co-founder of Respawn who previously worked on the landmark "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" series, said the developers intended from the outset to revolutionize the genre by unleashing giant player-controlled robots and frenetic, leaping soldiers into the fray, as well as doing away with a traditional single-player campaign altogether.
"Gamers are naturally trained to play a certain way after playing shooters for so many years," said Zampella. "The more open you are to this new experience; it's that much more exhilarating. It takes different people different amounts of time for this to snap with them and say, 'Oh, yeah. I don't have to walk up the stairs. I can double jump.'"
After spending a few hours with the "Titanfall" beta on Xbox One, here's five ways it's different from other shooters:
"Titanfall" foregoes stiff duck-and-cover choreography in favor of a fluid, free-running style. On the ground, players portraying jetpack-equipped pilots can initiate giant leaps and glide across walls, accessing rooftops and other nooks where Titans can't tread. The unrelenting pace provides "Titanfall" with a unique, liberating sense of movement.
This isn't a game about one-shot kills. With all the shields and armor offered up in "Titanfall," it will frequently take several bullets -- or rockets, grenades, etc. -- to bring down enemy combatants. Luckily, some of the game's pistols are packed with automated sights, offering assistance to twitchy players who have trouble acquiring headshots.
"Titanfall" features the type of loadouts typically found in other shooters, beginning with assault, assassin and close quarters battle classes. However, the Titans themselves can also be customized with different weapons and powers, opening up the ability to play differently depending on whether pilots are on the ground or inside their lumbering mechs.
Open for business
Unlike the claustrophobic confines of many shooters, the pair of arenas available in the "Titanfall" beta -- a sprawling mining facility and a tight walled-off urban enclave -- were extremely expansive, allowing space for Titans to do battle. On the ground, cloaking technology was a must-use for a trooper to safely transverse the expansive landscape.
Follow the leader
The addition of hulking Transformers-like robots on the battlefield opens up an array of strategic possibilities: When is the best moment to drop a Titan? Is it worth risking death to climb aboard an enemy mech? In a capture-the-flag match, what's more beneficial: assigning a Titan to guard duty -- or staying inside for some real steel protection?