Before Jason West and Vince Zampella broke off from Activision to form Respawn, the developers revitalized the Call of Duty franchise at Infinity Ward. They set a new standard for precise FPS controls that a host of other shooters mimic. Titanfall is a FPS, and given Respawn’s link to the Call of Duty franchise, comparing how they play is inevitable. Here’s how gunning down massive mechs and high-flying pilots in Titanfall compares to the on-foot gunfights of Call of Duty.
During my hands-on session with Titanfall at Gamescom 2013 in Cologne, Germany, Respawn provided us with a diagram laying out the controls. I didn’t need to look at it once. On the 360 controller left trigger brings up iron sights, right bumper tosses a grenade, Y button swaps weapons, the left analog button sprints, and so on. Call of Duty fans, and fans of FPS games in general, will feel immediately at home with the button configuration. Aiming from the hip or dialing in shots feels every bit as smooth and accurate as in Call of Duty. However, I found the default sensitivity setting less twitchy than Call of Duty, which made aiming in the larger, vertically expansive worlds easier.
Speaking of verticality, the biggest difference between traversal on foot in Titanfall versus a soldier in Call of Duty is double jumping and wall running. Controlling your pilot’s jetpack parkour antics is as easy as hitting the jump button. Wallrunning is performed by jumping alongside a wall. A short sprint along a wall allows you to double jump again, which lets you chain a series of wall runs or land on a rooftop. Your character automatically pulls themselves onto close ledges, which offers some leeway with sloppy freerunning. Controlling a pilot in Titanfall feels very similar to Call of Duty controls in all the best ways, while adding the freeing ability to jump all over the place.
The same control basics translate into piloting Titans. The towering mechs are more agile than your average robot. Titans can’t jump, so the A button turns into a useful dash. Aiming, firing, and reloading your huge weapons is the same, except that the grenade button fires secondary missiles while reloading your primary weapons. Keeping the control schemes nearly identical between pilots and Titans makes the frequent transitions in and out of the tank suits a fluid and fun process.
Titanfall is not just Call of Duty with mechs. The games play similarly at their core, Titanfall's flow of battle, verticality, and story-expanding radio chatter coalesce into a fresh experience. My years of Call of Duty experience translated well into Titanfall, and the experience was made better by it. I can’t wait to invest even more time with the satisfying gameplay when Titanfall hits Xbox One and PC next year.