Oh you knew it was going to happen. These two first person shooters were destined to be pitted against each other from the moment we first had a glimpse of them. Firstly, Titanfall is created by the outfit whose development team are made up of people from the original Infinity Ward that birthed Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Both games are set in the future. Both games have the similar run and gun formula (from COD:MW no less). Both titles have a focus on maneuverability; Titanfall with its jet packing and wall running focus, and Advanced Warfare with boosting abilities courtesy of the Exo Suit. Both titles are fighting for the top spot of competitive shooters of 2014. The question is, which one is the better game? We discuss the issue below. Make sure to check out our reviews for Titanfall and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
Both games are cross-platform and appear on last gen consoles as well as the current ones but one is significantly more superior than the other in terms of visuals and that game is Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. From some excellent facial modelling (Kevin Spacey baby!) and some genuinely awe inspiring scenes, albeit scripted ones, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare beats Titanfall hands down.
Titanfall was built upon the ageing Source engine and unfortunately, whilst we like the visual style of the game, it simply appears outdated on current gen consoles.
However, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare suffers from inconsistent visual quality and some of the maps on the multiplayer side of things are hardly a cut above the visual quality we had last gen. Call of Duty wins out over Titanfall courtesy of the latter game being built upon ageing tech.
Winner: Call of Duty Advanced Warfare
Don’t be fooled by the inclusion of a campaign mode in Titanfall. This is simply multiplayer dressed up with a loose narrative told by way of events that occur during a match. One of the biggest criticisms against Titanfall was its lack of a proper fleshed out story mode and we agree with that. There was certainly a lot potential here but Respawn squandered that in favour of focusing on the multiplayer.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’s campaign has a template very similar to its predecessors to the point that its getting rather old. The story was uninspiring and general narrative was nothing original. However, what the campaign did do was let players experience some brilliant visual set pieces with a discernible narrative and that’s a lot more than Titanfall ever did. Some of the on-rails sections were very also interesting albeit limited of course by their design.
Winner: Call of Duty Advanced Warfare
Multiplayer/ Gameplay is king.
For many players, multiplayer is the key component in recent Call of Duty games. It is also the sole focus in Titanfall. Remember folks, gameplay is king and this the main decider on which title reigns supreme over the other. Both games have very similar gameplay mechanics as well as pacing and both have their own pros and cons. Let’s take a look at the different elements of the gameplay/multiplayer:
One of Titanfall’s biggest problems at launch was its the lack of gameplay modes. To date, some more have been added but really, the main game modes are the one’s that are worth playing. COD: AW on the other hand, benefits from several MP modes, including the survival mode that can be played cooperatively. With the addition of split screen play offline as well as online, COD: AW really ticks all the right boxes and more when it comes to offering a more fully fleshed out package and therefore, it wins, yet again.
Winner: Call of Duty Advanced Warfare
Advanced Warfare differs from its predecessors mainly due to the inclusion of the Exo suit which changes the pace of the gameplay dramatically. Now you can boost up in the air, strafe left and right with the boost feature or even slam into enemies as you propel yourself into the ground. This added freedom makes a big difference to the overall flow of the game and as a result of this, many of the maps have had to be designed to cater for this added moblity afforded to players. When the gameplay footage for the game was first revealed, people immediately drew parallels with Titanfall, which also made player movement a key focus of its appeal.
Titanfall however, doesn’t just shoe-horn this movement into an already existing gameplay template like Sledgehammer have done with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. No. The player movement is far more fluid, intuitive and well thought out. Whilst good players will be utilising the Exo suit’s abilities a lot more more in general in COD: AW due to the strafing ability that requires no adjacent wall/terrain, in Titanfall, these movements and abilities introduce a whole different ‘layer’ to competitive matchmaking. These moves are easy to learn but difficult to master and highly skilled players will use the surrounding terrain to great advantage. Player speed is increased dramatically if you can maintain the momentum in wall running and once you get really good at it, you will be navigating around your enemies with such proficiency that your foes will sooner die of dizziness than from your weapon.
Furthermore, one of the biggest reasons why player movements manifest into more meaningful gameplay ramifications in Titanfall when compared to COD: AW is the map design that complements these abilities which leads us nicely into the next area of comparison.
Ever since Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 it appears that the general map design in the COD games have severely dropped in quality and design. Whereas before we could reel out map names like Afghan, Terminal, Crash, Crossfire, Karachi, Rundown and even Wasteland, now, across the franchise, we struggle to think of a single memorable map in these games and Advanced Warfare is no exception.
Titanfall’s maps are more purpose built
One of our biggest gripes with COD: AW’s maps are just how uninspiring the vast majority of them are especially when taking into account the added Exosuit ability. Surely then, you would would think that these maps would strongly be built around the player movement which is the main differentiator between this latest game and its predecessors but no, instead, we find ourselves either plonked on the rooftops of a few buildings or unexpectedly met with the message “you are out of bounds”. The map designers have taken a blunt force approach with the maps and just applied some more vertical sections to accommodate the new changes and that leaves us disappointed. You can expect the same old approach with the maps, with multiple routes to most areas of engagement and several ‘camp-friendly’ spots for players to exploit.
Titanfall’s maps are more purpose built and not only have good variety, but also benefit from some great design. We have rarely come across campers in Titanfall. The maps are designed in such a way that players are encouraged to traverse the multiple areas and engage enemies as opposed to finding a nest to snuggle in and exploit. The maps benefit from several platforms and walls designed for players to traverse via wall running as well as having areas to cater for the ‘verticality’ in engagements. Where COD: AW adds in a few buildings for you to climb, Titanfall’s maps appear to be sculpted at every inch for both pilots and Titans to navigate and destroy their enemies with honour.
Whilst both games share a similar template in the general running and gunning elements of firefights, Titanfall takes this to a whole new level with the inclusion of the Titans. The Titans are not only a more meaningful answer to COD’s killstreak reward system, they also add a whole new layer to the competitive nature of battles. Generally, in both games, because of the fast and frantic nature of the gunfights, the person who spots his enemy first or reacts first is generally the victor. The Titans are a direct answer to this problem where gameplay depth is reduced in favour of this ‘hide and seek’ mechanic. When you are in command of a Titan and are going up against another Titan, you have to consider several factors all at once for instance, are you a heavy titan than can soak up a lot more damage vs the more nimble Stryder Titan that has increased maneuverability? Then you consider what weapons you have; do you have a machine gun that deals more ‘chip damage’ compared to a weapon that deals blast damage or one that has to be powered up so you have to force yourself into more long range engagements etc? There are several factors at play here and it harkens back to the gameplay depth we saw in arena shooters like Quake 3 that have been fizzled away lately for the sake of accessibility and mass market appeal.
COD: AW benefits from having far more weapons and weapon attachments for on-foot gameplay. Titanfall suffers in this regard and the lack of a variety for weapons held by pilots serves to hurt the longevity of the game. However, COD: AW appears to rely a lot more on gimmicks in the shape of all sorts of hand-holding attachments for players or abilities whereas Titanfall demands players to understand the nature of the weapon they are wielding and forces them to change their approach to match the situation.
Titanfall also benefits from dedicated servers whereas it appears that COD: AW does not. Already, in our week long play-through, we have had SEVERAL instances of being spawn-killed, bullets not registering and annoying instances of lag. All this is par for the course really when talking about COD but these are what we consider to be last-gen problems; we were promised something more and if Titanfall, a brand new IP from a new studio can deliver a far more fluid and balanced MP affair a lot earlier on in this new console life cycle, then Activision and the studios developing these games part of a billion dollar franchise simply have no excuse whatsoever.
And the winner is….
One game is a result of genuine concerted effort to help move the arena shooter fps genre forward and the other is desperately trying to find a way to remain fresh by making more radical changes to a pre-existing template. For us, the winner is a clear one. Titanfall is the more deserving candidate and the overall winner. Respawn Entertainment clearly sat down and had a long hard think about what their next FPS should be like and how to move the genre forward. Titanfall cuts all the unnecessary fat (maybe a bit too finely) and discards a pretentious and hollow single player campaign, sacrifices the need for visual quality by focusing squarely on gameplay and presents us with one of the most tightly balanced shooters we have had in years. From the inclusion of Titans that add much needed gameplay depth, the player movement that are more fluid, the map design that is more complimentary to the flow of the game and tighter more competitively balanced gameplay, Titanfall is this year’s king of competitive first person shooters.