It’s a literal clash of the titans in our ultimate FPS face-off.
“Both Titanfall and Infinite Warfare suffer from the fact that, visually, they could easily be the same game.”
War, as they say, war never changes. With two mighty shooters entering the arena within a fortnight of each other, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this year’s battle is between Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Bollocks. Comparing those two games is like comparing Battleborn with Overwatch: there are surface-level similarities, but the gulf between gameplay is vast.
The real fight is between Infinite Warfare and Titanfall 2. And with pretty good reason, since both are built on defining the modern-day fast and fluid FPS. Chuck in some future war BS, a couple of mechs, and the ability to run at a 45-degree angle and what you have is the same game, right?
The Future vs. …The Future
This isn’t a versus at all, because there’s literally no difference between the games. Like, just imagine what the future holds – all the cool tech we’ll have like flying cars, biotic implants that let us take photos with our eyes, you know, interesting stuff like that. Now forget it, because the future in first-person shooters is mandated to be uber-dull and samey. Something both Titanfall 2 and COD do perfectly, with their indistinct art design. Sure, Titanfall does have a slightly fantastical art style now and COD has interstellar travel, but both still suffer from the fact that, visually, these could easily be the same game. Cliché sci-fi checklist initiated: skeletal robots, everything made from metal panels, spaceships that go whoosh…
Story and narrative
As if you play these games just for the single-player experience. Let’s put the stories into a Star Wars perspective: In Titanfall 2, you play as the Rebels; in Infinite Warfare, you’re the Empire.
But Titanfall 2 is a surprisingly emotional buddy story of a man and his Titan (emotional in that cheap, Hollywood popcorn-movie way; it won’t change your life – hell, the relationship barely changed the protagonist’s life). The story in Infinite Warfare is something about terrorists, explosions and dog fights in space? It’s not that the it’s poorly told, it’s that you just won’t care. The real problem with both is that, in the far-flung future, there is only good and evil, and absolutely no grey area between them. This is partly because of…
Jack Cooper vs Nick Reyes (and all the other nobodies)
These personality-free chumps, a rookie and a veteran, are just as interesting as their blandly ‘heroic’ names imply. Chances are, you won’t remember any characters from the games except Titanfall’s star player, the epic mech BT-7274. Maybe. I’d love to go in-depth here, but the pool’s just too damn shallow.
Jet-boosting and wall-running
Because verticality is where it’s at, man. If you’ve played Blops III and Halo, then congratulations – you’ve just played Infinite Warfare, because the mechanics are near-identical. Mind you, if you’ve played Titanfall, then you’ve played Titanfall 2, with its ‘don’t break what ain’t broke’ attitude. The way the games use the jet pack ability in solo mode flows right through to the multiplayer – across the board, Titanfall 2’s levels are playgrounds designed to take serious advantage of the gimmick, chaining jumps that play out like an FPS platformer. In COD, you’ll use a jet pack to jump over a particularly wide crevice. So, with its familiar, tight map design, Call of Duty’s multiplayer opts for more grounded gameplay, one that’s very literally boots-on-the-ground until you jet-boost out the way of a camper’s bullet. You want to clamber on top of that pillar, son? Go to hell, use it for cover or don’t use it at all.
Payloads vs Titans
“Infinite Warfare’s combat rigs are variety central once you start unlocking the more creative payloads that can teleport you in a blink or turn you into a snickering hound.”
Your ultimate ability in these games can ‘turn the tide of battle’, which is marketing speak for ‘kill a few goons if you’re lucky or skilled.’ It all boils down to choosing the right get-up for your playstyle – these are classes, no more, no less.
In Titanfall 2 you earn titans. Big bastard brutes that can shatter bones with a single step. You’ve got your snipey titan, your tanky titan, all with their own set of weaponry, traits and perks, but all still finger-on-the-trigger types. Infinite Warfare’s combat rigs, however, are variety central. Sure, at first the differences are negligible (trading one gun for another) but once you start unlocking the more creative payloads that can teleport you in a blink or turn you into a snickering hound, it becomes a more considered choice as to what sort of class to play.
Weapons and loadouts
Remember back when we imagined all the cool stuff the future will have? Just imagine how much cooler all the weapons will be then. They’ll have shotguns and SMGs and assault rifles and… all the stuff in every FPS ever. I’m not saying let’s get rid of safe, traditional ballistics (I’d be lost without my trusty suppressed assault rifle), but to throw some imagination into the mix.
This is the future, you can literally thrust any made-up weapon in our hands and we’ll nod it through. Even the powerful anti-titan weaponry is a carbon copy of every other gun you’ve ever used in a futuristic shooter. Oh, okay, Call of Duty does feature anti-gravity grenades – something you’ve never, ever seen in any other game, ever. Unlocks are pretty straightforward for both (some might say identical to the point of uninspired plagiarism): make kills with a gun to rank it up and get attachments. Then Titanfall 2 tosses a curveball in the mix, and not only can you equip scopes, but add additional abilities like shooting while sprinting, and other skills you’ll never do but think you might. And yet, although they’re really not, Titanfall 2’s loadouts somehow feel so much more streamlined than Infinite Warfare’s overwhelmingly choice-focused Pick-10 system.
Zombies vs other game modes that aren’t Zombies
Zombies, also known as Carpentry Simulator, is still just as great/boring as you remember, depending on your tastes. Sure, Call of Duty didn’t invent horde mode, but it gives us all a solid holiday from slaughtering other players, and it was Zombies’ success that pretty much gave us all those horde modes in all those other games (or, in the case of the upcoming Metal Gear Survive, the only mode in a game).
The Zombies mode has always been a little out-there compared to the rest of COD’s po-faced offering, but this time they’ve kicked it up a notch further – it’s so much more self-aware, self-referential, with its 1980s movie theme and intentionally cheap kids cartoon opening. And Titanfall 2 just can’t compete, with its seven basic, so very basic, modes compared to Infinite Warfare’s eight, not including diversions like the underappreciated Gun Game and Infected. Although the odds of finding someone else playing much else beyond TDM is on par with lottery wins and beating Dark Souls without being struck in combat.
Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare – the verdict
“Titanfall 2 serves up everything that Call of Duty kinda sorta wants to be, but doesn’t have the courage to commit to.”
In war, there are no winners. But this ain’t war, it’s video games, and while neither are reinventing the FPS genre, Titanfall 2 is more original in its unoriginality. It builds on the first game’s wicked-sweet controls. It’s effortless and effortlessly fun, as you chain together a series of moderately challenging jumps and wall-runs before raining down death from above on your enemies (or the frankly useless AI, if you’ve nothing better to kill). And nothing beats that omnipotent feeling of clambering into a titan.
In short, Titanfall 2 serves up everything that Call of Duty kinda sorta wants to be, but doesn’t have the courage to commit to – because the suits are too busy making sweet and tragic love to a formula that worked for years to be able to fully reinvigorate the series. COD made its biggest mistake not by shamelessly ripping off Titanfall’s futuristic fast-flowing, free-running style in Advanced Warfare and two subsequent and very similar games, but by trying to squeeze the concept of verticality into the existing and (overly?) familiar template – a square peg in a round bullet hole. There are some fine ideas in COD, like space-based dog-fights and delightfully silly multiplayer modes, and the shooting’s as spot-on as it always was, but compared to Titanfall 2, Infinite Warfare feels as old as Captain Price’s balls.