Over in the US, the hotly anticipated Xbox One exclusive Titanfall was only available for a few hours, and the baying Twitter hordes had already dubbed it #Titanfail. This was all thanks to server issues early this morning – and we wouldn’t be surprised if there are more server issues later today as millions (or at least thousands) of Americans install the game that, if some reviewers are to be believed, will thrust the Xbox One back into contention against the PS4.
So, in the wake of the US launch, let’s take a closer look at the first Titanfall reviews, the swirling controversy around its low 792p resolution, and whether the American server outage earlier today is a sign of things to come.
Over the last 24 hours, the first Titanfall reviews have started to land. In general, the reviews are good, but not earthshattering and ideologically redefining. IGN says that Titanfall “earns a seat at the table with the genre’s entrenched powerhouses,” but also that it’s “somewhat regrettably a barebones game in terms of modes and customisation features.”
Taking a generalised view across all reviews, the one factor that they all seem to universally praise is Titanfall’s movement and control systems, which see you bouncing fluidly around some beautiful maps that were designed from the outset to be bounced around in.
Other reviews say that while the mechtastic gameplay itself is excellent, and that it’s almost as fun to watch as it is to play, it’s ultimately let down by a lack of multiplayer game modes. Additional game modes can always be patched in at a later date, though – and surely, in a world that’s increasingly and depressingly ruled by DLC, Respawn (the game’s developer) was probably working on adding new modes before the game was shipped.
Overall, Titanfall seems to be picking up a lot of 9-out-of-10 reviews. It sounds like it’s a very, very fun game to play – in the short term, at least, anyway. We’ll just have to wait and see if it has the longevity to beat out the incumbents, like Call of Duty.
Titanfall is only 792p?
When we learnt that the public beta of Titanfall had an output resolution of just 792p (1408 x 792), we were quietly hoping that the final version would creep up to 900p – or, perhaps, if the stars aligned, the mythical 1080p. Sadly, the commercial release is here, and it’s still 792p – and, disappointingly, the Xbox One isn’t capable of keeping the frame rate locked at 60 fps either (see the video embedded below).
In an interview with Digital Foundry, Respawn’s lead engineer Richard Baker says they’re working on upping the resolution, though:
“We’re going to experiment. The target is either 1080p non-anti-aliased or 900p with FXAA. We’re trying to optimise… we don’t want to give up anything for higher res. So far we’re not 100 per cent happy with any of the options, we’re still working on it. For day one it’s not going to change. We’re still looking at it for post-day one. We’re likely to increase resolution after we ship.”
Curiously, Baker mentions that the Xbox One’s ESRAM is one of the reasons that it’s stuck to 792p with MSAA. If Respawn disabled MSAA, there might be enough space in the ESRAM for non-anti-aliased 1080p. Respawn seems to downplay the relative weakness of the Xbox One’s GPU, but considering the console’s inability to stick to 60 fps during action-packed scenes, we’d say the GPU is still a significant factor.
Titanfall… more like Titanfail!
Which brings us to one of the key factors when discussing whether Titanfall will be the critical success that Microsoft desperately needs it to be: Server stability. Early this morning, following the game’s North American release, Twitter was aflame with reports of Titanfall’s public servers being completely inaccessible. A patch was apparently deployed, and things improved pretty quickly.
We wouldn’t be surprised if similar issues occur tonight, once everyone gets home from school and work in the US. In all likelihood, this is just a standard case of release day blues – no matter how much preparation Microsoft and Respawn put into the Titanfall launch, it is almost impossible to predict how your game servers will react when thousands of people hit them all at once. If Microsoft is to close the widening sales gap between the Xbox One and PS4 it’s vital that the remainder of the Titanfall launch goes off without a hitch – and that the UK launch is a smooth affair, too. Here’s hoping!
Image Credit: Kotaku