You’ve prepared for it – and now Titanfall is here. Following an enjoyable sampler in the Titanfall public beta and rave reviews from the critical community, it sounds as though Respawn Entertainment has another hit on their hands – one that, at the very least, should help Microsoft drive Xbox One sales in the coming months.
As with any new game (especially a brand new IP), fans have already encountered a few setbacks in the Titanfall launch package – from connectivity issues to confirmation that the next-gen title is only running 792p visuals. Respawn Entertainment is well-aware of both complaints and, according to the studio, they’re actively working to ensure that Titanfall offers the best experience possible at launch and down the line.
As an online-only experience, connectivity and matchmaking in Titanfall are especially important. Launch day hiccups are to be expected but a sizable group of frustrated gamers, eager to get online and enjoy the new game, have taken to Respawn and EA forums to complain about connection bugs – especially when loading into private lobbies on either PC or Xbox One.
To their credit, the studio has already pushed out a patch that should address the most common connectivity problems:
Still, despite their best efforts, congestion will likely continue to cause minor (and maybe major) problems for Titanfall players in the coming weeks – though the experience should be more stable now that Respawn has addressed key glitches. In the meantime, as players from around the world rush online to battle it out, gamers may just have to be patient – until the server load evens out over time.
Unfortunately, gamers who are bothered by Titanfall‘s 792p visuals on Xbox One may have a longer wait ahead of them before Respawn can attempt address their concerns. In fact, while the studio is committed to trying for improved visual fidelity, they’re not making any promises either – especially if tweaks to the resolution would have a negative impact on gameplay.
Speaking to Eurogamer, lead Respawn engineer, Richard Baker, indicated that there is room for improvement but it’s a tenuous balancing act:
“We’ve been experimenting with making [the resolution] higher and lower. One of the big tricks is how much ESRAM we’re going to use, so we’re thinking of not using hardware MSAA and instead using FXAA to make it so we don’t have to have this larger render target […] 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 percent 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.”
For gamers who expect 1080p fidelity in their next-gen gamers, 792p might sound like red flag but Baker explains that even though Titanfall might seem like a straightforward online shooter, there are a lot of elements that go into making the mech vs. pilot battles work:
“A lot of the performance is on the GPU side. There’s still room for optimization and we’re still working on it. Ideally it would have been a rock-solid 60 all the time when we shipped but obviously when there’s big fights going on, lots of particle effects, lots of physics objects… we’re still working to condense the systems, make them more parallel so we can hit 60 all the time, ideally.”
If all this talk of GPU, FXAA, and tech specs sounds like gibberish to you, the Respawn team lead offered a less-complicated explanation for what gamers can expect when they first load-up a Titanfall match.
In short, it looks about the same as the beta:
“There was an issue with decals taking a lot more time than they should which we fixed for launch. The worst-case scenarios are better, I think. The average is probably about the same as the beta.”
It can be easy to pick apart visuals, as we recently saw with the Watch Dogs resolution controversy, but at the end of the day, smooth gameplay should still be a developer’s first priority. Titanfall isn’t the most impressive looking game on next-gen consoles, and it’d be great to see Respawn improve the resolution on Xbox One, but it’s hard to argue with the quality of the actual gameplay – which is already setting a new bar for competitive online multiplayer.
Without question, developers should be challenged to push boundaries and deliver the best possible game experience but that doesn’t mean that Respawn has dropped the ball if they can’t get Titanfall running at 900p – especially since a dip in playability would, without question, elicit even more complaints from gamers.
Hopefully the team can improve visuals without “giving anything up” but, if they don’t, there’s still plenty of reasons to enjoy Titanfall – even at 702p.
Titanfall is now available for the PC and Xbox One, and will release March 25th for the Xbox 360.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick.