Face-Off: Titanfall 2


By Richard Leadbetter. 4/11/2016

Titanfall 2 is a 60fps first-person shooter. On paper that might not sound particularly special. After all, it is the signature element that defines the Call of Duty experience, the standard that has come to dominate top-tier console-based first-person shooters to the point where 30fps challengers have had to evolve to match it. Case in point: both Battlefield and Halo have now joined the 60fps club. But what makes Titanfall 2 different, what makes it special, is that it does more than targets 60fps - it comprehensively delivers it. It feels great, but crucially, even in the most intense multiplayer action, it's consistently brilliant to play.

Performance is important to this game because it's an integral component of its feel. The mechanics in this title are exceptional - it starts with a supremely tight interface between player and game - and a commitment to the lowest possible latency. And the good news is that this all-important element of the experience is pretty much identical on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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The team's attention to detail across platforms goes beyond the rendering set-up too. Respawn has optimised the movement of the game according to the controller you're using, as opposed to implementing a one-size-fits-all system. Handling of inertia and dead-zones is spot-on, regardless of the system you're playing it on. Titanfall 2 relentlessly processes your inputs with pinpoint precision and crucially, provides exceptional feedback. The melee is a supreme case in point - animation, physics and audio working together to produce a highly satisfying result from an audacious close-up kill.

Respawn's latest isn't the most beautiful shooter on the market, but for Respawn, pretty visuals don't take precedence over the feel of the game. The franchise kings like Battlefield and Call of Duty will drop frames in order to service the visuals, or to support gargantuan 64-player battles in the case of DICE's epic. They're willing to compromise on the feel of the game in order to deliver improved graphics, signature set-piece moments or a more ambitious networking feature set. But Titanfall 2 doesn't. The quality of the action, the absolute consistency in the feel of the experience - that makes it different, that makes it special.

Titanfall 2's rock-solid frame-rate delivers similar results to 343's Halo 5 - a game that introduced a number of technical check and balances to ensure a sustained, consistent 60Hz refresh. And in employing a dynamic resolution scaling buffer, Respawn Entertainment is actually using a very similar technique in ensuring its consistency. When we looked at the beta, Respawn had seemingly settled on a fixed, sub-native framebuffer for the Xbox One and PS4 releases, backed up by an impressive temporal anti-aliasing solution.

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First impressions suggested that this remained in place on retail code, but further investigation confirms that pixel-count scales in the final game according to GPU load. For the majority of the experience, this actually works out to be a positive. For much of the game, PS4 resolves at around 1000p, and Xbox One around 810-828p. Gaining absolutely accurate metrics is difficult owing to the temporal super-sampling anti-aliasing, which makes it very difficult to find the hard geometric edges essential for pixel-counting.