There are a fair number of quality first-person shooters on mobile, but by and large, the big FPS franchises on console and PC haven’t made the transition to phones and tablets that successfully whether they stuck to the same genre or not. Titanfall: Assault breaks free from the morass by keeping the action, characters and other unique details from its brand and applying them to a genre you might not expect.
Alas, there’s not an agreed upon label for the combination of MOBA, tower defense and collectible card game elements made famous by Clash Royale. Suffice it to say that for every head-to-head battle in Titanfall: Assault, each player has a deck of cards that represent Pilots, Titans and burn cards. Any card can be played to the battlefield when the ever-regenerating store of supplies can pay its cost, and once in play, it will carry out pre-programmed behaviors in service of the goal of destroying your opponent’s turrets.
The additional details are what make the gameplay feel like Titanfall. Titans can’t be summoned for the first minute of each four-minute match, meaning it’s Pilots vs. Pilots to start. The developers make good use of vertical space in the map design, allowing them to bounce from building to building, slide down ziplines and generally show off the mobility that defines them in the console games.
Titans feel appropriately powerful when they are brought into play, forcing strategy changes and sometimes swinging the momentum in a heartbeat. And the use of hardpoints really ties it all together, as holding onto them long enough provides another victory condition — one that comes into play more often than total base destruction, to be honest. Only certain units can capture or hold hardpoints (Titans can’t do either, for instance), adding another level of strategy to deck construction. You might have good counters ready for the strategies you run into more often, but if you can’t take and hold enough strongpoints, it won’t be enough.
The other trappings of Titanfall: Assault are likely what you’d expect. Every victory provides a reward cache which only yields its treasures over time, and you can only hold onto a few at any given time. Cards come in varying rarities from common to legendary, and you level up those cards by collecting enough duplicates and paying the game’s common currency, credits. If you’ve played any Clash Royale — and most of us have — it will all feel like second nature.
Gameplay also looks and sounds like Titanfall, so the production values are on point. The only negative is not being able to experience it all at once; while you can zoom in and out and move your view around the battlefield, it never all fits on your screen. This isn’t uncommon for MOBAs, but those usually only have you controlling one character or unit. For a game like Assault, it would be nice to be able to see everything that’s unfolding and be able to consider all your options.
There doesn’t seem to be any limit to the appetite for good live multiplayer games, and any of them that arrive with an established name figure to have a leg up on the competition. With seasons, guilds and other standard features built in, Titanfall: Assault is definitely positioned to support an enthusiastic community. Will one form? Waiting to find out is probably going to carry some of the same anticipation you get while waiting for those Titans to drop.