On Tuesday, Electronic Arts will release Titanfall, a multi-player title starring a bunch of heavily armored mechs.
Titanfall is being released for Windows and the Xbox 360, but it is the Xbox One version of the game that is being watched the most closely. And for good reason: Although there have a been a handful of Xbox One exclusives such as Ryse: Son of Rome and Killer Instinct, there hasn't yet been the kind of "must-have" game that lures gamers away from the Sony PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Wii U.
As Yusuf Mehdi, chief marketing and strategy officer for devices and studios at Microsoft, said in an interview with the New York Times, "It’s hard to understate how incredibly important Titanfall is for Xbox." If the game succeeds, it could become a kind of next generation Gears of War – a Microsoft-only title that incentives the $500 investment in the pricey Xbox console.
If it does not, the Xbox One could fall even further behind the Sony PlayStation 4 in the console market.
EA has embargoed all reviews of Titanfall until late Monday, so it's too soon to say exactly what kind of a critical reception this game is likely to get.
But early signs are promising. Last month, for instance, Stuart Andrews of TrustedReviews.com took a beta of the game for a spin, and came away impressed by both the depth of the combat systems and the immersive quality of the visuals.
"Graphically, Titanfall might not look a huge step on from cross-gen titles like Call of Duty: Ghosts, or the sterling work DICE pulled off in Battlefield 4," he wrote. "Watch it in action, however, and it’s a different story. It’s impressively slick and dynamic, with every inch of the screen crammed with activity, and there’s a real attention to detail in the industrial design of the titans, and even the animation when you enter and exit your mech."
Microsoft is offering the standalone game for $60. But it will also debut a Titanfall bundle, which includes the console, a controller, and a copy of Titanfall for $499 – the same price as the base-level Xbox bundle. This is a move, the Wall Street Journal notes, "that amounts to an early price cut for a device that arrived in November."