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'Titanfall': Has EA Finally Found Its 'Call of Duty' Killer?

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Image: Titanfall
Electronic Arts' 'Titanfall' combines intense online multiplayer combat with parkour-style movement set in a visually stunning sci-fi world.Electronic Arts

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The next-generation console war officially began in November, when Sony and Microsoft released the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, respectively. But for many gamers, the battle truly started this week.

That's when game industry juggernaut Electronic Arts released "Titanfall," which many critics are calling the first truly next-gen shooter. An exclusive title for Microsoft's Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles (also on PC), it has "all the makings of the next big thing," raved a review from the popular gaming site Polygon.

"Titanfall's" gameplay is bound to make shooter fans happy—it combines intense online multiplayer combat with parkour-style movement set in a visually stunning sci-fi world. And if scaling buildings and jumping around with jetpacks isn't enough, players can also operate giant killer robots. Who doesn't love giant killer robots?

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Image: Titanfall
Electronic Arts' 'Titanfall' combines intense online multiplayer combat with parkour-style movement set in a visually stunning sci-fi world.Electronic Arts

Analysts are expecting "Titanfall" to be a boon for Microsoft, which trails Sony in its next-gen console sales.

"Titanfall" publisher Electronic Arts could stand to gain more in the long run, however, because it's not entirely clear how long the company will remain locked into an exclusive contract with Microsoft.

EA has been trying to make a legitimate competitor to Activision's blockbuster "Call of Duty" franchise for years. The closest it's ever come is with "Battlefield," another militaristic shooter that's remained below "Call of Duty" in the "revenue pecking order," as IDC analyst Lewis Ward explained to NBC News at the time of "Battlefield 4's" release in November.

Steve Bailey, senior games analyst at IHS Electronics and Media, told NBC News that he can "understand why this looks like such a coup" for EA and Microsoft. But he added that “Titanfall” "will need to prove engaging for at least the remainder of the year" if it really wants to "pave itself a persistent presence."

So far, "Titanfall" has been warmly received by critics — ranking at 87 percent on the influential reviews aggregator Metacritic. But it's gotten off to a rocky start for some players — they’ve taken to Twitter and online forums to complain about technical issues trying to connect to EA's servers.

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