These days, most gamers seem to groan at seeing another shoot being released. Sure, it is a genre which is overflowing with titles. But when a game like Titanfall releases, it is exciting and a relief to see a different style of shooter.
Over the past week, Respawn Entertainment and EA opened up a closed beta, although it was more a demo than a beta simply because the main objective was to stress-test the servers. Nobody wants another Sim City disaster.
It didn’t start too strongly either, with a bug causing the servers to stop working within the first two days of opening. It definitely gave lots of gamers plenty to moan about and even more to quickly call day one launch a failure waiting to happen. After that hiccup though, it was easy to see why this game has been so anticipated.
The best way to describe the combat is fast and fluid. Jumping from one building to another building across the street is seamless and smooth. Same goes for running along walls from building to building to quickly get onto a roof. Everything just works.
In the demo you are limited to three modes: Attrition, Hardpoint and Last Titan Standing. Attrition is the first team to reach 250 attrition points by killing grunts, players and Titans. Hardpoint relies on a team holding as many of the three points as possible to reach the max score. While Last Titan Standing is pretty self explanatory. My favourite was probably Attrition as it is with most online shooters; team death match is pretty much the go-to mode for most players.
After you choose your mode you are launched into one of two maps. There is Fracture, which is very open field with a few buildings with it being a former fuel excavation plant. The other map is Angel City which is very close quarters. Both of the maps I really had a lot of fun with. Angel City was probably my favourite simply because it was a cluster of everyone.
Now one thing I have heard that most people complain about is the player cap. It is 6v6, but it is already chaotic enough with that amount of players. Having more would simply be too much, well on the two maps I played anyway. Perhaps on release there will be larger maps, but having Titans and AI soldiers makes up for only having twelve players. Having said that, it was recently revealed through the Titanfall art-books there will also be monsters to join in on the chaos. I’m very curious to see how they will fit another enemy in to an already chaotic and fast experience.
Whether it is monsters with no AI soldiers, vice versa or both. It will definitely keep everything at a fast pace in every map. Hopefully the monsters don’t just become a nuisance. Also a quick note about the AI soldiers, as weak as they are, they actually play a vital role to securing a win in Attrition. You could have the most amount of players kills, but if someone has a tonne of AI kills they might end up with more attrition points. So for those glory seekers, make sure you do kill a good balance of AI and players.
Now, the combat is where this game thrives. It really is very solid, quick and smooth, with abilities as well to mix with your shooting and parkour skills. You could use two abilities in the beta, one move allowed you to become invisible which is quite effective in escaping Titans, but not so much players. The other allowed you to sprint fast, while quickly regaining health at the same time. Either of the abilities completely depends on what style you play and are definitely effective if you use it right.
In the demo we were limited to choose from five weapons, but you can also use more if you get lucky with burn cards.
The burn cards are bonuses you receive through challenges and experience points and offer a variety of different moves or bonuses. You can get faster pilot speed, a unique and strong weapon, for example you can get a sniper which shoots explosive rounds, or you can even score a unique Titan.
They only last until you die however, so make sure you use it wisely when you choose it. There is nothing worse than having a good burn card, for you to die seconds after using it. I really like the idea of these burns cards; it definitely opens up a few more options to help in your fight.
The other main selling point in this game is obviously the Titans. Good news, they are as fun as they look. Calling a Titan from the sky and jumping onto your Titan from a tall building makes it all feel like an epic action movie scene. One of my more memorable boarding’s of a Titan was when I attempted to make it from one rooftop to another rooftop across the street but I just fell short. On my way to the ground though an enemy Titan was running underneath and I ended up boarding his Titan and shooting the electronics out which effectively destroyed his Titan. Those are the kind of moments that really make you appreciate Titanfall. You can do so many cool and different types of moves that just look and make you feel awesome.
You can also customize your Titans and pilots to your suited playing style. You begin with the usual set classes until you get to level 5 for your pilots and level 10 for Titans. You can either make your Titan be effective at quick damage or design it to be more tanky. The Titans also have their own special abilities. They can shoot off-hand rockets which can be quite useful while you’re reloading. My favourite was the missiles which locked onto another Titan and let off three batches of rockets.
The other abilities we could use were a bit more defensive. One of the moves allowed you to let off electric smoke which would kill any enemy pilot who had boarded you as well as damaging other Titans while also becoming an effective smoke screen. Or you could choose the shield which absorbed any rockets or bullets shot at you which you could send flying back to where it came from. Again, moves like this just makes everything feel so fluid and fun.
But even if you aren’t in a Titan, you can still do considerable damage to Titans with an Anti-Titan weapon. So you can’t just worry about other Titans when you’re running around in a Titan, you got to keep an eye out for the little ones too.
The sound-scape in this game is just impressive as the visuals. Hearing my Titan roar through the atmosphere and crashing in front of me sounded as awesome as it looked. As for the visuals, I didn’t realise how good the game looked until about four hours in when I noticed my resolution was set at 1360×768. It immediately stopped my complaints about poor texture and made the game so much more enjoyable.
In-game the combat is fairly balanced, as it mostly relies on quick reflexes and skill. The only mechanic I don’t like is the team sorting process. Quite often I would be up against a team with all maxed level players, while I would be the only maxed player on the team. Sometimes we would manage to win the game, but a lot of the time it was a drubbing. So I hope that gets balanced out a bit in the full release.
There were two other things which I’m not too sold on either. Those being the Smart-Pistol and the melee combat. The Smart-Pistol tracks any enemy within the scope and allows you to shoot at a player without actually properly aiming at them. On paper it sounds pretty cool, but in game it just felt like a cheap death. I doubt it will be removed from the game because a lot of players enjoy it, but I will still seek immediate revenge on any player who kills me with it!
The melee needs a bit of tinkering too. At times it just felt like it reacted a fraction too slow which is often enough time to be killed. It is a one kick kill when you get it right, but it is definitely slower than a knife kill. So hopefully they add more melee options for those who don’t enjoy it as much as others.
But overall, this game is a tremendous amount of fun and I can see myself spending countless hours playing it. It has that addictive feeling that you would feel in Call of Duty, Battlefield or even Civilization. At the end of the game you just think, “I’ll play one more then head to bed”, until you realise the time and its already 4 in the morning. There are just so many cool action sequences that you can pull off which makes you feel awesome. I really can’t wait to play the full version of this game and I really hope Sony can strike a deal so even more players can experience this chaotic shooter.