Titanfall- A game with promise, a game with the potential to be the best of this years next-gen exclusive releases. I’ve never enjoyed mech style games, in fact can’t really even quote any that I’ve played before because I’ve always avoided them like the plague. I’d much rather play Battlefield or COD as I prefer the modern day realism that comes with those first person shooters. I gave Titanfall a shot because of all the press it was getting and well, I got into the free multi-player beta. All I have to say is, wow, I was wrong to think I wouldn’t enjoy the mech madness that Titanfall is.
One of the things I’ve been reading the most about is how the developers wanted to make the learning curve for newcomers easy and skill in the game not a limitation to the enjoyment. They accomplished that and did a fantastic job in that balance. Yeah there were some things to get used too, scaling walls, the double jump and which weapons were best to use in which situation but overall it was very accessible. The great thing was, while I wasn’t Van Damme from Universal Solider off the bat, I felt like I made a difference the second I jumped into the game. My favorite mode available in the beta ‘Attrition’, allowed me to run around and at the very least kill a few dumb AI soldiers the game uses to create a more active battlefield. Killing them, while not as beneficial as taking down a titan or killing a player, still helped the team. It took me a while to start taking down Titans on the reg but even before I did, I felt powerful and I felt useful.
Even playing just a few maps in the games multi-player was a fucking blast. It moves quickly, it moves fluidly and there are enough ways to kill both titans and players to keep me entertained. I cannot stress enough how badly I want back in the action. I was pissed when I couldn’t keep playing and the weeks until it’s release feel longer by the day, not shorter. Not sure if it’s stomping around in a mech shooting rockets, blasting players with my mini-gun or collecting missiles with my shield only to reflect them back onto an opposing player but good god it’s all fun. I haven’t even touched on being able to jump onto an enemy titan and blast their guts out, requesting a titanfall at the perfect moment to wreak havoc or even the fun that comes with jumping across roof tops hunting people and titans.
Titanfall is a blast in a titan and a blast as a lowly soldier. The jumping mechanics give a unique twist to the first person soldier perspective and the range of weapons make you feel powerful without feeling invulnerable. Homing missiles and a rapid fire launcher are your anti-titan weapons, they feel balanced in such a way to make you annoying to enemy titans but not devastating, deadly but not lethal. Chances are you can’t take down a titan by yourself as a soldier but you can finish one off, take down their shield or just distract them enough to set up a friendly titan for an ambush. If you’re not careful enemy titans can easily dispatch a soldier but the environment and great jumping mechanics provide you the chance to hide or get away, even when I died I always felt like I had a chance at a getaway. The balance of making pilots understandably weaker than titans while not just stop gaps between titanfalls was implemented marvelously.
The dynamic between playing a titan and a pilot creates the feeling of playing two games in one. At any point you could be a rumbling powerful robot with massive rockets and crushing ability, or a stealthy soldier able to kill AI, other players, or wreak havoc on the huge machines. In the beta I’ve seen players permanently play pilots, employing a strategy of hit and run to distract and create ambushes for friendly titans, the potential tactics seem endless if you play with a group consistently. Never once did I bore of playing pilot or titan and both required their own learning curve to maximize each ones potential. This dichotomy in Titanfall allows it to be a revitalizing first person shooter that’s much much more than COD with mechs, despite what naysayers would have you believe.
In addition to the mode ‘Attirtion’ the beta also included the modes Last Titan Standing and Hardpoint Domination. Last Titan Standing is pretty self explanatory and can be fun once you get a hang of the different strategy required in a Titan on Titan only battle. It can get intense when you have a good balance between teams and that last battle in a tie especially nerve racking, as you know once you’re dead, you’re dead, nothing to do but sit back with your fingers crossed. Hardpoint is a mode where each team has three points to hold and receives points depending on how long the objectives are held. I’ve found that Titans have less of an impact in this mode as the map that were available had only two objectives that could even be held while in a titan. Other maps may be better but this mode wasn’t really my favorite. I enjoyed the back and forth created by shifting battle lines but found that I was just running back and forth a lot sitting around when I got to an objective that needed to be taken over. May just be personal preference though and Hardpoint was still fun to play, just seemed to take too much away from Titanfall’s biggest strong point which was the ebb and flow between pilots and titans.
Titanfall also features burn cards which players can collect by completing certain tasks, killing titans, players, AI etc. Burn cards include weapons upgrades, discounts on Titanfall time duration, speed boosts among others. They can only be used once during a battle and expire when you die but luckily you’re able to collect them and even during my short time playing the beta I had collected quite a few. The most valuable to me were the Titanfall duration discounts but the gun upgrades for pilots came in handy during the initial stage of the match when no one had Titans. Either way the burn cards added a fun element to the game and made your life seem more valuable as I never wanted to waste the card I had just used.
The only potential negative in the game would be if the upgrade options to Titans and Pilot weapons are as limited as they are in the beta, which I doubt. As you gain experience you’re able to add different guns, attachments and abilities. They were fairly limited in the beta but their potential to add to the replay value excited me. The extent to which Titanfall will remain a game I play regularly will depend a lot on the depth of these upgrades. Along the same lines as the depth of experience unlocks, the diversity and amount of maps will also be important. The maps I played through were all great and more than enough to keep me entertained for the couple weeks that I had access to the beta but wouldn’t sustain me for much longer. I don’t see this as huge problem as I’m sure they’ll be more than enough add on content in the future even if the initial offerings are slim.
To wrap up Titanfall is one hell of a game. I didn’t buy an Xbox One for it, nor did I even expect to give it a chance until I was granted access to the beta. It’s just non stop action packed fun, plain and simple. I would really have to play the game for longer to come up with many complaints. The graphics were great, pacing was frenetic without being overwhelming and the diversity afforded by it’s unique take on the first person shooting genre made it feel like I was a bad ass the first time I played and the fucking grim reaper when I started to improve. Is this the game to win the console war? No, I really don’t think so. It’s not a transcendent like an exclusive GTA V would be, or that Halo was for the 360. That being said, buy it when it comes out, invite a friend over who owns a PS4 and get them to play a few games online. They’ll never admit it, but I guarantee they’ll be jealous and wishing they could go home and hop into a titan of their own.