Preview: Titanfall [Beta] – Graceful Destruction
It’s like David vs Goliath: except David has jump jets and a rocket launcher. I got the chance to spend some time with the beta for Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall. Now that the beta is coming to an end tonight, let’s look back and see what the big fuss was all about.
You can’t help but notice the Call of Duty ancestry considering where Respawn Entertainment came from. From the kill-cam to the custom class perk system. It almost seems like Respawn Entertainment is dead set on taking everything that made the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare games special and improving on them ten-fold.
I think what’ll surprise folks is that the best part of Titanfall is how you almost float across maps by chaining double jumps with short jet boosts. Once you master the traversal element of Titanfall you can navigate an entire stage without even touching the ground. Quick escapes via rope-a-dope become commonplace especially when a three-story Titan with a rocket launcher is bearing down on you. The verticality plays a big part when taking down Titans. The ability to jump in and out of windows with ease allows the set up of clever ambushes.
Your actions on the ground are a build up for “Titanfall,” which is future miltary jargon for calling down you massive Titan. At the start of every match you’ll have a counter that determines when you can first call down your Titan. Every kill and objective completed shaves off more and more time from your Titan timer. Once your Titan hits the battlefield, you can hop inside and do some damage or opt to have them follow you around as a giant A.I. companion. One cool thing is that you pick exactly where you can drop your Titan. Smart players will use a Titanfall in the middle of a battlefield to literally crush their enemies. Its neat.
The devastating power of the Titans can lay waste to soldiers out in the open. The re-chargable dash will save your neck more than once. Titan-on-Titan combat is almost like another shooter entirely. You sacrifice the squirrel-like twitch gameplay that comes from fighting pilots for the more slower and more deliberate combat of the Titans. Get yourself outnumbered or exposing your back side will have you making friends with the eject button.
The beta itself included the maps Angel City and Fracture. The game modes in Titanfall included in the beta are spins on old favorites.
Attrition is a slight spin on deathmatch where both sides are trying to score as many ‘attrition points’ as possible. You gain attrition points by killing other pilots, Titans and even NPCs. So if you’re no good at killing actual players you can still be helpful by farming NPC grunts who tend to like to be shot.
Hardpoint is your typical capture and hold mode. It was fun to hold an area with a bunch of Titans holding position while my team tried to flank our incoming victims.
Last Titan Standing is a good idea for a mode that lasts waaaaaaaay too long. Its an elimination mode where you have to destroy the other teams Titans that are all on the field. You have to win 4 rounds in order to win the match. Most matches I’ve had in Last Titan Standing have taken over half an hour. That’s far too long considering all other matches take roughly 10-15 minutes. That’s too long for people who just want to get in some quick action.
Titanfall also has single-use powerups called Burn Cards. This is Titanfall‘s equivalent to game boosters. As you rank up you’ll randomly gain Burn Cards. These cards award some insane bonuses for just one respawn. The prosthetic legs Burn Card lets your pilot move around faster. Some other Burn Cards include super upgraded weapons. Burns Cards are nice additions for players who need a little help in a match. You can only use 3 cards per match and once they are in use you lose the card.
Stupidly charging into a group of pilots will result in your having unwanted company in the form of some guy riding rodeo on your Titan. Rodeo-riding is a common strategy of hanging off an opponent’s Titan pumping lead into is soft spot located conveniently on its back. It’s a high risk/high reward tactic that makes you feel like a giant-slayer.
Titanfall isn’t bringing anything new to the table. What Titanfall really excels at is refining and improving on existing elements of a first person shooter. The loadouts are varied enough to accommodate every play-style. It is still too early to comment on weapon or skill perk balance.
One weapon I will mention, mainly because its so damn awesome, is the Smart Pistol. Its basically a gun that automatically locks onto people and fires HOMING BULLETS. I’ve come to realize that I love any gun that does the work for me. The handful of weapons in the beta are standard ballistic military future-tech. No lasers. All the weapons can unlock attachments by completing specific objectives.
While Titanfall was mostly impressive, there were some things I’d like to see improved overall. The AI of the enemy combatants on the field is just terrible. Most times they just stand around waiting to be shot at which is an easy way to rack up points and EXP. The Titan AI are also easy to fool when they are left on their own. A wasted Titan is a heartbreak, though it’s a good thing another one will be ready in a matter of minutes.
When you think about it, the public beta was really important for Respawn Entertainment. First it’s takes care of the obvious technical and network nonsense that betas are supposed to take care of ahead of launch. The second and perhaps the most important is that it cleared many people’s doubts regarding what to expect from Titanfall. The combat is fun and a breathe of fresh air for fans of first-person shooters. I’m curious to see on whether the lack of a traditional single-player will sit well with most gamers.
The beta alone for Titanfall is an exciting look at whats to come next month. Assuming EA doesn’t pull a Battlefield 4 at launch, Titanfall is proving to be the sole reason to pick up a Xbox One.
Titanfall lands on PC and Xbox One on March 11th. For more on the game, check out all of our Titanfall news. If you’re less of a reader, be sure to check out the video of some Titanfall beta footage with the voice of yours truly providing color commentary.