Back in June of 2013 watching the E3 stream at 5am in the morning and watching all those awesome games be announced (along with the reveal of Xbox One and PS4), I was an unemployed college student and looking on with envy at many of these releases. Watching the stream with rapt interest I watched game after game be announced and feeling pangs of envy at all the people I knew would be able to get many of these on release. But me? I was a broke 22 year old guy who only managed to get a PS3 last year in a lucky raffle, and I gamed on a laptop that struggled to run anything older than 2008 well. Watching the announcement of Titanfall I felt extremely sad, because here was a game that looked downright awesome. The first real next-gen First Person Shooter and it involved giant mech robots straight out of sci-fi.
Luckily since then much has changed, I managed to land a job and in the next month, build myself a bitchin’ PC that could keep up with current gaming. But until last month most of that E3 conference had left my thoughts (apart from Tom Clancy’s “The Division”). It was then that the people here at Resident Entertainment approached me offering early access to the Titanfall Beta if I promised to review the game for them. And so here I am writing up a post on a Sunday evening the day before work instead of jumping back into the awesome battlegrounds that are Titanfall. I’ve sunk a fair few hours into Titanfall by now and overall came away pleased with my experience. So I’m going to breakdown the parts of the beta I’ve been able to access thus far and highlight what I think is working well and what can be improved upon before release.
So upon installing Origin for the first time on this PC, downloading and diving into Titanfall on my wonderful Australian internet, the first thing that happened is the game launched in a windowed mode at about 1290×700. After being forced to sit through the developer logos I’m greeted with the main menu screen which provides an awesome looking backdrop of a planet surrounded by spacecraft. I then go to use my mouse to click on the “Settings” button only to find the game lagging and not registering my clicks. To be fair this only lasted for about 5 seconds but it happens near every time I run the game. Fixing up my video graphics to full screen and making a quick note of the key binds (which are mostly all changeable by the way, not enough developers do this and it’s an excellent feature, so props), I jump into the training which I believe was needed to unlock the multiplayer but I could be wrong. Before I go on to the gameplay, the multiplayer menu’s are all very easy to follow and navigate to get you where you want to go. There’s an option to mute people in lobby which is fantastic also, done with a simple click. Now onto the more interesting stuff.
So I ran through the tutorial first which gave you all the controls first for the pilot, then the titan. Playing as the pilot feels very free and the ability to double jump by use of small jet packs, grabbing ledges as well as wall-running makes you very nimble and thus fun to play as. Want to get to that sniper spot on that building? Just parkour your way up there. No being exposed on ladders, no frustrating jumping, it’s all very fluid and easy to control. As a pilot you also get the ability to cloak and become near invisible so essentially being a pilot makes you a very quick, hard to detect assassin. Which is necessary when you become stuck on the battlefield as a pilot with half of the enemy team in their titans. Thankfully you also get by default a nice little weapon that’s basically a titan killer, as long as you manage to keep yourself alive long enough to make use of it. There’s also other methods of killing titans I’ve seen from players of higher levels than me such as being able to jump up on a titan and shoot a weak point, as well as many other methods. It’s still a challenge, but a doable one if you’re crafty enough.
Now the Titans. So in the default mode of team deathmatch you don’t immediately get your titan. It’s being prepared somewhere (in space maybe?), and you’re given a little countdown in the bottom left of your screen. But maybe you want that titan now. Well go out and kill people, killing players and bots will grant you points that go towards reducing the construction time of your next titan. Which means the people ahead snowball further ahead, but it gives you the incentive to not fall behind. Then again the advantage of waiting is you get a fresh titan when many others are damaged or already destroyed. So I guess play it how you want. Any way, I digress. Once your timer hits 0 you’re free to summon your titan wherever you please, providing there’s enough space. Simply point and hit a button. Your titan will come crashing down from space probably killing anything in it’s general vicinity when it hits the ground. Your titan is then given a shield around so it can’t be picked off immediately while you jump into it (which by the way it pulls you into it’s innards and then closes around you, pretty awesome if I do say so myself). You watch as around you about 5 high-tech screens turn on to give you vision of the outside of the titan in real time. Now you’re in this huge titan, how do you kill things? Well pretty much any button you care to press. Your primary weapon is generally a gun of some giant magnitude. A chain gun, 4 rockets shooting simultaneously, a close quarters mega-shotgun. What if you need to reload? Oh just shoot out your 10 rockets that are unlimited and you can use whenever they’ve recharged. What if those are on cool down? Well you can summon a force field in front of you that stops enemy fire while you hold the key. Sounds awesome right? Well that’s also a weapon by the way. Let go and you fire everything you stopped back at whatever unfortunate thing happens to be in front of you.
Apart from the weapons, the titans also feature a short dash you can use whenever you have the energy for it, which restores at a fairly rapid pace. Titans also feature the typical regenerative shields so you can duck out of cover and restore that to avoid damage. The health doesn’t restore either (unless there’s some engineer class I’ve yet to come across which will probably be the case). You can also jump back out of your titan and it will go on autopilot killing anything in sight. You normally wouldn’t want to leave it but you can use it to defend a point, or follow you around, so it does have it’s uses. It’s probably far more effective when a player controlling it however. Lastly when your titan has sustained enough damage, you must with a tear and smile leave it. So as you eject and get flung high into the sky your titan decides to use it’s last weapon: a giant explosion. Some even go nuclear. Titans have so many weapons they’re basically a mobile controllable armory. And the best part is as long as the battle goes on long enough you get more than one of these. So don’t be too sad when your best buddy blows himself to smithereens, you’ll have another one before too long!
Lastly, I have to talk about the multiplayer briefly. First off the battlegrounds are a great size. Big enough so it feels overly expansive on foot, but not so much that you get lost. I believe so far I’ve played 3 maps, definitely 2 but I feel like maybe there was a third. Maneuvering titans in small areas becomes essential and watching your map so you’re not flanked by multiple. The small areas also gives the pilots a chance to do their part to destroy a titan, and believe me you need all the help you can get when you’re on foot. You get the option of 3 game modes in the beta currently: team deathmatch, free-for-all and last titan standing. The first two explain themselves, first team/player to the specified point total wins. Team Deathmatch does offer a twist though, after the game has been settled the losing team has to try and get to an evacuation drop ship and leave to earn bonus points for the player. So there’s always something to fight for even if you’re being hopelessly slaughtered on the battlefield. The catch is that if you die in this final phase you don’t respawn. Last Titan Standing is a mode where everyone spawns in a titan, it’s free-for-all with no respawns. Last titan standing wins. Unfortunately I haven’t had much of a chance to try this mode, every time I have time to play not enough people are queuing to play them.
So there’s the typical points system we’ve gotten used to from Call Of Duty and other multiplayer FPS games, however in Titanfall going up levels unlocks different kinds of pilots and titans. Different weapons, different perks, depending on your style of play and preference. It also doesn’t feel like much of a grind to have to get levels as no one class is superior and you can do well with the basic level 1 pilot and titan. I feel that was well done, so newbies wont feel discouraged to play multiplayer and feel behind. At level 4 you unlock “Challenges”, which is basically an achievement system for performing various tasks. Head shots, travel, things destroyed, so on and so forth. I think that’s pretty much it, I’m likely forgetting something but I’ve covered all the major things.
Sound, graphics, etc
So this game looks amazing. From the moment you jump into the game everything looks crystal clear, everything looks beautiful, stunning, amazing. Maybe I’m lucky with a high-end rig and it doesn’t appear that way at lower levels, but this truly looks like a next-gen game. The HUD’s for pilots and titans are simple and easy to look at, nothing is cluttered really. The game also keeps the key binds next to various things in case you suddenly forget how to use something. A nice little addition that only benefits game play. The sound is also mind blowing, the developers have done a good job at capturing the sounds of warfare. Explosions are loud, bullets are loud, titans sound like giant hydraulic robots of doom, everything sounds good. Turn up your sound system and lose yourself to immersion. I actually haven’t heard a single person use their headset yet but I’m not sure if that’s because no one has tried or the feature isn’t yet implemented, so I can’t comment on player audio as of yet. In any event like mentioned earlier there’s a lovely convenient mute button ready for the various ragers that make the online FPS genre the wonderful thing it is. Don’t like that guy talking about ballsacks constantly? Boop, gone.
Now for the things I didn’t like. Which to be fair as of right now there is very few. First off the menu’s feel unresponsive at times and I’m fairly sure at one point in the tutorial when I got asked to pick an option although I could highlight with my mouse I couldn’t select by clicking, I had to use the enter key. Either way that’s a minor issue really. Next, in the menu’s at times you get white text on a very light background which makes it almost impossible to read the words. This could be fixed easily with say a small black border around the characters or just removing those light background areas. Next, I touched on the opening scenes earlier about not being able to skip them, I just want to say I know why they made that a thing but after the first time you should have the ability to skip it. Either way it’s a very minor thing and more of a personal preference. Next, sometimes the game loads in a small windowed mode still and one time I accidentally turned off my screen and had to restart the game as I was unable to reopen the game window. But again this is something easily fixed. Lastly, when I close the game it shuts off, and then my computer tells me Titanfall has crashed and is not responding. Well that would be because I turned it off. Again, an easy fix.
Titanfall is everything I imagined it would be when I saw it first back in June 2013. I could lose hours in this game if I let myself and that’s just with the beta options. I’m hoping there’s LAN options with friends and so forth. I can’t wait to see what other maps are introduced as well, possibly aircraft, different game modes, huge battlegrounds with many players on at each time. I could go on. If you’re able to grab yourself a beta key for this game, you wont regret it. Otherwise get it as soon as you can once it’s released. Titanfall is easily a game that even a novice at FPS games can get into and love.