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My Weekend With Titanfall

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As many of you readers, especially the Xbox One players, know the Titanfall beta began this weekend.  By late Saturday it had completely opened up on the Xbox One allowing anyone on the platform the ability to play it.  I don’t know how that is going, but given the software masterpiece that is Respawn Entertainment’s flagship work it probably runs impressively.  For me the two Xbox versions are double covered because not only are the partnerships of Respawn and publisher EA backing them, but Microsoft is as well.  The PC version, which is the version I want, was a larger concern.  As an active beta user that logged almost six hours this weekend I am pleased to say Titanfall rocks on PC.

titanfall_gpI’m not much into Call of Duty or Battlefield these days, mostly because my limited time with these games makes me cannon fodder whenever I join them.  I really only play the single player, I don’t know the maps, I haven’t leveled very high to have good gear or perks and refuse to pay to have them unlocked, I don’t use a headset, and as an occasional games reviewer I really suck at the games to boot.  Still, I do love the mechanic they provide.  There’s something cathartic about killing dudes late at night, talking shit, and the rush of a good kill streak or finishing a game in the number one slot.  Unfortunately that hasn’t happened for me in like two years.  Shooters of this type are highly competitive and statistically speaking most people I encounter online play that game, and only that game, when they unwind.  All of these factors made me also hesitant to pick up Titanfall because it’s clearly not the shooter space for me.  Having said that, I will be buying Titanfall day one.

I’m not going to cover the game preview style or explain what the beta is about, everyone who wants to try it on Xbox One or PC should be able to at time of writing if they wish, and bigger sites have covered it before now.  I also don’t know if you should trust any reviews on this title given that community and player behavior is the sole focus.  Like I said, if you’re interested get into the beta now.  I am also happy to report that the servers kept up with no major hang-ups or glitches and the game ran gorgeous at 60+ fps in 1080p with nearly maxed out settings on my GTX 760.  This is just a brief list of my interests given the time I spent going in cold without having watched videos, read previews, or followed the game strongly.

titanfall_wallrunFor the most part the controls are standard Call of Duty style and there’s not much change in the way your individual soldier gears up.  What is different is that your character is able to perform parkour wall runs, double jumps, and vertical sprints that closely resemble Mirror’s Edge and immediately intrigued a platformer fanatic like myself.  There is also a unique weapon, the smart pistol, that locks on and will kill one or multiple enemies with headshots without the need to aim.  I dug this because a lot of my gripes in other shooters are the people who have become so accustomed to shooting that even if I sneak up behind them and unload I will be the one who’s eventually dead.  Not anymore.  For those that haven’t played it and are already concerned about that weapon being abused, the period of time to lock into a human player and shoot them was much longer than the more limber individuals blasting away at close range with a shotgun or pelting you off with an assault rifle.  A cloaking system and the presence of AI-controlled enemies, nicknamed “grunts”, works with all the minutia on the battlefield to create a frantic feel.  You may only be playing with eleven other guys in a match but it’s a busy battlefield when compared to other games that have twice that many characters or more.  This game also utilizes that to undo the standard tactics of players of these other shooters, which is the breath of fresh air I’ve been waiting for.  Most rock solid players at one military shooter will be at an advantage in another but in Titanfall the snipers, hiders, spawn-campers, campers in general, frantic run-and-gunners, and more will all have logical counterbalances to make sure they can’t get you every time.  I’m sure within a few years and a few sequels this could change, but then with Respawn being made up of veterans that make Medal of Honor and Call of Duty great, perhaps they will be able to code around the pattern heavy “pros”.  In short, I can run around freely and provided that I am careful and calculated with my behavior I’ll actually do well.  I liked this.

Then there are the titans.  Whether it’s dumb luck, an affinity toward mech games of the past, or just the fact that I’m not trying to play a titan like a do a human, I’m quite decent at being a combat-heavy titan.  The mechanics are simple and the movement is fluid, but since these are big creatures that have the attention of everyone in the game you have to be versed at playing them.  They aren’t flawless powerhouses as you may assume, on foot my character is very dangerous to a titan’s well being.  If a guy gets on your titan, jump out and take him down because not doing so will net terrible results.  A big hulking creature has a lot of hit points so perhaps just standing there and unloading your guns isn’t the best plan of action unless you’ve got backup.  And for the love of God, melee, melee, melee.  I also like that you can program the titan to stay still and fight or follow you and fight when you’re not in it.  That has been a fun distraction when faced with a match that you happen to be a better fighter on the ground than in a titan.  Its that dual dynamic that I dig.

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It all comes together in a game that feels like the next big thing.  I’ve had great matches and I’ve had terrible matches, but I never felt discouraged to continue playing and the matches are just the right length to not keep me from appointments.  At its core Titanfall is still a first-person shooter where 12 guys run around a battlefield either killing each other, fighting for an objective, or both.  If this is not your speed you had best move on.  For those of us that have stepped away from these traditional powerhouse franchises and need a breath of fresh air, I feel that at least for face value a multiplayer-only shooter can not only premiere but take on the throne.  Needless to say the thrill I had first playing Modern Warfare and Bad Company are back in business when I quite literally leap into Titanfall.  I will be there in March despite the glut of games I foolishly pre-purchased just before the launch.

The views expressed in this article are those of its writer, Fred Rojas, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the B-Team Podcast or its other co-hosts.  Titanfall is set to release for Xbox One and PC on March 11, 2014 and Xbox 360 on March 28, 2014 with a retail price of $59.99 for all versions.

 
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1 Comment  comments 
  • gadgetman007

    I just finished playing rounds simultaneously on PC and Xbox One to compare the two.

    I think PC looks a slight bit better on max settings but unless you’re actively looking for differences, XB1 looks terrific too. What was more noticeable was the differences in player play styles between platforms. Rarely did I see PC players (compared to XB1 players) wall running or using the exterior verticality of the buildings. Perhaps it was just the servers I was in but it is slightly concerning. However, I suspect that this difference is partly attributed to the difference in controls. In other words, using a controller on XB1 makes pulling off these parkour elements easier than on PC with a mouse and keyboard. Given your history, I have a feeling you played on PC with a controller which made the parkour easier for you to pull off. While I’d rather play the game on PC, this trial almost makes me feel like one may need to play on the XB1 (or 360) to get the “full” experience. Yet, mouse and keyboard gamers may just need more time with the new mechanics in order to start using them regularly in matches.