Unedited thoughts on Titanfall Beta

So I decided to jot down some of my thoughts on the Titanfall beta this past weekend (continuing into the working week). When the game is released or we get a more full picture I will probably edit these into a more thorough review.

A need for speed

  • Seamless wall running that works the majority of the time. Importantly it is versatile enough to do what you want while being easy to use in the heat of combat. Learn to master it and you can be the dominator of hardpoints (capture and hold). Feels great chaining together wall runs and using the momentum to glide across streets through windows surprising enemies.
  • The maps in the Titanfall beta fully compliment the ability to go where you want to go. Even if they are only the size of the largest of Call of Duty maps, they feel much larger with tons of vertical gameplay. The stunning backdrops give the feeling of a global conflict and lots of room to move around the very edge of the map including clifftops that would typically  be out of bounds.
  • The animations throughout are very nice, with good transitions that make the game feel fluid instead of janky like other fast flowing games tend to be.
  • it never gets old. Crashing a Titan on-top of an enemy, sliding through its legs into an inviting palm and being tucked into the cockpit to be welcomed by an enemy missile salvo is just too damn cool — and the battle rages on.
  • The pace of the game is relentless, the fight just keeps coming.

Gunplay is meh

  • Gunplay is good but nothing ground-breaking, certainly not the standout point of the game. The gunplay is carried by the fluidity and speed of the gameplay.
  • Unlocks – There are tons of unlocks that are easily achievable while requiring focus to attain. Seemingly good balance between them, good trade-offs.

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

  • The burn cards are a fantastic feature; I’d take them in addition to Titans over killstreaks anyday. They require a lot more thought and not so much fire and forget as was the case in CoD. You select three single use cards from your deck at the start of each game. They come in many forms: Speedy Gonzales boost, enhanced weaponry, unique titans, infinite grenades (with a recharge timer), show nearby enemies, the list goes on. Selecting the right card for the game mode and situation is important. For example the speed boost in combination with the Stim and faster cooldown perks allow you to run to the defense of an objective in the blink of an eye.

Titanfall_wallpaper2560x1440

Titanfall, watch out below

  • Titan combat is the best I’ve experienced on a multiplayer game. Suffice to say a game like Hawken has deeper mech combat, but Titanfall nails that feel of being a big stompy robot crashing through streets, squashing enemies at foot and obliterating everything in sight, going toe-to-toe with another robot in close quarters is intense and satisfying.
  • Standout part of the Titan combat is the animations. The mechs feel/look much less constrained and are freeflowing as you would imagine futuristic war machines to be, instead of having “robotic” movements.
  • Nothing cooler in the game than activating Titanfall, watching your Titan descend from orbit and crash onto the battlefield, except if you manage to bring it down atop an enemy Titan killing it instantly. Bonus cool points for using the warp in unlock.
  • You can play the Titan how you want to, suit up for close quarters with the likes of electric smoke, missile salvo and more resilient health. Or choose extended magazine 40mm cannon that allows methodical placement of shots from across the map, complimented by lock-on missile launcher and higher regeneration to shrug off the hits you can’t dodge.

Innovation

  • Take the edge off losing by making a make a beeline for the evac ship and warping off to safety, giving a resemblance of victory even in defeat. Or alternatively stop nothing short of total victory, hunting down cowardly dogs and destroying the enemy evac ship before it can escape.
  • The way AI enemies are typically thought of in game design as a stand in for players, but in Titanfall they are used quite innovatively in that they are used to make the battlefield feel more action packed (think Dynasty Warriors). The minions give the illusion of an enemy being around every corner making the battle more intense and the feeling of being on a massive kill-streak even if you have only killed a player or two (pilots). They also act as a kind of stat pad, allowing you to gain score and reduce time to Titanfall while sucking. That being said, the AI is so dumb that sometimes I wonder if they were added last minute in response to concerns of 6 vs 6.

Console focus?

  • Currently the game is locked at 60fps, which is fine, but in a game as fast paced as this I want to be able to utilize my 120 hz monitor and high-end PC. When you activate double or triple buffered vsync you get insane screen tearing and above 60 fps there are also mouse acceleration issues. Currently SLI configurations (at least my 770s) cause unplayable micro-stuttering.
  • Peer-to-peer? I’m not sure if this game is actually peer-to-peer but all the tell-tale signs are certainly there, the same things that blighted Call of Duty. Players absorbing a volley of bullets only to kill you in a burst of bullets, battles appearing entirely differently on killcam, karate kicking ninja launching themselves at you from 10 metres away. It’s caused me to take breaks from the game on numerous occasions, but I’m too hooked to stay away. All that said I’m not having the issue of games going on hiatus due to hosts leaving or bad host connections causing lag spikes so perhaps the issue lies with stressed servers? Regardless that was my experience.

For as many things that frustrate me about the game and have caused me to rage quit at times, I always toss and turn until the nagging is too much and I load it back up.

I haven’t had this much fun playing an FPS since Call of Duty 4 and Halo 3.

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