Back towards the end of January I gave a review of TitanFall questioning the decision to go with 6 v 6 multiplayer and allowing AI in the game. I must admit that I am protective of PC Gaming. As a PC gamer for over 2 decades I have seen the shift of games developed for PC move toward games being developed for consoles and ported for PC gamers. Pretty much every port to PC has been bug laden and game play has suffered with poor physics and glitches.
I read all of the Battle Tech Novels. This has made me want to try out every game with anything that has to do with piloting a giant mechanical war machine. This is why I even signed up for the TitanFall Beta with the knowledge that this could just be another console ported for PC.
It came as a surprise for me while getting the free BF4 handgun pack that TitanFall Beta was in my Origin games section. I did sign up for the Beta, but when I received no email indicating that I was let in, I didn’t mind, after all, I didn’t like the idea of the limited players and included AI.
So there I was, on the last day of the Beta, downloading and installing and frankly not knowing what to expect. I honestly kept expecting during the entire installation and launching of the game to ask for a key that I didn’t possess. But it didn’t and I found myself immersed in a game that was so well thought out that I began to have my doubts about my initial assumptions.
The game itself is very well balanced. At level 1 you are equipped to be a help, not a hindrance, in the fight. The basic equipped soldier can fight other pilots as well as Titans and help sway the tide of battle. The same goes for the basic Titan. You can help your team and hurt or kill other players that are higher levels than you are. This is not one of those games where you’ll dread being 10 levels lower that the others in the game. As long as you get a quick mental layout of the map and the game mode you can contribute immediately.
I must also say that this was the smoothest game play I’ve ever experienced in a Beta. They even indicated that they rolled out a patch to see how that would go while people were playing and I didn’t experience any issues. This is on a 3 year old HP off the shelf with a GTX 460, not one of your top of the line gaming rigs.
The options were laid out rather well and the ability to change your load-out during your insertion into the battle was a good move. Integrated voice communication was clear and I only had one instance of someone blaring what they call music to the rest of the team but I couldn’t see who it was while I was involved in the fight. Maybe there’s an option to see who it is and mute them during the actual fight but I was too busy trying to decimate the enemy to stop to figure it out.
Changing your key binds worked flawlessly and it was a very simple thing to set up my Razer mouse to work with the default key settings. The controls are responsive and you learn to access the higher areas of the map as a Pilot as you get more comfortable with ‘wall walking’ and timing your double jumps. The ability to customize your Pilot and Titan after a certain number of levels will not bring you dread. Customizing each are easy and responsive with tips on what each option can do that’s clear and concise. I hope that even more customization and even personalization features come out in the near future.
Running up on an AI enemy that was dragging a dead teammate to safety did give me pause to chuckle even as I cut him in half with my shotgun or ‘executed’ him with a melee attack from behind. Crushing opponents beneath your feet also gives some measure of happiness.
Challenges are accomplishments that you attain during the course of play and unlock upgrades to the basic gear you start off with and weapons you unlock as you advance. The completion of challenges is satisfying and you get to see all of the challenges you have done and how close you are to completion during the end of match report.
For those of you who didn’t get to enjoy the Beta, you start off as a recruit and have to go through a training simulator. It starts off with basic movement training of your pilot then moves on to train you on how to ‘wall walk’ and double jump as well as ‘wall hang’. You learn to navigate through a couple different scenarios and how to use the melee attack, cloaking ability (partial invisibility ), smart pistol as well as the basic assault rifle. You then learn how to use your Titan and how to make it guard or follow. The training then moves on to using the movement characteristics of the Titan. You learn that you cannot Jump (jump jets coming we hope!) but you can do a short dash in any direction although you are limited by the number of dashes (2) until that recharges.
By the time you are done with the training simulation you should be proficient enough to jump into a multiplayer game and not get demolished badly by everyone already involved in the fight. You have had the opportunity to understand what your basic Titan can do and use these skills in the field of battle.
Learning curve — easy
Pilots & Titans
Pilots are the human foot soldiers as opposed to the AI support that is in the game. You will have the option to change your guns, anti Titan guns, ‘skills’ or abilities to suit your game play or the game mode. With both there are options for short, medium and long range engagement and these are key based on the game mode and map itself. The terrain is designed to allow everyone in the battle to contribute to their teams success whether they are a Titan or a Pilot. Again, Pilot and Titan customization is pretty easy and allows you to try different configurations for the battle you are about to get in to. In the Beta you were able to get 3 slots for each and I’m hoping you can get 5 to 10 for the final game so that you can have a load out for any scenario you find yourself in.
Early on, using the cloaking skill as a Pilot and using the Vortex Shield as a Titan will increase your survivabilty, but depending on the map and the game mode you will have options to use other ‘skills’ to give depth to your team.
- When going up against another titan: fire your unguided rockets fast, that way if they use their vortex shield to send back the volley you have yours at your disposal.
- Do not fire your lock on missiles immediately, let them use up their vortex shield and when its regenerating hit them with everything you’ve got.
- Don’t get close to friendly Titans in close quarters, if an engagement ensues neither of you may have the room to maneuver and you may find one or the other pinned against a building or obstacle and taking heavy damage.
- Position your Titan so that if you lose your shield you can take cover to allow it to regenerate.
- Dashing around enemy Titans in close combat and punching them is very effective.
- Attack Titans from up high as a Pilot, use your arc grenades to disrupt them.
- Keep an eye on your mini map. Be aware if your team is rushing one direction to look for flanking actions by the enemy.
- Kill as many minions as you can to complete challenges and decrease the time for your Titan to be called in or for your Titans Damage modifier to become available.
- Customize your Pilot and Titan slots for CQB, Medium and Long range fighting as soon as the opportunity presents itself, this way youre prepared to support your team in any way needed.
Maps & Modes
The Beta came with 2 maps and 3 modes. The city map was a close quarters map that allowed for flanking and tight maneuvering as well as giving pilots a lot of places to do maximum damage to opposing Titans. The more open area map was good for long range weapons but was balanced so that a team with all titans on the field did not make the game one sided.
‘Attrition’ is Team Deathmatch. You start out as pilots and rack up points which decreases the timer to call down your Titan. You can then rack up points to decrease the timer for your Titan to temporarily do more damage. What I was not able to fathom is if the Titan also takes less damage from enemy fire while in this state.
‘Hardpont’ is domination, not the traditional hardpoint COD players are familiar with, more like conquest from the Battlefield franchise. Just as in ‘Attrition’ you start off as a Pilot and get a Titan called in.
‘Last Titan Standing’ is just that. Everyone except for the AI drops into the battle in their Titan. Your round ends when you die, not if your Titan is destroyed. If you are killed in your Titan then you get to sit and watch the rest of your team go for the victory, but if you eject from your Titan you can help your team by disrupting the enemy Titans or even ‘rodeoing’ them for the kill!
This is a must have game for any fan of First Person Shooters, you won’t regret it. With new Titans and even more customization it looks like there’s something in it for everyone.