You know life is good when your day to day consists of robots regularly raining down from the sky. That’s what TitanFall does. It simply makes life better. And it does this by being the most incredible multiplayer FPS I’ve ever played.
Welcome to the Funtier
TitanFall sees the IMC, the Imperialistic government wage war with the Militia, a rag tag group of rebels in robots. Gameplay takes place both on foot as a pilot or on bigger foot inside your pilot’s Titan. Each side consists of six players, plus AI controlled grunts and reavers (droids). Pilots have access to all the weapon load outs you’d expect as well as added abilities like cloaking. Pilots are incredibly fast and agile, free running and double jumping their way around the battleground. The Titans, huge and hulking, stride over the landscape firing missiles in all directions.
Three Modes, Two Maps, One Titan… NO WAY OUT
In the TitanFall Beta which took over my life for a short time, we were treated to three gameplay modes; Attrition, Hard Point Domination and Last Titan Standing. These were fought in two arenas, Angel City and Fracture, and were fought by one class of Titan; The Atlas. After a glimpse at the story to come and a training area straight out of Aperture Laboratories, it was time to do this. In all game modes, bar Last Titan Standing, players first spawn as pilots and can then call on their Titans to Fall into the battle. Killing enemy players and A.I. characters will speed up Titan spawn time, but beginners will still get the chance to “Titan” things up at least once per match, so they need not worry. Let’s get to the meat of the beta.
What would be a standard 6 vs. 6 team deathmatch in any other game becomes the highlight of my gaming calendar thus far in TitanFall. That may sound like no mean feat given that it’s only March, but TitanFall delivers spectacle on such a monumental scale that it’ll stick with me ‘till December and beyond. The 6 vs. 6 player cap has drawn a lot of ire from the gaming community, but the battle never feels in any way empty or devoid of activity. The NPCs do an effective job of padding out the numbers and are not too intelligent that they interfere with play. It can get quite tight down some of the more narrow streets of Angel City with three or four Titans so any more could’ve been a real clusterfuck. NPC, pilot and Titan kills give increasing Attrition points in the order, and after seven minutes or so each battle concludes with a definitive winner.
Think you’ve got TitanFall mastered already without breaking a sweat and could do with some extra responsibilities? You’ve got some attitude, buddy. But more importantly, you’ve got Hardpoint Domination. This is your standard domination/king-of-the-hill/capture-the-general-area scenario with three points to capture and hold throughout the battle. If you’ve played any FPS online in the last decade you’ll probably do OK.
Last Titan Standing
As the name suggests, the winning team is the the one with the last remaining Titan. Rounds progress until a winner is declared. If your Titan bites the dust during this mode, all is not lost. Gameplay can be continued, and in fact won, by pilots. More on how this is achieved later. Last Titan Standing certainly won’t be anyone’s first port of call, but after a while of mastering general gameplay, especially in a Titan, LTS really is a great fun as a companion piece to the other modes.
The smaller of the two maps and located by a port, Angel City packs narrow corridors for Titans to funnel down as well as a thousand and one rooftops for snipers to end you from. The nature of this map means that players will need to know how to handle the Titan, as fleeing to recharge your shield is no easy feat as there are few places to hide. As for pilots; a few rounds in and you’ll be free running your way through the many buildings at lightning speed.
This looked like a nice place to live… once. Whether by nature or by man, this peaceful colony has been ripped apart and now serves only as a warzone. Homes and landscape alike have been torn to shreds to making for an uneven playing field with wide open spaces. This is definitely a map to get to grips with the Titan, as it’s easy to retreat to heal up in a tough spot, not to mention that striding through the open plains is incredible. It could be argued that the IMC has the better spawn point on this map, but I’m sure respawn are well aware of this and have already tweaked everything into place.
Foot Soldier – Playing as a Pilot
The first thought that the hyperactive nine year old in all of us screams out is, “screw the pilot, where’s my Titan?” Well, to that I say therein lies TitanFall’s biggest strength, and that is it’s ability to make everything you do in the game feel “badass”. Free running as a pilot is fluid and feels as natural as regular running. Double jumps, after a while, can be greatly extended allowing your pilot to scale tall buildings in a single bound. Forget staircases. Forget doors. It’s about how stylishly, how qucikly and how deadly you get from point A to B. A skilled pilot can use stealth and speed and can easily take out a Titan without being seen. The only downside is the Pilot’s melee. Of all the deadliest attacks in the world, this kick isn’t.
There are two primary ways in which this is achieved. First are the anti-Titan weapons that every pilot spawns with (they take the form of rocket launchers and heavy machine guns). The second, and without a doubt my personal favourite, is via Rodeo. To rodeo an enemy Titan to death simply leap onto the top of it from a high point, release the hatch and shoot the innards until that Titan is Doomed. It sounds a lot harder to achieve than it actually is and, just like with every other seemingly impossible task in the game, becomes second nature within no time. No enemy Titans around? Why not ride a friendly Titan to get where you’re going in style!
Pilot load outs can be customised (once a certain level is reached) in all the ways we’re used to, but in TitanFall there are some new exciting additions. Along with your standard sidearms, there’s the auto pistol. After locking on, this pistol will take down any nearby enemies with three shots and is, I assure you, a real bitch to be on the other end of. This weapon is great for mowing down bots quickly to knock those valuable seconds of Titan spawn time. Another option is super speed (in exchange for cloak) and a second grenade that specialises in disabling Titans.
My Robot Friend – Playing as an Atlas
Ignore what I just said about how great it is to be a pilot – nothing compares to suiting up in your Titan. As soon as your enormous pal grabs you and places you in the cockpit… it feels like going home. No matter how good you get at piloting your Titan, thereby extending your stay in the beast, it never feels long enough. Titans pack huge weapons on their right arm to take out enemies of equal size and strength, but can easily switch to the vortex shield on the left arm to absorb enemy bullets before returning them to sender. Mastering the vortex shield quickly is key in long term Titan survival!
Enemy pilots, if foolish enough to wander across a Titan’s path can be stepped on without a second thought or superman punched to oblivion. Guess which is more fun?
The Vortex shield can be swapped out, as risky as that option is, for the much more strategic electric smoke. This nasty fog takes care of any would-be-rodeoers before they can get their hands on you as well as damaging enemies in he surrounding area. When not piloting your Titan, you can programme your faithful companion to follow you or stand guard. When your Titan’s ready it’s also possible to drop (spawn) in your Titan. Straight onto a friend’s head. Was this game made specifically for me??
Once a Titan is “doomed” it’s energy bar will count to zero before self destructing. As long as no additional damage is dealt after this time, the Titan can still last a while and can certainly turn the tide of battle in Last Titan Standing. But beware, as once a Titan is doomed, the pilot can be ripped out from within for an instant kill of both man and machine. To avoid this awful demise, eject before it’s too late. And where better place to land? On the top of the enemy Titan that just finished you off for a quick revenge rodeo, that’s where. IT DOESN’T GET BETTER THAN THIS.
Of the preview? Not quite yet. The epilogue I’m referring to takes place at the end of both Attrition and Hardpoint modes and gives the losing side a shot at redemption. The fleeing team get a short amount of time to board a dropship that will jet them to safety. The winning side can rain on their parade of course, by potentially destroying the dropship and the any hope of escape. It’s this sort of creativity that proves that respawn are still the masters. Getting away in the ship is a great feeling after a loss and certainly takes out some of the sting of defeat when you’re safely evacuated to space.
Not since Perfect Dark, Unreal Tournament or Modern Warfare have I played such an addictive, mind blowing shooter. The beauty of TitanFall really is in it’s balance, as every nuance of gameplay has been carefully considered. The thrill of “mounting up” in your Titan never goes away, and the next game couldn’t begin quickly enough. From the epilogue to disposable burn cards that can be used as a one time load out tweak, Respawn demonstrate that they still have what it takes to bring fresh ideas to the FPS genre. During the beta, the servers were only down for a few hours on the Friday. Apart from that and some minor lag, the game ran like an absolute dream. TitanFall packs so many unique and spectacular moments that it really makes the share functions of these new consoles worth while. It’s official everyone – next gen officially begins on March the 14th.
*We must note that our Beta code was given to us by Microsoft on the basis of a preview, before it went open to the public.