Titanfall Beta Impressions
If you’re unfamiliar with Titanfall, then you’ve been living in a closet. Titanfall is being hyped as the biggest multiplayer shooter to ever come out, as it’s won over 75 various awards. It features faster gameplay than most shooters, parkour movements, and giant mechs that fall from the sky on command. It’s also from the original guys at Infinity Ward, the makers of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Now that the beta is out and I’ve had a chance to play it, here’s some of my impressions. But before I begin, let me remind you that while this is a beta, the beta’s core gameplay and mechanics are complete in this beta. This beta was solely to test out the servers.
Titanfall isn’t going to floor you from excitement. It’s not going to make you cry happy tears. It’s not going to make your palms sweat or your heart race. It will show you a good time, which is perfectly fine. The biggest negative so far has been the pure hyperbole the mainstream media has given it. If you’re going into the game thinking this game is going to revolutionize shooters, you’re wrong. Titanfall isn’t doing anything new that hasn’t been done before. We’ve had shooters with parkour, mechs (and vehicles), and much faster gameplay before. Now this doesn’t mean Titanfall sucks, but the amount of hype it was given at E3 2013 and from gaming media is only going to harm it. Expectations were set too high, and gamers who’ve played several shooters over the past 10 years are going to spot this almost immediately.
Reading several impressions after forming my own, I think there’s a few opinions that are thrown around. If you’re not claiming this is hot lava goodness, then you’re called a PlayStation 4 fanboy (weird, since this isn’t exclusive to consoles) or you’re accused of not playing it. If you’re saying it’s not living up to the hype but it’s a lot of fun, you’re accused of the same things. This really needs to stop. People that were hyped for this game enough to say it’s the biggest game ever will not change their opinion. They want it to push the Xbox One. Any criticism you have is thrown out because if you’re not saying it’s the best, you must be a fanboy for Sony.
That mirror must be in another room.
The overall impression I was left after playing for over 10-hours is that Titanfall is a mixture of Call of Duty/Brink and Hawken. It borrows the best from each of these and introduces a few new tricks to the trade. The leveling system, menu system, and rewards are like Call of Duty‘s recent games. You’ll unlock weapons and abilities through ranking and completing various challenges such as riding mechs or kill streaks. Maps are also very similar to Call of Duty maps in layout, which works well. The parkour movements and speed are straight from Brink. The only thing missing from Brink is the ability to slide. Lastly, the movement speed and twitchy behavior feels a lot like the F2P Hawken game on Steam. I personally felt this was a step up from the Call of Duty gameplay and that’s where it ends. It’s just introducing vehicles to the series in a futuristic setting. And while it’s nothing revolutionary or ground breaking, it works and it’s a lot of fun.
Gameplay is pretty simple and similar to games like it. You’re deathmatch and team deathmatch games are about farming kills from enemies. Hardpoint (my favorite mode) is the Titanfall version of Call of Duty‘s headquarters mode, or point capture mode. Teams work together to capture 3 strategic points on the map and hold them until the other team loses. Last titan standing is last man standing but with titans. The best thing that Titanfall added to these modes is how a match ends. If you’ve lost, you can still win some points by rushing toward an evacuation point without your ship blowing up or being left behind.
Movement speed and parkour is a lot like Brink. Instead of just sticking to the ground in a typical shooter, you’re best bet is to run along the walls and hop to higher ground. Not only do you have an advantage of being higher up, but you also can leap down onto an enemy titan to tear it up. It’s the best feature of the game in my opinion. You feel like you’re gliding along the side of buildings a good portion of the time that you’re a pilot. The only thing missing is sliding. But if you’re a fan of double jumps and wall running, the adrenaline is there.
If you’re not very good at shooters, you’re in luck. Titanfall‘s guns have no recoil at all and a pistol that does all the work for you (auto-headshots). As Polygon’s Ben Kuchera puts it, “Titanfall is the perfect game for people who are terrible at first-person shooters“. There’s not enough guns in the overall game for people that are into gun porn. It’s narrowed down to sniper, pistols, shotgun, SMG and rifles. Everyone also has a rocket launcher for taking down metal giants.
Titanfall also features A.I. bots. Well, I wouldn’t call them A.I. since the “i” stands for intelligence. These units are easy targets for players to shoot at to grind so you’re titan will be ready top drop sooner. Think of them as creeps in any MOBA game. Only dumber. Most of the A.I. will stand there while you run up and give them a swift kick to the face. Standing right next to a group, you can take them all down with ease as they’ll rarely notice you there. And if they do, there’s a huge chance they’ll miss you when opening fire. Another problem a lot of users, including myself, was running into is telling the difference between a bot and a human player. If the player isn’t running around, the names above their heads crash together with the bots making it a bit harder to see who’s who. Over time, you get better at recognizing players but it’s a bit annoying at first.
The biggest thing about Titanfall is none other than the giant mechs themselves. These titans are called in after a time limit and you drop them on the field. The biggest surprise I had was dropping my titan on an enemy titan, giving me the kill. It was rewarding both in-game and in real life. In the titans, you have a choice of rockets or machine gun for killing foes. You also have abilities that help you in destroying other titans. If a titan is firing rockets and machine gun fire at you, you can simply hold up your robotic hand and grab ammo fired at you for a limited time and blast it back at them. But after riding in these titans for a while, I decided that I wasn’t a fan of being in the titans. I’m a fan of them following me around because it’s double the kills and double the fun. Titans fighting my titan are stung from my rockets as a pilot as well as from my titan. Enemies targeting my companion are a give away to my pilot’s guns.
Since Respawn decided to mod the source engine, you’re not going to get visuals that blow you out of this world. In fact, the visuals are very mediocre. On the PC version using maxed out settings, you’ll notice a lot of muddy textures and bland geometry. On top of that, the game has stuttering problems when too much action is going on. The Xbox One version is on a different level of visuals with it maxing at 792p and featuring screen tearing. I’m a little alarmed that the game is having issues running at 1080p on the Xbox One. Games are only going to get more graphically advanced.
Overall, there’s a lot that the media hyped up about Titanfall that the game falls flat out. It’s not the killer app of the year nor is it the best shooter. It’s just a futuristic Call of Duty game with titans. The hype is only going to hurt this game in the end. This isn’t going to push the Xbox One over the PlayStation 4 in the west. While it’s not the next direction people aspired it to be, it’s a lot of fun and should be checked out. I had a lot of fun with it over the weekend and plan on playing it a little while longer before uninstalling it. If the campaign is better than how Brink was done (placing cinematics before capture the point matches), then it might end up being a week-one purchase for me.