“Standby for Titanfall,” the instant classic line fires into my headphones. My adrenaline spikes. It’s go time. Pressing down on the D-pad has brought my Titan, who I’ve nicknamed Totoro, crashing onto the battlefield. Leaping off my rooftop perch I land and run to him, pressing the X button. Totoro grabs me, slams me into the cockpit, and we begin our conquest.
Bullets rip from my mini-gun as I fire into another Atlas. He returns fire with a rocket launch, but I’m prepared for this. Raising my vortex shield, I’m able to catch the rockets and launch them back; killing the already heavily damaged Atlas. The other pilot ejects, cloaked so I can’t see him. He crashes onto Totoro, using his pistol to damage my his circuits. I leap from the cockpit, drawing my carbine and train it directly onto my foes head. Three bullets later and Totoro no longer has any vagabonds. I return once more to my Titan and move forward on the battlefield to my next conquest.
This was a direct retelling of my first Titanfall in the beta. The beta has been running since Friday, and I’ve had the distinct pleasure of playing the game for a few hours and am here to give you folks my impressions of the both the beta, and the game in general. I’ll start with the unfortunate start to the beta on Friday. For about five hours I couldn’t log into the beta due to the fact that the servers were getting hammered. My fear is this will be monumentally worse on launch day, and that we will have another SimCity or Diablo 3 on our hands. Hopefully this is not the case, as Respawn has opened the Beta to anyone, and this should stress the servers to levels that may surpass launch day.
Once I started the game though, I immediately fell in love with how smooth the controls were. I have the beta on PC, and have been playing it with an Xbox 360 controller, and it controls like a dream. It has it’s roots in the now iconic Call of Duty controller scheme, but with obvious changes. On the LB players now have a special ability instead of a special grenade, and the A button is basically the parkour button.
You open with a short training session which goes from incredibly basic, to very helpful in a matter of moments. You will likely be rolling your eyes when you get told how to walk, but learning how to properly pilot your Titan is something you need to learn. Once my training was complete, I jumped directly into an Attrition match. Attrition is Titanfall’s version of Team Deathmatch, where kills of Titans, Pilots, or minions count toward the overall score cap.
I did quite well in my first few matches of Attrition, and did not lose Totoro at all. He and I became one dynamic duo, either with me in the cockpit or with him following me around like his name would suggest. I won each of the games I played that night, with only one total death in my first game. I chalk Totoro’s ability to stay alive up to the other players not properly knowing how to defeat a Titan, as since then I’ve lost my Titan about three times.
The two maps included in the Beta are Angel City and Fracture. Angel City is a densely populated city that brings the verticallity of Titanfall to the for front. The ability to traverse the landscape is a necessary skill for players, and those who take advantage of it find they have a massive edge of those who don’t realize it. Firing down on both pilots and minions in the early game will allow you to drop in your titan quickly, and I found that most people don’t realize that at first. Their is also a central, multi-level building in the center which becomes the largest focus of any battle. The outlying areas and the streets provide plenty of room for your Titans to navigate, but the tight corners could be the end of you if you’re not careful.
Fracture is a much more open map, but with hill landscapes that take away the ability of players to kill cross-map. Fracture proved to be the best map in the game for Hardpoint, Titanfall’s version of domination, as it allowed the most freedom of movement, and open and yet closed areas for the control points. Titan’s are far more powerful on Fracture as they have a much wider view of the map, and see the enemies on foot much easier. Of the two maps, I enjoyed Angel City more though; I found the verticallity to be a breath of fresh air in this world full of flat shooters.
Weapon wise, you have a wide selection of standard shooter guns. Assault Rifles, shotguns, snipers, and automatic pistols. Each player has one primary weapon which is either a rifle, shotgun or Smart Pistol (which auto-kills minions with one locked on shot, and pilots with three. It’s far less OP then it sounds due to the time constraints.), one secondary which is a more basic pistol of some form, and an anti-Titan weapon. My choices in the beta were a lock-on rocket launcher and a quick fire rocket that does less damage with each shot. Your titan’s have different loadouts as well, with items like a mini-gun, 40mm grenade launcher, and track-on rocket launcher.
One intriguing, but slightly worrying addition to the game is Burn Cards. These cards allow you to get a different boost at the start of each game. These boosts can be anything, like faster movement speed, an upgraded anti-Titan weapon, and game changers like the ability to immediately call in an Ogre-class Titan. I worry that these Burn Cards add an unneeded level of randomness to an overall nonrandom game. I also fear that down the line, or in future games, packs of the burn cards may become purchase-able via Microtransactions.
All of that being said, the Titanfall Beta has been one of my favorite times playing a game in a good long time. The ability to wall-run and double jump just makes the games so much more free-flowing, and natural that I never felt trapped. Calling in Totoro for the first time is up there as one of my favorite gaming moments of all time, and piloting him works just as well as I always hoped it would. Based on what I’ve played so far, I can only see Titanfall becoming one of, if not the, biggest multiplayer games of this generation. It’s just great. While I worry that it could grow stale over time, but that seems unlikely with the post-launch support Respawn has promised. For now, Totoro and I are going to charge back into Angel City and crack some militia skull.
If you want to get into the Titanfall beta, it is available to download for free now on Xbox One. It will be available for all on PC within the next 24 hours, but if you can’t wait, contact EA support for a pass. They are apparently just giving them out.
by, Bobby Marquardt