Arguably the most anticipated “launch window” title for the Xbox One is Titanfall from the guys over at Respawn Entertainment. After it’s reveal last year at E3, the game has been sweeping through shows and events leaving both industry folk and the public in awe. The long awaited beta kicked off this past weekend on Xbox One and PC giving many people a first glimpse into the first person shooter. One such person was me and I’m here to share my experiences with you.
Full thoughts await you after the jump…
The beta comes packed with three game modes (Attrition, Hardpoint, and Last Titan Standing) and two maps (Angel City and Fracture). The maps feel pretty different from one another with Angel City being a packed urban playground, perfect for Pilot parkour moves, and Fracture being more open with patches of green grass and trees among shattered concrete buildings. They feel well balanced and spacious enough to where I wasn’t being spawn killed at all and didn’t have to run for like 5 minutes to find another person.
The most striking thing I found about Titanfall however was the movement. It’s fluid, responsive, and exciting. Pilots come with the ability to pull off parkour based moves such as wall running, double jumping and ledge grabbing which forces players to think vertically rather then running straight down hallways in typical shooters these days. Part of the fun is combining all these moves into one fluid motion around the map which is extremely satisfying. Want to get to a rooftop quickly? Forget the stairs, you can now access pretty much anything on the map in interesting and unique ways. Hell, you can even jump on friendly Titans to become sort of a living turret or try and blow the CPU brains out of enemy Titans if you can get close enough. The movement in this game inspires power, being able to not become cannon fodder for Titans by allowing players to creatively think outside of the box and escape. Sure, you’re still a lowly Pilot, but at least you have a fighting chance on foot against those giant robots.
The real showstopper though is when your Titan is ready to be called into battle. There’s nothing quite like seeing your mechanical beast orbital drop from the sky smacking the ground with a satisfying thud as it waits for you to enter. Better yet, the controls feel just as fluid as being on foot. While only the Atlas Titan was available in the beta (without the use of Burn Cards), the sense of power you feel when climbing in your titan is undeniable. Thankfully, getting your Titan isn’t an instant win card, but another phase of the battle. There are a number of different Titan loadouts available with the option to customize your own after a certain level requirement is met. Titans can also be placed on follow mode or guard mode if you don’t feel like controlling it directly. So far, the Titan AI seems well balanced, not being a complete idiot and not being unbeatable either. The one time I climbed out and had it protect me, my Titan actually scored a couple of kills on its own which impressed me. When your Titan reaches it’s “doomed” state, Pilots can choose to then eject, rocketing incredibly high into the air to escape another day. Whether a Pilot or a Titan, the game controls beautifully.
There seemed to be a lot of backlash when it was announced a few weeks ago that matches would be 6v6 only. Personally, I felt that was fine remembering that there would be Titans and AI units on the battlefield as well. After playing the beta, the complaints really were a bunch of hot air because the matches themselves feel busy and high on action. I never once played a match feeling bored or struggled to find something to shoot at. The maps don’t feel empty or over crowded and I’m amazed that Respawn was able to pull off that balance. Realistically when you think about it, you have 12 humans with each being able to call a titan down, and then AI units filling out the rest of the map. If any more people were added, I honestly believe this delicate balance would be severely negatively affected.
What’s great about the AI is that they serve an additional purpose of filling in background on the overall universe and also as a way to add scripted events. Not that you’d want to, but if you take a second to hover around AI grunts, they’ll often have dialogue about the world your in or fill in other background story elements. Many times I’d run across a couple of AI units fighting each other, making it feel like I interrupted something or that I was intervening at the right time. Sure they’re easy to take down but they do serve a very important role not only with universe building but morale building as well. Less skilled players will feel like they’re contributing and not get frustrated for only facing human opponents. In turn that should help them want to play more, hopefully with them improving over time. It again speaks to the tight balancing act that Titanfall manages to accomplish between helping along newer players and yet keeping those skilled engaged.
While I did enjoy the game at first, it didn’t really start settling in until I played match three or four where I became more familiar with the nuances and the flow of the game. It was at this point that I just couldn’t get enough. Perhaps it’s unlocking new stuff for your kits or the fact that you start understanding the traversal aspect better, but whatever it was, the game hooked me. For anyone that’s played a Call of Duty game, you can certainly feel the DNA of that franchise here, but Titanfall sheds familiarity and forges ahead into new territory. It makes sense considering that the original Respawn team was made of up of the experienced and senior level developers former of Infinity Ward after that messy breakup occurred. Many people say this would have been the evolution of Call of Duty and while we may never know for sure, Titanfall represents a breath of fresh air for the first person shooter genre. If you’ve grown tired of the familiar modern military shooter these days, give Titanfall a spin while the beta is still ongoing.
It’s one thing to read about this game and another to finally go hands on with it. Titanfall just feels fresh and I loved every moment with it. The beta gave me a good sense of the game and now I can’t wait to dive into the full product to see what other sort of secrets lay hidden in Respawn’s game. March 11 can’t come soon enough.