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There are few games that feel fresh and new in this age of gaming where genre conventions can be extremely limiting for developers. Titanfall is not one of those games. As soon as I played my first match in Titanfall I was hooked. Titanfall breaks regular FPS conventions in such a big way that it is hard not to be impressed with the game. For example, I scaled a roof, to then run along a building, to then ‘rodeo’ a mech and have it explode after I emptied a few clips into it. I just felt liberated in my movement, my options on how to take down enemies, and the games fluidity, and these features all contributed towards a large fun factor.
Respawn Entertainment have achieved what many developers have in mind when creating a game, in the sense that they have given more control to the player, and put the fun back into online multiplayer. Also, one of the biggest achievements the developers have accomplished is the balance in the game. Whilst mechs are extremely powerful, I felt like the battlefield was always fair game, with pilots being able to bring down mechs, and mechs being able to literally squash pilots. There was never a time in the game when I thought one play-style completely outclasses another.
The only thing I could relate my first time playing Titanfall to, was the first time I played Halo 3’s multiplayer. A game which I still think holds the golden years of online multiplayer. Like Halo 3, Titanfall encourages run and gun, even as a sniper you have to relocate positions because that pilot you just shot in the back seen your location on his killcam, and is coming back with a vengeance. Moments like this, and the disadvantage you place yourself and your team in from camping, relate to a more hectic but intense game.
Whats even more surprising is how polished the game is considering it’s still in beta. While it only has a few months left until its release, I did not actually encounter a single bug. I probably got lucky and avoided the server bug, but my personal experience was ridiculously smooth. I did however notice that your character would sometimes perform the animation for wall running when you were in a tight and confined space, or when near a dooryway. Not a big issue in the grand scale of things, but it is something that may get frustrating at launch, especially if it gets you killed when the game is a close one. Another similar issue was the placements of the evac choppers. At the end of the attrition game mode (basically a team deathmatch mode) the losing team has to make their way to an evac chopper that will arrive after a timer. However, the timers were very short to actually reach the evac, and the buildings that they were located on top of can be hard to reach, especially with the enemy closing in on the location.
The gunplay in the game felt very varied. For example, the primary carbine machine gun in the game seemed to be very inaccurate when hip firing at any distance, but it felt deadly and precise when using the scope. Similarly, the smart pistol that fires shots after a lock on felt very powerful, but if someone was to melee you before you got another lock on, they would easily win the fight. You actually have to think and analyse situations to determine the best plan of attack, something that is not easy in such a fast paced game.
The actual titans in the game are what make Titanfall shine. These mechs are powerful, and more importantly they thematically accomplish everything you expect them too. I felt like my mech was my mech, it was kind of like a ‘this is my rifle, this if my gun’ moment as he dropped from the sky and began his metallic destruction.
Furthermore, the mech battles were some of the best, and most intense experiences I have had in online gaming in a long time. When something so little as your rocket salvo being off of cooldown determines the outcome of a fight, you start to feel truly accomplished after each mech fight. For the record, there is also no better feeling than yanking a pilot out of his mech just before he can eject.
The beta only had one mech chassis option, but this seems like it is going to be such a strong point for customization. Speaking about customization, each one of my loadouts felt different from the last, as I unlocked more and more through levels and challenges. The addition of ‘burn cards’ also drastically increases options for players in the game, as these cards have very varied effects on game-play. For example, you can get a card that reduces titan build time, or one that re-spawns you where you last died. I felt that I was actually rewarded for each challenge and level I accomplished rather than just slogging towards max rank.
One of the most talked about and controversial features is the inclusion of AI (or bots) over more real players (there is only six players in each team). In truth when I first heard about this, I too felt like it would not work. However, after playing the game the AI actually helped balance out a lot of the games mechanics. For example, you can reduce your titan build time by getting kills/assists etc, or you could mass kill AI, something which will definitely reveal you to the enemy but also net you guaranteed points. In addition to this level of gameplay the AI added, I also found that the bots also focused heavily on damaging titans. On more than one occasion I witnessed a bot attacking a titan with a rocket launcher, doing fairly decent damage to it. However, the AI is not too smart, and it is very easy to kill them, they also seem less aggressive towards pilots than titans for some reason. However, if options were given to tweak the AI’s level (basic, medium, or hard for examples) then this would drastically improve upon the problems that are apparent in this bot style system.
Overall, Titanfall is a very strong game, that seems to have been made carefully and with love. If Respawn manage to include all the customization options that the game has the potential to host, then they truly have one of the best online FPS’ on their hands.