Bored with Call of Duty? Tired of Battlefield? Planetside and TF2 not satisfying your hunger for a good online FPS? Well, you’re in luck this year, because Titanfall is just around the corner. It’s being made by Respawn Entertainment, which consists of Infinity Ward’s best talent. This past week players had a chance to try the game’s beta out and see if Titanfall’s movement, combat and performance are as fresh and fun as promised. If you missed it, you made a big mistake. Here’s why:
Fast and tight is the name of the game in Titanfall. You fight in 6v6 battles on small maps with AI-controlled minions. After a short cooldown period, you can call down your Titan –- a bipedal combat mech — and start wreaking havoc on enemies. The balance, however, is top-notch, so don’t expect to have an ultimate weapon. Even if you’re in a Titan, only one nimble enemy player can take you out with a rodeo kill. While on foot, you have to move constantly and stay aware of your surroundings, or a cloaked enemy with a smart pistol will stop your streak cold.
The minions serve roughly the same purpose as mobs in a MOBA game – they work as cannon fodder and tactical information source. Also, even if you don’t score many player or titan kills, minions are a way to harvest XP and progress to new equipment.
Of that there wasn’t much in the beta, but it did provide a taste – carbines, pistols, rifles, shotguns, SMGs – and that’s just the primary and secondary weapons. There’s also anti-titan guns – rocket launcher and auto-cannon in the demo, which pack a punch and are great for fighting enemy mechs. All guns are, of course, customizable, as are abilities and equipment. Those provide all kinds of bonuses from cloaking and enhanced parkour, to fast ability cooldown and longer Titan shield battery. The vast options extend to mechs as well, though only one Titan type was available in the beta. To top it all off, you can also use Burn Cards, which give you temporary access to buffed-up weapons, XP bonuses for kills and so on.
As for the rest of the content, there were 2 maps in the beta. One was set in a city with tight alleys perfect for parkour and lots of buildings to ambush enemies. The other in an industrial zone filled with open ground. Both environments had plenty of flanking routes, hiding spots and vertical combat.
And boy, combat was constant across all three modes – Attrition (TDM), Hardpoint Domination (conquest), and Last Titan Standing. Attrition is the most popular and the most adrenaline-packed with Hardpoint providing a bit more tactical take on the formula and LTS – a Hawken-style fight between mechs. It can be quite disorienting. Thankfully sharp controls, both on keyboard and gamepad, and top-notch performance at max settings with no dips whatsoever (thanks to the Source engine powering the game), allow you to focus on the combat. Looking great at the same time.
Although extremely short on content, Titanfall Beta did its job of delivering the message – the game looks to merge elements from MOBAs and FPSs with bits of Mirror’s Edge. It wants to put fun back into the land of realism and XP systems of online shooters. It wants to get away from old constraints and show us something new. Should you jump in? As always, we’d suggest you wait for our review, when the game comes out in March. But we can tell you now that Titanfall is the prime candidate to be one of the most interesting games of 2014. Stay tuned.
Release – March 2014.
Played on: AMD FX 6300 3.5 GHz, 8 GB Kingston HyperX Blue DDR3, Palit GeForce GTX 660 2GB, Acer S235HLbii 1080p Monitor, Xbox 360 Controller, Windows 8.1