I’ve been looking forward to Titanfall ever since the announcement. Made by Respawn Entertainment, a company formed by the people who created the Call of Duty franchise after their rather public firing by Activation, it held promise to deliver a new FPS franchise to rival the others. The question would be could they deliver?
The TLDR answer? Pretty much. The game delivers a very entertaining multiplayer experience. The wall running, parkour elements add a great deal of fun. The Titans themselves make for a nice replacement for the usual driveable vehicles. The Source engine, while a bit outdated, holds up reasonably well and with the promised fixes coming to at least the PC version, I think it will deliver a solid experience visually. Is it perfect? No, but it is a very good multiplayer FPS, so long as that is all you are looking for. Want more details, then read on after the break.
So I managed to snag one of the beta codes, got in the game and had a blast, and encourage my friends and the like to get in the beta once it went open. I had an amazing time. I jumped at the chance to preorder the game. The game even ran really well on my old computer, an older i3 530 with at 450 GTS, which was another key selling point.
I played the heck out of the game after launch, for a week or more. Since then I haven’t played much, at all. I get in the mood off and on, play a few matches then go onto other things. Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls came out, and that consumes a great deal of my gaming time, but while I may call myself a gamer, I often times don’t find the time to game as much as I’d like. Real Life and all… That isn’t to say that Titanfall isn’t a great time. It is an amazing game, and a great deal of fun. I could handle many hours of it at a time, unlike say Goat Simulator, which while funny, I can only handle 30 minutes to an hour top. However, I don’t NEED to play it. It is very easy to get in and out of though, which is a strong plus. But I may be getting ahead of myself.
There is no single player campaign mode. I knew this from the start, but let’s face it, Call of Duty, Battlefield… none of those games have a truly outstanding single player experience… not like Halo anyhow. They can have good campaigns, but I imagine it is hard to beat Halo for pure single player campaign. Which is sort of why I’m sad that Destiny still hasn’t been announced for PC yet, though it sounds fairly mutliplayer centric anyhow, so I don’t know how well the single player campaign of that will work out anyhow. Anyhow, there is a reasonably well put together “campaign” that you play in the multiplayer game. Playing it unlocks two more chassis for your Titans. A light, speedy, one that gains an extra boost, and a slower, heavy tank. The burn cards, I’ll get to them in a bit, also have flavor text that helps fill the universe that is Titanfall. Is the story a little shallow? A bit, but then it is an FPS and I’m not playing it for a Journey (possibly the best game ever) like experience. It delivers a good enough story experience for the game that it is. It also delivers experience in the game’s two best game modes, Attrition and Hardpoint. Would it have been nice if it managed to be a great Halo like experience? Perhaps, but focusing on the multiplayer experience allowed them to tune that, and I think, in this case it was a worthy trade.
There is a rather nice collection of maps. Each map allowing for the game’s chief fun mechanic, the wall running parkour, to reach its full potential. Some are better designed for the Titan element than others, but overall, the map design if rather good and a nice number of them for an initial release. Too many games of this genre limit the number and save the rest for DLC, so nice to see Remedy pack the game with such a nice variety. That said, they do feel small. This may be a limit of the Source engine, and I sort of hope they move past the Source engine for the sequel. They’ve done amazing improvements with the Source engine, but unless Valve has a Source Engine 2 close to completion, it is time to move on. They are fixing most of the graphical and mouse speed glitches that PC users are having, and that is great. The size of the maps could also be a balance issue. I don’t expect big Battlefield 4 maps, but, they still feel small, even given the limited 6 v 6.
Oh, yeah, the 6 v 6 limit. I know some have complained about the game limiting it to 6 vs 6, but I think it works well. I honestly don’t know what people wanted in that regards. Again, I think perhaps Battlefield has spoiled some in terms of size and player count scope. This game is clearly more closely tied to their Call of Duty origins than Battlefield. The “realism” of Battlefield isn’t here either, it is more a Call of Duty in terms of gunplay too… Honestly, given the map size, 6 v 6 is the right choice. Sure 10 v 10 may be something to aim for for the sequel, but I wouldn’t go beyond that, even if they were able to make Battlefield sized maps. The game simply works with the squad size they have now.
The semi-new element added to the game is the burn cards. These are cards you earn while playing the game, usually by meeting challenges along the way (and there are the usual challenges in most FPS games). You have a limited deck size, and so you are encouraged to use them or lose potentially better cards later. Once you pick your cards, you can then chose to use a card before the round starts or after each death, and then you get a small perk that you keep until your next death. It can be fun trying to decide what cards you think you need best given the game mode you are playing (more on those in a bit) and how the team dynamic is working out. I horded my cards initially too long, then lost out on some good cards, so I try to keep it so I have at least 5 slots available at any given time, even if I have to burn a worthless card just to keep going. It adds a bit to the fun of loadouts.
Speaking of loadouts. The range of things earned isn’t all that great, and it is one of the few things I hope the DLC fix. More weapons, and greater weapon variety. I would expect the DLC to focus on more maps of course, but one of the games short comings is lack of weapon variety. The ability to rename loadouts is coming, so while that shortfall is there now, it is being fixed, but as of my last play session, you were locked into trying to remember which loadout does what. After all, some loadouts may be better for different game modes.
Before I get into the game modes, I should mention one other thing the game added that I thought was brilliant. Grunts, or minion, whatever you want to call them. These are like the minion in a DOTA/MOBA style game. They don’t hit hard, are easy to kill, and depending on the game mode, killing them adds to your team’s score. They are basically cheap AI cannon fodder, but the fact they are in this game adds to make it so much better. It is such a great addition, if I were to make an FPS, I’d probably have to copy this feature. There are a couple types, grunts, basic military units, and spectres, smaller robots that can be hacked and turned into units that will follow you and fight for you. It is perhaps the game’s biggest innovation. While the rest of it may be a copy and perfect (save the wall running, which is dang cool) what others have done, this element, IMHO, elevates the game into amazing territory. Had it lacked it, I think it would still have been fun, but I don’t think it would have been enough to really set it apart, even with the wall running. Minions kills in all modes still earn time off your Titan build times.
So the game modes. There are 5 game modes as of the game’s primary release, and I somewhat doubt they’ll add more in the DLC, but we’ll see.
There’s Attrition, basically team death match. In this mode it is essential to target the enemy minion. I’m not 100 sure, but I think 4 minion is about the same as one pilot kill, at least in Attrition points, not sure about Titan build times. It is the mode most people will probably play the most. It is the easiest to get in and play a quick few rounds. The team with the most points wins.
Last Titan standing gives everyone a Titan at the start, and it is the only Titan you get. There is no build time to your next Titan. Once a Titan is down, that player no longer has access to a Titan, though they still get to play as a Pilot and can still doom other Titans. This game mode lasts, until, like the title suggest, there is only one Titan left. For me it is the least entertaining mode, and the chief reason I don’t play the Variety Pack that cycles the game modes.
Capture the Flag is classic capture the flag. You want to capture the enemy flag and bring it back to your flag’s base, and your flag has to be there to capture the enemy flag. It is a simple and fun mode to play when you are in the mood for something different than Attrition or Hard Point. Minion kills count for shortening your Titan’s build time, but not to your team’s score, that is still flag oriented. I’m not sure how I feel about being able to get in a Titan and move the flag. I can see riding a team mate’s Titan, but I personally don’t like that players can get into their own Titan and still move the flag.
Hardpoint is your basic domination style game mode. There are a variety of capture points on the map, your goal is to capture and hold them. I don’t believe that once a hardpoint is won it decays on its own, I think that only happens when an opposing player starts to capture it. Once again, the map goal is the primary objective, and doing those things earns time off your Titan’s build time, along with minion and pilot kills. It is the game mode I play most after Attrition.
Pilot Hunter is basically Attrition, but minion kills don’t count for the team’s score, just reduction of Titan build times. I honestly don’t get the point of this game mode. Perhaps it is just to reward those who don’t bother with killing minions, but… meh… I get just as good a reward it seems in Attrition for killing pilots, so I’m not sure why I would ever bother with this mode.
There is also a Variety Pack that rotates those above modes. I avoid that to avoid Last Titan Standing and Pilot Hunter myself, but it does force you to play a few more modes than usual.
After each match, the game enters another fun feature, the Epilogue. The loser of the match tries to make it to an extraction zone where an escape ship will come and try to take them away. As a player, you get bonus points for escaping on the drop ship. The winners goal is to kill all the players before they get to the drop ship, and if possible, destroy the drop ship to prevent escape, again with extra bonus points awarded for destroying the ship.
Of course I can’t leave without giving a brief word about the Titans themselves, after all the game is called Titanfall. They are fun, not much really more to say about them. Presently, there are three chassis to pick from, and from what the developers have said about the difficulty of balancing them, I would guess that’s all we’ll see from this first game. The choices of chassis are fine. Like the limited weapons of the Pilot loadouts, there is a limited number of Titan weapon loadouts, but here it seems okay. There is a rather satisfactory amount of fun in running around and running over players/minions and shooting people and other Titans while in them. They stuck with easy controlability while in a Titan, which makes sense, it would have been weird to go with a Mechwarrior style control scheme, which is great for a sweet simulator, but less good when you are just running around in basically a typical FPS.
In the end it is a great game. The lack of weapon choices shortens the longevity of the game, but I’m sure we’ll see that flushed out with the DLC. The few nitpicks in terms of graphics are being fixed, and so apparently is raw mouse input (which isn’t an issue for me, though perhaps it is and I’m just not a good enough player to notice). Overall I highly recommend the game, so long as what you are looking for is a fun multiplayer FPS. I only hope that Titanfall 2 has bigger maps and better weapon loadout choices in the main game.
If you need other versions, you can select them from that link.
Meanwhile my other gaming addiction at the moment…
To use that, you’ll need the first D3 game, but there is a link there to buy both at a discount.