Home Editorial Titanfall Beta: Full Review

When I first heard about Titanfall, I was skeptical. “An FPS set in the near future with vertical tanks and fancy new technology?” thought I, “That sounds awesome… if they can get the right developer for it”.

That’s when I noticed it was being developed by Respawn, a new studio consisting of old Infinity Ward employees. So now the fancy futuristic game is being made by the same people who made Call of Duty 4 and Call of Duty 2, my favourite games in the series. I was still hesitant, but getting more and more tempted. Then, just three days ago, I was fortunate enough to get access to the beta test.

And now let me assure you, dear reader, there is no force on heaven nor Earth that will stop me from playing this game on release.

Look at the graphics!

Yep, it has graphics. Nice ones, actually. Even on the lowest setting, the game looks pretty good although it does feel like you’re waiting for certain textures to pop-insometimes. ‘Low’ is the setting I think Joe Everyman will stream at Low, with Medium/High being their offline pleasure. A nice gesture from the devs was the warning to not use the “Insane” option for graphics unless I had 3GB of GPU RAM, which I appreciated.

Hey you, what’s that sound?

Another feature of the game is a full soundtrack including, but not limited to:

  • Music
  • Sound effects
  • People not knowing what their Push-To-Talk key is
  • Explosions

All in all, I’m impressed.

GAMEPLAY!

I’ll be quite honest, this is all I wanted to talk about. Titanfall is the most fun I’ve had in an FPS in the last six years and it’s just… it’s just so god damn fun!

When you first hit ‘Play’ on the menu, you’re put into the tutorial under the guise of being a new pilot preparing for their first drop by getting some simulator time. You configure your y-axis, roll your eyes as you learn yet again what W, A, S and D do, smile politely as the game takes you through using the Smart Pistol which can lock on to enemies multiple times and fires at all those lock points with a single pull of a trigger, and exchange pleasantries with a neighbour as you start running along walls whilst cloaked.

No, what? Wait a minute… at least 50% of those things aren’t standard at all! They’re… Oh shit, they’re new! New things! In an FPS! They get explained in a concise, easy to understand manner too! And it’s fun! You guys remember that feeling, right? Greeting new things with intrigue and curiosity rather than doing the same stale thing over and over again? Tell you what, back in my day . . .

Sorry, I got a little carried away there. Where was I? Ah yes, the tutorial does a brilliant job of explaining how to use double jumps and cloaking, especially for gamers who may not be used to such mechanics while providing a heads-up to gamers who are familiar with them. Everyone knows the score, no one gets talked down to and no one feels stupid or like the devs are insulting anyone’s intelligence. The use of Titans is also explained, but that’s to be expected.

The main thing I love about the tutorial is that it tells you all the important stuff you absolutely have to know and then it lets you go into a game. It actually leaves things for players to discover for themselves which makes those moments of discovery all the better. If the tutorial told me that I could destroy enemy Titans by deploying mine on top of them, I wouldn’t have been anywhere near as impressed when I did it all by myself whilst hoping, praying, it would work. It did and it made a kickass explosion. I was happy.

Titanfall also does away with one of the hot new staples of FPS multiplayer: Killstreaks. Instead, Titanfall uses Burn Cards. After performing actions in a game (X amount of kills in a row, using a certain weapon through the whole match, completing challenges) you receive Burn Cards which are stored in an impromptu inventory. A card can be activated whenever you spawn and last for one life only. At max level (in the beta, at least) the most cards you can take into a match with you is three. The bonuses they offer are nice little boosts for your next life and thankfully don’t affect the balance of the game as a whole. They range from slightly better versions of default weapons to abilities like increased speed or decreased Titan spawn time. They’re way better than killstreaks, in my opinion, and I look forward to the full range of cards in the release version.

Titan gameplay and acquisition is extremely well executed. When you start the match, your Titan starts being built on a 3 minute timer. Every time you get a kill, complete a challenge or capture a hardpoint, the timer gets reduced (depending on the action). It encourages people to get out there and play the game, being an active member of the team rather than sitting back until they can call down a Titan. When in a Titan, your actions decrease the boot time of your Titan Core, a boost specific to your Titan’s chassis. Respawn put a lot of effort into making climbing into a Titan feel like a significant event and it translates well to the player. The screens need to turn on and load, you have to make sure your weapon is ready and you even have to consider which way your Titan will be facing when it falls. It doesn’t feel like getting into a vehicle in Battlefield and it doesn’t feel like it’s just a model change. Titan gameplay is also more reserved than infantry gameplay. If you run into the middle of a fire fight with a Titan, you’ll find yourself dead pretty quickly. The best way to use them effectively is to think of them as vertical tanks, not anime mechs.

By far my favourite part of the multiplayer experience is the end of a match. In any other game, Team A gets more points than Team B and that’s it. GG WP, into the next match. In Titanfall, there’s still stuff to do when a match ends. You see, you’re a Titan pilot and pilots are pretty special. You’re the only ones trusted with jet packs, the only ones who can cloak and, spoiler alert, you’re the guys who pilot the Titans. You’re so important that the faction you’re fighting for send a drop ship into the battlefield to try and bring you back. When this is happening, there’s no more respawns for either side. Shit has hit the fan and you need to get out of there now. Of course, the enemy knows that you’re trying to escape and they see the drop ship beacon too. Not only do you have to get to the evac point, not only do you have to wait for the ship, not only do you then need to jump into the ship but enemy Titans can shoot the ship down before you get a chance to warp away. The end of round gameplay makes you feel like you’re part of a much broader narrative and that the battle actually meant something rather than being a happen-stance killfest. It forces players to make difficult decisions, too. Sure, you got to the ship first but isn’t it better to keep the landing zone clear of enemies until your teammates get there? Are you willing to sacrifice yourself to destroy the Titan threatening to blow up the drop ship and all your buddies with it? You’re not just in a random fight with some assholes you’ve never seen before any more, you’re in the middle of an epic futuristic battle.

Final thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, it’s been far too long since I’ve played a game which was this good. The only downside I can think of in the beta is that I wanted to unlock more things and felt I hit the maximum level of 14 too quickly. Both of these will be solved by playing the full version of the game.

I’m not a person who gives games a numerical score. They always mean different things to different people and it can just become a pain in the arse. However, I do feel like I want to quantify just how much I enjoy this game so I’ll do so as followed:

Even as an incomplete beta, Titanfall is the best FPS I’ve played in over five years and has set a high bar for competitors in this generation. I’m certainly going to buy it but the likelihood I’d recommend it to any of my friends is a whopping 95%.

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