Prepare for Titanfall!

(This was written on the launch weekend of Titanfall and has since been sat in the archive waiting for upload)

Titanfall3

So at time of writing EA’s newest shooter game Titanfall, produced by Respawn Entertainment a studio based around the core of the Infinity Ward team behind the multi-player behemoth Call of Duty 4, has been out for between 2 and 5 days depending on if there is a giant ocean preventing Origin letting you download it. I, in the midst of a series of days of sleeping terribly, might have binged heavily on it after its midnight launch. So far I’ve reached level 21, finished both campaigns and played some of what is called classic mode.

So first up – it’s a fantastic multi-player shooter. I’m not a great fan of high-speed shooters due to have the reaction times of a snail, but I have enjoyed every one of the 30 or so games I’ve played so far. the game has a sense of speed unlike anything else I’ve played. The range of movement the player can do thanks to the jump pack and wall running makes it very easy to bust around the level on the rooftops before diving onto an enemy titan. The guns make it feel like Modern Warfare 2 – each one is incredibly damaging so none feels too over powered (except the damn shotgun but we can skip over that). The smart pistol is a fun addition – perfect for culling enemy grunts and spectres but not overpowered against enemy players.

The elephant in the room is, of course, the titans. There are three types (effectively light,medium or heavy) each of which share the same selections for loadout but still manages to act in a different way. Titans massively change-up how the game plays. By getting kills you decrease a timer that slowly ticks own until your teams adjutant informs you that your titan is ready for drop. Quick tap of the v button on a location and suddenly a pillar of flame starts to fall from the sky, a comet falling towards you. The moment  a titan hit the deck, it pops a shield and waits for you to interact with it. At this point, you have two choices. The easiest is to simply tell it to go into auto mode – the titan will stand up and either guard a location or follow after you. This is great for when you need to capture a point a you leave your bouncer outside, slamming other titans in the face or stomping enemy pilot and grunts. I know a lot of people who enjoy the free running and just don’t ever pilot their titans, instead using it as a distraction.

On the other hand, you can sprint towards it and start hammering the E button. Often the titan will pluck you out of the air and gently push you into the cockpit, with your view showing you using handholds and climbing bars to get into the driving seat. The front panel drops back down leaving you in darkness for a moment before interior screens turn on, showing the seams between the panels before they merge together. Climbing into the titan is a beautiful experience full of  cool details and varied animations. But once you are in your titan, you’ve just become a huge player, who can easily stomp and crush human sized enemies and blow through an entire team if everyone played like the average call of duty player. but at the same time EVERYONE can mess you up. Other titans are often speced just for the sole purpose of dooming your Titan (setting it to explode after a certain amount of time) and crafty players have a range of methods for taking you down from simply shooting you with rocket launchers to rodeoing your titan to a fiery death. You are by no means vulnerable but at the same time you are not going to be over powered.

Each of the maps are great. Although limited to 6v6, all the maps feel full of action thanks in part to the sheer number of AI running around. Grunts are literally cannon fodder, worth a single point in attrition and not much of a threat. Spectres on the other hand are robots that can easily knock you down if you are in either a titan or on foot. The fact you can hack them to follow you is also pretty cool – it turns you into a parkouring mother duck, trailed by a gaggle of robo ducklings. The interaction between the grunts and spectres on both side are great (I’ve embedded a video of  some behind the scenes stuff) – the little fights you run past as you sprint and jump to the objectives are fantastic. In one building, you see two grunts on opposite sides having a fist fight, throwing each other to the ground. In another, two militia guys are dragging a third injured one away. In another, a spectre is busy punching his way through a grunt. As scene setting,  they are sweet. The thing that really makes it is what happens if you get involved – if you shoot the enemy grunt in the fist fight, the survivor turns to you, says “Thanks sir” and then runs off to join the fight. The maps themselves are excellently designed  with a selection of maps ranging from city battles to scraps over a prison camp to my personal favourite, a battle amongst the Spectre construction line.

I’ll write up another article on Titanfall at some point with a greater teardown of what works and what doesn’t. Until then, I heartily recommend Titanfall – it gave me the same joy that I felt when I first played Call of Duty 4 with my friends

(A second article is coming soon)