So, for a few days last weekend, I got the chance to play the beta for Titanfall. Although in the last 24 hours of the beta, they decided to make it more open. I got in before the open 24 hour period.
Titanfall is a newer concept for gaming that combines modern FPS gaming with MMO elements to give us a solely online multiplayer experience. Granted, I understand the need for an offline experience. I myself prefer an offline experience, should my internet go down. As much as the internet is close to what the game companies think it is, it’s still not quite there. This is due to cost, if one can afford insanely fast speed, and reliable internet from a provider that could maintain it properly.
Then yes it can do it, but very few can. The other problem is hardware, and it ties to cost, but on the side of the ISP. The hardware given by ISPs is the lowest common denominator for performance and reliability. At least with Titanfall, it uses the new Azure servers hosted by Microsoft. Granted they’ve had problems in the past with running server technology for games on PC. This beta was no exception.
There was a 5-6 hour downtime last weekend, due to the sheer numbers. Which was the point the beta in the first place. So at least they showed EA that one normally doesn’t have Microsoft running the servers. As such, the Xbox One servers came back on first, then later on the PC servers. No favouritism there, right Microsoft? (*Cough*sarcasm*Cough*). Although I digress, it was the only downtime that I saw.
The game’s core mechanics work without fault, being Respawn Entertaiinment, the guys who brought us the first Modern Warfare title for Call Of Duty. Granted I never particularly enjoy FPS combat in a multiplayer setting, as after 16 players, it tends to turn into death match no matter what map you’re on. Like most of the Call Of Duty games since then. The game has numerous mechanics to integrate.
Instead of having perks be for the completionists of the game, they’re given out in the form of Burn cards. Where as each level you attain, gets you more and more burn cards in increasing number and rarity. Although you could only use up to 3 during the beta, and each burn card can only be used once and only for 1 life in a match. After death, you go back to your usual stock character, or custom load out. As some of the Titans could be unlocked from burn cards. While others became unlocked from challenges.
Which brings me to the next mechanic, which has been in FPS games for a long time, Challenges. The idea behind most of the challenges in an FPS, are usually for achievement/trophy purposes. In Titanfall’s case, you get unlockables for the challenges. Not a huge thing, but its nice. What ties to said challenges are some of the individual ones. These being tied to Grunt kills, spectre kills and certain types of combat.
The game’s overall point system for XP is divided into different categories: kill, gameplay type, assists, proficiency, burn cards, completing challenges and if you complete the epilogue. Kill type points are everywhere, any kill you get scores you points. From there it goes into what kind of kill was it, a grunt kill, spectre kill, or player/pilot kill. Skill type points are usually tied to variety where its relative to how you kill the target. Whether it’s using a regular weapon, or a modified one.
In terms of regular pistol vs smart pistol, vs auto pistol. Each vary. Most of us know what a regular pistol would do, and even what the auto pistol would do, since it’s just a machine pistol.
The Smart pistol however, is where things differ from the other two. Unlike the Pistol or Auto Pistol, where you fire quickly, or even aim manually, the auto pistol has a large reticule, and a delay. It will still fire like a normal pistol, but it has a lock on feature, where once its locked, it’s a 1 hit kill situation.
To vary it up though, Grunts are 1 lock, Spectres are 2, and Pilots are 3. When all locks are triggered, it only takes one button press, to release the required amount of ammunition to kill the target. As such, the Smart Pistol, with upgrades, can be a bit overpowered. So, a Nerf on it could be done.
There are plenty of weapons for pilots to balance it out though. For all I know, there could even be more weapons that they have yet to show us. In the beta, as you level up, the more weapons and upgrades you acquire. Eventually you get custom load outs, instead of just the regular 3 setups, for both Pilots and Titans. As such, you end up with some really good combinations, especially with burn cards boosting people’s performance.
Don’t worry about being outgunned though, as all pilots have 3 weapons: Primary and secondary weapons for pilots and then an Anti-Titan weapon. Usually in the form of a missile launcher, I prefer the multi rocket salvo version. Then there are grenades and EMP grenades that affect Titans.
Pilots also have special abilities that can be swapped out, one of which is a cloak that makes it easier to move about without being riddled with bullets. Then there are other things that can be added in place. STIM is one, where it boosts speed and regeneration of the Pilot’s health. Maneuverability is key as a Pilot, as such the developers give you the ability to perform Parkour or Free running, to climb buildings, and titans to either take down enemy titans or help out friendly ones.
Having parkour in an FPS makes things more interesting, as one can move through the map much faster. Due to amount of smart pistols in the game, one has to be fast to keep from getting locked on and being killed by them.
Titans, the one thing I was hoping they got right with this type of combat. One word to answer that: Yes! The titan combat is faster than other games that have some sort of mech combat. Giving us strafing, sprint and jump controls to help dodge attacks. One thing is, Titans are not indestructible, they have different load outs to balance the combat.
Usually its good to run with the Tank build on the Atlas titan. It comes equipped with a 40 Millimeter cannon, and a Nuclear core that goes off when the Titan is doomed. Artillery build allows for a quad missile launcher, and a faster regeneration of the shield on the titan. The basic load out for the Atlas has a chain gun, but not much else.
As a note: All Titans come with a special shield type weapon, where it absorbs and stops enemy gunfire, including missiles, and when you release the button, it fires the weapons back at them. Very useful when taking on multiple enemy titans at once. They can also perform Melee attacks, including ripping a pilot out of a doomed titan to kill them.
To boost performance on the Titans, burn cards and other upgrades pop up. One which is the Damage core, giving you quadruple the amount of damage per hit on enemy Titans and Pilots. Now the Damage core is limited in how long it lasts, so it is balanced. Then there are accelerators for weapons. The best one is to use an Accelerator on the 40 MM canon, because it has the highest amount of damage. As such the 40 MM can become like the smart pistol, and be a little over powered, so a Nerf may come in for that too.
Then there’s the AI in the Titan, which is of 2 minds, 1 – Follow, where the titan will stay close to you and engage targets if necessary. 2 – holding position and defending its ground. Both of which are handy in the tutorial, but didn’t really serve too much purpose in Attrition, but works for Hardpoint.
I anticipate the game will sell like hot cakes, and I’m eager to find out how they handle the campaign side of Multiplayer. While the game is beautiful and fully functional in multiplayer. It needs a good campaign to make it even better, granted it won’t be single player offline, but I don’t mind if it works. This is where the MMO aspect comes into play more, giving us a campaign for us story fanatics. It’ll be a cooperative multiplayer to give people a central enemy to band together and take on.
Then there are bonuses, one of which is a special easter egg that Respawn is putting into the game. Rumor has it, it’s on the same level as Pacific Rim. Which worked for me because I was listening to the Pacific Rim score while playing the beta. Which brings me to music, and the lack there of. I anticipate the game will have music in it, but the Beta had nothing.
One major gripe I had with the demo, which I hope will be fixed in time for release. The load screens, good grief is it long. Between the time you hit play in Origin, to the time you actually got to the main menu, it took about 2 minutes for me, and if your computer isn’t as robust as my specs, it may even be longer. As sometimes I’d be running more things in the background, which made loading up to 5 minutes. The load from the lobbies were worse. It could take up to 3 or 4 minutes on average to load the maps.
This brings us to the gameplay types, Attrition, Hardpoint, Last Titan Standing and a variety pack for the Beta. Attrition is basically Team Deathmatch, Hardpoint is domination, and Last Titan standing is self-explanatory. The Beta also came with a Tutorial, robust and rich with guided instruction and levels to test out your skills on. With a final battle to put all your newly acquired skills to the test.
Then after you’ve played your first round, there is the Epilogue. Being something new in FPS games, is the ability to either Evacuate after losing the battle, or taking down the enemy drop ship before it takes off. Other than just killing all the enemies on the field.
Maps: The Beta had 2 primary maps for gameplay, Angel City and Fracture, both were divided up for different types of gameplay. Angel City was a huge metropolis that was divided up when the “War” started. Then there is Fracture, a former high-class colony that became vacant after over mining ruined the area.
Platforms: As those who follow the game know, the game will be available for 3 systems. Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC. I plan on getting it for PC, as I prefer a good chunk of games to be on that. Most of the FPS games I have are on the PC. Only certain games will I buy for consoles, as they’re exclusive. Like Killzone for Playstation, and Halo for Xbox.
Being a Sci Fi nerd, I can’t help but enjoy what has been done here. As I’ve been looking forward to another Mech game that balances the combat and gives us another rich world to play in. I’ll be posting more movie reviews soon, I’ve just been busy lately.