Confessions of An FPS Rookie: My First Day With Titanfall - Features - www.GameInformer.com
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Confessions of An FPS Rookie: My First Day With Titanfall

I'll be frank: You're more likely to find an RPG or sports game in my console than a shooter. Don't take that to mean I don't enjoy shooters; the issue is that you have to sink time into any given shooter to master the mechanics - something I don't have enough hours for with my aforementioned favorite genres. I'll never be an FPS top dog, but every so often I enjoy unwinding and testing my twitch gunplay, and lately I've wanted to engross myself in a shooter. However, I'm always hesitant to dive into a genre I don't play often because of my ego. I don't like losing and I don't like confronting my inexperience, but I decided I'd put all that aside and start on even footing with Titanfall's launch. I spent all of yesterday completing the campaign multiplayer and playing match after match in classic mode. Read on to see what I took away from it.

Learning To Pilot A Titan

I adapted quickly to the gunplay and staying on high alert, but the one aspect that took adjusting was controlling a mighty Titan. At first, I was in awe of having that much power in my hands, knowing I could just stomp on another player for an easy kill. But when you have other Titans in the crossfire, they have just as much power at their disposal. Because of your limited mobility, it can be tough to secure cover while your shields are down. I had to stop thinking I could stay in the Titan for an extended period of time, and sometimes playing aggressively meant that ejecting was inevitable. Alternating between my vortex shield and missile launcher, I found a comfortable rhythm, but great power puts a target on your back, making the strength of the Titan fleeting. It takes some time adjusting to when you should deploy your titan; a bad decision can be costly. I actually found I was better suited if I just spawned as one.

Accepting Last Place

I didn't land in last place in my first match, but I did earn the unfortunate ranking a few times while I was learning the ropes. This is something I've always had a hard time accepting. Like most gamers, I'm too proud for my own good; I play to earn my bragging rights. Last place is hard to swallow, but once I got over my fear and realized it wasn't the end of the world, I put it behind me and quickly learned from my deficiencies. In fact, sometimes when I earned the spot, it was merely because my entire party was on fire, and we complemented each other well for the win. During my worst matches, I paid more attention to the end stats, assessing where I was getting most of my points and where I was floundering. Most of the time I was abandoning a key area of combat, like not going in for the stealth melee attacks (Do those, you get a lot of points!). Long story short: I died more than I hoped in my first matches, but those deaths were not in vain.

Sneaking For The Kill

I'm so used to having a kill-or-be-killed aggressive mentality when playing shooters. This state of mind keeps me on edge, leading me to often rush straight at enemies as soon as they're in my vicinity. Of course, that pursuit lead to some deaths as I wasn't exactly seeing the big picture. Blowing my cover to shoot one enemy was hardly worth it, especially when he or she had several friends just a few steps away, not in my immediate field of vision. Sneaking up on an unsuspecting foe and blindsiding them with a kill provides a satisfying thrill, and it's a better strategy. Also, moving around the battlefield using the cloak tactical ability is a godsend. Remind yourself that it's in your arsenal (if you choose that ability), because it does help you survive in those moments where chaos is all around and you need to sneak quickly past a group of enemies.

Movement Is Key

Outside of your Titan, you have a great deal of free movement across the field. You can scale buildings, wall run, or wall jump to quickly and smoothly reach new points. I'm used to environments being barriers, not a resource to be exploited. The moment I stopped relying on the ground to get around and moved atop and across buildings, matches got more interesting.

The best thing about Titanfall is that the types of campers you see in games like Call of Duty are greatly diminished by the Titans' massive weaponry.  If a single blast from a rocket can take you down, what's the point at taking potshots from the same vantage point over and over?  That's not to say that sniping is dead - if you're good at it, it's a very effective tool, but it's not one that's easily exploited.

Best Moments

Obviously, finally seeing me rank number one in a match was validation that I was getting the hang of things and not completely awful. However, I had some monumental battle moments that gave me an adrenaline rush that's hard to top. One of my early moments had me saying out loud, "I can't believe I survived that." I had just turned a corner and was immediately greeted by three opponents. I was outnumbered and unprepared. I expected death. But in the moment I threw a grenade, eliminating one, and then melee killed the other two.  It was a reckless, unattractive tactical decision, and yet it worked.

Later on, I found myself high above the battlefield after ejecting from my mech. A nearby enemy Titan had its shields down, so I decided it was high time to strike. I landed on top of him, not knowing I could "rodeo" an enemy Titan, riding it and opening up a panel to shoot into. I fired several rounds into the head of that Ogre and quickly jumped off as an explosion enveloped my foe.

In that same match, I found myself up against my nemesis above with his Titan at low health. I quickly fired my Titan's missiles to bring down his shields, dooming him to explode. I threw a punch at the Titan, wanting to toss it backward, and another surprise awaited me.  My titanic fist drove into the heart of the opponent's Titan and drew out the pilot, a ragdoll in my grip. I threw him like the piece of trash he was, quickly dashing away to find a new foe.

Most Embarrassing Death

It happens to everyone - that death you see on the screen that makes you think, 'I can't believe I just went out like that.' I'm willing to share some of my shame to humor you. Yes, I got meleed to death by an NPC while I was trying to take out a group of human players. But that's hardly the highest on my embarrassment meter. I actually "fell" to my death, which was something I didn't think was possible, as you don't take fall damage in the game. How did such a ridiculous death occur? I launched myself from my Titan and didn't make a good choice for my destination. I ended up landing on the edge of the map on some rock formation. I couldn't figure out how to move back onto the battlefield. I tried to jump back in the play area, but as I did, I slid to my death. The worst part? Seeing my gamertag flash across the screen with 'Fall' listed for my death.

Why I'll Keep Playing Titanfall

I've always been intimidated by playing multiplayer shooters, but I can compete in Titanfall. I'm not saying Titanfall is simplistic or doesn't require skill. On the contrary, it requires a lot of fast thinking, strategy, and preparation. Creating just the right loadout for both your pilot and your Titan is as important as being able to aim down the sights. Twitch skills certainly play their part; a headshot from 500 meters away can kill a pilot just as easily as a rampaging Titan. However, Titanfall pulled me in because of how forgiving it is. It doesn't matter if you die a few times in a row, because a Titan drop is always just a few minutes away. Also, a dead Titan doesn't eliminate you if you eject in time, so you have a second shot as a pilot. Because of this, I didn't feel bombarded with death. The balance of power between the two sides, and even amongst members of your own team, shifts constantly so that no one person is the king for long.

Titanfall provides a variety of maps with so many nooks and crannies (I'm still finding new hiding places) and a progression system that is not only engaging, but mirrors the progression of your personal skill, always providing new mechanics to master. Titanfall doesn't make me want to quit after a few matches like many shooters do; I find myself consistently back on the battlefield, trying out new strategies and fighting just one more time to prove my chops.

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