The lights are on
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.
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
Email the author Kimberley Wallace, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.