Titanfall Beta Impressions: A Breath Of Fresh FPS Air
Last night I had my first taste of Titanfall gameplay. Before we begin, there’s the obvious caveat that this is a beta and not everything is in or working as it may be at release.
After spending around five hours with the title unlocking weapons, creating various loadouts, and discovering how to get the most out of my Burn Cards, I didn’t want to stop playing. Things still felt fresh, like it was my first round. I had to step back and ask myself why.
It’s the dynamic composition of gameplay. While a good number of gameplay aspects have their roots in the Call of Duty series and the “standards” of the modern-day FPS, the continual friction inherent in facing (and being) two different types of player at any given time during gameplay keeps things at a constant fever pitch.
An experience I had in under a minute with the title:
I flung grenades at an opposing cluster of NPCs, brandished my pistol and took out the pilot turning around the corner, sprint/wallwalked and Peter Pan’d onto a titan and took it down with a rodeo maneuver. In other words, I jumped onto one of those hulks and rode it as I emptied a clip into its vital circuitry. A few seconds later I called down my own titan, and when that titan went nuclear and I was flying through the air after ejection, I locked on and launched a missile at the titan that smote me. The list of “Whoa, did you see that!?” moments goes on and on and on, without ever skipping a beat. The nature of every player having access to titans at regular intervals makes games feel different from beginning to end.
The experiences as a scrappy pilot and a metal leviathan are a stark contrast, but at the same time intertwined. As the pilot, you are taking advantage of flying around the environment and launching missiles at giants passing by. As the titan, you are brushing gnats aside as you seek out opposing rival titans. One needs knowledge obtained in both forms to be an effective player. You can’t get this kind of adrenaline rush by playing the same core loadout for an entire round, and I think Respawn Entertainment was conscious of this fact.
The rush you get as a pilot zipping around the city streets hoping that the behemoth doesn’t spot you before you can find cover, waiting for it to engage your allied titan, and then lobbing a rocket to its exposed weak area simply cannot replicated by spawning over and over with the same build and battling others doing the same. The inclusion of specific Anti-Titan weaponry is an act of genius. You’re fighting something much stronger than you, it’s not a fair fight – and in a minute or two, you’ll be the one in the colossus.
As for the concerns over 6v6 gameplay, forget about it. The map sizes, respawn timers, and the inclusion of NPC units that provide marginal firepower and function as point objectives make the battlefield feel completely alive, while providing a more intimate and I daresay skill-based experience. With 6v6, the chances of you being instagibbed or brought down by a puppy when you spawn are virtually nil. But you’ll be back in the thick of combat in seconds, especially once you’ve gotten some wall-walking/sprinting chops down.
You’re going to find out real fast who’s hot and who’s not on the other team, because they’re not just meaningless names and death spam. Utilizing a small core of players and still creating an environment of constant combat immersion is another area I feel is a huge win for Respawn.
It was an incredibly bold move to place two disparate forms on the same battlefield. Combat is rarely even and that’s okay. It creates situations of triumph and victory that cannot come out of a purely even playing field. And right now, it looks like a gamble that has paid off.