Titanfall Beta Impressions – Thrilling Combat, Perfect Map Design, Stupid Auto-Pistols

Titanfall Beta Impressions – Thrilling Combat, Perfect Map Design, Stupid Auto-Pistols

It wasn’t long ago that people became a little more than merely disgruntled about multiplayer first-person shooters. The state of the genre has been that of a stalemate, with very little being offered in the form of new ideas or twists. There have been failed attempts to bring something new to the market, most notably Brink, which failed for numerous reasons, leaving a bit of a void. This void, fortunately, is seemingly set to be filled by Titanfall.

The recent beta took videogame communities by storm, with players expressing delight at what was on offer in the Xbox One & PC beta. “It’s so new.” “The multiplayer is truly next-gen.” Both of these seemed to be popular claims–claims I was a little hesitant to believe. After the beta became open to the public, I had no excuse not to try the game that was creating such a buzz. And I’m impressed.

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Titanfall, at its very core, is extremely fun. There’s a sense of old-school core gunplay hidden beneath a number of nice little touches. The core gameplay feels instantly familiar and ridiculously satisfying. You could even whisper that it has a certain Call of Duty-like element to the run-and-gun nature–if you attached a smooth wall-running/parkour mechanic, that is. There’s a sense of empowerment that comes with each second spent on foot, resulting in a level-playing field unhindered by personal skill level.

The Titans themselves change the course of a game, as you would expect. The manner in which they seem to engage in their own personal battles, while foot soldiers attend to their own firefights, and the sheer volume of missiles, bullets, and explosions that follow each Titan, creates a truly chaotic atmosphere, making each match a hugely thrilling experience. The end result is Titanfall having a strange sense of a natural combat environment.

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Elsewhere, there are various little touches that keep the game feeling fresh, even after repeatedly playing the same map. Challenges and burn cards compel the player to improve in a natural manner, as opposed to forcing them to change their playing style to accommodate the challenges. Burn cards, meanwhile, are a truly ingenious way to give each player a nifty supplement to their play style while offering an appealing risk-and-reward mechanic, with cards disappearing upon death. One of the most entertaining mechanics is the ability to ride a Titan. Jumping onto both a friendly and enemy Titan results in the player hitching a ride and having the opportunity to destroy enemy Titans open up to them. It’s a small but wonderful touch that gives players something extra to think about.

Also, wall-running and parkour works perfectly within Titanfall. The fluid and responsive nature of the controls results in the game being carried by an extremely fast pace that fuels each match. There’s never a sense that the wall-running and climbing is a gimmick; instead it’s always a legitimate means of travel and way of gaining the upper hand in a match.

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One of the best elements of Titanfall, however, is the map design. The sheer amount of detail on each map is staggering. At no point does it feel like the maps are bottle-necking the player into a hot zone where the designers intended all the action to happen. The action moves and flows between each area of the map due to the consistent tactical advantages and ability to accommodate Titans. The ability to scale any building, to go inside most buildings level by level, creates an utterly seamless experience dictated by the players rather than the developers.

That being said, after all the praise inevitably comes the negative. For instance, the AI units dotted around the map are utterly useless. They’ll often stand in place just asking to be obliterated by the dozen. It’s slightly jarring to see and detracts from the thrills and spills of the battle at hand.

Other minor gripes fall with the weapons. The auto-lock pistol feels somewhat overpowered when combined with certain player abilities (cloak and stim), which can lead to deaths feeling either cheap or unavoidable. The SMG, also, is a strange beast, one that seems publicly shunned by the Beta players and feels rather weak compared to other weapons. Though this could easily be a question of preference rather than design.

TF_Lagoon_Pilot_TitanTitanfall, based on the Beta, is an utterly thrilling multiplayer experience that will no doubt help define next-generation multiplayer titles. The combination of all the various features, no matter how big or small, results in brilliantly crafted battles time after time. Even in its Beta stage, Titanfall stands head and shoulders above what is currently on offer in the first-person shooter market.

Sean Halliday


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