By tamriilin 0 Comments
The Titanfall beta started this weekend, and after the initial server issues, I finally got my chance to hop on. I wanted to write something about it, but I really didn't want to stop playing it. I am now level 14, the highest rank attainable in the beta, and in spite of that, I want to soldier on. It's that much fun.
I'm not the biggest shooter player in the world. I prefer a controller over mouse/keyboard, and I tend to shy away from competitive shooters in most cases. But for many reasons, Titanfall is different. It's a breath of fresh air in a genre that so desperately needs it.
It's also accessible. I was playing on PC with an Xbox 360 controller and I somehow never felt at a disadvantage. I was at the top of the scoreboard several times, something I've almost never experienced in a shooter. One of the initial weapons, the Smart Pistol, doesn't require pinpoint accuracy. You aim at an enemy, it locks on, and you fire. That's it. Enemy players require three locks, enemy grunts (AI-controlled soldiers mostly used for fodder) require one. Despite its accessibility, the weapon has a deceptively high skill ceiling; more often than not I found myself using it like a regular pistol against other players. It's a brilliantly elegant solution to the common problem of high skill barriers in first-person shooters.
The jump-jets every player has allow for an insane amount of mobility and vertical movement. In most shooters, stairs are just an obstacle for you to traverse. In Titanfall, if you're using stairs, you're playing the game wrong. Using the amount of agility provided to you is one of the most interesting things about Titanfall, and also what makes it feel so good to play; ambushing players from above and stalking them from below feels so satisfying once you learn how.
Around level 8, you unlock the ability to get "Burn Cards" from completing challenges. Burn Cards are one-use consumables that you slot into one of three spaces. Whenever you die, you have the option to activate a Burn Card, and you gain its effect for the duration of your next life. These cards range from upgraded weapons, to enemy radar, to permanently moving and healing faster. It adds a weird meta-game to the act of dying that serves to both placate and empower the player.
I haven't even gotten to the Titans yet.
When the match starts, your faction is "building" your Titan. Every time you damage an enemy (be it grunt or enemy player) the build time of your Titan is reduced. This leads to some pretty interesting strategies such as "farming" grunts as fast as possible in an attempt to get your Titan before everybody else.
Piloting a Titan is pretty standard fare as far as mechs go: you are slower than on foot, but FAR more powerful. This isn't to say that the Titans are too strong; every player, regardless of loadout, has an anti-Titan weapon at their disposal and, with enough skill, can go toe-to-toe with one.
Whenever you "Titanfall" (call down your titan) you have several options: you can hop in and wreak havoc; you can set it to guard one spot while you run around the map completing other objectives; or you can set it to follow you and automatically engage enemies. The AI is obviously not as responsive or intelligent as a human player, but it's still an interesting strategic choice that, again, only serves to make what is stale fresh again.
After kind of being "over" shooters, and after having not bought any big-budget shooters in the last 2 years, I think I'm finally ready to jump back in again.
Titanfall has made me a believer.