Friday, 14 February 2014

Titanfall Beta Impressions


Hello, guys!

This isn't really a review or anything so don't take it as such. This is just a quick little overview of the Titanfall Beta version I've played so far and my impressions of it. I will be writing a full game review later after the full version is out.

In short, Titanfall is just as awesome as I was expecting it to be. I had already been hyped by all the trailers of the game and it did not disappoint. The gameplay feels really fast paced and kind of like a mix between several game genres. As a pilot you're really agile and have a LOT of freedom of movement. The parkour elements really help give the game its own unique feel and makes you feel empowered in a way that games like Battlefield and Call of Duty never did. It's as if you had the parkour elements from Mirror's Edge but weren't restricted to using them exclusively. It's up to you as a player to judge when it is necessary to flee and when to face your enemies. It honestly reminds me a lot of Unreal Tournament or Tribes and other oldschool shooters in how much freedom you have in the game and you never feel like you are locked to the map layout like other shooters since you can climb buildings and run on walls as much as you can run inside buildings and hide if you want to.  Of course, it takes a bit of getting used to and I often fell into the trap of playing it more like Call of Duty, so I definitely need to play this game more to get into the groove of it.

Playing the Titans also feels extremely easy and smooth and it still feels like a FPS when you get into a Titan and feels like strapping on a heavier second skin. It never feels too clunky and responds very quickly to your movements which I appreciate. Once you get your own Titan, nobody else can take it or destroy it as it has a protective shield and it definitely feels like Christmas when you call one in. Its main weapon depends on which type of Titan you choose on the loadout screen, though they all share the same basic abilites and secondary weapon which is a multiple rocket launcher. You can dash in any direction and you have a shield that basically gathers any bullets or missiles fired at you from enemy Titans, and once you release the shield, you send the ammunition back at them, which feels like a more badass way of giving the finger to them.

Graphically the game looks really beautiful but, of course, being a Beta I found the game wasn't really optimized as I experienced a lot of lag if I used anything but the medium to low settings, and this might also be because it's a next gen game. It really does make me want to upgrade my hardware to be honest as I want to experience this game with everything maxed out. During training there wasn't much lag but don't let that deceive you as the matches themselves can be pretty intensive on your graphics hardware. On low settings it doesn't look as beautiful, it does look a bit grey and washed out in parts, but overall the gameplay made up for it.

Music isn't all that memorable, I turned it off in favour of a little Skrillex. The sounds though are really good, especially the gun sounds and all the little details in the voice acting and such.

You start out with about 2 default pilot classes, but unlock a third as you level up and eventually you can create your own custom classes (3 of them) all with different loadouts. There isn't much in the way of character appearance customization, other than choosing gender, though that's fine by me. Your general appearance is mostly decided by the game according to the loadout you are using. Pick a tactical weapon and you look more like an assassin. Pick a sniper rifle and you look like a sniper. It works very much like the Call of Duty games in that regard. 

The loadouts consist of a primary weapon that you use against other regular enemies. These range from an auto-targeting Smart Pistol to a Longbow Sniper Rifle and all of them offer unique advantages and feel really satisfying to use. I absolutely love the weapon designs and how they feel and that is always one of the most important things to me when playing a shooter. You also have a secondary weapon specifically designed to take out enemy Titans and my most used weapon for that purpose is the Sidewinder which is basically a full auto rocket launcher. It kinda reminds me of the Devastator from Duke Nukem which is never a bad thing. In addition to these weapons you can pick a third sidearm, usually a pistol. These are handy in a pinch if you accidentally burn all your ammo, but otherwise I never use them and instead try to pick up weapons from dead enemies. I will give them props for letting you use a full auto pistol right off the bat though. All of the weapons, excluding the sidearms, have weapon attachments like in Call of Duty and you unlock more of them as you level up. I definitely look forward to unlocking all of them and trying out different attachment combos as that is always a fun thing I do in Call of Duty. 

In addition to choosing what weapons you wanna use, you can also choose a tactical ability. These are basically little powers that have a cooldown and can come in handy during a heated match. The first one you get and will be using a lot is a cloaking device and while it makes you pretty much invisible to Titans, you can still be spotted by other pilots easily since you're not entirely invisible, just hard to see. You can also choose an ordnance, basically grenades or other throwable objects, like cats, midgets and Tom Cruise. You also have Tier Kits. These are basically perks and on higher levels I assume you get access to more of them. They affect your gameplay style in certain ways by enhancing certain aspects like giving you better parkour abilites or constantly displaying enemies on the minimap instead of only occasionally. What kits you use will be entirely up to you.

The titan loadouts, as far as I have played, are not customizable, though from what I can tell you get access to different Titans as you play. They all have different weapons but all share the same common traits.

In the beta I only had access to some multiplayer modes and not really the main game so I'll only be talking about those:

Attrition is basically a team deathmatch game where the goal is to kill everyone on the enemy team and get the highest score before the timer runs out, and feels the closest to a traditional multiplayer FPS. As you play you gain experience points that you use to level up, earning them from kills where headshots and other specialized damage earns you extra points, as well as completing certain challenges during gameplay. During the match a timer cools down to when you can call in your Titan and that's where the real fun begins. Going up against other Titans feels like a true match of skill and is a lot of fun. And once your Titan dies, you can just eject from it and jump on the enemy Titan and shoot into its head as an act of revenge. The gameplay here feels beautifully balanced and a LOT of fun. Once the timer runs out you get to play a bit of an epilogue where the winning team chases the losing team as they wait for an escape vehicle to pick them up. There are of course no respawns at this point and it's a nice way for the teams to earn extra points and test their survival skills and does feel really intense. I absolutely LOVE how this adds a unique flair to the game mode.

Hardpoint is basically domination where the point is to capture and hold all 3 hardpoints on a map and keep the enemy from taking over them. If you've played this mode in Call of Duty you'll feel right at home here and here the Titans aren't THAT useful but can act as giant guardians.

Last Titan Standing is a mode where everyone spawns as a Titan and the objective is to eliminate all Titans on the enemy team. While you do survive as a pilot if your Titan dies, if you die as a pilot there is no respawn so being careful and responsive is essential to surviving in this game mode. It definitely feels a lot like Last Man Standing from Call of Duty but with the Titanfall twist.

So yeah, those are my impressions of Titanfall so far, at least the Beta. I honestly feel excited to play the full version now and will definitely pre-order it as soon as I can afford it. I can't wait to see it getting more optimized for lower end computers like mine and what DLC they have to offer and most of all, what the main campaign is like and how it will integrate this gameplay with a story and how the multiplayer and single player elements will merge. From what I've seen so far, Titanfall is a fresh and unique take on the FPS genre, nothing like anything I've played before even if it borrows elements from Call of Duty a lot. It definitely feels like more than just another CoD clone and for that reason I can't recommend it enough.

- Alyxx