Xbox One (check out our review of the console) and PC owners the world over have one game on their radar right now: Titanfall. Just a quick look at social media through February 19 showed gamers talking about the game’s beta (which was really more of a demo). The beta was also released on the PC, but it was the Xbox One version that drew most of the attention.
James and myself spent three hours streaming the game here at MakeUseOf, and in total, I put somewhere around 12 hours into it during the period it was running. I will say that playing the beta made me even more excited for the final game to hit on March 11. What did I like and dislike about the beta? Keep reading for hands on impressions.
The team at Respawn nailed the one thing I was most concerned about with Titanfall — the balance between the titans and pilots (human characters on foot). When in a titan, you need to be afraid of pilots, as they are all packing powerful anti-titan weapons. Additionally, if you aren’t paying attention while in your giant robot, players can jump on top of it and do some serious damage.
Before I actually got my hands on it, I was a little concerned that the titans would feel overpowered, like tanks can sometimes feel in Battlefield, but it works well. They can bring down pilots easily enough, but not to the point that you feel like if you don’t have a titan you are just a sitting duck. The gameplay is fun whether you are in a titan or on foot, and that’s really all you can ask for from a balance perspective.
Titanfall looks good, but nothing about the visuals blew me away in the slightest. It looks a little better than an Xbox 360 game. While Titanfall is being touted as the first real “next-gen” game, it’s not really for it’s graphics. However, one thing that is incredibly impressive is the framerate. It’s silky smooth at all times, and even when there’s 4 or 5 titans running around on the screen with pilots and AI-controlled grunts, it never hitches even for a second, which is critial in a fast-paced shooter like this.
The PC version is a different story. It looks absolutely incredible, and if your PC is powerful enough, the framerate is just as steady at up to 120 FPS. It will truly blow you away as soon as you launch it the first time.
Six Versus Six
When Respawn announced that Titanfall would only feature six players battling it out on each team, the Internet went into an absolute uproar. The team swore that they tested larger player counts, and it felt that six on six was the optimal way to play. I argued, before playing the beta, that player count should not be a sticking point. A game like Dota, which features five on five battles, is perfectly balanced with that player count, and no one has every complained that it needs more people.
So did my opinion change after playing the beta? No, not at all. With the AI enemies and titans running around, it felt like there was always something to do. And when it gets to the mid-game phase where most people have titans, having more than six on each side would feel too hectic. However, our own James Bruce, who I spent a great deal of time playing with, often voiced concerns that he wished it had larger player counts, but as time went on, he was starting to come around to the smaller team sizes, so your mileage may vary when you actually go to play the game.
Maps, Modes, Guns, And Kits
The beta had a very limited set of items to use, so it’s hard to say how well it will translate to the final game. It had one of each fun type — a sniper, a rifle, a shotgun, a SMG, and the smart pistol. Each had a limited number of attachments, and they all felt pretty good. The smart pistol is the one big change, which automatically locks on to the enemies after a short time. It’s a big difference from the standard FPS gun, but it feels very balanced. The other guns are standard, and the hit detection in each works as you would expect from the team that made Call of Duty 4.
The stuff we had access to was limited in the beta, with only one titan type available. The same goes for the kits, which gave us a sample of the game without giving everything away. I enjoyed the kits in the game, but it’s hard to form a definitive opinion of them without seeing how they all balance in the final game.
As for the maps, there were only two in the beta. I liked one, called Angel City, and I was less fond of Fracture, a more open map. Neither of the maps are bad, but I found the city map to be far more fun with the parkour elements on display with the buildings scattered around.
Three modes were playable in the beta. The first is called Attrition, and it sees you trying to kill pilots, titans, and grunts, gaining attrition points for each kill. Basically, it’s your pretty standard team deathmatch mode. Next, we have Hardpoint, which is just like Domination in Call of Duty. Teams battle for control of three points on the map, and the team who controls more wins. Last, there’s Last Titan Standing, which has each team spawn inside of a titan, and the last team to have a titan still alive wins. All of the modes are fun, but Last Titan Standing is a mode best played with friends, as it requires more strategy and communication.
In the end, I will be buying Titanfall on March 11. I was already sold on the game, but spending time with the beta increased my excitement a great deal. It doesn’t completely reinvent the first-person shooter, but it injects enough changes to make it feel fresh, and it revitalizes the relatively stale Call of Duty formula.
If you like Call of Duty, but want something a little different, you should definitely pick up Titanfall when it comes out.