Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Day One Review: Titanfall

Titanfall launched today! There were some server troubles at midnight which, while expected, is no less frustrating. Fortunately, I was able to play the full game pre-launch yesterday and made up for some lost time today, and I've decided to take a break and do a quick-ish review.
The titans are here.

I'm playing on PC BUT am playing with a controller (a PS4 controller, actually, and it works pretty damn well). I have not noticed any issues playing with a controller.

I imagine most people will ask, 'what does it play like?' Well, I generally break shooters into three categories: Call of Duty, Battlefield, or Halo. Titanfall plays (unsurprisingly) like Call of Duty for the most part, with a splash of Battlefield in that there are player-controlled vehicles (Titans), and a touch like Halo in that Titans require shields to be removed before damage can be done.

It also plays like Brink, a game that I have a very bittersweet history with. Both games has multiplayer campaigns and parkour elements. Titanfall's parkour elements, aided by jet-packs, is pretty damn amazing and leads to some creative shoot-outs. It's campaign, however, doesn't really compete with Brink's integration -- instead of mid-battle cut-scenes, you are awarded with a mini-hud video that shows some things happening while you play. You should be too busy playing to see these. Also, winning or losing campaign matches changes NOTHING in the storyline, which is VERY weak.

You can basically be Spider-Man. With guns.
Of course, you're not playing Titanfall for the campaign (other than to unlock the Styder and Ogre titans...). You're here for the multiplayer. So far I've only played through the campaign, but it's a decent tour of the levels and you play Attrition (think team death match, more or less) and Hardpoint (domination). The modes are basic -- I look forward to loading CTF next. The matches themselves are very hectic. You've got plenty of space to move around and plenty of ways to play. Do you drop a Titan as often as you can and always control it, or do you drop it and let auto-pilot do the work while you stay on foot? Do you farm grunts/spectres (ai controlled bots) to earn less attrition points/reduce titan time, or do you focus solely on pilots and ignore the (relatively) harmless bots? Do you try and snipe the fast moving enemies, or do you get as close as possible with your shotgun?

Those are surface questions, supported by multiple weapons, three types of titans, a relatively small (but concise) pool of skills/abilities, and general map layouts. There is enough to unlock as you level up, though I do wish it was a bit meatier in what can actually be gained. One thing that helps is a decent list of challenges that you'll, for the most part, complete by accident, or see that you've been working on without realizing. This is an interesting way to promote variance in play and allows you to get burn cards.

Burn cards are fun additions, but not game breaking. They only last for one life, so they can be squashed out very quickly, but they can be used well to turn the tide in a battle (I suggest taking a Wi-Fi hack into the last level of both campaigns...).
Atlas, Ogre, and Styder: the three classes of titans.

I enjoy both running and gunning as a pilot and stomping around as a Titan -- it offers a nice change in playstyle, a break in potential monotony, and can be extremely beneficial to your team. Pilots are quick and can get pretty much anywhere they need to by wall running, climbing, or boosting. Or infinite combo loops of them all, which is fun to watch and do. Pilots are squishy and rely on this speed and maneuverability, while Titans are meaty and require strategic gameplay.

One of my favorite strategies, when going toe to toe with an enemy titan (or two) is to quickly jump out of the titan, leave it on auto-guard mode, and sneak around to the enemy titan. From there, a careful jump winds you up on the enemy's back and you can shoot its internal components to bypass its shield. If the enemy jumps out to try and deal with it, your titan is likely to make them regret it.

This quick review is getting lengthy... So time for some summary.

The Good: Love the variance between pilots and titans, and enjoy playing both. Also, there will be EPIC moments just due to all the mayham that up to 12 giant robots can cause... Also, I really, really enjoy the inclusion of a single-life 'epilogue' after each match. If you lose, you have another chance to earn some decent experience points by reaching an evac dropship, defending it, and then boarding before it leaves without you. If you win, you are trying to stop your enemies from escaping by killing all the pilots or doing a ton of damage to the dropship when it arrives.

The Bad: There isn't quite as much to unlock as I'd like, and the matchmaking is incredibly basic.

The Ugly: Teamwork in matches is rare, and you will be dragged down by poor players. It takes 2-3 good lone-wolf players to win a match. Anything less and you'll see staggering differences in final scores. Not to say there aren't awesome close games, but they're the exception, not the rule.

For my own personal rating, I'm giving it an 8/10. The lackluster campaign, which could have been a lot better with a limited amount of work, dragged it down a bit for me.


  1. Crap. For a multitude of reasons. In fact, justifying this post wouldn't be worth my time...because this game isn't worth my time.

    1. Glad to see you've actually read the blog! The game definitely has its flaws, but I found the gameplay very refreshing. MUCH better than any of that Halo nonsense...