Before we start it’s probably worth pointing out that the beta isn’t the final code that we’ll be playing when the game releases on March 11th. Titanfall is an online multiplayer shooter designed for 12 players split into teams of 6. The game is developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by EA. Initially the beta was a closed invite only affair but it has since opened up to everyone.
Since we got our Xbox One Titanfall beta code last Friday (Feb 14th) we’ve been spending every spare second playing the game. When we haven’t been able to play we’ve found ourselves still thinking about playing Titanfall. Here’s our impressions of what we’ve seen of the game so far.
The Titanfall beta contains two maps, Angel City and Fracture, of a rumoured 14 that will be available at launch. There are also three modes of play in the beta which are Attrition, Hardpoint and Last Titan Standing.
In Titanfall players take the role of pilots who start by jumping out of a landing shuttle. Pilots control like highly mobile soldiers and are able free-run around the environments. This allows you to perform tricks such as ledge-hanging and wall-running. They also have a limited jetpack which makes bigger jumps possible. This freedom of movement is refreshing and it brings verticality into the mix. It takes time to get used to this new movement and you need to think about the environment as it really pays off to plan your movement.
The controls for the pilots are very intuitive and don’t require any complex button sequences. With a little practice you’ll find that traversing the environment becomes second nature. We also guarantee you’ll miss it terribly when moving back to other shooters.
There was outcry when Respawn announced the game would only support matches of 6v6. However having played the game we can confirm that the team sizes feel perfect. One trick the developers have used is to hook into the power of the cloud to populate matches with AI grunts. These soldiers are fairly dumb but can be a nuisance if you don’t take care of them. What they do bring to the game is a constant conflict that keeps the battlefield alive. There’s never a dull moment in Titanfall.
The big draw to Titanfall for many players are the Titans. These are giant mechs that become available to you after a period of time. Summoning your Titan sees it drop into the battlefield from space to the position you request. If timed right this makes it possible to use it tactically by smashing it down upon your opponents.
Watching your Titan fall is spectacular and never gets old. Once on the ground it becomes surrounded by a limited forcefield. This gives you enough time to race over and leap inside its cockpit. Once inside it takes a couple of seconds to get going and then the fun really starts. Titans are heavily armoured and capable of both taking and dealing heavy damage. You can stomp and crush enemy pilots and AI grunts with ease and often by accident.
If not careful then pilots on the ground are easy pickings for a Titan. To combat this pilots are equipped with Anti-Titan weapons and equipment to help them evade detection. The extra mobility of pilots also helps them stay one step ahead of the slower moving Titans.
Careful players can get close and leap onto an enemy Titan to ride it rodeo style. While doing so you can open up a panel to allow you to shoot into the Titan’s innards. At the same time it’s possible for the enemy pilot to jump out in order to try and shoot you off. Taking down a Titan in this way is incredibly satisfying.
Titanfall somehow manages to give you a near constant high. Even when your Titan is about to be destroyed you have the option of ejecting, switching to your rocket launcher, firing a volley at an enemy Titan and then escaping across the roof of a building. There’s so much variety and chaos that you can’t help but sit there smiling and cheering.
The maps are well designed with open areas and choke points. Thanks to the movement there are near endless paths you can take. Sadly the environment isn’t destructible but this feels like a design decision to stop titan’s being overpowered. For example, instead of being able to smash through a building or wall it forces you to jump out of your titan.
As you play you earn XP to level up your pilot. You can also complete challenges to unlock new items and abilities. During play you also gain single-use Burn Cards which you can equip and use to temporarily enhance your pilot or Titan. You can customise your character and their loadouts to suit your play style. One of our favourite weapons is the smart pistol that highlights targets and allows you to takeout multiple grunts with a squeeze of the trigger.
In Last Titan Standing pilots all begin in Titans with a single life each. There is no respawning so it’s a fight to the death. In this mode it really pays to work together with your team. We found a lot of success by flanking the enemy and attacking them from two sides.
Attrition is a team deathmatch style game where teams fight it out. Players start as pilots until their Titans start dropping in. It’s the easiest mode to get to grips with the game.
Hardpoint is a take on domination and point capture modes. The Titan’s bring a unique spin to the mode though as once you jump out they switch to AI mode and isntead of leaving them waiting you can command them to follow or defend. Hardpoint is by far our favourite mode in the beta.
At the end of a match the defeated team have a chance to get to an evac shuttle. It takes a little while to arrive so escaping players need to be careful making their way to the extraction point. The victorious players meanwhile must hunt them down to try and prevent them escaping. Once the ship arrives it will only wait around for a short time as it’s possible for the winning team to destroy it. It’s a thrilling sequence and it gives the losing team something to feel happy about should they make it to the shuttle and back into orbit.
As you’d expect the beta hasn’t been without its problems. The main issues have been getting onto the servers and finding games. At times during play we’ve had issues where the connection has dropped. This can be frustrating as you often end up dead when it comes back. We also had an issue of getting stuck in a set of doors during the tutorials. We’re confident Respawn will be working round the clock to ensure a smooth launch.
Overall we’ve been absolutely blown away by the Titanfall beta and simply can’t wait for the final release in March. Respawn have a real winner on their hands and we predict it will also be a huge system seller for Xbox One.
The Titanfall beta is scheduled to close on Feb 19th with the game launching on March 14th. For more information you can check out the official Titanfall website.