Titanfall Beta Impressions

 
by  •  Feb 18, 2014

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Titanfall Beta has Begun

Titanfall is a science fiction themed first person shooter, developed by Respawn LCC, which contains key former employees of Infinity Ward, and published by Electronic Arts scheduled to release starting March 11 of this year.

We’ve seen Titanfall take some major awards at E3 and receive rave reviews from those who have seen it, but until the beta began this past weekend few of us had any idea about the gameplay mechanics or feel of the game.

This not really a Review

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Titanfall is in beta right now on Xbox One and the PC, we took a slightly early look when the closed beta started last week. This is an article giving you our impressions, and the impressions of some others who have played it, and is based solely on the beta release. I took time to solicit outside opinions to give you a broad picture of everyone’s take on the game. I will follow the review format, but you can expect these ratings to change with full release.

Concept

Titanfall is an online multiplayer FPS set in the near future, humanity has begun to explore space and as is standard with such storylines, corporations are becoming powerful militaries unto themselves. You are a member of either the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC), a powerful conglomerate dedicated to maximizing profits and shareholder wealth through any means necessary, or The Militia, a loosely affiliated mix of pirates, bandits, homesteaders and mercenaries banding together to repel the IMC in its exploitation. In other words, there are no real “good guys,” everyone is a bastard.

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Two game maps are available in the beta, and are the only ones mentioned on the games homepage, Fracture and Angel City. Whether or not more game maps will become available at launch, or if DLC will allow for more content, is not known by me at this time.

Graphics

Utilizing the Source Engine, Respawn does a decent job in the graphic department. Minimum specs require a 2.4Ghz dual core processor, Nvidia 8800GT or Radeon HD 4770 512MB graphics and at least 4 GB of RAM on a Windows 7 x64 OS or better, with quad core 2.66Ghz CPUs, GTX 560 or Radeon HD 6870 GPUs, and 8 GB of System RAM being the recommendation.

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The graphics have that crisp, snappy look I strive for in science fiction games, but at least in the beta there are some things I would like to see more of. There is no environmental destruction that I could see, and it just does not make sense that I am running around in a building size mech, but can’t crash through a wall or step on top of a small building. Trees should not be a barrier, and although there are not many of them or any other obstacle for the Titans, you should be able to make your own holes. the effects however, are nice and I like the overall appearance of the game.

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All of the screenshots in this article were captured using FRAPS on an AMD 8350 8 Core CPU overclocked to 4.3Ghz, 32 GB of System RAM and a single Gigabyte R9 280X at stock speeds. ODG6Actual captured some video of the game running in Eyefinity across three monitors on his setup. the visuals speak for themselves.

Sound

There’s nothing really to compare the sound effects to, it sounds about what I would expect but I have never heard a mech in combat. Other than that, the voice acting and background music adds to the over all feel of the game, so I would have to rate it pretty high. The in game VOIP allows for some clear player communications, but I will likely still stick to TeamSpeak and mute the others in game.

Gameplay

Four game modes are announced so far. In Attrition, players square off in a 6 v 6 round of Team Deathmatch. The goal is to reach the score limit and either destroy survivors as they try to escape, or if you are on the losing side, make your way to the dropship and getaway before you are killed. The “Epilogue” section that occurs after victory or defeat is a chance to score a few more points, and earn some possible challenges.

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Hardpoint Domination is a classic Conquest mode in which you secure various hardpoints by standing near them. The longer you hold them, and the greater number, the more points your team scores. I found this mode a great time to jump out of the mech and have its onboard AI engage the enemy while I captured a point on foot.

In both of these modes, you start out as a dismounted pilot, accompanied by a number of computer AI controlled Grunts (think little crunchy things to step on) or robotic Spectres. Both Grunts and Spectres seem relatively dumb, but in large numbers can overwhelm you. After a set time delay, sped up by increasing the number of kills, you can call for Titanfall. When that happens, your mech drops from orbit and flattens any poor bastard that it happens to land on. Run towards it, jump or casually walk to take control and start kicking ass. You can also jump on enemy Titans for what is called the Rodeo Attack, ripping of components with your hands and taking out the soft insides with your weapon. Just be prepared to jump off when it goes critical… Oh, and if you are tired of running around the battlefield, you can also hop on friendly titans for a little armored cover and transport, aiming is a bit tricky though. If you Titan sustains critical damage, you can eject and live to continue fighting, another Titan is assembled for you, with a similar delay as the first.

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Finally, there is Last Titan Standing. Everybody gets a Titan and there are no replacements. Here you use a combination of onboard weapons, abilities and powerful melee attacks to crush the opposition.

In all modes, you can select the specific loadout and/or chassis for your play style. I found the most fun by staying on foot and engaging enemy ground based opponents with the smart pistol up close, or with a sniper rifle from a distance, and then switching to the anti-titan weaponry when the big boys come around. You can use parkour style movement, boost jets and enhancements to get into some pretty high and amazing places.

Replayability

With the beta, I keep coming back for more. Hell, while writing this article I stopped and played a few rounds just because I had some spare time. It’s fun, fast paced and smooth. Given my recent experience with hackers, crashes and server drops, I was pleased to be able to play a full game without raging about this or that. That may yet change, but for now Titanfall has my full attention. I do have to note however, that unless there are some expanded maps down the road (nothing was mentioned on the Titanfall website) and additional gamemodes, equipment and items, Titanfall will get old after a time, it’s just nature in that respect.  A few outlets are reporting digging into the code to discover additional content, and EA has stated they expect Titanfall to be around for some time, but no official details are as of yet announced.

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Value

Titanfall will sell for 59.99 USD. Of course there will be collector’s editions, and what not but as far as I can tell all you get is a poster and some little figurine with some cute lights; no thank you. The 59.99 USD price is about 10 dollars lower than the average price of most games nowadays and the fact there is no Single Player Campaign may account for that. One of the concerns expressed by some of the community is whether EA will have microtransactions as part of the game. I’ve heard no word of that, and it does not make sense that they would, but I do see ongoing paid DLC as part of the deal. Microtransactions however, would not fit well in this instance, so we should have no worries there.

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What Everyone Else Has To Say

I like Titanfall, and based on the beta I will likely go out and buy it. Nearly everyone I have spoken to loves the game as well, so I am pretty sure the chance of me scoring a review code is slim to HELL NO. But it would be unfair of me to not give equal voice to those who have some negative reviews. Of those, some have included disappointment with the admittedly dumb AI Grunts and Spectres, who seem almost too easy. In my opinion they stand there and get shot. What makes up for it is if you have a human player somewhere nearby; after easily finishing off Private Pyle, you get swarmed by one or two human players who are a whole world of smarts above the AI and offer an often nasty surprise. The AI can swarm you, and if you are facing one or two human players, with one or more AI opponents nearby you will have a challenge on your hands.

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One person expressed concern whether or not the algorithm behind the smart gun could be exploited by cheatmakers. I suppose that is a definite possibility; currently in game the smart gun has a balance of range and time to lock on to opponents, but if it were exploited or modified it would make the perfect in game aim bot.

Other views expressed disappointment with the map size and rotation, lack of a dedicated browser, lobbies, matchmaking, and there were some points about the mouse controls feeling wonky. As far as the mouse controls, I did not experience any of that but the game is extremely fast paced, enough to make you look like a dyslexic rat on meth when you are trying to control it, so I can see where it may be frustrating to others.

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As far as the matchmaking, lobbies and server browser. I tend to agree. I would like to see more freedom and control, but I also wonder if the smoothness, pace and stability of the game is as a result of not having the extra goodness. So far RogueDOC is unable to connect on PC despite multiple attempts, but since he is prior Navy we think it may be multiple operator-headspace errors…but it is an issue that has cropped up, and until we can figure it out, it is worth noting.

The overwhelming majority of people that have tried this beta have positive impressions, but there are some concerns. Overall the consensus is that Titanfall is a good FPS, with the 6 on 6 action not being as large a crimp on the game as at first thought. The amount of maps and continuing content are of a concern to all, but I can’t see EA and Respawn limiting themselves in this way, not with the amount of positive reviews so far.

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All of the opinions above were solicited via open comments on social media, and reflect the respondents honest and open opinions. I did not include their names, because that was not agreed upon, if you want to see the full comments, just browse around our various social media accounts for the direct responses.

Final Intelligence Report

Nearly every person who has tried the beta has come back with good impressions. You are never going to satisfy everyone, but Respawn does a pretty decent job of tackling the strongest issues with the release of the Titanfall beta. We hope to see a continued growth of content from the developers or even perhaps the community itself, and look forward to the full release.

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Details

Format: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC
Release: March 11, 2014
Rating: ESRB: M
Genre: First Person Shooter, Sci Fi, Mech Combat
Developer: Respawn, LLC
Publisher: Electronic Arts
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Concept
Graphics
Sound
Gameplay
Replayability
Value
Final Score: 4.2 out of 5

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