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Sunday, 16 February 2014

Titanfall Beta Impressions

Is Respawns Mech 'Em Up The Killer App Xbox One Is Hoping For?

At some point, every Xbox One fanboy has uttered the phrase "PS4 sucks, 'cause you 'aint got Xbox One exclusive Titanfall" or something to that degree.
Now, I'm not even going to go over the headache that is wrong with that 'sentence' *cough* it's not exclusive *cough*, but it does seem an awful lot is riding on the shoulders of these big burly Titan Mechs. So, how is it?

Firstly, I'm not a big Call of Duty fan, so the fact it's made by a huge chunk of the former Infinity Ward staff (now known as Respawn Entertainment) didn't really sell it to me, but; it looked a hell of a lot of fun, and it really is fun.

I was lucky enough to be a part of the closed beta, along with PvP's Dan and a whole lot of other people, but remember, this is an impression of the Beta, not a review of the full game. It wont be as polished as the release, it doesn't look all that pretty, and people are bound to incur problems with servers.

"...if you're smart enough, you 
can actually take down a Titan"

With that said, it doesn't look anywhere near as good as the initial reveal. I was playing on a pretty high end gaming PC, whilst Dan was playing on a ridiculous beast of a gaming rig, and neither of us were blown away. That's not to say it looked bad, it just didn't look anywhere near as good as Killzone: Shadowfall on Ps4 or Xbox One's Ryse, and we were playing on PC, so I hate to think what the Xbox One version looks like.
But, hopefully, textures and other settings will be improved for the full release, so we'll leave graphics at that for now.

As for game-play, for much of the game you'll be spending it on foot as a pilot, but that's no bad thing. Being a pilot opens up a much broader game style than that of the Titan. You're free to run, jump, double jump, wall run and obviously attack, but you're actually less of a target as you're able to act swift and nimbly through the environments, and, if you're smart enough, you can actually take down a Titan.

Of course, wall running and 'parkour' esque movements take some practise, but after a short while I was able to use the ability to get in and out of buildings, but most importantly -- out of trouble.
Titans come in the form of a sort of air drop, and you can't call on them from your own accord, but they have a timed drop that will incur a prompt which you may (or may not) use at your will. A very nice touch control wise, is one that surprised me quite a lot, and that is controlling the Titan is really a natural extension of being on foot. It's almost flawless in the way it's executed. As soon as my Titan dropped, I could run over to enter, and after a short in game cock-pit closing cinematic I was away.
Your Titan is obviously much stronger than you are and the weapons at your disposal are of the usual variety (machine guns, rockets etc) but even inside your Iron Giant, you're just as vulnerable to attacks as when you are on foot. As I mentioned earlier, it's perfectly feasible for an on foot pilot to take down a Titan, and being as big as they are, they are much more prone to attacks from other Titans as well as on foot enemies.

"...controlling the Titan is 
really a natural extension of being on foot."

You can leave your Titan at any time, and even give him commands (attack, guard etc) but after my third playthrough, I started to realise just how strangely human the Titan is. If you're under attack, he'll come charging over to help, when you run at him he'll reach out and lay his hand out for you to climb on, or, more heartbreaking -- he'll die for you. With all the weapons the Titan has, the most important ability at your disposal is the boost (which can only be used twice before it needs to recharge), which you'll learn will become invaluable, both offensively and defensively, as even as a huge Titan, being able to escape danger quickly is essential for keeping your health high. You know what they say, "the bigger they are...".

I was surprised at just how much I started to care about the Titan, even though these moments are few and far between, as nine times out of ten, you'll simply use the Titan as much as you can, they eject as soon as it's about to blow up (or if you're ejected by an enemy player, hijacking the poor guy).
But the sheer openness of tactics are just waiting to be uncovered and the Beta just isn't going to be around long enough to try them, but I guess that's the point.

Is Titanfall a killer app for the Xbox One? Sadly, from my time with the beta I'd have to say no. It's a rambunctious and hugely fun title, with plenty of scope for exhilarating multiplayer matches, but it's not going to be for everyone. Whilst it will certainly appeal to highly competitive players and those with a thirst for frantic balls-out action, but those that find, well, 'camping' (for lack of a better word -- YOU CAMPING BASTARDS) more up their street, this is definitely not for them. If you stay in the same place too long, you're going to get either: shot, kicked, or squashed.

And good riddance.

Stay tuned for our hands on video of Titanfall, which will be up shortly!

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