Updated Thu, Feb 20, 2014 by Lewis B
Where the game is concerned, sounds, visuals and weaponry all pack a punch. Weapons are particularly satisfying and unlocking new ones in the Beta is relatively easy exercise due to the speed at which you can acquire experience points. Capturing points, killing AI controlled bots or opposing Pilots, destroying Titans or defending all allow you to wrack up significant numbers quickly. In just a few hours play I’d reached level 11 and had unlocked a whole host of goodies. Just like Call of Duty, you’ll unlock Titan, class and weaponry improvements based on the achievements you complete. For example, to improve the Smart Pistol (that’s the one that locks on to players) you’ll need to kill X amount of Pilots or Spectres. It’s a relatively simple system that provides a sense of progression albeit one that’s limited at this stage. I would have liked the ability to track my achievements on my HUD will in game, similar to an MMOG down the right hand side, though it’s a minor inconvenience.
When it comes to Titanfall's “X Factor”, it’s clearly the Titans themselves, free running, and its MOBA influences (though the latter is debatable). First up, I’m still a little undecided on how I feel about the titans and it’s primarily because of the map designs and their overall functionality. These hulking machines feel satisfying to use, they look great and they’re fantastic at capturing points. The problem with them is their limitation and the fact you’re cordoned into a specific area only Respawn want you to go. You can’t climb, you can’t jump and you can barely walk anywhere other than pre-defined routes. It feels like you’re a killing machine in a straight jacket. I’m not suggesting titans should have the freedom of Pilots, but it shouldn’t be too dissimilar. As a result of the restraints you’re often a sitting duck and it’s all too easy for other Pilots to destroy you quickly. There’s no real “right” or “wrong” here, as I’m sure many players feel, from a balance perspective, that they need to be restrained in some way in order for the balance of power to remain in the Pilots hands: I was perhaps wrongly expecting a ZOE or Armored Core experience.
When it comes to free running, it sits somewhere between the standard movement of any first person shooter but below that of Brink. A vital piece missing is the ability to slide and although map trajectory is amazing when you managed to ping pong between buildings (it really is something you have to learn quickly) the amount of times I’ve wanted to slide is a little concerning. Those hairy moments when you want to slide through a doorway as you’re being gunned down or to shimmy under a pipe are few, but for someone like me who has played Brink, you do miss it. Other than that, it’s a joy to master free running and it makes a huge difference not only to survivability but also your chances of capturing points and killing AI controlled enemies.
On the subject of AI controlled enemies and for anyone who has played League of Legends or DOTA, Titanfall borrows “creeps” from these games and litters them as AI controlled enemies within the maps you play on. As your side (or your opposition) increases in power, your creeps (or Spectres/Ghosts) increase in power. Basically they act like cannon fodder to not only provide you with experience points, but to also reduce the time it takes for your Titan to respawn. Typically a Titan takes around 2 minutes to recharge but for each AI controlled enemy you kill, it shaves off some of that recharge time. Although it’s only mere seconds, if you manage to kill enough creeps quick enough you can soon find your titan arriving in no time at all. What I really like about this (besides the fact the Spectres/Ghosts are totally dumb and aim worse than Stormtroopers) is the fact it’s something different. Yes they take up space and yes they deal no damage to you, but the premise is solid. What Respawn need to do is beef them up to the point where they actually hurt you and where you’d be afraid to take on packs of them. If they’re to expand on this system, it might be worthwhile taking further influences from the likes of LOL or DOTA2 and open up additional benefits for you as a player besides just reducing your Titan recharge time.