I was going to start this article in the traditional way; a quick recap of where Titanfall came from, followed by my time with the beta and a summary of what to expect going forward. But the more I wrote, the more I realised I was actually doing something different.
I was actually getting excited for a first person shooter. Finally.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been a little burnt out by the excessive nature of the FPS scene over the last few years, what with the yearly Call of Duty releases flanked by Battlefield, Halo et al. Up until the last two years of the previous console race, it all started to feel a little too formulaic, such was the ‘play it safe’ mentality many studios had as they awaited the next generation. What’s worse, it all felt the same to me, no matter what new mechanic or idea was brought in to liven things up.
Now I’m the first to admit that I’m a fan of Halo, that I love a good corridor shooter of old (I was brought up on Doom, Quake and Half-Life) and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was one of my favourite titles of the last generation. But nothing has captured my interest of late, to the point that I’ve avoided many of the big name releases (especially the later CoD titles) in the last two years.
Imagine my sheer relief when Titanfall was announced. Here was a game that really did show potential, not just in what it was trying to do but the fact that it wasn’t afraid to take chances on new ideas while doing it.
Now you may remember my last brief when I went hands-on for the first time last year at the EB Games Expo. Back then I didn’t really get enough of a chance to get a feel for everything Titanfall had to offer, but I’m happy to say that Respawn’s beta client had just enough content and a few surprises for me, whilst whetting my appetite for the full product. In fact, the beta was so polished (aside from that server issue) that it felt more like a demo than anything else.
The potential is as clear as day. Everything feels incredibly balanced already, with every class bringing with it various advantages (and disadvantages) that can be countered with the right strategy. Nothing felt overpowered or elitist to the point of frustration, which is a huge thing for many gamers I’m sure. Most importantly, things like snipe happy killers and camping can be overcome easily enough … you know, by giant frickin’ mechs!
Speaking of which, the highlight of my time so far was how enjoyable it was NOT to be inside a Titan all the time. It was strangely liberating jumping around the well designed and tightly paced maps, taking down enemies in varying ways or capturing points on the map by sneaking behind enemy lines. Yes, there are a number of ‘traditional’ FPS moves that still have a place here, but suddenly you can wall jump away from a tight space instead of just getting caught in the crossfire.
You can also have your Titan follow you around the map which, for a gamer like me who isn’t exactly high class competition, can turn my low score into something rather decent. Suddenly I’m gaining kills even if I’ve been taken out, or using my Titan as a distraction whilst I move around behind. It’s that added layer of depth that stands Titanfall well apart from anything that has come before, which is exactly what the industry needs right now.
In terms of everything else, Respawn wisely kept its biggest secret in its story driven experience by the wayside for now. More importantly, I barely saw any lag during play. In fact, the only time I dropped out was my own fault … I accidentally ran out of internet credit. Don’t judge me.
We haven’t even scratched the surface of Respawn’s big ticket, but the numbers say it all. Over 2 million logged into the beta over the last few weeks, a sign that Titanfall shouldn’t have a problem in finding an audience. Given the polished nature of the beta itself, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if the remainder of the product at launch is just as good. Even better news, any server issues will hopefully be dealt with quickly by the team (if they even show up).
My personal experience was more than enjoyable. I’m genuinely excited to play Titanfall when it launches next month, which is saying something about the quality and fun it contains compared to the competition as it stands right now. And, yeah, giant frickin’ mechs!