This is a good video game, and it is not Call of Duty with mechs.
Before the beta, I was one of the naysayers. The auto pistol, the bots, and especially the 6v6 max were my biggest issues, alongside the idea of just being another generic shooter. However, if anything, this is more like an arena shooter of days past, just on larger maps and with unique features thrown in to make the pace even more frantic throughout. The game inevitably has been compared to CoD a shit ton by now and will continue to be by naysayers, but the two games are far from anything similar unless you consider “guns and enemies” as being something CoD started.
*My graphical settings are far form the highest, actually nearly the lowest or off for most things, so please don’t judge the graphics based on my images – the game is not the most beautiful thing in the world even at max, but it looks far better than these.*
I mostly just wanted to write this to touch on some of the biggest issues people have (and I had) with this game to straighten out some of the confusion, baseless assumptions, and the cloud of ignorance surrounding this game.
The Auto-Aim Pistol (Smart Pistol):
This pistol is total shit. I know, hard to believe, but it really is. It’s one of the most worthless weapons in the game and actually gimps anyone who chooses to use it. It’s meant as an anti-grunt (the bots) weapon, not anti-pilot (the players). It locks on very fast and kills in one shot, however that is ONLY true against the bots. Against a player this needs THREE lock-ons at once, and they go VERY slowly in comparison and are canceled if they pull the trigger a single time, especially for the speed of this game. You will NEVER be killed by someone actually using this and locking on to you, it simply takes way too long. Anyone using this will kill you by aiming it like any other weapon or spraying it all over. And back to the “it gimps the players using it” thing – I say this because the ‘smart pistol’ takes up your main weapon slot. Meaning anyone using this has 2 pistols and no real weapon. This pistol does not do any special damage or have a big magazine or anything else. It’s a normal pistol that can lock-on to enemies. If you run into anyone with this, you will almost always be the victor because you will have a fully automatic SMG or assault rifle…and he’ll have a pistol that can’t hit you unless you stand still for like 10 seconds straight which is a rather long time in a video game, let alone a fast paced FPS with fucking jetpacks and wall running. Or if he gets lucky.
This gun is bad and that’s all there is to it. People who complain about it are doing so out of not having actually played the game or just needing something to call it bad for. You will not kill anyone with this thing unless you go out of your way to use it like a normal pistol and mix that with luck, and the few people that do well with it are the same few who do well with shitty weapons in every game – they are a minority that will always exist. They do not prove anything. Watch the killcam when it says you were killed by a smart pistol – they will never actually use the locking-on feature because you are moving too fast, too much, or they simply get impatient and start shooting.
The 6v6 Max Player Count: I’m the type of person who prefers Battlefield games when it comes to multiplayer focused FPS – and typically of the 64 player variety, though I do most often play 32 just because I can’t get a tank otherwise (and I’m awesome in tanks). I do play CoD sometimes (yeah, I know, leave me alone) and it actually bothers me how few players there are – it always has. So the idea of only 6 players against 6 players was something I was really not okay with – this was the one thing I really felt would ruin this game for me above all else. However, on actually playing the game, you don’t even notice there’s only 12 of you. The game is so fast and the maps are so perfectly sized and designed that there are never any times you are alone and stuck wondering where the action is.
The Burn Cards: I’m hearing that people think these are overpowered, unfair, and unbalance the game. I also hear they are ‘like killstreaks’. Neither of these is true. The killstreaks one explains itself, that comparison doesn’t even make sense. As for the first three things, burn cards only last one life in one match and you never have them again. I don’t agree that someone having an amped LMG for a round (amped just means ‘slightly better than usual’) makes them some kind of killing machine – you die and kill just as you would otherwise. “Yes, but there are burn cards that make it so you can see through walls or stay invisible forever, Tallon!” So what? For one, those are VERY rare, and only pop up so often now because it’s a beta and the easiest way to test things is by flooding the game with them – but even in the beta, all the ‘overpowered’ cards are ones nobody but very few have gotten even after days of play. And, oops, I’ll say it again – this game is extremely fast paced, frantic, and intense. You will die and there goes your “unfair advantage” until you are lucky enough to get that card again. Even the worst sounding ones, like the always-cloaked one, are not even very good. Cloaking is complete shit, you can see cloaked people as easily as you can in ANY video game – UNLESS you’re in a titan, but anyone on foot will notice you incredibly easily. Most burn cards are just ‘amped’ guns and ‘build your titan faster’ cards. The other most overpowered card I’ve heard bitching about is the one where you can immediately call down a titan once the round starts. I agree, it SOUNDS like you’d rape the shit out of the opponents – but when you consider the fact that EVERY PERSON PLAYING has an EXTREMELY POWERFUL rocket launcher and you are the ONLY GIANT ROBOT STOMPING AROUND? It is not that great because now you have the entire enemy team raining hellfire onto you in seconds.
The Bots: This ties into the 6v6 issue – the bots actually help fix it. With the fast pace, the mechs, and the bots, the game NEVER feels slow, empty, or has that awkward empty feeling that games like CoD run into very often. The bots act more as a set-piece rather than an opponent. So yes, the AI is fucking dumb and reacts very slow and poorly. This is because they were designed specifically to be three things:
1. A way to keep the pace constantly high and having action all over, balancing out the low player count without making it unfair at all by having them be dangerous outside of very few circumstances. Not only that, but they give you constant positive feedback for both the best and worst players from killing them. Not only that, but there’s no easy way to tell them apart from players, so every run-in with an enemy is exciting.
2. A tool for two things: to get your titan faster – every grunt you kill cuts 2 seconds off of your build time (albeit any pilot you kill takes off 15). You can, if you want, farm them for this purpose. Aside that, they serve as a way of directing the flow of the game (as in the literal direction of battle, locating the main areas where fighting is heaviest), keeping you wanting to keep moving, and so on.
3. A helpful bit of immersion. In Titanfall you play as essentially a special forces section of the military/militia (depending on team), while the grunts are the regular military/militiamen. Having few of you and a lot of them – and having them underpowered – fits perfectly with this idea and it actually plays out well in the end. It might sound like a lame excuse, sure, but it actually ends up feeling really awesome because of this, even if you only notice subconsciously. It’s also more believable than, say, the “special ‘Ghost’ squad” in the most recent Call of Duty going into front-line battles alone against hordes of enemies. Do we send the Seals to fight on the battlefield? No. We sneak them in as quietly as possible behind enemy lines, yet most MP shooters will have you as a ‘special’ person fighting what only cannon fodder does in reality. This game has you essentially take the role of a future version of a Main Battle Tank pilot who also fights on foot with a jetpack because he’s a badass, and tosses you into the fray as a supporting heavy armor role (and while it says ‘support’, much like in real life, you do most of the work) in a much bigger military battle.
There are also some cool details thrown in with the bots – they will comment on things, including you or your titan. It’s pretty cool when you go running past a group of your fellow soldiers and you hear them say something like “Oh man, a pilot! Those guys are badass!” or sounding noticably excited and grateful when they see you stomping by in your titan – knowing they have that there to save the day. It’s reminiscent of the chatter in Ace Combat games. If you’ve never played one, the best part about them is the way it really builds up your reputation in the story, and you will hear both allies and enemies either be incredibly joyous or surprised by you appearing and them noticing the logo on your wings, or horrified that the legendary Demons of Razgris are coming to kill them all.
I also think it’s really cool that you see them coming to the battlefield constantly – either through drop-pods or dropships that they zipline out of. Actually, another thing that is pretty great is the scripted events that you’ll sometimes run into – such as an enemy or ally dragging their comrade who has been shot to safety (who is likely already dead).
The Mechs: People apparently feel like they are too weak and should be better, I say they are near perfectly balanced. You end up getting them so quickly throughout a round that it doesn’t really matter – and I often times end up only calling in 2 or 3 max because they tend to survive so long, so this is a case of “git gud”. It’s not overly hard to get through a round with your second titan intact by the end, they only die easy if you play like an idiot, if both teams are skilled enough that everyone’s titans are getting fucked up constantly, or if you simply leave it on AI mode against players that are fairly good in theirs. Just because you are in a sizable mech with big guns and shit does not mean you should run into the open and start trying to punch everything, nor does ‘your titan is ready’ mean ‘BETTER CALL IT RIGHT NOW in the middle of this fucking terribly busy with enemies zone!’. If you play it smart you WILL survive a good long time. I also hear people bitching about being rodeo’d because of how much damage it does in such a short period of time.
This problem is negated if you, again, play smart: stay where enemy pilots aren’t likely going to jump on you, just get out of the fucking robot and shoot the person if someone does, or simply put on the electric smoke which kills anyone near you (and on you) in a few seconds. This is kind of like people who bitch about the MBTs in Battlefield games dying ‘too fast’ aside the times they are legitimately gimped. Yeah, they die real fast if you play like an asshole – but if you know what you’re doing, or at least try to not be a dipshit, you can make it for a good while. Oh, and the AI when you aren’t in them is actually not bad and can handle itself fairly well – the only downfall there is that they are very susceptible to being rodeo’d as they won’t pop the electric smoke on their own (albeit I know mine has at least once, but never again) and just fall down instead – however them kneeling makes it easier for you or your allies to kill the guy on its back.
Speaking of jumping on titans, it’s incredibly exciting to try taking enemy titans down this way – you can even end up getting a combo of multiple titans if the players are stupid enough or busy enough fighting against your team’s titans (and thus can’t stop and get out to kill you). I die a lot doing it, but I find myself sometimes dedicating whole rounds to doing nothing but that.
Overall: Based only on the beta, I can say this game – at this point – is very fun, is unique enough in it’s genre, has a lot of really great elements put together very well (from big stuff to the little details scattered throughout the game, including useful stuff, not just cool stuff), and seems to have some solid holding power that will continue being fun for a good while without feeling old or boring. Every match is extremely frantic and fast paced (both figuratively and literally, as your character’s movement speed is very high and the map sizes are perfect for this number of players and bots that there is always shit happening and no time to slow down and take a break), and the excitement and that feeling of really being into it don’t fade until the round completely ends and you are warping away in the drop ship (which if you die trying to get to or waiting for it, you are permanently dead for the last tiny bit of the round) or took it down before the enemy could escape. If you are a fan of FPS or old arena shooters, or aren’t totally averse to them, I’d very much recommend giving it a shot. It’s not the best thing ever, is very far from anything close to “Game of the Year” but it’s definitely pretty good and possibly will be the best multiplayer FPS we get in 2014. However, if you aren’t into those types of games, this will probably not be for you – especially because Titanfall is a multiplayer-only game, even the campaign.
The biggest problem for me? Riding friendly titans is sickening – literally, it will make you nauseous in seconds. Cool you can do it though, and useful during extraction or in a pinch.
Now just to wait for EA to release a full-on Steel Battalion style control station:
As an aside – If you’re interested in this game, this is something you may want to see:
To sum it up, there are eldritch abominations in this game. No joke. It’s likely the massive ones will be only in the background, but surely we’ll get to punch some crazy lovecraftian horrors in the face while piloting a mecha, just not Cthulu or that thing with red wood trees for legs.
**Adding this far later and a few hours prior to release: The “multiplayer campaign” has now been revealed as just being a mode that is MP but with some cutscenes. This is fine, however I wanted to just say one quick thing ot people who think this is “too much money” or “bad” due to “not having a single player campaign”. The idea that a game HAS TO HAVE a campaign is equally bad as the idea, the one that ruined most modern games, that a game MUST HAVE MULTIPLAYER.