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DoubleTake: Titanfall

Posted on August 21, 2013 AT 04:58pm

In the belly of the bot

Josh As members of the gaming press, it’s important to maintain a degree of professional distance from the titles we write about. We must strive to stay at least somewhat detached, for fear of letting our baser emotions cloud our critical judgment. With that being said, ohmygod Ray we just played Titanfall!!!! Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!!!!
Our schedule is completely filled from here until the end of Gamescom, but I’m on the verge of canceling our other appointments just so we can keep playing all day long. Seriously, though, Titanfall, at least in this early stage, is everything we expected and then some. It’s hard to figure out where to start, but I guess we should go with the beginning. After a brief overview video, we were given our choice of three different and very distinct loadouts for our human pilots. Then we were given a choice of three different loadouts for our Titans. This gave us quite the number of possibilities as to what weapons and abilities we could take into our first glorious rounds of combat. Ray
Josh Yeah. We only got to play a couple of matches, so I know we didn’t get a huge amount of time trying out all the different options, but the loadouts I did equip really paved the way for distinct playstyles. The auto lock-on of the smart pistol is a nifty idea, but I definitely preferred jump-jetting around with the shotgun and dropping in on unsuspecting victims from above. That mobility is amazing no matter how you play. Even more so than the Titans themselves, I think that’s what really keeps the game from feeling like Call of Duty redux. It’s faster, it’s more vertical, and getting the jump on someone is much more involved and skill-based as a result. It’s just such a rewarding gameplay experience on all fronts.
The ability to double-jump, wall-run, double-jump again from the wall-run, and then keeping this cycle going to the point where you could almost infinitely run on vertical platforms without ever touching the ground was the most liberating, exhilarating feeling I’ve ever had in an FPS. I spent the first two or three minutes just flying around the map without even thinking of pulling the trigger. But unlike you, once I got my head into the game, the Tactician’s smart-pistol was the way to go for me. What made it great—besides stacking all those headshots—was the grenade launcher for dealing with enemy Titans, which was the fastest way to rack up points. Ray

Josh Yeah. I have a feeling I’ll really fall in love once I start tinkering with custom loadouts, mixing and matching everything I like to build the best class. It’s hard for me not to be giddy about this game. It feels like they’ve taken everything that was great about the first Modern Warfare, cranked it up to 11, and replaced all the silliness of perks and quickscoping with distilled awesome. Nothing felt unbalanced or unfair. Being in a Titan is super-empowering—stomping around crushing other pilots, shooting rockets, catching bullets and shells out of midair—but everyone gets a dedicated anti-Titan weapon, and as soon as you hop in, you’re basically Public Enemy No. 1. It all just works astoundingly well for a game that’s, according to the devs, still an alpha build.
What’s great is that as soon as you start the match, you begin working toward earning Titans, so that by the end of the match, half of each team is in the massive metal warriors. The better you do, the faster you earn your own personal Titan suits. One way the game tries to help even the weakest of players accomplish this is with the inclusion of AI soldiers that flood the battlefield. While killing them is only worth a quarter of the points of a human opponent—and a twentieth of a Titan kill—they offer an opportunity for everyone to help toward their respective team’s objectives. The AI won’t be winning any matches for you on their own, but they offer enough potshots to be a nuisance if you’re not careful—and they help keep the action fast and frantic. Since the rounds we played were only 6-on-6, throwing in 20 to 30 pieces of AI cannon fodder kept us constantly in the thick of it. Ray
Josh For sure. It was weird, because that was probably one of the smaller multiplayer sessions I’ve had in my life, but I felt like I was never wanting for a fight. And the map was far from tiny, too. It really felt like a hybrid of single-player, where you have a lot of relatively predictable, low-health opponents, and multiplayer, where you’re on a level playing field against a select few. There were times when that distinction started to get blurry for me, which was a fantastic surprise. I’m really curious to see how the quote-unquote campaign multiplayer side of things plays out over the entire game. We saw a bit of it, with an objective being introduced as we landed and the losing team having to get to an evac ship to retreat after the match proper had ended, but that’s really my only lingering question about Titanfall. I’m sold on everything else. Alpha or not, I could play the same match on the same map a hundred times over and never get tired of it. The gameplay is just that good.
I agree. I can’t wait to see how this “campaign” unfolds, but even if it happens to be a subpar effort, there’s enough fun, addictive multiplayer action that it might not even matter. The only thing really painful thing about Titanfall is the release date. We’ve got at least another eight months before we get this on store shelves spring 2014, and I simply cannot wait. Ray

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