Entries in Titanfall (1)

Friday
Feb282014

Titanfall Hyperstrike

 

With EA's newest venture into the FPS world Titanfall set to release in two weeks, this calm before the storm is the perfect time to reflect on its recent beta. I wanted to wait a little while before pushing this out in order to collect my thoughts and make sure I didn't let the Titanfall frenzy get to me. The devs at Respawn insist that gamers not feel obligated to buy the game on hype alone and it's easy to see why, the game is great.

 

Created by the guys who are responsible for the FPS empire that is Call of Duty, this is their first game since the split with Activision. This game has pedigree and it shows. Many of the familiar systems made popular by COD are present: custom loadouts, weapon attachments, a leveling system and the tight gunplay the franchise was founded on. The real game changer with Titanfall is the range and fluidity of movement, an innovation sorely needed by a genre that has devolved into annual rehashes. The speed that can be attained by the player and the verticality afforded by the wall running and double jump almost call back to the days of Unreal Tournament and Quake 3.

 

I'm going to call it like it see it, Titanfall is going to be big. Maybe not GTA V big, but it's the console-seller that the Xbox One needs and the PS4 wishes they had. While I must admit I don't find piloting the titans as enjoyable as being on the ground, the mechs play an important role in zone control similar to more conventional vehicles seen in Battlefield while also offering another layer of depth. While it has become somewhat popular to hate on recent editions of COD due to the yearly rehashes, Activision's treatment of Infinity Ward or even the idea of Bobby Kotick trying to steal the money from out of your pockets, Titanfall has the ability to reinvigorate what has become a somewhat stagnant genre.

 

The controls are as tight as ever and Respawn has done with the refining the strong core mechanics that have been iterating on for years. Their choice of using the Source engine as the backbone of the game is especially adept because it allows for good scaling to ensure strong performance on both console and PC. The graphical fidelity is as sharp as any game on the market, and running the game at full blast makes the first time you jump into the cockpit of a titans truly awe inspiring. Now that I have sung the praises of the rebirth of FPS, there are still a few issues that need to be addressed.

 

When the news came out that the max player count was 6v6, there was public outcry fearing the worst. I abstained until I was able to test it out during the Beta, and I have to say the fear is partly justified. Towards the end of the beta, people developed a strategy in which the best way to win was to use the smart pistol and farm the minions as quickly as possible. While minions are worth only a fraction of a player kill, the speed at which you can farm them, both with and without the smart pistol, often lead to the highest scores owned by players with 50+ minion kills. I feel like the player limit needs to be upped to at least 8v8 and the number of minions reduced to combat this strategy because it devalues actual player vs player combat. This is less important in other game modes like Last Titan Standing, but since Attrition is their Team Deathmatch substitute and will almost certainly by the most popular game mode, this is one of the most pressing issues.

 

The smart pistol itself is a dangerous weapon. It allows a wielder to keep any enemy in a huge reticule (see above) for just a few seconds and then guaranteeing multiple hits on players or instant kills on minions. I relatively sure there will be a huge cry of people calling it a noob weapon when used against them, and can sort of see why because when combined with the cloaking ability can often leave limited room for counterplay, especially at the casual level. To be clear, I'm not saying the gun is overpowered, but I believe it needs carefully monitoring after the game is released and I wouldn't be surprised to see the lock-on time be increased or otherwise nerfed slightly in some manner.

 

Another common criticism is that there is little to no recoil for most of weapons, but I think that is a necessity balanced out by the speed of the players. With added recoil it would be extremely difficult to hit agile players, and was seen in the beta by the incredibly small amount of people using sniper rifles. While there are certain long distances that afford a sniper great visibility, the speed at which enemies can close on you and the increased exposure makes sniping a generally bad proposition.

 

Finally for PC users, it is a shame to see the lack of dedicated servers and the menus seem to be hamstrung by the desire to make sure everyone works most efficiently on the console. This is even less appealing since they have ceased their efforts to implement cross platform matchmaking.

 

I haven't enjoyed a FPS game as much as this since Quake 3 with an honorable mention for Modern Warfare 2 and the early days of Team Fortress 2. This revelation was a shock in and of itself and combined with the release of Destiny this year, I more excited about shooters than I have been in over five years. Maybe it is the new IP or just a cyclic occurance due to the current rise of MOBA's and despite being pushed back from the Xbox One release window, Titanfall will be entirely worth the wait. I'm not going to bother with a number or score, but if you like shooters even a little but have been waiting to get back in the game, Titanfall deserves your time and consideration.