Titanfall (Beta) – Xbox One’s first salvo

On Valentines Day I joined the masses of Xbox One gamers who received Titanfall beta codes and dived head first into the game. Is it a sign that the developers are trying romance us with some FPS goodness?

Regarded by many as being a key to Microsoft’s 2014 games strategy, Respawn’s first game since the Activision and Infinity Ward dramas still has much of its DNA pulled from Call of Duty but adds features to its multiplayer modes to try and give every player the same levels of excitement as the best players in the game.

In many ways the game achieves that objective; the sheer chaos that can ensue makes for thrills and spills even when you’re on a losing side. That last ditch rush to retreat from a losing battle might be enough to earn you that little bit of XP to get you to the next level.

Controls are as familiar as you can get with an FPS, the only real changes are about the context of their use. The jump button is also used as part of wall running and Titan management works via the d-pad. For players it means the mechanics you’re used to after years of gaming still apply but with a few added tricks requiring only a token set of training levels at the start of the beta.

On face value, the game may appear parts Call of Duty, Halo and evergreens like Tribes and even Unreal Tournament but its heart and soul is still very much of the modern shooters. Movement and aiming is crisp and thanks to a consistent framerate that plays silky smooth. Guns feel familiar enough and fit the usual types we’ve seen before with exceptions such as the smart pistol with its tracking shots. Grenade throws though have been tightened up to make them more accurate.

Visuals are good but you could describe them as “CoD with robots” and that about explains the basic design aesthetic. However when you see it in motion you can tell it’s the animation where the game shines. Player movement around the levels make use of a lot of animation that helps you to feel every leap and grab is a solid interaction and not bunny hopping around levels. Its something Battlefield has used well and I’m glad to see it here. The Titans too have their own tricks too. Watching one pick you character up for the first time is such a cool sight to behold.

The most popular mode being played so far is Attrition which seems to boil down to a good old fashioned team deathmatch. The size of the maps in the beta offer enough variety to ensure that neither pilot or Titan have complete dominance over the map. That in itself helps push players to use all of the resources they have available when playing the game. With so many AI players in the field too, there’s no reason to not cause havoc on your opponents.

Not that I was all that successful at it… I completely admit to being in that class of player known as the “bullet sponge” but the variety of the encounters during combat and thrill of the experience has already made this game a much more compelling choice for me to play than continuing on with Call of Duty Ghosts.

So far I’ve had a blast, in a lot of literal ways too. Piloting mechs is cool once again and I’m glad for it. 🙂

Categories: Gaming, Reviews & Impressions

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