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Titanfall at E3 2013: What You Didn’t See and What You Need to Know

One of the busiest booths at E3 was Titanfall, the first game from Respawn Entertainment.  Although the game was shown at the Microsoft and EA press conferences, the stage demo Respawn showcased on the E3 show floor had some more fascinating tidbits.

The multiplayer map they showed in the stage demo was the same map as the one showed in the press conferences, but this preview was longer and featured more facets of the game.  Without a doubt, the most noticeable thing right off the bat is the Titans.  Titans are colossal mechs that you can call down from a dropship and control on the battlefield.  There is a timer on how often you can call these Titans, so don’t expect to jump right into another one if you manage to blow one up.  Calling in Titans is a spectacle to behold as well.  You can see it launching from a ship above, and as it lands, a huge radius of dust and debris emanates from the mechanical beast.

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Jumping into a Titan gives you a bevy of new abilities.  There are different weapons to wield, ranging from a standard machine gun to a heavy weapon called the Lightning Arc Cannon.  This monstrosity takes some charging up to fire, but once ready to shoot, it unleashes a focused blast of electricity, evaporating anyone in its path.  The Titan can also block and levitate incoming bullets by holding up its left arm, and can hurl them back at the sender.  This particular aspect actually felt a bit Bioshock-y.

Ejecting from a Titan is also another sight to behold.  As you see your Titan wearing down and about to explode, you can eject from your mech, sending you sky high into the air.  If you can correctly maneuver yourself and land on top of a Titan, you can rip off its armor plating, shoot at its internal machinery, and watch it break down and fizzle out before your eyes.  It was definitely exhilarating to witness this process, and I can only imagine how much more exciting it is to play it.

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Of course, you won’t be running around in these Titans all the time, and playing as a regular foot soldier has its benefits.  Every ground troop is outfitted with a jetpack, and it allows for a high degree of maneuverability.  You can utilize the jet pack to deftly run across walls and billboards, a la Prince of Persia.  It was definitely a slick way to quickly move from rooftop to rooftop, and you will need to use this mobility to fight against Titans.  Titans have a substantial amount of health, so maximizing this movement to effectively taking out these larger mechs appears to be key.

One particular weapon that caught my eye was the Smart Pistol.  This handy gun automatically locked on to enemy players as you moved closer to them, and after a few seconds, it automatically shot and hit everyone’s head, regardless of where you were aiming.  From my point of view, the Smart Pistol seemed a bit overpowered, but it definitely was neat to see it in action.

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Overall, the game’s visuals were extremely sharp.  The animation of each mech throwing you into the seat was intricate and highly detailed, and the way your visor adjusts to the Titan’s HUD is a neat little transition as well.  And of course, because Respawn is mostly made up of developers who worked on Call of Duty, Titanfall was running a buttery smooth 60 frames per second.

The multiplayer match ended with the players running to an extraction point and being lifted out by a helicopter.  This looks to be a part of Titanfall’s promise to somehow integrate single player components into the multiplayer.  Whether these elements will merely be cosmetic or integral to the gameplay is still not all that clear.  What is clear though, is that Titanfall looks to be an amazing start for Respawn Entertainment.  Titanfall comes out in early 2014 for the Xbox 360, Xbox One, and the PC.

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A Titan in front of the EA press conference, ready to thrash anyone who speaks mess about Peter Moore.



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