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Leviathyn’s Titanfall Beta Impressions
Several of us at Leviathyn have dumped many hours into Respawn Entertainment’s limited beta testing for their highly anticipated competitive first person shooter Titanfall, and we’ve gathered together to pool our impressions and experiences. We’ve devised our own massive Q&A so we can burn through the hot topics and decide if Titanfall is really shaping up to be the next dominant online shooter.
What was your favorite feature or gameplay mechanic?
Andrew Whipple III: The parkour. As accessible, beautiful and fun Titanfall is, I found the ability to wall-run, double-jump and climb over anything an absolute treat. Bethesda’s Brink was really the first competitive shooter to implement a free-form movement system, but with a frail structure to hold it up I don’t think many people remember how creative that feature actually was. Blessings to all of Respawn for utilizing the genius of this system and allowing pilots to simultaneously act like ninjas.
Christopher Mrkvicka: I was most impressed by the balance offered by the perks and equipment for the pilots and Titans. Every perk and piece of equipment felt useful, and made choosing one over another very difficult. I found myself constantly questioning myself as to which load out I should be choosing. I feel like this will be of great benefit to players, as it doesn’t favor one play style over another, but is inclusive to all play styles, which is refreshing to see in the FPS market that has grown a bit stale in recent years.
Chris Renner: The balance of play styles that you are afforded within one match, and even within a span of minutes. See a horde of AI units headed your way? Hop in your Titan and go all Tank-y on the lot of them. See a fellow pilot jumping away over the nearest building? Hop out of your titan and leap after them. The sheer variety in play style you can utilize right off the bat was really impressive and fun. The roof jumping battles between two pilots also tended to remind me a lot of those Asian martial arts films of the 00’s (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and the like), except, you know, with guns instead of swords.
Daniel Mellman: Definitely the parkour, and the fresh take it puts on everything else in the game. Finding the quickest way to move towards a capture point is a challenge itself, and jumping from a wall on to the back of a Titan never got old. It also balanced the playing field between Titans and pilots brilliantly: it’s very difficult for a Titan to get to a pilot hiding on a roof, and even in Last Titan Standing where only active Titans count towards score I would regularly find myself vaulting through battlefields on foot.
Devin Pitts-Rogers: Battlefield 4 marked the first time since 2010 that I’ve purchased an FPS outside of the Halo franchise. The spectacle of war had never really appealed to me (at least the depictions in the BF and CoD franchises). Titanfall had already gained my interest with its sci-fi take on shooters, parkour, and the ability to summon your very own Titan. Actually giving me a taste of the action was what I really needed. The controls feel pretty solid, the points system feels rewarding, and I’m excited to try other abilities, weapons, and chassis in the full version of the game.
Eric Watson: The sheer freedom of movement. I feel less like a soldier and more like a superhero as I leap between buildings and run along walls. It speeds up the entire gameplay and makes every map twice as large since you can quickly reach the top of every building. When Titans roam the streets it’s absolutely necessary to weave in and out of buildings, and a hell of a lot of fun.
Fergus Halliday: One of the most-appealing things I noticed about Titanfall when I got my hands on the beta was the way that Respawn used the AI controlled soldiers that back up each side of the battlefield to increase the scale and intensity of each game. It makes a big difference and helps even the players on the bottom of the scoreboard contribute to victory and lets them feel like bad-asses.
What was your biggest annoyance, pet peeve or disappointment?
AW: Seeing as how we didn’t get to see the entire package, it’s tough to say what I was truly disappointed in. I’d like to see more from the classes and how customization will work in its entirety. Saying that, since I played Titanfall on PC, I found the menus could use some tweaking. In a game that feels like it’s largely being made for console users first, I’d rather not see Respawn go the route of Borderlands and give its PC users a direct port of its menus. In case you’ve forgotten, that was terrible!
CM: I would like to see Respawn go with a more minimalist approach with the grenade indicator, as the wide arrow they used in the beta was not very effective at all. I often found myself in situations where grenades were thrown into the room I was in, and I was unable to tell where it was actually located. This lead to more than a few deaths that felt they would have been easily avoided in just about any other game.
CR: I’m a bit disappointed that for all the advancement and deviation Titanfall has made on the competitive FPS style, we’re still using the same weapon types and structure for unlocking them that has been around forever. The lack of classes at least lets everyone utilize any of these weapons, but at this point choosing between an assault rifle, SMG, shotgun, or sniper rifle has become incredibly old hat. Your feet are firmly planted in Sci-Fi, Titanfall, feel free to get a bit more inventive with the firepower.
DM: Though the tactical abilities were definitely limited for the beta, I felt like the ones included were sort of bland. They didn’t feel specialized enough for a class-driven shooter, and didn’t feel balanced enough for a competitive one. I’m sure that having more available will alleviate the problem, and I enjoyed creating my own classes and trying new abilities even in the beta, but I wish they felt a bit more game-changing.
DP: Some things could still use a few tweaks. I personally have a few issues aiming the vector shield, which probably stems more often from user error. Besides that, the party setup was frustrating at times as it wouldn’t allow me to join a game that my party wasn’t in via my Xbox One. It is a beta, however, so hopefully these things will be remedied by March 11th.
EW: I wouldn’t call myself a Battlefield veteran but I did always love the way that series utilizes classes and roles, and I found that sorely lacking in Titanfall. Since everyone is equipped with an Anti-Titan weapon, there’s no need to quickly call over your Anti-Tank buddy when you spot a mech. Likewise players that prefer a more support oriented role are out of luck, and from what I’ve seen there’s no way to repair your team’s Titans. This keeps everything on the offensive and keeps matches fast, and with the lower player count works well with the overall design, but I worry there’s not enough differentiation between loadouts other than weaponry.
FH: Much like Devin, I had similar issues when it came to using the Vector Shield offensively but I think these stemmed from the bigger issue of the game lacking Australian servers – something which is becoming more and more of an issue when it comes to online gaming down under.
What was your preferred game mode?
AW: I tend to drift toward the more team focused objective modes, but right now it’s still too early to say. Attrition worked best in the Titanfall beta, but Last Titan Standing was always a blast to jump into! I didn’t much care for Hard Point Domination since it was full of dudes too concerned with their Kill/Death Ratio and not so much with, you know, the objective part. Who knows though? I expect everything to be completely different by the time the game launches.
CM: I can’t really say, as I really enjoyed all three modes. Last Titan Standing provided some hectic matches, and really made you evaluate your strategies in regards to how you engaged enemies. Hard Point Domination was much more objective based. I was pleasantly surprised by how many avenues of approach were available to try and take each point, and it made you think quickly if you wanted to hold a point for very long. Finally, Attrition is more of the classic team death match, but bots can be used to supplement kills. This mode seems to be the easiest to jump into and contribute. I truly feel that each of these modes has strong points to them and I never once found myself saying that I wished a different mode had come up during the Beta Variety Mode.
CR: For sheer fun, Attrition was my favorite; I loved pulling out the shotgun and jumping around like a mad man, murdering anyone in my path. Hardpoint is cool, I just tend to get distracted by running around and forget that I have an actual objective I need to be focusing on. Last Titan Standing I loved too, it felt more like full blown mech battles than the others, but they’ve really got to cut down the length of those matches, make it best of three.
DM: Hardpoint, definitely. Having a real objective to chase after made everything else fall in to place, with skilled movement leading to safer places to guard from and Titans acting as valuable guards instead of overpowered weapons. It’s also the only mode where I felt like I could have an extended battle, instead of endless pilot on pilot duels that are over in seconds.
DP: Attrition was my jam, although Last Titan Standing requires more strategy than I initially expected.
EW: I mostly played on the Beta Variety Mode, which rotates between the three available for the beta. Attrition was standard Team Deathmatch and fun, but I particularly enjoyed Hardpoint. I really like control points in my team shooters as always giving me clear goals and objectives throughout a match, and allowing me to play both offensively and defensively. I found Last Titan Standing fairly difficult and Best of Four seemed too long. Probably a great mode for hardcore players.
FH: I spent most of my playtime in the beta playing game after game of Attrition but what I did play of Hardpoint was very fun and satisfying. Unfortunately I had a bit of trouble actually finding players to play against in Last Titan Standing early on in the beta but I don’t imagine that will be too much of a problem when the game releases.
How did you feel about the Titans – how they handled and their dynamic on the battlefield?
AW: As expected, Titans are miraculously fast and handle perfectly. Aiming, evading and just moving around is fast-paced and works just as easy as walking around with your pilot. I enjoy the ability to call down a Titan after a certain period of time and then having the choice to either pilot it manually or have it follow you around. This caters to several different play-styles and skill-sets of all players, making Titanfall all the more attractive for the average and hardcore gamer. I never really saw results from having my Titan follow me around, but it does serve as a nifty distraction tool if you’re allergic to their astro-steel interiors.
CM: Titans took a little bit of time to master, but once that happened, they felt amazing to control. Towards the end of the beta I was taking out 2-3 Titans per round in Last Titan Standing by utilizing buildings as cover, while rocking the quad rocket launcher, slaved warheads, electrical smoke and nuclear ejection in a symphony of destruction. The quad rockets provided the most damage of the weapons, and once the extended magazine was unlocked, it became even better for sustained fights. The slaved warheads would lock onto enemies and follow them around some corners, meaning they would continue to take some damage even after going for cover. The electric smoke kept enemy pilots off the the Titan, as well as provided a smoke screen to enemy titans that damaged them if they pursued you through it. Finally the nuclear ejection would take out any damaged Titans that were nearby when you eject. This became even more effective if the electric smoke was in place, as they wouldn’t always know which way to dash. As long as you play smart and don’t try to gun the enemy down from out in the open, your Titan can last for quite a while.
CR: Surprisingly, my favorite part about the Titans was that you really couldn’t rely on them solely. The game does a great job about presenting situations where being in your Titan is not your best bet, or is even going to be a hindrance. When in the Titan, I did feel like the UI was a little busy; I found myself missing text prompts amongst everything there was to look at, but that would probably be resolved with a bit more experience under my belt. Also, there is nothing more terrifying in this game than having your UI flash red and warn you that someone is on your back while your health quickly drops down; it’s an incredibly panicky moment, and I loved it.
DM: They somehow feel both powerful and fragile. They are the only things capable of taking out other Titans one on one, but Pilots can still do a lot of damage with a bit of care. Still, an uncloaked pilot spotted by a Titan can be killed in seconds. Actually getting in a Titan made me feel like the coolest thing on the battlefield without throwing off the game balance, and they’re simply fun to customize, control and destroy.
DP: I think the Titans make for a worthy addition. It isn’t enough to simply take out the pilot, or player in the case of other FPS titles. Destroying the Titan as well becomes just as much of a priority and yields a good amount of points as well. In objective modes such as Hardpoint, players can guard the objective while setting their Titans to guard the area from a distance. Offensively, players can use the in-game rodeo mechanic to coerce their opponents into exiting their Titan to deal with the hitchhiker. As soon as they’ve exited, the riding player can call down their own Titan on top of their opponents, destroying it in the process. It’s very rewarding to pull it off without a hitch. Plus, I witnessed a teammate punch another Titan off a cliff; meaning a Titan was falling in Titanfall.
EW: My biggest surprise was how squishy they ended up being. Since everyone’s equipped with an Anti-Titan weapony and everyone has access to their own Titan, the Titan’s are almost more like a temporary power-up rather than a game-dominating vehicle. They did feel great and the trade-off between the lack of the insane wall-hanging, double-jumping mobility with the increased health and firepower of the Titan was always an interesting choice. I loved that you could simply let the AI take over, so players that would rather spend their time running around the map need never enter their Titan, but still use it as a mobile turret on the battlefield.
FH: I thought the Titans handled like a dream and offered players an absolute truckload of fun ways to approach the battlefield. You could play your Titan as a tool of destruction that mows down everything in its way or a mechanized assassin that specializes in taking down enemy Titans. The option to have your Titan follow you around and give you fire-support was something that I didn’t expect to be in the game but also something I very much appreciated. Respawn have struck a very delicate balance between making Titans feel powerful and making them fair and this is the very thing that’ll take Titanfall a long way when it comes to post-release support from gamers.
What are your major concerns for the full game?
AW: The big one, of course, has to be this so called ‘Campaign Multiplayer’ mode. Titanfall won’t have a single-player mode at all, which I fully support, but that means it’ll need to make up for that to justify a full priced purchase. Seeing as how the Titanfall beta provided sparse amounts of data to go by, I sincerely hope Respawn goes beyond the common Call of Duty formula the likes of which Halo and Gears of War have come to adopt. I realize Respawn is made up of the original crew who made the invincible Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, but Titanfall needs to move beyond the XP, Perk, Deathmatch modes that saturate our entire market. If it becomes another simple competitive shooter with a couple intricacies, I fear it Titanfall‘s potential will be fully squandered.
CM: I’m mostly concerned for how the campaign will turn out. Very few games have attempted to tell their story through a competitive mode, and I wonder how the story will progress. Given what I’ve seen from the beta, the multiplayer is fun enough to keep me playing this game, but there is no way to know at this point whether the campaign will be worth it or not.
CR: Content, I suppose. I’m not sure how many maps, guns, modes, or Titans will be initially available. My concern would be that there will be a too limited amount, and that the subsequent months will be full of DLC adding more in, which is always annoying.
DM: That my team is going to keep sucking. Seriously, I got 21% victory, 41% MVP. Statistical proof. But seriously, I also hope that there’s a good amount of content. The beta only had two maps, so I can forgive the beta for getting a bit repetitive, but after I stopped unlocking new perks, weapons and classes I became seriously less invested in each match. Creating more interesting perks, maps and weapons will also go a long way towards alleviating the occasional tedium.
DP: The game may need to force even teams. From time-to-time I’ve noticed that the teams will be 4v6, which is an uphill battle in the worst way. I also experienced difficulty at times tracking down human players, often finding spectres, grunts, and the like. In one game, I had 2 human kills and 17 minion kills. This probably wouldn’t bother me as much if me own deaths reflected similar data, but such is not the case. There is equipment you can select for your pilot to distinguish real hostiles on your map, so I cannot say my gripe is terribly valid.
EW: We still haven’t seen any of the “campaign multiplayer” they’ve been touting. While the competitive multiplayer will definitely be the focus, I would appreciate some fun cooperative modes that I can play with friends to help break up the action.
FH: While it’s obvious that multiplayer is going to be the focus for Titanfall, I’m still very interested in checking out the campaign multiplayer feature that Respawn have talked about in interviews. Other multiplayer focused games that have tried to tell a compelling narrative through multiplayer haven’t necessarily fared so well (Brink and Bioshock 2 come to mind) and despite all the coverage Titanfall has gotten from the press, we haven’t seen very much of this side of the game – and that could be seen as a very ominous sign.
Based on your experiences, are you going to purchase Titanfall? Why or why not?
AW: Probably not. As explained in some of my points above, there’s quite a bit to be excited about for Titanfall but I have reservations about its future. Everyone’s antsy to get their hands on the possibly next big competitive game and first real must-have title for the now current-gen consoles, and who can blame them? I just don’t know how deep this multiplayer only title can go. Unless we get surprised with a plethora of co-op modes and a robust collection of customizable equipment, I won’t pay full price for it. Now Dark Souls II? That’s another story.
CM: I will definitely be picking this game up on day one. I am usually more of a tactical shooter fan (my favorite FPS of the last generation was Rainbow Six: Vegas 2), but this game is fun and easy to pick up. It felt like there was actually quite a bit of strategy that went into the game, such as which load out would be best for a given scenario? Should I call in my Titan right away or wait a minute or two until more of their Titans are taken out? Should I rodeo an enemy Titan or stick to guerrilla tactics? From that perspective, I found Titanfall to be truly engaging, and the wait for March 11th is going to be a long one.
CR: I don’t know for certain that it’s a day one buy, but I do have a strong desire to play the full game, that is for certain. I had a ton of fun playing the little bit we got from the Beta, and I’m very curious about what else will be available in the full game. The answers to those questions will probably dictate just how long after day one this gets bought.
DM: Maybe not on day one, but I’ll definitely end up buying it eventually. I missed playing it almost as soon as the beta went down. Despite my minor complaints, I enjoyed every moment I had with Titanfall. It was firmly off my radar, but the addictive parkour, fast pace and great sense of scale won me over.
DP: With the misses I’ve experiences, I’d be remiss if I didn’t reiterate the hits. Titanfall is good, clean, fun. Double jumping, wall-running and hanging don’t come off as counter-intuitive, and the weapon controls feel more than tight enough to get the job done. The most exciting part is we’ve only seen part of the full product. More Titans, more levels, and more customization options lie in wait. Don’t forget that Respawn is also going to add local fauna into the foray, which instantly translates to Pacific Rim in my mind. Titanfall is a day one purchase given what we know now.
EW: Competitive shooters are usually not my thing, with a few select exceptions. But Titanfall really seems like they iterate on the formula enough and draw successful mechanics from other franchises to create a superior experience. I really enjoyed my time with the Beta, but ultimately with these games it always comes down to whether or not my friends will play them. If I can draw a few friends in, I can definitely see Titanfall becoming our main online game for awhile.
FH: Don’t get me wrong, Titanfall is an absolute blast to play and if you’re looking for the next big multiplayer shooter, Titanfall is probably going to be that game for you. The beta was generally pretty polished and the game is on track to being the biggest and freshest multiplayer game in years. However – keeping in mind the inherent latency that Australian gamers will face when it comes to playing the game online and the audience fragmenting that accompanies the game’s “Origin-Exclusive” status – Titanfall is a game I’m very keen and excited to play but also cautious about picking up on day one.
For more Titanfall Beta impressions, check out our Gameplay Video. Stay tuned right here on Leviathyn as we provide more coverage leading up to the game’s launch on March 11.