Titanfall Hands-On Impressions: Kind Of Awesome
I went into PAX this year determined to do one thing: play Titanfall, and see if it was really as fun as the trailers and E3 demo screening made it out to be.
I left PAX this year determined to do one thing: buy Titanfall at launch.
Titanfall, in a lot of ways, feels like a return to the crazy bunny-hopping, rocket-jumping multiplayer shooters of yesteryear. Pilots (the normal infantry) jump, mantle, and wallrun all over the map, going from crate to rooftop to the back of a Titan. Titans themselves are huge, lumbering things, but they don’t feel that immobile or defenseless; if anything, you feel more like a big, heavy infantryman. This juxtaposition of movement-based play (as pilot) and damage-based play (as Titan) kept the game refreshing all the way to the very end.
The most interesting bit is that each has a very different method of movement. Pilots, thanks to their mini-jumpjets and parkour-like abilities, focus on verticality. Jumping onto roofs, running through buildings, and ducking behind cover is all vitally important as a Pilot, especially since they can inflict serious harm on a Titan. Should you manage to rodeo (climb onto the back of) an enemy Titan, you can fill his internals full of bullets, dealing damage directly to his health while bypassing the shields. If that’s not your thing, you can always take advantage of the low profile you give when looking down from a roof to blast Pilots and Titans alike with rockets, grenades, and rifle fire. Either way, it was a very dynamic, fast, movement-oriented experience.
Titans, however, focus more on the big damage and horizontal play. They can’t jump, which makes them vulnerable to attacks from above (hence rooftops and rodeos). Conversely, enemies on the ground are squished beneath their feet, and their weapons will kill all but another Titan in 1-2 shots. Moreso than Pilots, they are reliant on good teamwork (having a Pilot escort is essential to pick off anti-Titan enemies) and smart use of their abilities. My personal favorite ability was the magnetic shield, which picked up ordnance shot/launched at me and allowed me to reflect it back at a target of my choosing ala telekinesis. The fact that Titans are cooldowns instead of killstreaks also helps greatly. While you can shorten the cooldown on your titan by scoring points, even a person AFK for most of the match will get their chance to shine in a huge robotic infantryman.
I played on an Xbox One controller – the only game I have ever played on an Xbox One controller – and was pleasantly surprised by how nice it felt. While I couldn’t get the precision the keyboard and mouse afforded me, the majority of weapons in the PAX demo didn’t require such precision. The smart pistol homed in on targets, the shotgun was a shotgun, and player hitboxes felt a little wider than contemporary games. It felt a lot more fluid and natural than I was expecting (and dreading), which was an incredibly pleasant experience.
While I’ll never be sold on a console, I’m totally sold on Titanfall. It was a great first-person shooter, and reminded me of all the things I love from Quake, Brink, and Call of Duty, with none of the downsides.
Don’t miss the rest of our PAX Prime 2013 coverage all weekend and next week!