Titanfall was an Xbox One exclusive (now on PC as well) by developer, Respawn Entertainment, and it debuted with all the hype that a next-gen game usually garners. I didn’t pay much attention because I don’t have an Xbone nor did I have a computer that could run Titanfall (let alone store it. 50 GB!!). Plus, there is no single-player campaign, and I’m not a multi gal, as I may have mentioned once or ten times before. This past weekend, though, EA allowed you to play it for free for 48 hours and had it on sale at half-price. I have very shitty downloading speed and I had multiple problems with the download, so by the time I actually DL’ed it, the sale was over. Still, it was free, I had a new rig on which it would look glorious, and STOMPY ROBOTS. What could be better? Only if Idris Elba showed up. Ahem.
Still, I hesitated. I hate doing things I’m bad at, especially in front of other people. I didn’t want to be the n00b who let the team down, even though I know everyone plays that role in the beginning. I rationalized to myself that I could do the tutorial and never play a match if I so choose. Keeping that firmly in mind, I plunged in. I went through the pilot tutorial and then the titan tutorial to familiarize myself with the controls. Again, I have to mention that while I use the Dvorak typing system, my keyboard is in QWERTY, so seeing prompts in Dvorak really fucks with my brain. Besides, as you gamers know, when I have the claw hand going on, my fingers aren’t on the proper keys. So ‘K’ (which is V for you QWERTIES), which I need to press to call down my titan, isn’t easy to find in a glance. I probably will have to get a Dvorak keyboard, but it’s not easy to find a gaming Dvorak keyboard.
Anyway, much of the pilot tutorial was old ground. WASD for movement, C for melee, E using things, etc. Space for jumping, twice for jumping even higher. As a pilot, the hardest thing for me to remember was cloaking and parkouring. The titan, on the other hand – I feel as if I barely scratched the surface of what my titan could do. It wasn’t until late into my last match that I – but I get ahead of myself. As is my wont.
After completing the tutorial, I hesitantly entered a match. I didn’t notice who I was playing with or against because I was too busy trying to remember everything I’d just learned. Briefly, in the campaign, there’s a story, but you’re mostly doing the usual things you do in multi games. Capture certain points, kill as many of the opposition as possible, etc. There is a voice that talks to you from time to time, but, frankly, I paid it no attention. I chose to be an assassin the first time (you can be her or the rifleman) and had an Ogre titan. You don’t get to be in your titan all the time – at least not in the beginning. I think the newer you are, the less you get to use the titan, but that’s strictly going on my impressions during gameplay.
Anyway, during the match, I tried to stick to a teammate and just shoot whatever he was shooting at. I got killed many, many times, but I actually killed a pilot! I wasn’t the worst on my team, which made me happy. I stopped playing, vowing I’d try again soon. Well, there was an update that prevented me from playing, so I thought I was done with the game until it went on sale again. But, curiosity got the better of me, and I tried to play again. I had yet another update to install, but once that was done, I could play. I played as a CQB this time (unlocked class) and tried to pay more attention to my surroundings. I still died a lot, but my personal play was better. We actually won that match! We quickly lost the next one, though (which I played as a rifleman), and I apologized to my teammates for being such a n00b. They were cool during the game – not yelling at me for feeding the other team. I appreciated that a great deal.
I stopped for a bit because the gameplay is intense before hopping into another match. Now, I have to say something about the matchmaking system – it sucks. I was a level 3, so ideally, I would have been matched with people in the single-digit levels. However, in my last two games, I was paired with another 3, a 5, and a couple people in their twenties. On the other side, there was a 50 with an icon (which I later found out meant he’d rolled over the levels. It only goes up to 50 before you start over again), a couple forties, and two in their thirties, I believe. Needless to say, we were slaughtered. It wasn’t pretty at all. Plus, the other team’s level-50 player targeted me and would not stop killing me. I understand that as a low-leveler, I was an easy way to bulk up his stats, but it wasn’t much fun for me. What was fun was when two of my teammates and I killed the level-50 dude’s titan. Take that! It was VERY satisfying to get some of my own back against this guy, believe you me.
Near the end of the last match, I finally remembered that I could fire rockets while inside my titan. It wasn’t until after the match was over that I realized I never used my Q skill — sucking another titan’s ammo towards you before releasing it back at the other titan — or my…some other key skill — a vortex shield. I also didn’t use my evasion ability, which means I really hamstrung my titan, poor thing. I can’t tell you how glorious it is when you call your titan and it falls down from the sky and lands with a WHUMF. Mounting it is so satisfying, and I have to believe when you know what you’re doing in it, it’s tremendous to stomp around, a veritable killing machine. You know what doesn’t feel good, though? Being stomped on by a Titan.
I’m sorry that this review is short on technical details. I’m trying to give you my impressions as I play, and let’s face it, five matches in, I don’t know enough about the techniques to tell you much ,of anything about them. Two of the opposing team members were nattering on about the newest update, and it was Greek to me. Frankly, my eyes crossed as I read their conversation because I had no idea what they were talking about. I’m not the type to really geek out about a game and read up on the strats, even when it’s a game I love. When it’s one I’m merely trying out, I pretty much take it as it is.
I will say that the smart pistol is really handy for a newbie. It locks on to the opposition and shows you with a red arrow where it’s shooting. You have to make sure they don’t see you, though, because they’ll kill you before the pistol can lock on them. And, I’ll give you my strategy, as it were. Remember, I’m more comfortable with ranged characters than I am with melee characters, so my M.O. would be to rappel up a wall, stand on a roof, and snipe away at the enemies within my eyesight. Otherwise, I stuck to my teammates and tried to help them out if they needed it. Barring that, I simply ran around and killed anyone whose name is in red. I don’t understand how to take or keep checkpoints, but I sure as hell understand shooting the fuck out of the enemy.
Bottom line – Titanfall is fun. A lot of fun. Yes, I sucked at it and basically was cannon fodder for the other team, but I still had a grand time trying to kill shit and stomping around in my titan. As much as I say I don’t like playing with others, there’s an undeniable feeling of satisfaction when I helped a teammate kill a titan or stopped an enemy from ganking my teammate. Also, the people I’ve played with have been really cool and not yelly at all. No one sneered at me for being the n00b, and really, there wasn’t any in-game chatter at all. I like that. I don’t want people talking to me as I’m trying to kill shit, but I can also see how it’d be fun to play with friends and be able to talk about strategy and whatnot.
My free trial is over, and I’m not going to be buying it at full price, but if it’s ever on sale again for 50% off, I’ll probably pick it up. I was pleasantly surprised by how minimal the chatter was (I’d heard all the horror stories about how awful people can be in multi), and I liked the satisfaction of becoming better at the game every match. In my last match, I killed two titans. That’s a huge improvement for me! I also wasn’t last on my team, which made me happy as well. I’ve learned that I can deal with being horrible at the game and coming in last, even if I’m not totally comfortable with it. My trepidation at playing online with strangers was mostly assuaged.* The game looks fantastic on my computer, and it satisfies that ‘run around like a madwoman and shoot everything in sight’ itch. Plus, motherfucking stompy robots, yo! I recommend this game, but wait for it to go on sale. The online community isn’t going anywhere, and it’ll be even better a few months from now with future updates.
*Except for that guy who kept hunting me down and killing me. Yep. Still bitter.