Monday, February 17, 2014

Titanfall Beta: First Impressions

I have to admit, I wasn't too excited when I first heard about Titanfall. My prejudice against the "co-creators" of the Call of Duty franchise meant I anticipated something similarly lacking in substance from Respawn Entertainment's first game. However, the sci-fi setting combined with the inclusion of "Titans" (essentially, mechs) as part of the FPS's core mechanic certainly intrigued me, even though my expectations of the game were still fairly low.

When the opportunity arose to apply for the beta testing programme (which, in my opinion, are more akin to a free trial these days), I decided I'd sign up. Saturday evening, I received an email informing me I'd been accepted, so I jumped onto my machine to kick off the download via Origin. After the game installed, I moved it to my SSD and created a symlink (as I'd done previously for Battlefield 4) to give me faster loading times.

I've fired it up today and played through the tutorial to get acquainted with the core gameplay before jumping into a couple of multiplayer rounds of the Attrition mode; essentially Team Deathmatch. I recorded some footage from a couple of the rounds, which I've uploaded to YouTube:

The game does bring back some fond memories of playing old sci-fi shooters like Quake and Unreal Tournament, but with the added twist of being able to occasionally pilot a Titan during the round spicing things up a bit. The rounds themselves tend to be fast and furious and I found I actually quite enjoyed the gameplay. As a pilot, running along walls, double jumping and mantling up onto ledges feels really fluid and made me feel like I was free-running through the futuristic landscapes; particularly while playing on the Angel City map. The Titans feel suitably powerful when stomping around and the weapons/abilities are enjoyable to use; especially the Vortex Shield, which captures incoming ordinance to use against opponents. I also found waiting for my Titan to drop added to the suspense of the round, while being able to jump into or being picked up by it gives a rush of satisfaction knowing you'll soon be raining death down on your enemies!

One of the biggest weak points in my opinion is the 6v6 limitations of the multiplayer; despite what the devs have said in the past about the AI opponents fleshing out the rounds. The Star Wars Battlefront games used to employ AI in this fashion and it worked well; in Titanfall, not so much. I occasionally found myself wandering looking for the battle, despite the relatively small maps. However, it's not as big an issue as I originally thought it was going to be. I'd like to give the game a go with some friends, as I think the small team size would work well here.

I enjoyed my brief time with the game, and I'll try to play some more before the end of the beta. I'm not going to be fooled into playing too much; I did this with the Battlefield 3 beta and I was really disappointed when my stats were reset for the final release. So, I thought I'd see how much the game costs to pre-order and I was shocked to see a list price of £44.99. I supposed I shouldn't be too surprised - all of EA's major titles seem to be similarly priced at launch - but it's too much an asking price in my opinion. I'll stick it on my waitlist and pick up a copy when it's cheaper in a sale.

Update - 18/02/14: So, I only just noticed that I didn't have any minimap or other HUD elements available to me. It turns out that playing the game with my Eyefinity setup results in the HUD elements being scaled off the screen - I found a post on the Wide Screen Gaming Forum that confirms the problem.