Saturday, March 15, 2014

Titanfall



Let's talk about Titanfall, this little game that you might not have heard about because it's coming out of such a low key studio and has made little to no buzz on the media. Seriously though. I initially wanted to write about this right after the beta, but I didn't want my excitement to shroud my experience too much because I've been known to like liking things. However my experience in the beta and in the live version do not differ too much except for the welcome additions of maps, weapons, and Titans. The hype behind this game is real and being one of the games on the next gen frontier (see what I did there?) you should be excited. This is also one of the games Microsoft is literally using to sell the Xbox One with a bundle that includes the game with no extra cost compared to the standard Xbox One, an absolutely genius move.





With hype though is going to attract the people who like to just hate on things especially in a genre chock full of mediocrity and yearly rehashes that gamers aren't entirely sure why they pick it up yet cash in on it anyways. There are complaints about things that existed in previous games of the genre that were never an issue and were just accepted, but now have some how become a "problem". Before the beta was out when news hit that Titanfall would only be 6vs6 multiplayer people were shocked and even turned off of the game without even playing it. This was absolutely baffling to me. Call of Duty standard Team Deathmatch is 6v6, Halo Slayer is 4v4, and just to contrast, Battlefield 4 can handle up to 64 players. I'm not sure where the illusion that more players equated to more enjoyment out of a game. Sometimes more players can be detrimental to the experience to. 64 player Metro in Battlefield 3 or 64 player Operation Locker on Battlefield 4 turn into grind fests and each team can barely leave their spawns at times. ~6v6 has been a standard of  most multiplayer shooters and in Titanfall it works perfectly. When you have grunts, auto titans, and pilots running around, the map can get busy enough and it's great where it is now.

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The Prestige System. In Call of Duty once you reach the max level from experience points you have a choice to reset your rank back to 1 and will have to unlock all the weapons and equipment again, but you're appended with a new rank emblem that is sort of a nod to a dedicated veteran of the game. Titanfall does a similar thing in its Generations system. When you achieve the maximum rank you can restart and reroll and you get a new emblem. However you get a minor experience point boost for the entire rank, and each time you move up a Generation (up to 10 Generations) your experience boost increases in percentage. I've seen comments of people saying how this is unnecessary or how you should get greater rewards for increasing your Generation rank. Increasing your Prestige in Call of Duty or Generation rank in Titanfall is not mandatory and if you desire you can stay the standard maximum rank of 50 if you please so you can argue it was never necessary in any game in any form what so ever.

Call of Duty Black Ops Prestige Ranks
Titanfall Generations


The Grunts. During battles there will be Grunt soldiers spawning for both teams constantly. They vary from human soldiers to robotic Spectres that you can even hack and turn to your side of the fight. People complain that the Grunts are stupid and lack in true functionality when they are a great addition to the game and are really clever game design. They keep the gaming moving, the battle is always happening on the map even when players cannot find enemy players to fight. Grunts will be fighting enemy Grunts and they will also fight enemy players. While they are not as fast and responsive as actual players, they can still hurt you and if you're not reacting to them, they kill absolutely kill you. Another way they keep the gaming moving is in terms of Titan acquisition and powering up your Titan's Ability Core. With each kill of an enemy Grunt your timer gets trimmed down by up to 15 seconds, speeding up how long you need to wait for your Titan to drop back into the fight. The best way I've heard someone explain the Grunts is comparing them to minions in MOBA games like DOTA or League of Legends. While left unattended a side can push in and you may lose a tower, or in Titanfall's case a Hardpoint. You can farm minions or Grunts to speed up how powerful you become. It is the same concept and honestly shouldn't be treated any bit different.

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There has also been a complaint seen online of the lack of certain features in the game. Those that aren't familiar with how Titanfall is handling the story mode and Campaign, there is no single player mode however there is a multiplayer campaign with videos and audio clips during and before battles that delve mildly into the Titanfall story. Each campaign is 9 missions for each of the two factions varying from Attrition (Team Deathmatch) and Hardpoint (Domination) and at the end of each campaign you can unlock a new Titan battle frame. I will admit that it's difficult to take much away from the story and universe of Titanfall due to the real lack of substance to latch on to. To possibly combat this, Respawn Entertainment and PlayFight VFX studio are working on "an original content set".



It would be most welcome to have more information on the world of Titanfall and about the ever lasting conflict of the IMC and Militia factions. But people only now seem to miss the Campaign and Story Mode from a AAA FPS. You could argue that there weren't really stories in the last 5 Call of Duty titles and last two Battlefields (hey-o!). But is anyone really losing sleep over a lack of a single player story mode campaign? Do you really need that nod of "Oh this multiplayer map is from that part of the story! I get it now!" Gamers are honestly not buying titles of Modern Warfare, Black Ops, or Battlefield for their story and single player campaigns. The meat of games like that are the multiplayer experience and if Respawn Entertainment can trim away the fat and leave you with a juicy steak with no bone and gristle, are you going to deny yourself the meal? It also seems like if people are playing through single player campaigns these days it's in the same fashion kids eat certain cereals for the toys at the bottom of the box, it's for in game collectibles and achievements.

To expand on that, there are also complaints about there only being 3 Titans available. There is the all around Titan who you start with named the Atlas, the slow heavy and extremely durable Ogre, and the nimble yet fragile Stryder. Each Titan features an exclusive "Core Ability" superpower and requires their own unique playstyles to really get the most out of them, hit and run tactics, versatility or just bullet soaking the frontline. I feel that anything else straying from these 3 tropes of classes from video games would seem unnecessary and bulk on excess complication to the game. Any other variations that really stray from the path might be unbalanced from what we have now. None of these Titans are overpowered and each can defeat each other when using superior tactics. If there was to be something added to these Titans I would say cosmetic customizations. Hell, visual customizations in the game end beyond changing the gender of your pilot (and your character model changes depending on what weapon you use) would be very welcome. I think it would be great to have a custom Titan paint job or decals plastered on the side of your titans. Imagine a hot pink Ogre charging the you on battlefield or a pin up Betty on the chassis of an Atlas.

Atlas - Ogre - Stryder


Enough on addressing the complaints though, let's talk about the good stuff. My absolute favorite thing about this game is the fluidity and verticality. Every single match whether it be your first or nth you are always trying to play with new routes and trying to jump to new heights. You can find new vantage points to fire down on enemies or paths to soar across the map. With this comes the emphasis on map knowledge of all the nooks you can jump to and situational awareness of players that are around you and above you. The weapons feel fantastic as well. I'm still a Keyboard and Mouse rookie so precision weapons are a sore spot for me, but other weapons like the shotgun are amazing. This might be the best shotgun in video games for years, the carbine is my go to and can fight any situation, the SMGs will chop you to pieces in tight corridors, and the G2A4 is an awesome semi automatic precision rifle.

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I don't want to gush too much about how much I'm enjoying Titanfall because this post will get entirely too lengthy (and it already is with images), but I am enjoying it so much and it fills a gaming void that I've been lacking since I've played Halo Reach and Black Ops 1 obsessively. It's fresh and serves you a great first person shooter experience that doesn't feel cluttered by imbalances in power weapons, kill streaks, and perks. If you have the money and PC/Console to play this I would absolutely recommend picking it up because you probably don't want to miss out on one of the most refreshing first person shooters in a very long time.

Disclaimer: This game probably isn't for everyone. It's very fast paced and demands a high level of twitch reflex. I would consider myself a veteran of FPS gaming at least on consoles but on PC I get dominated by the keyboard and mouse pros. In general when you do poorly FPS's can get frustrating and become tasking to play.