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COD With Mechs? Titanfall Is So Much More | Beta Impressions

EA, FPS games, Games previews, PC games, Respawn Entertainment, Titanfall, Xbox One Games

COD With Mechs? Titanfall Is So Much More | Beta Impressions

The Titanfall beta has been and gone. It's time to open the curtains again and maybe, just maybe, step outside once more. Be careful, though, Matt tried to rodeo a double decker bus this morning and it didn't go so well.

The hype train for Titanfall has been rolling steadily onwards since people first went hands-on with the game last year, and there were hour-long queues of just industry reps before the big conventions opened. It's been the game on everyone's lips, it seems, but has that hype been justified? Is the game genuinely exciting, or have we simply been told that it is? Have Respawn simply made COD with big, stompy mechs?

Here's what we made of the Titanfall beta:


Titanfall doesn't really do anything new, not really. We've seen jetpacks and parkour and mechs and domination modes and temporary perks and customisation before. But they've perhaps never quite been bundled up and balanced so impressively in a single game before.

A new console generation is often rife with hyperbole, but it's no surprise that Titanfall's beta has confirmed for many what the press were raving about after convention season last year: that Respawn's new shooter has quality in spades. Much of that has to do with Titanfall's accessibility. The tutorial is thorough but fairly swift, and the game itself packs a variable, dynamic learning curve thanks to the way matches are fleshed out and balanced with AI. Somehow, Respawn have managed to deliver a game that renders K/D pretty unimportant, and allows casual shooter fans to make a meaningful contribution (and to feel like awesome badasses) alongside genre veterans.

There's a new FPS party in town, and everyone is invited.

For me, Titanfall felt at its strongest in the Hardpont missions, where the ebb and flow of battle is constantly changing, and how you use your Titan becomes crucially important to taking and holding domination points. If Respawn can expand upon this in the final game with more modes that add in context and strategic nuances to the fast, frenetic action, then that'll only help the game's longevity.

But to be fair, whatever game mode I jumped into in the beta, I had an absolute blast. You can see the flair for slick, tight controls, and superb balancing that made the names of many of these developers back in the early days of Modern Warfare, and it's that capacity for making every detail fit in the right way that has made this beta so fundamentally enjoyable that I'm to really miss it over the next few weeks ahead of the game's release.


After months of hearing about how good Titanfall was, to finally get hands on with the beta proved one thing – that the praise was entirely justified. While I shouldn’t be too surprised considering the pedigree of the development team behind it, I was impressed by how slick and natural the controls were, both on-foot as a pilot and as a giant war-machine of a mech. In terms of this accessibility, it bodes well for both core and casual gamers who want some shootery fun, and that in turn should hopefully translate in a healthy and well-populated multiplayer community.

While I only saw a small portion of the progression available in Titanfall (I only got to level 10 or so) the systems such as unlocking new weapons and loadouts, as well as the Burn Card system, came across as promising for the long term, ensuring that (to borrow a phrase Jon has used a number of times) “everybody gets to play with all the toys” whilst still not feeling overpowered. It’s the one thing that always put me off in recent COD games, as the veterans who know the maps inside out would trounce a newcomer repeatedly, and while yes, I did have my ass handed to me many a time in the beta, I always felt it was a fair defeat. To me, that is perhaps Respawn’s most impressive feat.

Of course, we only got to play with a few modes and maps, but if Respawn have an array of maps that are as balanced as the ones in the beta, and throw in a few more interesting game types (I personally think a MOBA-style mode would work really well with the AI as minions and Titans charging in as champions) then Titanfall might well be one of the few recent AAA games that can meet the expectations put upon it, regardless of your chosen platform of choice.

Also, MECHS.


Titanfall is casual, addictive, inclusive and most of all fantastic fun. Respawn are clearly at the height of their powers, capable of making a PvP game feel like an epic battle, and impossibly balancing a pistol that automatically aims for the head. Witchcraft!

I'm sure my colleagues have done a fantastic job of explaining all that. They're not wrong, either. But as the only member of the team with an Xbox One, my limited column space is probably better spent talking about the two versions, and how they stack up.

There's no denying that the PC beta runs at a more consistent clip, boasts superior tweakable visuals and V-sync that actually works. The full game will be considerably cheaper too. Having levelled both versions up to 14, I can attest wholeheartedly that the PC beta did the business, often with more gusto than its flagship console counterpart.

So you might find it odd, then, that I actually preferred to play Titanfall on Xbox One.  Because... and let's just rip the plaster off... it's a console game.

I do mean that very literally. Like Modern Warfare, Titanfall has been built around the limited inputs of a console controller, putting its effortless parkour and Titan controls at your fingertips. What's functional with a mouse and keyboard feels infinitely more slick, fluid and satisfying using its intended control scheme, helped by gratuitous rumbling at all the right moments. If you need further proof of its console heritage, look no further than the lack of server browsers, or controller-optimised menus that feel like eating soup with chopsticks if navigated with a mouse.

What's more, Titanfall's entire casual, inclusive, accessible, quick-to-play philosophy is designed around that home console ideal: flopping down on your sofa after a long day, saying "Xbox On" while cracking open a real ale (or Mountain Dew, if you enjoy ingesting irradiated piss) and kicking back with a few frictionless, effortless, instantly gratifying games. It's a testament to Respawn that Titanfall works brilliantly on PC, but its home is on Microsoft's big black box. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it.

That said, for £26, I could just plug one of my Xbox 360 controllers into my PC every now and again. Oh. Now that's happening.

Add a comment6 comments
stevenjameshyde  Feb. 20, 2014 at 16:42

If you need further proof of its console heritage, look no further than the lack of server browsers, or controller-optimised menus that feel like eating soup with chopsticks if navigated with a mouse

I take it that means the PC version will be getting a 1/10 metacritic user score on release?

Late  Feb. 20, 2014 at 18:10

Seems everyone on the team is cautiously optimistic, and most of the general public are loving what they've seem so far.

So we can expect a 6/10 then? Yeah, I'm looking at you, Matt :p
(Was it 6, or 7 for GTA? I forget. But don't forgive.)

I loved the beta and can't wait for the game's release. Digital version on xb1 for me.

MattGardner  Feb. 20, 2014 at 23:15

I feel buoyed by the optimism of a new generation! Tens all around!

No I'm pretty much more critical than ever :D

The beta was lovely, but it was (as Jon notes in the related podcast) free. Value is more of a subjective, sliding scale than ever before, especially since well-worked F2P and digital marketplaces ushered in top quality at low prices, and it remains to be seen exactly how Respawn will seek to justify that top tier price for a MP-only shooter.

The one thing that isn't in question is that we all simply can't wait to find out! I miss it; I'm actually jonesing for some Hardpoint action. Then again, the last time I felt this much craving was for SimCity.


Last edited by MattGardner, Feb. 20, 2014 at 23:15
Late  Feb. 21, 2014 at 01:29

If we judge value for money by now many hours enjoyment we'll get from a game in relation to it's cost, most of the call of duty games in recent years have been fantastic vfm for me (of course that's subjective) - with me often racking up around 300 hours from them.
Very little of that has been from the campaign. It's all about the multiplayer. Didn't even bother with the campaign at all with blops2, other than an hour or so when my internet was patchy one day - and even the installments with sp that I've loved have only accounted for a dozen hours compared to hundreds of hours on mp. So not only am I not bothered that there no single player campaign - I actually prefer it. Focus on what your game does best, and make it the best you can. Don't waste valuable man-hours tacking a single player story on if it's not necessary.
Give me mp only in shooters and sports games. Don't try to tack a lame story onto Fifa or Quake. Similarly, games like BioShock and Tomb Raider should stick to single player, and not try to add multiplayer.

I'll happily pay full whack (and them some) for a great MP only game if it'll keep me playing happily for hundreds of hours.
That's quite an "if", of course, and we can't know whether this (or any other game) will provide that much entertainment until some time after buying it. It's always a gamble. But it's a gamble I'm perfectly happy to take a punt on in this instance.

Tsung  Feb. 21, 2014 at 09:35

I had a blast playing the PC version got all the way to level 14.

The controls felt fluid, I'll just run up along that wall, up to that ledge.. Yeah no problems. Oh no an enemy mech I'll just jump on it's back, rip open its "brain" and start blasting. Such fun, didn't feel clunky at all.

My concern with the game will be with the number and variety of maps (and game modes) included in the standard package. Also the contents and prices of the DLC / season pass which is sure to follow.

It's a new franchise; let's hope Respawn / EA wont try to be too greedy and build a decent size player base.

(On a side note I just played COD:Ghosts on the PC (free weekend) and glad I didn't buy it. 3000 players worldwide!, some game modes are empty. Not impressed at all !).

Late  Feb. 21, 2014 at 09:49

...let's hope EA wont try to be too greedy...


As regards maps and gamemodes etc., they're unconfirmed but details were posted on neogaf a week or so back, and they look legit.

•angel city
•outpost 207
•smugglers cove
•training ground


Game Modes:
•AT - Attrition?
•TDM - Team Deathmatch?
•CTF - Capture the Flag?
•LTS - Last Titan Standing?
•HP- Hardpoint Capture?
•VM - Variety Mode (a mix of all the other modes listed, sans campaign)
•Campaign Multiplayer

•auto_eject - Auto Eject
•build_up_nuclear_core - Nuclear Ejection
•doomed_time - Survivor
•fast_reload - Fast Autoloader
•longer_bubble - Dome Shield Battery
•minimap_ai - Minion Detector
•ordnance_pack - Explosive Pack
•power_cell - Power Cell
•shield_regen - Regen Booster
•turbo_drop - Warpfall Transmitter
•wall_runner - Enhanced Parkour kit

Pics etc. available here

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