Wednesday, February 12, 2014

By Jamaal Ryan

Yesterday, Evolve details and footage finally emerged from the creators of Left 4 Dead’s new shooter. But today has been dedicated to Titanfall, with in-depth reveals and extensive video footage capturing nuances of this year’s most anticipated shooter, and I’ll discuss much of the game’s aspects that largely haven’t been seen before today.

It comes to no surprise that from part of the core team that standardized competitive multiplayer shooters last gen has built customization into the core of Titanfall from Pilots to Titans. Titans can be outfitted with familiar customization options as seen in many current shooters. Of some of the core weapon types – semi automatic, full auto assault, and heavy rockets – each have adjustable firing rates and clip sizes. Burn Cards (temporary perks) and Ordinances add to the Titan’s loadout with offensive capabilities such as powerful rocket fire and Titan detonation. Nearing the top of my list of experimental loadouts is outfitting a Titan with a Quad Rocket with the Slaved Warheads Ordinance.

Fittingly, Pilots come prepared as well, either as a stand-in male character, or a Black female if I wanted to among other character skins as well (Hooray for diversity!). Outside of standard primary and side arm loadout, Pilots also come with Anti Titan weapons, a sensible category to keep the battle between humans and Titans engaged in balance. Tactical abilities such as Cloak can work against foot soldiers, but are very effective against Titans being that their perspective cant pick up hidden Pilots as well as boots on the ground. Pilots have access to Ordinances as well, and Kits act as passive perks, lending abilities such as extended wall running and hanging with the Enhanced Parkour Kit, and the Power Cell that regenerates you Tactical faster. It’s important to note that ejecting from your Titan is an ability that needs to be equipped as it is not offered for standard affair; so for those who anticipated Pilots always annoyingly ejecting out of their Titans before detonation can rest easy. Of course the Smart Pistol is one of the standout tools that you have to your disposal, but it seems to be best used in taking out AI as it instantly locks on bots in a dilated field of view, especially if they’re stilled (requires three second lock-ons for human players).

Titanfall’s beta serves little to alleviate the 6v6 controversy surrounding the game since the reveal weeks ago. Filling in the rest of the match are Grunts and Specters. Grunts can be used as “creeps” to trim down the amount of time until your Titan falls, and Specters offer a little more challenge while serving the same purpose and can be used as minions to turn on your enemies with a “data knife” as well (in some cases, if you hack one Specter in a group, the override contaminates surrounding Specters turning all on your side).

Watching them in action was straight up embarrassing, performing worse than Call of Duty: Black Ops’ bots, and players were not impressed by the lack of challenge the AI offers. As a Call of Duty player who’s K/D ratio sits well over 1.0, I am a little concerned about the middling AI. However being that there are opportunities for easier kills, this may very well incentivize me to experiment with classes and weapons that I usually shy away from competitive shooters such as Snipers. 

But in spite of all this, it’s always important to remember that this is a BETA. That’s the term that serves as an alleviating reminder that quells some concern and lends hope that the AI will be a little more challenging, but balanced enough for less skilled players once the game launches.

One thing that I picked up on in the beta footage for Titanfall is the absurd amount of ammo players can carry at one time. In one clip, a pilot rodeo-ed another Titan and began emptying clips into the machine’s brain. It was the high rate firing R-97 SMG with 40 rounds per clip. But at the top of the clip icon was a clip multiplier up to 14. That totals out to 560 rounds at once.

This isn’t the only time that I’ve noticed this. I’ve seen sniper rifles with 120 rounds, and pistols with 300. This could be for beta reasons, or this could be implemented to keep the actions flowing, relinquishing the need for players conserve ammo and allowing them to focus entirely on moving forward. Of all the Titanfall footage that I’ve seen, not once have I seen a player have to stop to pick up another weapon because they ran out of ammo. This, of course, aids Titanfall’s incredibly fast pace adding to the Pilot’s parkouring abilities and high bar sprinting stamina. Titanfall is looking to be the most mobile first person shooter ever conceived.

TDM has always been my go to multiplayer mode for my entire competitive shooter carrier. I’ve even spent an unusual amount of time in such matches in games like Battlefield. But like Battlefield – though not as divisively so – Titanfall looks to come into full form in Hardpoint Domination. The nuances of the Titan’s abilities such as stationary guarding, and the Pilot’s vertical traversal abilities look to be more meaningful with explicit direction rather than having the sole purpose to increase kill count. Placing Titans in certain locations next to control points seems like a basic and essential strategy, and being that these control points seem to be located in-doors, it’s up to players to have to rely on their verticality skillsets to maneuver their way in from the best angle; whether that may be from the ceiling or a second or third story window.  

AI concerns aside, Titanfall does not look to disappoint; and this is just based on beta footage that excludes additional Titan classes, the remainder of the customization options, and other maps than Angle City and Fracture.

I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll said if before, March 11th (in the US) can’t come fast enough.

Only just under a month left. 

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