TiX was kindly invited to a very exclusive hands on preview event at a secret location in London for Titanfall held by Respawn Entertainment and Xbox UK. This was the first chance since I played the demo at Eurogamer Expo last September, to get real hands on with the beta version of Titanfall on Xbox One, and actually given the chance to record our gameplay to share with our readers.
Starting with an introduction by Abbie Heppe, Community Manager for Respawn Entertainment, we were welcomed to the event and given one simple instruction. Play Titanfall as long as we could and record some great action to share with the world. Well I certainly was not going to refuse that kind of offer.
Sitting down we saw that we were also getting the chance to try out the Limited Edition Titanfall Xbox One controller and the Turtle Beach XO Seven Xbox One Headset. The controller really looks great with custom details and the white stands out over the standard black Xbox One Controller. The Turtle Beach XO Seven’s sounded amazing throughout the night. Comfortable and really enhanced the Titanfall Experience although not having microphones made team work co-ordination difficult during some game modes as you will see in the videos below.
The video above is the full Pilot Training that Titanfall offers, from the very basic of FPS gameplay to the free running that Titanfall adds. After mastering those skills you then get an excellent tutorial into how you will pilot a Titan with the modules showing how to move the titan, using the defensive systems such as Dash and the Vortex Shield catch ability to catch enemy fire and send it back, then the use of the offensive weapon systems of a Titan and then the final Module where all skills taught are put to the final test in actual combat. It is one of the most comprehensive tutorial systems I have encountered in a FPS game and is a definite improvement to the standard “here is an assault course and target range” style of recent FPS genre titles. The only gripe I saw was the power of the smart pistol and its ability to basically do all the work and only require the player to point and pull the trigger. It is a worryingly powerful basic weapon which is luckily locked away under a particular class of Pilot but I can see and I do hope that before release that it gets a little nerfing attention as having a match with everyone using the Smart Pistol will make it a cheap experience if just random killed just because someone saw you and managed a lock on with the Smart Pistol.
The Training is a superb introduction to the playing mechanics of Titanfall for experienced FPS gamers or those new gamers coming to FPS and Titanfall for the first time. I definitely recommend that all players run the training program when they get their copy of the game.
After completing the Training program it was finally time to get time with the game itself, and the first game type we were introduced to was ‘Last Titan Standing’ on the map Fracture. The objective of this game type is simple, wipe out the enemy team of Titan’s and stay alive. Played over a series of rounds, the first to win four rounds wins the match. As you can see from the gameplay above, team work will be key to this game type as going lone wolf with a Titan will quickly see you fall. With no respawns, if your pilot is killed as well as your Titan that is it, you are out of the round. Half time comes after three rounds are played at which point the teams will swap starting positions on the map so no team has a positional advantage for the entire match.
This was a fun game type and a great way to get to grips with how to use a Titan both in attack and in defensive styles whilst getting a feel for the controls, movements and weapons of the Titan. Great moments like the being told the odds are against you when two or more enemy Titans are near you allow you have that extra warning when the action takes away your focus of the mini map to see if enemies are near you. You also learn quite quickly to not have your Titan too close to an enemy Titan in Doom State, the moments before critical damage causes a Titan to explode, as the explosion can take out nearby Titans which in this game type can cost a round or the match. I discovered the nice touch that if you melee attack an enemy Titan when its at its weakest your Titan will rip the cockpit open, grab the enemy Pilot and pull them out of their Titan before disposing of them (at time marker 10.00 in Video).
Immediately getting into combat with 6 enemy Titans and AI controlled Militia grunt soldiers made this an exciting first look at Titanfall. Fracture as a map has open spaces but with cover so when the two teams of Titans meet it is a visual explosion when combat really takes off. Getting to pilot the Atlas Class Titan with different weapon loadouts shows just how key it will be to picking not only the right weapons but the right Class of Titan when going into combat especially in Last Titan Standing. This could be a very popular game type indeed.
Next game type was Attrition, Titanfall’s version of Team Deathmatch, again on the map Fracture. For this game type you as the player start of as a Pilot, after hitting the ground from the drop ship you are thrown right into the action. One of the best things about Titanfall which I really do like, is that getting a Titan is a timed event and will always happen regardless of how well or how badly you might be doing in the match. That way you will always have the rush of adrenalin when you hear the support team tell you through your headset as the countdown to your Titan dropping into the game goes from two minutes to one minute to 30 seconds to “Titanfall is ready”. By having it as a timed event instead of a score or kill streak reward makes the game far more accessible then other FPS games which rely on skill to gain that reward.
As a Pilot you can put all the skills you learned in training to good use as you explore the many dimensions that make up a Titanfall map. You have the ground level combat which is standard FPS, the use of buildings both internal but also giving the map verticality as you can take to the rooftops for the high ground. As a pilot is navigating these different map levels with the ability to free run really expands the combat possible both against enemy pilots, the AI controlled enemy grunt soldiers will drop into the map at random points giving you targets to watch out for on the ground which is why the fact it is only ever 6 Vs 6 human controlled players should not alarm anyone thinking of picking Titanfall up. You will never run out of things to shoot at or defend against as Attrition shows. Throw in the mix of the Titans and you have a seriously fast paced multifaceted game type that combined with the very quick respawns allow you to get back into the action quickly.
One of the best aspects of Attrition is the Epilogue ending to the match. When one team wins, it triggers Epilogue. This is where the losing team is giving the chance to extract to a dropship very much like an ‘Extra Time’ mode. Extra points and XP can be won if you are on the losing team by surviving long enough to make it to the dropship which takes a minute to enter the map and then hoping the dropship survives in order to extract you and your team. The winning team has the pleasure of extra bragging rights. Their task in Epilogue is to wipe out the remaining enemy pilots and Titans. They can also take out the dropship preventing any extraction but this will take serious firepower to accomplish. Epilogue is such a clever and brilliant feature in Titanfall’s Attrition as it allows even the losing team to have a final moment of victory by succeeding in evacuating whilst the already winning team gets to rub it in a little all for those extra points.
Titanfall’s version of the classic FPS Domination game type, this match of Hardpoint Domination was to be played on Angel City map. Three Hardpoints are situated in three buildings, the objective is to capture each Hardpoint to collect points for your team, the more Hardpoints under your team’s control, the faster those points accumulate and the first team to reach (insert score) will win the game.
Angel City is a perfect map to show off this game type. The buildings can be accessed from the ground, from open windows with free running or from the roof. Only Pilots can access the buildings so Titans can be used to defend the zones or take out any enemy pilots in the building with fire. I found this is where the Remote-Control aspect as you can call in your Titan as you are inside a building and set it to guard the zone you are in from outside whilst you keep focus on the Hardpoint itself.
Much like ‘Last Titan Standing’ this will be a game type where good team work and communication will be essential to win the match as getting lost in the combat will distract you from defending or capturing the Hardpoints. I really enjoyed free running between the buildings moving across the three Hardpoint zones with more then enough combat to keep the action high and fast. Map knowledge will be a big help to learn the quick routes and best access to the buildings holding the Hardpoint Zones and it really highlights the agility of the Pilot and makes it a more human then Titan battlefield without making the Titans surplus to requirements.
After nearly ninety minutes of hands on with Titanfall’s gameplay, it was time for my final match of the night and it was to be Attrition on Angel City map. I had two personal goals for this last match. First, achieve MVP status as with more time with the game I was getting the hang of it enough to get close to being the highest scoring player on my team, having been pipped to the post by another awesome Titanfall player in the previous match. There is a challenge to get MVP so it was my mission to make sure I got it this time. The second goal, was to right a wrong from playing the demo at Eurogamer Expo last September. The demo was the same as this match, Attrition on Angel City. first time round my time last and during Epilogue I was the only member of my team to almost make it to the Extraction ship but before I could get in the ship, it was destroyed as I was inches away from landing my double jump into it, so I had every intention of correcting that this time should the chance come up.
I put all the things from previous matches to good use in this final game. It felt more natural moving around the map, knowing when to bring my Titan down for use, how to best use it against enemy Titans and Pilots. As a Pilot, taken out enemy Titan’s by jumping on top and tearing open their head panels and putting them in Doom State. I had a blast going toe to toe like Rocky Balboa vs Apollo Creed having a melee boxing fight with an enemy Titan. Then it game to down to it. Epilogue. Sadly my team lost and like a flashback back to September last year I found myself having to survive and make my way to the extraction ship and this time, I made it to the ship and successfully extracted from the battlefield. Not only that, but I also achieved MVP for my team, showing once again just what an amazing addition Epilogue is to Attrition and titan fall.
So what are my thoughts on Titanfall? Ever since playing the demo for the first time at Eurogamer Expo, and especially after getting a really good hands on with the game as you can see from the above gameplay videos, for me Titanfall is easily an FPS Genre changing level game. Everything about it feels new and improved from the standard fare in FPS titles available over the last decade of Xbox 360 gaming. On Xbox One, Titanfall is simply the best example of New Generation gaming I have seen since the Xbox One launched in November. I can genuinely say that Titanfall is the first real Xbox One console selling game, it is simply that good as an FPS and gaming experience. Its visually stunning when playing as a Pilot or controlling a Titan. The combat is fluid and smooth with no slow down from the moment the match starts to the moment it ends. You naturally pick up the controls and skills needed to play and every game allows you to feel like you kicked butt whether you topped the scoreboard or not because that is the feeling that piloting a Titan gives you.
Microsoft are putting huge amounts of time and money into marketing Titanfall, but they hype that is generating around the game is natural, those who play it love it and rightly so. It feels new and different but is also at the same time the very best example of all FPS series from the last decade of gaming, enhanced and improved upon and delivered with precision and immediate impact. Titanfall will change how FPS games will be developed and played going forward. The FPS genre needed a huge kick up the butt to wake it up for the same old stuff often viewed by thousands as simply the same game just reskinned and released and Titanfall drops and gives it a big old robot punch to the face. On March 14th Titanfall will land on Xbox One and on PC but after seeing and playing it on Xbox One, that is the definitive version of the game for me. Just overnight, the sign up process for the Beta went live. The site will accept signs up until Monday February 17th with codes being issued from Friday February 14th so I urge anyone who is not yet convinced to get Titanfall or just wanting to see what all the hype is about, to sign up and try and get a code.
— Titanfall (@Titanfallgame) February 12, 2014
I would like to thank Abbie Heppe from Respawn Entertainment, Mathew Everette EA Community Manager for Titanfall, Dan Sheridan EA Marketing and Terrie Chilvers from XCN and Microsoft for such an amazing opportunity to have hands on time with Titanfall and for the chance to record and share gameplay of my experience with others, all recorded using Hauppage HD Rocket PVR provided by the event.
Titanfall is released on Xbox One on March 14th and when it drops, FPS gaming will never be the same again.