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Our Takes on the Titanfall Beta

We have several gamers here at BestTechie, and over the past few days, a few of them took part in Respawn’s Titanfall beta. Shawn did so on the Xbox One, where the beta was actually open to anyone with the console. Both Brian Hough and Landon played the beta on their PCs, where entry was a bit more limited.

After shooting all of the guns, steering all of the Titans and ejecting back to their laptops, each put together their thoughts on the beta, and Landon even made a great video (below).

Shawn (Xbox One)

Titanfall has been hyped since it was first announced back at last year’s E3, and that hype has followed it past the Xbox One’s somewhat lackluster launch lineup and right into the game’s public beta. Titanfall isn’t an Xbox One exclusive (it’s also coming out for PC and the Xbox 360) but it’s arguably much more important to that platform than it is to the others, given the drought of compelling Xbox One titles the past few months.

The PC always has a steady stream of games coming to it. The Xbox 360 has an enormous library already, with more games on the way. So Titanfall finds itself in the somewhat unenviable position of having to be the Xbox One’s first “must-have” title, despite coming from a third-party nearly four months after launch. It could be the first game that really sells systems, but again, it’s all going to come back to that word: hype. Can Titanfall live up to the considerable hype surrounding it, or will it be just another “blah” title for Microsoft’s next-gen console?

After spending a few days playing the Titanfall beta, I’m pretty confident the full game will at least meet all of the lofty expectations. And there’s definitely room to surpass them.

When you jump into the Titanfall beta for the first time, it does a great job getting you acclimated to the control scheme. And this is no Halo; there’s a lot more to swallow here in terms of how certain controls work in certain situations. The beta puts you into a sort of training mode to start, where you’re taught how to perform certain actions, like wall running or shooting with the smart pistol. Once you wrap up training, you’re allowed to jump right into multiplayer matches, and you’ll feel prepared enough to hold your own.

The Titanfall approach to multiplayer gameplay feels really fresh to me. My favorite aspect about it so far is that you don’t get the sense that any one player is untouchable. It’s not like Halo or Call of Duty, where opponents can feel like they’re light years ahead of you in terms of skill and experience. There’s just so much going on — players running around, Titans battling each other — that going after the “weak link,” or camping out in the same place just isn’t practical or smart. And that really goes a long way toward making each matchup feel unique.

What it is, really, is balance. And when a game is multiplayer-only like Titanfall is, with no single-player campaign to fall back on, the multiplayer needs to be as fun and balanced as possible. It remains to be seen how the finished product will play, but the beta has me pretty excited to pick the game up when it drops in March.

Landon (PC)

I’ve played a lot of shooters over the years, and sunk my teeth hard into Call of Duty’s online multiplayer following the revolution that was Call of Duty 4. But what’s exhilarating and exciting about Titanfall is its sheer sense of speed and frictionless movement that keeps the action going persistently. Even when I’m not in a titan, I feel a sense of power, since you have smaller foes to pick off in Grunts and Specters instead of just enemy pilots. I can leap onto a wall, sprint and hop onto another, grab a ledge, swing through a window, gun a player down and grab a control point. By then, I can call in my robot buddy.

And when I do call in that titan, see it rocket down from our mothership and slam into the ground, shaking the area around it, that’s an injection of pure adrenaline. I’ve done it probably a hundred times since the beta started, and it hasn’t gotten old yet.

Where the challenge will be for Titanfall is not in dolling out the fun, but giving players enough content in the form of modes and maps to keep the action varied and interesting. Even though I haven’t yet tired of the handful of maps in the beta, a few new buildings and fields would be welcome inclusions.

Brian H. (PC)

Titanfall feels like one of those events that comes just once or twice in a console generation’s lifetime. A brand new, genre shattering franchise that not only dramatically improves on the core experience of its predecessors, but revitalizes the entire genre; while other supposed “next-generation” first person shooter titles – Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 in particular – feel like they’re going through the motions, providing more of the “oohs” and “aahhs” and dramatic, graphically impressive spectacle that new entires often manage to do, Titanfall is something that none of these competitors can even come close to claiming. Titanfall is the first truly next generation FPS.

The game at its core is simple – you’re given a couple of Pilot classes and Titan classes to pick through, and then within seconds you’re running through the maps, shooting at anything that moves. While that may sound all too familiar at this point, there are some key differences to the way Titanfall approaches gameplay. While the tried and true Call of Duty and Battlefield method of running to a nice, secluded spot and shooting at anything that walks by is technically possible in Titanfall, it’s less than ideal and seems to happen a whole lot less; instead, players are encouraged to keep moving. Find a building and climb it; crouch on a street lamp, fly into the building across the way’s windows. Jump on the back of a Titan and blow it up from the inside out. Titanfall is a game that keeps you on your toes in a way that other shooters just don’t do, and it makes playing feel exciting in a way that shooters just haven’t since the days of Call of Duty 4 or perhaps even Halo 2.

That’s not to say it’s a perfect experience. While Titanfall feels like a next generation title, it certainly falls short to Battlefield when it comes to graphics. I played the beta both on a PC set to the highest graphical settings as well as the Xbox One. And while both delivered the sort of silky smooth 60 FPS gameplay that the folks at Respawn are known for, there’s just nothing insanely beautiful about the game in a way that one might come to expect from a next generation title. I also missed the feeling of tactical decisions that come from selecting and deploying the sort of perks and kill streaks that has become a Call of Duty staple that was seemingly lacking in the beta. It’s not a huge downer, but it is one area where Titanfall feels one step back.

As the beta period draws to a close, I find myself thinking one prevailing thought – how can I go back to playing those other shooters for an entire month while I wait for my Titanfall pre-order to show up? Imagine being shown the future, as wonderful and spectacular as you ever dreamed – there were jetpacks, and giant robots, and advanced humanoid like robots. But then, as easy as it came, that future was gone – and you were stuck in the boring old predictable present. That’s what playing the Titanfall beta felt like.


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— Shawn Farner

Shawn Farner is a Harrisburg-based tech blogger who has been involved in online media for over eight years. He covers consumer electronics, Web companies, and gaming.


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