I have a shameful secret. It’s something I have kept close to me all these years, but finally I feel safe to speak out. I hate online FPS games. I hate them. I think the premise is boring, the players are unpleasant to one another and, most importantly, I am not good at them. In Call of Duty I was a bullet magnet and in Halo, I was average at best. Mentioning CounterStrike makes my masculinity shrivel into a walnut of shame. After I moved to China and my awful net connection made me a liability to my team, I quietly and happily stopped playing.
I missed spending time with my buddies online, but other than that I have no regrets because FPS is just not the genre for me. So when I was offered a Titanfall beta code I accepted it, somewhat begrudgingly. And then I actually played Titanfall.
Wait, this is something new.
Titanfall is not your standard FPS. The pilots’ parkour skills make battles huge and three-dimensional. The game rewards you for thinking outside the box. You can ambush enemy players from above, below or any other variation you can think of. You can leap onto a friendly Titan’s shoulders and ride it to the action or you can race across rooftops like Jason Bourne. Everything is an option.
The perks are well chosen. I play with a shotgun because I am a crap shot. But, with the cloaking device, I can get up close without having to worry about that god damned sniper. Titanfall doesn’t feel like an online shooter, it feels more like Crysis than Call of Duty. Twitchy reflexes are awesome but I don’t have them. Yet for the first time in an online FPS, I didn’t need them, because Titanfall gives you enough options that they are not essential.
And of course, there are the Titans. They are big, scary and powerful but they are also incredibly fragile. A Titan-less pilot can take down a Titan with a few well placed rockets or, if they are willing to rodeo that metal-mutha*. Empty a few clips into a Titan’s brainbox and watch it go nuclear. There is nothing more exhilarating than taking down a Titan with a shotgun and if I can do it, anyone can.
A few hints for fellow n00bs
It took me a while to hit my stride in Titanfall, so let me share a few tips that would have saved me a lot bullet holes and Titan squashings:
1) Use parkour and and stay out of big open spaces.
Being caught out in the open, under the gaze of a steel giant, means death. Titanfall is full of nooks, crannies, windows and tunnels. Use them. Your pilot is a ninja; he can climb, wall-run and double jump. Use these skills to stay out of Titan-sight and to prevent ambush from other players.
2) Do not be afraid of AI mode
AI mode is your friend. In AI mode there are two hostile targets to take down instead of one. You and your Titan are a team, so don’t forget about her (yes her, and her name is Geraldine) or only use her as an offensive weapon. Your Titan can guard a chokepoint, distract an enemy Titan, or even accidently squish a pilot as she follows you around.
3) Don’t get bogged down in Titan-on-Titan combat unless it’s necessary.
I have lost count of the number of times I have won, or lost a hard point match because my team or theirs are too busy playing on their Titans. Titans are useful and they are cool but don’t forget that killing Titans, even in a Titan, is not easy. Don’t lose sight of what’s going on around you.
Sometimes, it’s easier for a well placed pilot to take down a Titan than it is for a Titan to take down a Titan.
4) Shooting skills rusty/non-existent?
Grab the smart pistol with auto-lock: it works great and is the bane of my life. You’ll need to master some stealthy moves to use it but trust me, many of the most badass players I have met are sporting that sexy weapon. If you hear people bitching about others using it, it just means they got killed by it.
Prefer something a little faster? Grab a shotgun!
I will be buying Titanfall
When I first read about Titanfall, I never for one moment thought I would be purchasing it. It was so far removed from my gameplay preferences that it barely merited comment. After playing the beta, I have changed my mind completely. If you are like me, I urge you to give Titanfall a chance before ruling it out, because this is not just a great game, this is a game-changer.