Hands-on first impressions: Titanfall Beta

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I’ve read a whole lot about Titanfall, and I’ve seen a bunch of videos showing off the game in action, but none of it came close to playing the actual game. As good as it looks in videos, as cool as Titans have looked as they smash down to Earth from orbiting dropships, I found playing the game to be even better.

When I could get in, that is. As Titanfall is a multiplayer-only game and I was playing the beta, getting into a match was difficult. I experienced connection issues galore, and I only got into one out of every five matches that I tried to join. Hopefully those connectivity issues will be ironed out before the actual launch of the game in March, and this beta test is showing Respawn Entertainment what will be needed at go-live time.

Errors bugs whatever
Boo to connection problems.

So in between connection attempts I played through the game’s Pilot Training, and was promptly shown how to double-jump, use my smart pistol (no real aiming skill required), jump out of harm’s way in my Titan and many other skills that would come in handy on the battlefield. Turns out, the controls are easy as pie to get the hang of, and if you’ve played any other FPS from the past few years you’ll be right at home in no time. I know because I was.

Once I finally managed to get into the actual game, though, I absolutely loved what I saw. It’s not so much Titanfall’s graphics that blew me away (although they certainly are pretty), it was more the actual combat – it’s really fast, much faster than Call of Duty’s, even. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun – running around levels as a huge Titan is sheer exhilaration as the controls and weapons magically convey this incredible sense of size. The constant action just doesn’t let up, either, leaving no time for anything but reflex, and it’s really, really good.

Each game starts off with all players on foot and a set countdown to the arrival of the first Titans on the battlefield. Each enemy kill takes off a few seconds, which often means one team gets their first Titan long before the other team, giving them a significant advantage in battle. The Titan’s fall is as spectacular to see in-game as it was in the videos I’d seen, and piloting it left me feeling like a kid living his “badass mech” fantasies for real.

titans 2
Me in my mech, about to be toasted by those two other mechs.

There are various loadouts to choose from, too, in terms of both the Pilot and your Titan, which also mixes things up. Playing as an Assassin was my favourite role, as I had a cloak and a smart gun that let me be really sneaky and rack up a lot of headshots that I would have otherwise missed. Other loadouts give you assault rifles and shotguns to use, which weren’t even half as much fun as my aim-lite smart gun. The Titans come in different flavours, too, my favourite being the one with the Artillery loadout that comes with a quad-rocket launcher. Ah, destruction!

Smart Pistol
See that red line? That’s where my bullet’s about to go.

I’d been looking forward to seeing how the Epilogues in the game work out, and the real thing didn’t disappoint. Epilogues are a small window of time after a defeat or a victory where the winners must chase down the losers and the losers must try to escape in a dropship, and it’s just as much fun as I had hoped. It adds a sting to losing and the opportunity to rub it in for the winners, and it’s much better than merely ending the round and showing stats like other games do.

What’s worse than losing? Gloating. But it sure is fun.

I noticed my ping time was quite high for an online first person shooter – in the 250ms range – and that the datacentre I was connected to was in Western Europe, but despite this my game didn’t lag much, and nor did it affect my effectiveness. That was a pleasant surprise that I hope holds true for all South African gamers as they get into Titanfall in March.

I must say, I’m handily impressed by what I’ve seen of Titanfall’s beta. I will go out on a limb and say this is the next Call of Duty – it has the frenetic pace of those games, but with some much-needed originality to set it apart. EA is going to be laughing all the way to the bank with this one.

I honestly can’t wait for its March 14 release. It’ll be out for the Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC, and I hope to see you online shortly after it launches.

Deon du Plessis

Deon du Plessis

Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.