The Titanfall Hype, Explained

The Titanfall Hype, Explained

If you haven't played Titanfall yourself yet, you may be one of those wondering: what the hell is with all the hype around that game? It's just another shooter, right? Not quite. It's better.

I'll admit it — I'm one of those people excited about Titanfall; one of those people who can't stop talking about Titanfall or telling her friends to start playing the beta with her. Who keeps saying that this is what first-person shooters have been missing. That it's a reinvigorated first-person shooter. And it's not just about the Titans (although it's very much about the Titans).

Let me explain, at least from my perspective, why this hype is justified.

1. Enemy AI

NPCs? What? Hear me out.

There's a lot of action going on in a Titanfall multiplayer match, but not all of it is controlled by human players. Each team gets a group of computer-controlled teammates. Enemy fodder in the form of grunt AI means that less skilled players can keep up with everyone else. You're not stuck watching kill cams of people demolishing you with far superior weapons, realising it'll take you ages before you can level up enough to get your hands on one of those.

You don't feel hopeless playing Titanfall. You feel encouragement. Every goal — every weapon you lust over — is one that excites you, not that you dread just thinking about. Every kill — even the easy AI ones — gets you closer to levelling up and therefore closer to those unlocks. So even if you can't seem to kill other pilots with the frequency as those players on the top of your team's leaderboard, you can still get a feel for success on the battlefield.

One thing is true of all first-person shooters: the more you play, the better you get. But as opposed to a series like Call of Duty where the thought of getting shot down every round without so much as getting to mutter a curse of outrage in before it's stifled, Titanfall gives you some amount of reward while playing. It's still challenging and there's still room for competition without completely dismissing players who can't quite handle the game on that level just yet. And if you're just too good for the grunt kills, they're easily avoidable and identifiable on the map. It's better for everyone.

The Titanfall Hype, Explained

2. Movement

Titanfall takes the typical run-and-gun experience and turns it into something of a battle ballet. You can run on a slant against walls, double-jump with a jetpack and grab onto high ledges. Stringing them all together lets you practically glide through the maps. This is expert-level movement.

Instead of just running face-first or flanking your way to your target like in most first-person shooters, you can maximise the effectiveness of your knowledge of the map and of people's predictable behaviour on it by zigzagging between buildings, from high up on their walls. You're not beholden to the layout of just the innards of buildings and obstacles on the field outside. You don't have to take on a Titan from a vulnerable position on the ground — you can sprint and crawl your way up buildings for the height advantage.

Games like Brink have experimented with upwards movement before, but it's never quite been as well-executed as this. And it's a trend that I'm happy to see more of and hope to continue to be impressed by.

The Titanfall Hype, Explained

3. The Mechs, Obviously

Everyone can get into a Titan. From the moment the game starts a counter on the screen lets you know how long you've got until your Titan arrives. It's not one of those elusive gold medal achievements that only the best of the best can grab. Sure, the more you kill, the more time gets knocked off your timer, and the faster you can get your hands on your big metal suit. But the important distinction here is that everyone gets a chance at rampaging around in the game's best, most powerful weapon. You're not limited to experiencing the game based on the confines of your skill level. Of course, the better you are the more the game will open up to you — that's just the nature of any multiplayer experience. It's fun at the top.

But making sure everyone has a shot at the game's best feature is one of the game's smartest design choices.

Even if you're not in a mech you still have a chance at taking one down as a lowly pilot, too. You can leap onto the mech's back and shoot the wiring in its head until it falls to its knees or work your way up a tall building to call up an anti-titan RPG to shoot the hell out of it from a safe distance. Power is an open opportunity for everyone, and it's never crippling but rather overpowered in the best of ways.

***

Titanfall is accessible, but not in a way that ostracizes its more skilled players. Think about it: what is the most cited reason people stay away from playing even well-made first-person shooters? It's an easy answer, everyone knows: all those 12-year-olds we like to joke about who have way too much free time to practice. It puts adults with maybe a spare hour or two to play at a huge disadvantage. And it's just not fun playing on an uneven field. So a well-made game feels like a bad experience. How can that be, right? It doesn't really make that much sense. Or at least it shouldn't.

But Titanfall seems to have found a way to bridge that gap. In the roughly two days I've been playing the beta, I've found that there are still good rounds and rounds you could've done better in, but it's never overwhelmingly negative. Failures aren't crushing, they're motivations for the next round. And that's what first-person shooters have been missing: a way to bring all kinds of players into one battlefield without making everyone want to chuck the controller aside in favour of a less...social game. And, yeah, maybe everyone (including myself) has been going on about this game a little too hard. But I can't really blame them, either.


Comments

    Fair summary - I'm not a fan of COD, and this feels better.

    IMHO it still suffers from being a bit too twitchy, though. Unless you pretty much constantly spin around checking your back/corners, you will inevitably get killed a lot by people darting through a door behind you and killing you in 1-2 shots before you get a chance to react.

    I would prefer it if the game's weapons were a bit slower and less accurate, so that there was more scope for sweet wall-running gunfights.

      Personally I really dislike the auto-aim pistol. Admittedly that's probably because I was killed by it on many occasions.

        It's cheap, but not in a way that affects game balance.

        It's only really useful to people who were probably going to get the drop on you anyway, it's useless without a lock and takes ages to lock on pilots. If it were a sidearm it would be OP but as a primary loadout weapon it's very nicely balanced (and so much fun to wipe out a squad of grunts in one trigger pull!).

          It should at least give the pilot being locked on to some kind of audio clue. The only other one-hit-kill-on-unsuspecting-players is the melee execution and that has the audio of the guys footsteps as he approaches you, and currently the smart pistol is that but silent and with way more range.

            I don't disagree with your point but I still think the length of the lock reduces the smart pistol's effectiveness, and you lose the lock if you break line-of-sight. You'll get your lock at mid-range on open ground but under those same circumstances you'd be dead whether your opponent was using a smart pistol or the carbine, unless they're completely incapable of aiming. I don't see the smart pistol as a "one-hit" execution weapon like you do.

              I find the smart pistol to be (relatively) balanced in frontal encounters and my only complaint is my aforementioned complaint of getting killed from out of view without warning, and on your mention that if they could kill you with the smart pistol from behind then they would've killed you with other weapons anyway, I say bullshit (no offence).

              If someone starts shooting me from behind my first reaction is just walk off the roof. That applies regardless of if the weapon in suppressed or not.

              Actually another complaint but a lot smaller (but still involving an absence of a lock-on audio cue) is you don't know if they know your there.
              example: I see an enemy shooting from a window and I try to run through the door under the window before he sees me. If he had a normal weapon (and assuming you live) then either he didn't shoot at you and it's fair to say he was unaware of your presence, or he fired at you and you react accordingly.
              But if he had a smart pistol then (assuming you live, aka you made it through the door before lock-on was completed) you have no idea if he was aware of your presence.

              It's a very specific example but I have had situations where the absence of "return fire" leads me to make choices I wouldn't have otherwise made (going for an execution instead of just shooting him) only to be killed in one hit by the player who was seemingly unaware of my presence.

      as a Battlefield player, im used to the controlled gameplay that BF requires to shoot and navigate the maps

      ive played cod and enjoy the Close quarter fast action for satisfying kill counts. But it gets boring quickly

      I find this game is a nice balance of both and offers variety in the form of: weapons, mechs, maps, game modes, and vertical scalability

      My first 10 minutes of the game was this:

      Jump out of a drop ship (mind blown)
      run up a hill, wall jump through a building
      meet the enemy for the first time. trying to get used to the speed of the weapons and controlls and get killed
      Got used to it by second spawn
      Ran back to same place. Got a kill
      Flanked the enemy via tunnel using the jetpack
      got a kill with primary
      got a kill with melee kick
      got a kill with secondary
      grenade kill
      run away, hide and reload
      continue through tunnel, repeat above 5 times
      finally die
      advised that titan is ready just as i was getting overwhelmed
      call titan, jump in with a mind blowing animation
      titan online, wreak havok stepping on enemies and blow stuff up until titan is destroyed
      Auto ejected out of titan and launched into the clouds
      land and proceed to repeat the above until dead
      Round ended

      Sat there in disbelief looking at my score. level 1 ranked to level 3, MVP player in the round

      First game, first 10 minutes

      Pickup jaw. Repeat

      also only realised by second round that half the units i killed were grunts and not human players. but there were so many units at once, it was a blur as to which was what, so i just went nuts with rapid succession firing at anything that moved.
      heart was pumping like crazy in a good way

      Last edited 18/02/14 2:46 pm

        I think we can all agree that you are a god who walks the earth.

          You should watch Robbaz playing the game, absolutely dominates
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qt3jNJHwIWk

          lol the point i was trying to make was that i am just an average player
          whilst i top score in various games occaissionally. i am so inconsistent

          so it blew my mind how well i play for a game i never touched

          and i didnt even realise until the round ended because so much was happenning that my heart was pumping

          Also, the fact that half the kills were of AI grunts made it more understandable how i got so many streaks

      mmmm I'm not convinced Titanfall will have mich longevity. I feel like the novelty action sequences of having a dude on the back of your mech wear of it'll get get boring quick.

      Also the auto lock pistol thing. Seriously. WHAT THE.

      Your playing a fps with a gamepad bro, "twitchy" doesn't apply here.

    FMD I'm sick of .gifs in articles. It makes it extremely hard to read text when all you see is jumpy jumpy jerky fast movement from the .gifs surrounding the text.

      Thankfully Serrels's articles are mercifully free of such abominations :)

      Last edited 18/02/14 1:55 pm

        Well, except that one time when he posted a bunch of gifs.

          Oops must have missed that ;)
          ... at least it's not the case for EVERY one of his articles, maybe that was my point

      It's gotten to the point where I've actually disabled animations being played in webpages. I'm not sure I've ever missed it

      Seconded.

      The odd gif is fine, massive gifs on every damn article is ridiculous. Embed videos (WITHOUT auto play) or GTFO.

      Get Firefox, add SuperStop and Shift-ESC will stop that stuff from being an annoying eye-sore.

        I think with IE you can just hit escape and it stops animations, I think chrome might do the same

          That doesn't mean you don't download 20 - 80 MB of gifs though. I can download several indie games the same size that are more interesting.

      Learn to read better maybe? No issue reading any text no matter what is moving around it.

    I’ve found that there are still good rounds and rounds you could’ve done better in, but it’s never overwhelmingly negative

    This is the problem I've had with most games ever since about Halo 3 where people started putting emphasis on making sure the other players don't enjoy the game. It started seeping into other games and it really seems like the only real way to enjoy multiplayer games today is to be a total dick. So this is nothing but good news.

    The reason why I think everybody is getting hyped for the game is that it has focus and a soul. In recent years a lot of videogames have mainly been products shipped out following a set amount of guidelines. Games containing stuff from other games because those games were successful. It's what CoD eventually turned into, with Ghosts looking like it had nothing to offer except for being last years model. Only released because it had to.

    Now Titanfall, it seems like there's a reason why they created it, they wanted to share something with gamers. They had an idea that they wanted to share with people and people wanted to share that idea with them. They don't have a single player game because there probably wasn't a campaign or story that they wanted to share. They wanted a parkour FPS with robots, they solely focused on delivering that, and it looks fantastic because of it.

    I noticed the accessibility when I jumped in for my first foray last night. The customisation is fairly simple and progression is fast. I don't enjoy the CoD games much (though I have almost all of them) but this does seem like it's going to be a lot more fun.

    I question however the longevity. I'm just not sure there is enough depth at first glance to keep people playing this for the next year or so until a new iteration is released.

      Pretty there are plenty of maps and modes coming as this is just beta with very limited amount of game mode. CoD with the repetitiveness survived for so many years, I don't think Titanfall will lose anytime soon.

    Ok Titanfall, you had my curiosity, now you have my attention.

    Am I totally crazy or did they say during early development that this was something in between a single player and multiplayer experience? Definitely looks like an MP game to me.

      Apparently they're going to try and express the story through the multiplayer... somehow. I can see how it might work, because there's defintiely lore backing the gameplay, but we'll see.

      It's definitely very multiplayer-focused. However, there's a game mode in the full game called 'Campaign Multiplayer'. They've been avoiding explaining this so far, but I imagine they'll attempt to add some basic world-building story in around each round of shooting other players in the face.

    The Beta only shows the competitive multiplayer side of things in a limited capacity but I can see the potential for 'Lore' to carry through the SP/MP

    So the game is for n00bs who want lots of easy kills. Not a game of skill. Got it.

    Last edited 18/02/14 8:50 pm

      This is NOT at all what the article is saying. In fact, you got it EXACTLY WRONG.
      It makes it more of a level playing field for all players while allowing skilled players to be challenged but also unskilled, new players. Everyone wins, not everyone loses.

    The main problem that I have is with the titan movement. It has a decent feeling of inertia but they still turn like they weigh nothing

      I agree i felt a little underwhelmed when i got into a robot boxing match, really didnt feel like 10 tonne titans hitting each other.

      but otherwise a refreshing and fun game, its a must have for me.

    Set the Titan to follow, loadout 40mmHE

    bestest friend ever.

    I agree with this article. However, I'd like to add one more:
    4. End of match
    When a match end, you're either required to escape to a dropship or destroy it/hunt those fleeing.
    This was a big deal for me, cause losing a match didn't feel so bad - I could still escape!
    It's a fun mini-game in itself - when the match ends, it's cat + mouse, Titan on autopilot and sacrifice it for your escape, try stealth to the dropship or guns blazing, etc. Some of the most fun has been in the last minute of a losing match, no other game has done that for me.

    I see your points and agree to an extent, but I'm sorry, the enemy AI is so damn bad; I feel bad for point farming killing them, not like I'm good or anything. I see what they're going for, but I still really think I'd like more pilots and bigger maps to accommodate them but keep the dynamic the same. Reached the lvl 14 cap in the first two days and it's really not as fun anymore. Obviously because I'm not really progressing is a factor, but I just don't think the gameplay is enough to sustain my interest for as long as say Battlefield.

    I feel Battlefield, at least BC2 and 3, have much more choice and tactics available, so you can fill a niche in a match or use the dynamic to take the advantage, but with Titanfall it's either pilot or titan. That's about it.

    I'm sure it is, i'm just simply not interested. Mechanics and strategy and balance are all cool but i'm sick of playing a terrible action/sci fi tv show over and over again. I want new ways of telling stories and challenging the player on an emotional/intellectual level, that's where the next generation lies with me. Whoever can interest and challenge me the most will always be more worthwhile than listing a bunch of features.

      That's like saying you don't like a particular sport because it doesn't have a good story to it :P

      Seriously though, this is nothing but a multi-player game. It's clear that Titanfall has some kind of story to it about rebels vs the establishment but eh, I don't really care. I'm there for the sport. I have two diets in gaming, competitive and story. My favourite two games last gen would be Skyrim and Trials Evolution. One of them is all story and the other has none. The game I'm most interested in for the Xbone is not even unannounced yet, it's whatever Bethesda's next open world game is. But then there's my multiplayer side.

        The only sports game i ever liked was Death row......had a good story :P

    I've been playing the BETA non-stop since it launched. Considering we only have two maps, one Titan, and I reached lvl 14 on the second day of playing the BET, and I'm still thinking about playing Hardpoint the second I finish this comment, I'd say that I'll have no worries about the retail game holding me over for the next year or so... or at the very least, until Destiny and Halo XO are out.

    So what's the average life expectancy of a Titan?

      It really depends on your style of play...

      If you run straight in to the middle of some heavy action, you could literally last 30 seconds.
      Play it smart and make sure to get to cover once your shield is down, could last 5+ minutes.
      I think an average may be around 2-3 minutes.

      It doesn't seem long, but in an average attrition (team deathmatch) game I'd usally go through two Titans - finishing the game with last one still alive.

      Last edited 18/02/14 4:52 pm

    Every game should have a slow-mo replay of a match.

    The two things I like the most about Titanfall are the free running and the epilogues.

    The free running is amazing. It's so much fun. I use the stim perk and the extended wall running perk and I use the bumper jumper control scheme so I don't have to take my finger off the aiming stick in order to jump. So I'm basically a ninja. I've been learning to do crazy runs. It's especially good capturing territories, I can get to capture point in the middle of the map and capture it often before the enemy can make it there. It's like the first time you played Assassin's Creed and realised you could go anywhere and do crazy stuff. I honestly think going from Titanfall to COD will feel like going from riding a BMX to using a wheelchair. COD seems so limiting and pedestrian in comparison. In fact, I love the movement so much I often don't get into my Titan, I just call it down and let it roam behind me and take out enemies or I set it to guard objectives. In my Titan I'm a huge roaming target, limited to the streets, but on foot I'm a nimble assassin reaching the tallest places and snapping necks. There'll be no end to the different kinds of techniques people will discover on each map, especially in competitive play. I'm excited to see the trick and jumps people will dream up.

    Here's a vid of one of my opening runs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXn1oxCnbvM

    The 'epilogues' to each match. This ensures that every match ends with an exclamation point. In other games, it often ends anticlimactically, you're one point away from winning and you're walking somewhere and then the score board comes up, and that's the end. With Titanfall after the winner and loser is decided everyone suddenly has one life left and the losing team must board a space ship to escape. As the winning team you can try to kill the losers while they're trying to escape or you can focus all of your fire on the escape ship and explode it. And it's great if you're on the losing team too, it's your one chance to give the winning team the middle finger. It's the ultimate consolation prize. There's no feeling like sitting in your ship, ready to depart, feeling the rockets and bullets slam into the hull and hoping she holds together, and finally seeing your ship get away and reach warp speed. It's a great way to bring everybody in the game to one single location for a conclusion to the fight.

    Last edited 18/02/14 5:59 pm

    COD/Battlefield + Transformers = Titanfall

    nuff said! :D

    It's good, it's really good. But my mind works by thinking of improvements straight away. But I have no idea if they'll be included in the full game, and I'll literally be in love if they are because they're game developers that can read my mind. OR if they'll not be included, and I'll still like it a lot.

    My biggest complaint is one that for sure will be fixed, and that's variety. Not just maps and weapons, but AI responses, where they go and what they do. I always encounter them in the exact same pose and place. So I really don't want it to be released soon, I want it to push it to the limits of imagination in design.

    Point being, I want them to realize just how amazing the game is already, and see that's it's a huge launchpad of potential, that they can improve in every direction and push it really hard for more than imaginable.

    Anyone who thinks this sounds good should probably check out Planetside 2 in the meantime. Quite a lot of similar concepts, slightly less structured battle by the sounds.

    So is this a game version of Attack on Titan?

    I got to lvl 13 or 14 (can't remember which the beta was limited to) and stopped playing. It was fun enough, but seriously, I can see people getting sick of this game quickly. It seems to follow the formula of "Three minutes of pilots shooting each other, then MECHS." Being in a Titan is the most boring part of the game for me. It's a perfect recipe for a game that accomidates to literally everyone, but I am already bored. Probably won't buy/10

    I had a decent amount of fun playing this last night.
    there were points where i felt awesome and pulled off some great moves and other where i got my ass handed to me.
    so far it feels nicely balanced.
    my favorite ever arena shooter is unreal tournament.
    are there objective based stages. i loved the assault levels in UT

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