How Titanfall changed my mind and earned me $5 at Gamescom

I don't hold much faith in first person shooters these days. The last FPS I played that I truly enjoyed would have been Bad Company 2 and I can split that enjoyment 50/50 between it being a good game and the people I was playing with. That opinion however, changed whilst I was in Germany.

I don’t  hold much faith in first person shooters these days. With annual releases like Battlefield and Call of Duty making minor changes in an attempt to keep things fresh whilst not pissing off the hordes of *Ahem* fans, can anyone blame me? The last FPS I played that I truly enjoyed would have been Bad Company 2 and I can split that enjoyment 50/50 between it being a good game and the people I was playing with. That opinion however, changed whilst I was in Germany.

The EA booth was massive as expected, it was an expo inside an expo and because of the way things were set-up we didn’t manage to check out every title they had on show, so we prioritised. Peggle 2 was clearly our first stop (and just an FYI, it rocked) after which we’d check out Titanfall and a few others. Titanfall was in the middle of a list at this point for me, it wasn’t a game I was truly excited about, but it was a game I personally was interested in seeing and I knew others would want us to see it as well. It’s easy enough to make a shooter look impressive from trailers and presentations, but until I had some hands-on time with it, Titanfall would remain in this list.

A few minutes after I’d started playing, all concern had disappeared. The game flowed as smooth as the presentations showed, the level we were playing was filled with ways to get around, the narrow streets and corridors of the FPS genre no longer confining you, instead they freed you. Streets that once would have directed you now instead gave you the freedom to jump from one side to another, up over a building and dash away. Buildings became playthings, allowing you vantage or ambush points and if the time came, escape routes. The level also had open areas as well, a meeting square in the middle meant death for any Titan or Pilot stupid enough to go in alone. On the outskirts of the level plots of grass and open areas of road met you, welcoming either brave Pilots seeking to creep round behind the enemy, or foolish Pilots who thought they were safer on the edges of battle.

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And then came a truly interesting moment. Titanfall. I didn’t get to call down my first Titan, instead moments after I received the go ahead to call one down I took a bullet to the back of the head, I spawned as my first Titan and it was at this moment the game changed. Prior to getting my Titan, the game was fast paced wall running, enjoyable spots of parkour assisting me in securing kills and avoiding death. But the Titan, shifts the game down in speed and up in carnage. The Titan is by no means unstoppable, and if you’re stupid, you’ll lose one quicker than it took to call it down. But if you know what you’re doing, you can become death on legs, and you can make the enemy team have a really bad day. I only had one Titan in the first round, but it lasted long enough that I didn’t notice, surviving for minutes and taking out several enemy Titans. My first experience in a Titan wasn’t one of intense pleasure, it was one of reflection and understanding, seeing how two different styles of game could come together and trying my best not to explode before I’d at least had a little fun. My second experience in a Titan however… Well.

The second round we played, everyone had a few kills under their belt, they knew the map a little better and the game for me progressed normally until a voice in game told me I was clear for Titanfall. This time around, I decided to see just what a Titan was capable of. I played on the edge of the open square killing pilots and waiting for enemy Titans to appear, at which point boosting forwards I managed to punch one of them in half. The next Titan that came round the corner my Titan punched through the cockpit and ripped out the pilot before discarding him like trash. Words cannot describe the joy that escaped me at watching that ragdoll fly. Sadly my time in a Titan came to an end as I foolishly walked in to an EMP death cloud and had to abort. I decided that this might be the best time to test out just how a Pilot faces up to a Titan if done right.

A lot of precision has been put in to the levels when it comes to freeing you and yet at the same time, protecting you. I tried to take down Titans without getting my meaty flesh suit exploded, which consisted of playing smart and using the cover provided. Pilots are given an Anti-Titan weapon to assist in bringing those bad boys down, and if that’s not enough you can jump on top of one of them as well and cause chaos (this works for friendly Titans as well, you can catch a ride on one if you so choose). At one point I swear I saw a Pilot hi-jack a Titan by jumping on it, however I can’t be sure, so until I see it again, that’s just the ramblings of a crazy man.

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When the dust settled, and we’d finished our two rounds, I reflected back on what I had just played, and realised for the first time in a good few years, I was actually looking forward to an FPS game. Titanfall managed to blend so many aspects of FPS games together, solid gunplay, fast paced fluid well designed maps, mechs, fast and fragile Pilots, slower stronger Titans in to a game that not only felt unique,  but felt enjoyable, didn’t feel like it was trying to force one of these pieces in to the rest of the game.

But what about the $5? Just before we went in, we were discussing controls. Concern was raised by other parties that we’d be playing on controllers, I can see why this is a problem for some, thankfully the stupid amounts of hours I put in to Halo means I’m at least able to use a controller without trying to eat it. It was at this point I remembered something. Last year we’d discussed Crysis 3 with one of the producers, and he’d explained that they brought 2 rows of PCs and 1 row of Xboxs to play the game on, because they were in Germany, turning up without PCs would be a tad foolish. A small glimmer of hope appeared at this point, maybe Titanfall would use Mouse and Keyboard, I was of course scoffed at for this, called a fool, the notion of such a thing being possible was laughable, and yet when we walked in to that room, I was able to proudly, and a little loudly proclaim “Ha! You owe me 5 bucks!”

Our experiences with Titanfall were with Mouse and Keyboard, and I’m honestly looking forwards to getting my hands on it again in the future.

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Dave Spanton

Dave Spanton

Unable to juggle or whistle, Dave handles the PR side of things at LT3 and also is one of the main content creators for the site. Which means if something's broken, you can most likely blame him.

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