By Etienne Dubuc
Titanfall, one of the most hyped video game of 2014 opened its beta doors last week. Gamers can now see for themselves if the first outing of Respawn entertainment really is a game changer to the First-Person Shooter world.
Weighting in at 12 gig, the beta ain't a small one, making fans hope for the best. While you can explore three game modes with three different pilot class and three different Titans on two different maps, the player will rapidly feel pretty familiar with everything.
Let's not beat around the bush, Titanfall is a FPS in all it's glory; if you've never been a fan of Call of Duty, Battlefield, Halo or any other FPS you are not going to fall for this one either. It is not a game changer, but it does put a new coating of paint to a style of game that's been pretty much stalling for a couple years.
Under that fresh paint there's still the same mechanics of class choices with different habilities, the twitch gameplay, the short matches, the big maps and everything that makes the FPS genre so appealing to some many players.
But we're here to talk about the innovation right? The developing team decided to add some artificial intelligence grunts to the online matches. Neat idea? Well, as of right now yes and no. The grunts are so, so stupid, I've been able to stand right in front of a group of five and still come out alive while each one lay on the ground and I'm a pretty standard player. Those NPC will not change the course of a match ever if the AI is kept that low after the beta period. This is a sad thing in my opinion as having that AI element in a online multiplayer-only game is what could make the experience completely fresh and launch a new way of approaching online FPS by having an AI so clever that players would have no choice but to work together and respect their class appointments to actually have a chance to get the opposing team.
So if they do not represent a threat, but only populate the map, when are they handy? They can help you level up faster and get your titanfall faster. In every game you will get the opportunity to get in your mech, we'll get to that in a bit, but the « cooldown » period will diminish with the number of kills you score during that period, so killing grunt can be pretty helpful. It creates a chance to less experience players to actually feel helpful during a match. Instead of just being meat for the opposing player, they will be able to take down opponents. That feel good feeling is something really important to keep newer player in the game.
So, those Titans are what is suppose to differentiate this FPS from the others. In the long run though they do not change the gameplay that much. You're bigger and tougher, which makes the gameplay way less frantic but aside from that it's still the standard routine. The Titans do have the possibility of being in auto-mode, in guard or follow position, and that's what I found to be the most interesting aspect. It certainly adds a strategic side to your own gameplay that isn't found in other similar games.
As a pilot, which means you're not in a Titan, you still have a chance against those gigantic robots, each player being equipped with an anti-Titan weapon that does give you a fair chance to actually survive an encounter. Those moments can be really stressful and they probably are one reason why people will keep coming back to the game. Those David vs. Goliath moments, even if played pretty much the same way as a standard David vs. David combat, definitely turn around a match and this is a welcome change to the FPS formula.
With all this said, it all comes back to one thing, are you a FPS fan? Titanfall doesn't feel as a new beginning for the genre, but it sure tries to be. It will satisfy the fans and offer them a change of pace between the Call of Duty and Battlefield releases. Hopefully the little innovation we are witnessing here will bloom and help to bring the genre a step further in the right direction.
Etienne Dubuc is the host of a French radioshow called « Les geeks ont raison » and program directo fo CISM 89,3FM in Montreal. You can follow him @geeksontraison