It's Titanfall day, people. Are you prepared for a parkour-filled, multiplayer-only, first-person shooter experience? We've been playing for days and have a few tips on how to best take advantage of all its neat features.
We're not ready for an official review just yet. Servers only just went live and we want to make sure everything is running smoothly. We'll give it a few days, play with the public some more (cause I've mostly only played with media/EA/Respawn). So in the meantime I thought I should share some starter tips to keep in mind before everyone starts installing this one.
As you level up you'll unlock other pilot tactical abilities, but cloaking is one of my favorites so far. I saw a lot of people using it prematurely, though, which is a mistake because it doesn't last too long. You don't wanna use it the moment you spawn and are running into the heart of the map. You'll want to use it at the most opportune moments, like hunting someone down from a distance, while in a dark corridor, to nail a Titan with your anti-titan weaponry, etc. Keep in mind that you're still easy to spot if you're running around frantically while cloaked, and it'll break the second you start shooting. The best use of the cloak, though, is against a Titan. They can't see the same opaque figure that pilots can notice if they look hard enough, so you can use the ability to sneak up on a Titan and crawl up its back to execute it.
It's actually very easy to look back at your shields to see they've not only plummeted but so has your health bar. Often Titan-on-Titan battles can be distracting, but you'll want to keep an eye out for pilots who are targeting you. They're harder to spot, can shoot at you from cover and deplete your health fairly quickly on their own. While you're managing the field and fending off other Titans, you should make ample use of your dash ability to avoid getting hit. It's imperative that you avoid taking as much damage as possible, just as if you were a feeble meat vessel running around on foot. This is a tip for pilots, too, in that you shouldn't shy away from taking Titans on. The anti-titan weaponry are incredibly useful, and your relatively small size comes at a huge advantage.
Titanfall has one of the most fluctuating battle conditions I've seen in a first-person shooter. That means that players are all over the place. One minute someone's spin-kicked you to death from the ground and the next that same person managed to parkour their way up to the top of a tower and are trying to snipe you from there. It's fast-paced in a way most shooters aren't, simply because of the freedom of movement and world scalability. So to prepare yourself somewhat, you'll want to keep an eye on your map. There are some Burn Cards—which are basically perks you can activate after death for one life—as well as modifications to your pilot that will increase your map and enemy visibility, but it should be enough that you are constantly familiar with what you're about to run into. Though the map isn't always an exact, live representation of what's going on either. So you'll have to keep that in mind if you do decide to trail those dots. It's certainly a helpful indicator to which part of the map is the most active, though.
This isn't just a tip for the moment-to-moment fighting, it's particularly important at the end of each round. If your team has just lost, you'll be directed to an evacuation ship that is usually on the top of some building. It can be nerve-wracking to try to figure your way up it if it's your first time scaling that building. But if you've been spending the entire round climbing and jumping up buildings, it'll feel a little bit more natural and expedite the whole process. Time is very, very precious during the epilogue of each round. The same goes for the opposing team who is trying to get to that marked location on the map to stop the losing team from escaping. Plus, it's just fun to do and you can tell the maps have been designed for it. I've already seen people pull off some awesome-looking tricks, and doing the same yourself, if you can manage it, is exhilarating. Oh, and when you do find yourself waiting at an extraction point to board your evac ship, be sure to hide around the pickup area, not right in plain sight or even behind cover on that platform. Wait to run up only just before the ship is prepared to leave, and you'll want to save your cloaking ability for just the right moment, too. Otherwise you will get hunted, viciously and without remorse. The final epilogue stand is always a bloodbath.
They're a little bit like the perks you might be familiar with in a lot of the Call of Duty franchise, except they don't feel as overpowered. They're expendable in that you are given the option to use one only after you die and that lasts only for that one next respawn/life. Most of them aren't huge bonuses either—a lot add to your sprint speed or give your weapons an extra boost—but some more rare ones will give you double the experience points and other fun things. But I found myself constantly forgetting to equip these at each death. I would be so excited to jump right back in that I'd miss the step to pick whichever one of the Burn Cards I'd equipped while sitting, bored, in the game's lobby before the round started. So I'd always plan on using them, but forget to take that one second to select it post-death. The trick is just to not die immediately after selecting it for that particular respawn. It's happened. It sucks (especially if it's that double XP one).
This one should really go without saying but when the game's main goal is to kill, kill, kill, it sometimes makes people forget that the most effective way to kill is to band together. My worst rounds were always at the hands of the most coordinated teams. They'd have Titans fighting side-by-side, pilots fending off other pilots who were either sneakily trying to anti-titan the Titans or climb up their backs to shoot the wiring out of their heads. Sheer numbers of generous and thoughtful teammates are too much for even the cleverest, sneakiest of players trying to fell them. This tactic is particularly useful for Titans, and you'll find that you survive far longer as a Titan with some support. That's the way to win, and that's the way to play on a more complex level.
I've spoken a lot about how much I love that Titanfall has fodder AI, but the more avid, experienced first-person shooter players should look for a more satisfying challenge. Grunts are super easy to kill, don't shoot too often and don't move around too much either. If they get in the way I'll always shoot them, and they do help to grind to higher levels as well as speed up your time-until-Titanfall counter, but I like to focus my energy on the tougher kills. For those players who are finding themselves dying too often in rounds and disadvantaged by their lower-grade weapons, the grunts are actually perfect enemies. You can feel like you're contributing, like you have some measure of success, and you can hurry yourself up towards getting those shinier guns with better modifications. Either way, the grunts are something to think about.
I know; it seems absurd in a game where you punch metal skeletons to tell you not to get in a metal skeleton and start punching other metal skeletons. Especially when it's so fun. But there are a few reasons why I'm suggesting this. For one thing, it can also be a lot of fun (and very effective) to hunt down Titans as a tiny pilot. You often risk getting stomped on if you attempt close encounters, but even that is always a laugh. Mostly you'll be trying to hide from a Titan as you unload your anti-titan weapon on them and snigger at yourself as the Titan whips around and shoots rockets at nothing while trying to find your location. But remember that your Titan gets rebuilt fairly quickly. So—and this is where the second piece to this tip comes in—you can always decide to drop your Titan and tell it to either follow you or guard a location. I found this method especially useful during Titanfall's version of Capture the Flag, which I managed to play briefly in my time with the game so far. You can drop a Titan to guard an area around your flag while you make a run for the other team's flag. Now you're racking up kills from both sides of the map. Bam. Efficiency.
Snipers have always been a concern in shooters, but keeping an eye up is especially important in Titanfall for that and other reasons. There are many vantage points for a distance shooter to choose from, and because the parkour element is so fun, you'll see lots of people jumping around on rooftops killing each other or on a Titan hunt. Watching the rooftops means spotting a potential kill or avoiding death; either way, it's useful to be mindful of. And if you're looking for more pilot kills and less AI running around, your chances of finding the human players are better at that height.
I'll have an official review for you this week, once I've determined the status of Titanfall as it functions out in the wild. If you've been playing and have ideas of your own, feel free to drop them in.