The Way Back: Why Titanfall’s Got Me Multiplayin’ Again

By Alec Meer on March 20th, 2014 at 9:00 pm.

One of the more unexpected side-effects of the difficult last couple of years I’ve had was that I stopped playing multiplayer games. Completely, totally stopped, to the point that I was almost phobic about them, even making excuses in order to avoid them both personally and professionally. Why? Well, “it’s complicated”, but I suspect it’s as simple (and pathetic) as not wanting to feel humiliated in front of strangers in the very likely event I played poorly, for fear it would compound my other various self-loathings and anxieties. Don’t I sound fun at parties, eh?

Now, I’m not going to claim that Titanfall is some miracle cure, or that the profundity of its multiplayer achievements puts all else in the shade. However, I have, genuinely and very quickly, found that I can tread onto a server full of strangers without worrying about it and then have a fine old time, usually ending even a losing match feeling I achieved something of personal merit and often trembling slightly with adrenal excitement. The last multiplayer game which did that for/to me was Team Fortress 2.


There’s loads that doesn’t really work about Titanfall, or at least smacks of design by committee getting in the way of the quick, customisable robo-blasting experience in deserves to be. The ‘mission’ format and its attendant Voiceovers Of Dreary Doom is the major bugbear for me, followed by the inability to get any sense of what server I’m joining and who with, and the all too obvious sense that big parts of the game have been reserved for the ‘season pass’ DLC. And bloody hell, the 80 second wait for a watch to start. Even so: it’s got me.

This was not a game I expected to drink any Koolaid about. Its heritage is a (albeit noisily reconfigured) studio whose most recent games I’d found to be odious and vacuous, and it arrived dripping with the slime of corporate greed such as as in-your-face DLC and the obstacle of Origin. Here I am though, giving what spare time I can find to a game from the makers of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 & 3. Honestly, it’s so lovely to have one’s prejudices subverted.

I’m going to talk about why Titanfall has me in its mighty iron grip, and I’m afraid it’s going to be in the form of a list because I don’t feel like I have an essay in me on this. But I didn’t announce it was a list feature in the title or intro, so please don’t shout ‘Buzzfeed’ at me.

1) The Smart Pistol

The Smart Pistol is an awesome piece of design, and arguably more iconic to Titanfall than even its titular giant mech suits are. More than that, this apparent starting weapon is, I think, the most important addition to a multiplayer shooter since Team Fortress 2′s Heavy. With its ability to lock on to up to three targets (or put up to three bullets into a single target), it’s the gun for people who are either inexperienced or lousy at aiming, able to wound or kill a foe even as they run, jump or climb away from the reticule at speed. It lets them score hits on enemies even if their precision is poor, but it has enough drawbacks (low damage, slow lock-on, middling range) that it doesn’t remove more adept players’ edge. It’s there to make relative newbies feel they can achieve something even – and better still, it still also serves a useful purpose for those who do know their way around a reticule. It’s one of the most effective ways of getting a rodeoing pilot off a friendly Titan’s back, for instance, and it can thin the ranks of the AI-controlled grunts with unparalleled efficiency.

I love the Smart Pistol, but more than that it was instrumental to getting me multiplayer again. It’s not so much that my aim was rusty (though it was), but more than I’d lost the nerve, that I presumed I wouldn’t be able to hit or dodge. The Smart Pistol freed me up to focus primarily on movement, on staying alive, while the gun took care of stopping others from being alive. Realistically, my killrate with it is low, far lower than than it can be when I’m in the zone with an SMG, shotgun or sniper rifle, but that’s not what the Smart Pistol’s about. The Smart Pistol is really about…

2) Movement

Because movement is what first-person shooters, especially multiplayer ones, are really about. And boy does Titanfall give good movement. Jumpy, slidey, fast, responsive, dramatic movement. Parkour-inspired running has been finding its way into action games for a long time now, but the ease and speed of it in Titanfall somehow brings to mind early Quakes and Unreals despite being nothing like them. There’s no flab to it, but more importantly it never takes a degree of control away from you, Assassin’s Creed style. All that double-jumping and wall-running, and how superficially derelict and jumbled levels are built with it in mind, combines to make something where the rush back to the frontline after a respawn is a pleasure rather than a chore. It also creates a game where running away is as valid a defensive tactic as is shooting back. I run and double-jump and wallrun and clamber away from a chap with a shotgun, until I get into a position where the Smart Pistol has its second or two to lock on to my pursuer, and often enough it works.

Movement is why controlling infantry winds up being far more exciting (and dangerous, in the right hands) than controlling a gigantic robot suit does, which is Titanfall’s greatest surprise. The Titans were certainly my gateway drug here, but I stayed for the footsoldiers and their marvellous agility.

3) The Glory of defeat

Joining a team of randoms (and very much being a random myself) means that my side has even odds of victory or failure in any given round. Oddly (well, partially to do with Titanfall’s experience/unlock system not being terribly inspiring – I’m not particularly craving the spoils of war) I almost crave defeat more than I do success, purely because of how desperate and thrilling the endgame is. Get to the chopper. Leave this battle alive rather than dead. First you’ve got to get there, but the HUD also tells the enemy excactly where the chopper will land, so they’ll be hunting you as you run. Once there, you’ve got to stay alive until the bird actually descends. Then you’ve got to either pray a raft of enemy titans don’t shoot it out the sky, or spend precious seconds trying to thin their ranks so you and your allies can get away. There are so many dramatic ways this last 30 seconds of match can go down: you can be killed en route, you could leap (the leaping is the best bit) into the aircraft at the last second, you could bittersweetly find yourself the only one on it, you could find yourself shot down a half-second before departure, you could stage a heroic last stand to distract the enemy so everyone else can escape, you could use your own Titan, in guard mode, to cover your back while you scramble to reach that chopper.

It’ll wear thin in time, I’m sure, but right now it’s an action movie finale and a way to find even defeat invigorating that the sight of a scoreboard or even a new unlock couldn’t hope to match.

4) Titans as pets, not suits

I have the best time in Titanfall when I’m not in a Titan (see point 20), but I nonetheless have one at my disposal. The option to have your Titan follow you around or guard a specific point opens up a range of tactical options – defend a captured hardpoint while you go grab another one, take enemy fire while you sprint across an open plaza, keep a opposing Titan busy while you rodeo onto its back and shoot its computerised brains out… Titans work best as an aid rather than a source of first-hand firepower, and this way they also wind up feeling like a bus-size pet dog despite the game avoiding any overt charm or cuteness in their appearance or behaviour. The pop-up message that, unseen, it’s just nobbled an enemy mech or pilot is somehow as exciting as doing it yourself.

There’s more I like and more I don’t like, but it’s those four things that have me playing a multiplayer shooter again, feeling like I can achieve something despite being rusty and despite tending towards lone wolf rather than team player. I end each round trembling slightly, a feeling I’ve really only otherwise had in Quake III and early Team Fortress 2. There’s a sickening amount of money attached to Titanfall (in so many ways), but at least it seems worth it – it really does understand how to give the otherwise multiplayer-averse a good time.

(It also makes me feel desperately sorry for Brink, but that’s another story).

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137 Comments »

  1. DatonKallandor says:

    While you can criticize Infinity Ward/Respawn as being the people who made Modern Warfare 2 and 3, let’s not forget they’re also the ones who made Call of Duty 2 (which gave battlefield a run for its money with the expansion) and Call of Duty 4 (which basically invented the modern CoD formula, except it was still pure back then). Titanfall is Call of Duty 4 with all the useless parts filtered out, Titans injected straight in and parkour on top – just as great as it sounds.

    And I can’t wait for all the comments in here complaining about how the Smart Pistol is such a bad weapon and shouldn’t be in the game below this comment.

    • darkChozo says:

      I rather wish that they were as creative as the Smart Pistol with the other Pilot weapons. I don’t dislike the CoD-style weapons per se, but there’s a lot of untapped potential there for changing up play.

      Hell, you could crib from the Titan weapons pretty easily; a sticky mine launcher, or a charge-up energy rifle, or a micro-rocket launcher would all be pretty interesting additions.

      • DatonKallandor says:

        You know those Anti-Titan weapons do work on pilots. The Charge Rifle does one-shot pilots, the Sidewinder does hurt pilots and has a tiny bit of splash and the mag mines actually have pretty decent splash and damage against infantry targets. They’re not as good as the rifles in a straight up fight, but if they did more damage they’d simply supplant the other guns entirely.

        • darkChozo says:

          I was actually referring to Titan weapons there (equivalents to the Triple Threat mine configuration, the plasma sniper rifle thing, and the quad launcher rapid fire configuration), though in retrospect I suppose there’s actually some overlap.

          Mostly I’d like to see primary weapons intended for anti-Pilot use with interesting characteristics like that. Maybe they could include anti-personel variants of the anti-titan weapons in the future, with crap damage against Titans as a balancing feature. Something like a Sidewinder with a larger clip and less splash, or a Charge Rifle with a scope, or an Artemis that fired an extremely slow eternally-tracking missile or something.

      • QSpec says:

        For me it wasn’t the weapons that are the disappointment but rather the unlocks. I really hope that they add more inspired weapon add-ons.

        I’d take them weak so long as they are interesting.

    • xao says:

      Well, you can’t really blame the Respawn folks for Modern Warfare 3. Modern Warfare 2 was released 10 November 2009, development of MW3 started two weeks later, and the schism was officially announced 1 March 2010. Since MW3 wasn’t released until 8 November 2011, only three months of development could have been under Ward and Zampella’s care, while the remaining 20 months or so was done by the team’s remnants and Sledgehammer Games.

      • Deadly Sinner says:

        I was going to say the same thing, but I wasn’t 100% sure. I thought they were out by then, and I remember being, like, 5 different studios in the credits. And I remember finding enjoyment in MW2, but 3 was the worst one that I personally played.

    • QSpec says:

      Seconding that this feels like a 2nd gen CoD something which the newer CoD’s decidedly don’t feel like. I was super nervous that this would just be a CoD relaunch with robots that I didn’t pick it up until I read a few reviews. I’m super glad I did.

    • aldo_14 says:

      Call of Duty 2 (which gave battlefield a run for its money with the expansion)

      Er, CoD2 didn’t have an expansion?

      The first game had United Offensive (developed by Grey Matter), which did have an excellent (IMO) Battlefield-esque multiplayer mode – did you mean that?

      • DatonKallandor says:

        Huh, I could have sworn that expansion was CoD 2. Or wait, was CoD 2 the console-only one? The whole console jump screws up my CoD timeline.

        • Hebrind says:

          Hiya – Yeah, CoD 1 had United Offensive, I know this because a large part of my 16th year on Earth was spent defending/invading the town of Foy in many a Band-Of-Brothers moment. Lots of very happy memories of that game. CoD2 was alright fun too, but it was the game that (I believe) paved the way for the more recent CoD iterations. A lot of it just feels the same, and I’m sure that has something at least in part to do with the regenerating health system. I bloody hate that system.

    • smokeyknuckles says:

      Infinity Ward/Respawn is pretty much on my hate list. I hate them for abandoning their great single player campaigns as found in COD 1 and 2. I hate them for being a part of destroying FPS at LAN parties by removing a long time PC gaming feature multiplayer lan play and dedicated servers. I was hoping once they broke from Activision they would return to their roots, NOPE. From what I read its even worse trying to play with friends in Titanfall. I hate them for removing modding and the community involvement in their games.

      Yes, hate is a strong word but in this case it applies. Their actions really affected my PC gaming hobby drastically. My friends and I struggle desperately these days looking for newer games that support lan play. Companies like Infinity Ward and Dice totally abandoned the LAN gamers, modder, and have influenced the decisions of other companies to not include LAN play and tools for modding.

      • bjohndooh says:

        Get out of my head.

      • Crainey says:

        Completely agree. All multiplayer FPS games should have dedicated servers and especially a game as fast paced as Titanfall. The peer-to-peer feeling of lag caused so many frustrating moments that just destroyed this game for me, so many lag shots through and around walls/corners (mostly using the auto-pistol).

        Every time I’m thinking how this is the best multiplayer fps I’ve played in a very long time it hits me right in the gut and I have to admit it has stopped me from playing. I think there are a lot of imbalances, but they wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t exaggerated by said issue.

        Oh well, at least we don’t get the changing host screen (I’ve personally never seen one) and massive lag spikes like in CoD games, that would outright kill the game.

        • derbefrier says:

          Umm titanfall does use dedicated servers. They are not player ran buy they are dedicated none the less. Also lag still exists withdedicated servers. If you look in the bottom right of the start menu you will see a list of data servers you can connect to. If you are really expiriencing that bad of lag and not exaggerating you probably need to switch servers.

        • DatonKallandor says:

          Titanfall isn’t P2P. Media outlets claiming so are idiots who claim P2P just because there isn’t a server browser. Titanfall is dedicated server hosted.

    • Fullforce says:

      You might be a little wrong there – CoD2 didn’t have an expansion, CoD1 did – United Offensive. But I don’t believe IW made UO. But still, it was good – CoD1 and 2 were phenomenal.

  2. FurryLippedSquid says:

    “often trembling slightly with adrenal excitement”

    None of these twitch shooters do that for me any more. But DayZ and Rust? Wowser. Proper heart-pumping moments.

    • Skiddywinks says:

      It might be sad but the only game that has that effect on me is SC2. God that game gets me anxious sometimes. And then during a heated match I can literally be trembling slightly.

      • Blackcompany says:

        Risk/Reward.

        Its likely that which gets the adrenaline pumping and the focus dialed in. Its what works for me. Which made realizing that I did not, in fact, have time for EVE Online, a rather painful fact.

        Fortunately, I finally clicked with Dark Souls. The Souls/Death Loss mechanic really ratchets up tension for me, and gets the adrenaline firing. No other game quite manages that, no matter how big, loud, flashy and beautiful the action. Without feeling as if there’s something at stake I may as well be watching a movie with an interact button at this stage of my gaming “career.”

        Which is why I avoid poker. I would probably become an addict only to find out I am sufficiently talented and/or lucky to lose a lot of money.

        • bjohndooh says:

          This reminds me of a few friends of mine who won’t play anything but multi-player.
          They don’t play games unless there are other people to directly compete against.

          I can sort of understand but it’s not like they are exceptional players choosing skillful games – they just like to feel good.

          • DerNebel says:

            I am (almost) on that same boat. There just is something very real about knowing it’s not just all in your own PC, that there are actual people on the other end of the line, and they want to win as well. It just doesn’t feel as real to win in many singleplayer games, or even those same games versus bots, because you always have that feeling that soemone tailored the experience for you.

            Dark Souls circumvents this brilliantly, not exclusively by the death/retrieval system or any of the other systems that raise the stakes. It makes you chase the win because it makes it abundantly clear that you are not getting it easily. Hell, it even pretends it doesn’t tell you where to go! The struggle is designed to feel real to the player, and that is in my opinion the biggest masterstroke of them all.

        • Inglourious Badger says:

          Hah, ditto. I was going to say EVE and Dark Souls are the only games to give me the shakes like that. It must be that knowledge of what you can lose if u die, weeks worth of ISK or thousands of hard fought souls. FPSes are 10 minute of frivolous fun then on to the next match.

    • QSpec says:

      Not to derail, but I need DayZ or Rust and have zero idea which to buy (I’m definitely only getting one). Recommendations?

      • FurryLippedSquid says:

        At the moment, Rust is probably more fun than the DayZ standalone.

        But the DayZ mod, if you can pick up ARMA II Operation Arrowhead cheap, beats them both in their current state in my opinion.

        If you’re talking about the future, when both games are complete, it’s a tough one. There’s very little info from Garry on where Rust is headed, so I’d probably plump for DayZ.

        Why not buy both? Combined, they’re the price of one AAA game.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Capturing my first flag on Katabatic

    • Vin_Howard says:

      For me, that would be the Project Reality mod; having you and your squad boxed in, surrounded by charging insurgents. Having to hold out till evac arrives as explosions and gunfire fills the air. The best.

    • whexican says:

      Half naked men running around with giant rocks gets ALOT of people excited.

  3. Crimsoneer says:

    I rather agree. However, I find it incredibly depressing that in six months, this is going to be DLC ridden corpse of a game.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      The DLC is much cheaper than in CoD, and there’s not as much of it. 20$ for a years (if they go annual, more if they don’t) worth of extra content for a game you love to play? That’s not that much to ask. Especially since nobody in their right mind (at least if they’re playing it on the one true platform) paid even remotely close to 60$ for the base game.

  4. Laurentius says:

    “H However”
    “and it can think the ranks of the AI-controlled grunts with unparalleled efficiency. “

    • The Random One says:

      Maybe he was stuttering?

    • yogibbear says:

      He did say it was a smart pistol. :P

    • J. Cosmo Cohen says:

      This is all you’ve come to the comments to say? To point out some simple mistakes? At least be nice about it like, Hey Alec, liked your article (and so on). P.S. Here are couple minor slipups in the article. Great work! – or something to that effect.

      • Ny24 says:

        He’s not Santa Claus, you know. He doesn’t need to be nice to anyone.

        • The Random One says:

          Neither does Santa Claus, really. His only job is to deliver the friggin presents. But a little joy goes a long way, you know?

        • Jesse L says:

          No, you’ve got it wrong. What he doesn’t need to be is ‘a jerk.’ Nobody needs to be a jerk. And yet they often choose to.

          What he should be is nice. People should be nice, I think we can all agree on that? And not just reserve it only for Santa Clause, who is, after all, fictional?

          People don’t need to be nice. They don’t need to form sounds into coherent sentences, shake hands, wear clothes in public – and yet there are many things they SHOULD do, obviously, because there’s no reason not to – unless you actively want to make the world a worse place.

  5. dirk_seadog says:

    4 Weird Tricks for Loving Titanfall, (no.3 will make you cry). I love this game despite its terrible visual design (Useless Pipes: The Game: The Grey Combat Suit Reckoning) and terrible matchmaking. If it had good old servers you could search It would really bring me back to the golden age of FPS. It has a why-didn’t-anyone-think-of-this-recipe-before feeling. Now I just want more maps with more COLORS in them!

  6. Radiant says:

    How does it run on your machine?
    And er.. what specs are you running it on?

  7. The Random One says:

    There’s no alt text, so here’s one for the opening picture: “Open the safebox or I’ll shot this ‘ere space station! I’ll do it! I’m crazy!”

    • BTAxis says:

      “You think you’re overcompensating? I’ll show you overcompensating!”

    • hotmaildidntwork says:

      Am I the only one that saw that picture and immediately thought “No no no, if you shoot directly *at* the space station then you’ll miss it by kilometers, you need to calculate an intercept vector for the orbital trajectories”?

      Damn you KSP! You’ve ruined me for video game space physics! :(

      • LionsPhil says:

        If the space station is that big in the sky, with that much haze, it’s probably re-entering the atmosphere anyway.

        Just install Deadly Re-entry and you won’t have to fire your giant cannon at all!

        • Cesspenar says:

          Considering there is a huge planet on the background i would think that the action is happening on a moon. Minimal to no atmosphere and low gravity should provide the ability for stations to hang so low. Than again… although i haven’t played the game, i’m guessing gravity is standard in that mission.
          I wonder…. based on that picture, it seems that it might not be an orbital station, but rather a structure moored to the surface. Would that be possible? How small could a gravity be on a tiny moon? And would centrifugal force be enough to keep it from collapsing? (if this moon has rotation)

  8. tomek says:

    Agree with all points and would like to add:

    1) The smart pistol is probably the best weapon to farm AI in the attrition game mode which not only lets you call in your titan faster but also allows to score a win against a team that concentrates on player kills alone.

    (its also the best primary when trying to complete the ridiculous generation 5 “gooser” challenge as it auto locks to cloaked ejectig pilots when both off you are midair for a moment)

    5) Game feels handcafted not copy pasted like a lot off the other manshoots in the past 6 years.

    6)The varied voice lines the AI grunts have. They have the best comments and small conversations inbetween eachother and make me smile everytime i will witness one. One i heard earlier this week: “There are female pilots, why are there no female grunts!?”

  9. J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    The Glory of Defeat is easily my favorite part of the game. Sure, a bad match can kinda bring you down, but if I can make it to the ship and get out of there, I feel like I’ve won.

    Also, the match-making is terrible. There needs to be team-balancing of some sort.

    • MkMax says:

      did not intend to reply to this

    • xenominim says:

      A thousand times yes to the team balancing. When you get into a game and find your six man squad has a couple of people below level 10, and the other team are all generation 3 and 4 and are using mic support you know you’re in for a bad time. And then the game simply keeps the same teams between matches? It’s really ludicrous there’s not something there to spread the talent and rookies around. Even games with much larger teams have this, but in a 6 on 6 even two hotshots can absolutely destroy the game’s balance.

  10. internisus says:

    As I see it, the whole point of Titanfall is to be accessible to those who are not necessarily great at the extremely specific skillset demanded by most competitive multiplayer shooters, which is the ability to aim and shoot, precisely and quickly. Instead, Titanfall is about bigger skill concepts, such as how you make use of the movement opportunities afforded by the environment and decisions about how best to utilize your titan in different situations. It’s about strategy rather than the ability to line up a dot faster than the other guy. It’s analogous to education striving to teach kids how to think critically rather than memorize rote facts.

    That said, I have been on the fence for spending $60 for it. If anyone can kindly confirm my above suspicions, it might persuade me!

    • MkMax says:

      do not pay full price for it, the game is very fun, but its sorely lack in content, why would you pay 60 anyway ? you can easily find it for 45 in key sites, check savygamer

      about your suspicions i’d say yeah but, proficiency at aiming still works

      the movement makes the areas very chaotic, most of the time youll get killed and get your kills from a blind angle (the better you are with movement the easier it is to find yourself in this situation), if both see each other then the one with the best gun at that range has a huge advantage and then the aim proficiency (head shots specially) and luck (other player spotting you/your enemy) make the rest of the equation

      some weapons require aiming skill, im horrible with the shotgun and the sniper but ive seen ppl doing very well with them

    • tomek says:

      If you can think smart fast you can use that to your advantage but it is to chaotic to really strategize on the fly imo.

      The good thing though is that unlike in traditional, more horizontal, shooters you are never safe. Even the guys that have robot like reflexes will die to noobs eventually. This fact somehow makes me play way more relaxed and take even more risks and the great movement mechanics make this a really fun and rewarding expirience than.

      Either way its one off those multiplayer shooters that makes you feel like a scifi-action-movie star even when the scoreboard clearly states the opposite in the end ;)

    • ramirezfm says:

      Bah, I’m more or less in the same boat. I had lots of fun with CoD BLops and TF2, but other multiplayer shooters scare me due to my inability to hit anything before being hit myself. Titanfall seems like something I could have fun with…

    • darkChozo says:

      Hmm, yes and no. It’s still very much a twitch shooter, at least when you’re talking about fighting Pilots. If anything, aiming is more important than your average CoDalike because Pilots are so mobile. Authentic realwar soldiermen tend not to shoot ten feet up into the air and rebound off a wall when you shoot at them. I also wouldn’t describe it as a particularly strategic game, with the possible exception of Capture the Flag.

      That being said, there’s a lot more opportunity for secondary skills like movement and Titan shield management. I’ve survived meeting enemies in a hallway with an empty weapon, something that’s basically a death sentence in other games, through creative use of double and wall jumping. And Titan combat is mostly devoid of twitch; the most twitch thing is aiming for weak spots with certain weapons, otherwise it’s more about managing shields and predicting enemy movement than tracking a dot on the screen.

    • Eggman says:

      In some countries you can find it for around 75% of the origin price, if you browse the physical box retailers (webshops and even brick&mortar). Look around.

  11. cafeoh says:

    “defend a captured hardpoint while you go grab another one”.

    That’s the best thing about titans, don’t forget to throw away all the empty ones on your way.

    I’m talking about beer.

  12. MkMax says:

    i love titanfall, however im extremely disappointed at the lack of content, after a few hours (way too many in the horrible campaign mode, its like the actual game, only worse, genius!) i have little to do other than try the other weapons to find out that they suck because im not used to them and i haven’t unlocked the addons

    this game could have benefited so much from a few more months of map and mode making, even the dlcs are so far away i wonder if ill even care about the game by then

  13. JohnnyPanzer says:

    Man, maybe I have to get this.

    I recognise myself in what the author describes: multiplayer scares me. I tend to be pretty confident in life, but for some reason I can’t handle the stress of multiplayer. There’s something about complete strangers belitteling me that just tears me apart in ways it shouldn’t, and even if everyone plays nice the adrenaline of MP tends to make me shake like hell. Not small tremors, mind you, but big-ass shakes and cold sweats.

    Even when I’ve tried my best to “ride it out” and have stuck by a MP game for more than 20 hours of gaming, I’ll STILL shake hard enough after every match that I’m unable to pick things up with my hands and more often than not my teeth will actually frickin’ rattle.

    So far, the only MP game that didn’t have this effect on me is Space Marine. Something about the MP in that game calmed my nerves and I was able to get out hundreds of hours of MP fun out of it. I dunno, could this game be what I’m looking for?

    If anyone else feels the same about MP has played the game, please let me know what you thought of it, because I can’t decide on whether or not I should try it out…

    • tomek says:

      To be honest i wouldnt recommend it than, i play MP games for the shaking and like Titanfall because it makes me shake like no other shooter in years.

      Im not trying to be funny or a smartass this is really the truth, its also the first game in years that makes me catch myself sitting in front off the display like quasimodo with his mouth wide open.

      Just happy i didnt have this as a kid or i would have died off a heartattck while smiling.

      • JohnnyPanzer says:

        I think I need to clarify: I have two kinds of shakes. Good shakes and bad shakes.

        I got the shakes from Space Marine as well, but it was the good kind. The kind of shakes you get when something is super exciting. But all other MP games tend to give me the bad shakes, the kind you get when you’re involved in an accident or witness something horrible, like a severe beating. The kind that makes you physically ill and leaves you with a tight knot in your stomach and an unshakable feeling of dread and anxiety.

        The thing that makes me curious here is the movement. The only other MP game besides Space MArine that has given me the good shakes was Brink. It had a lot of problems, but there was something fluid about it that put my mind at ease, and I sort of get the feeling that perhaps Titanfall has the same quality.

        When I think about it, both Space Marines and Brink had very fluid movement and a pace that managed to be fast and soothing at the same time. For some reason, those two games made me forget about the random team members calling me a noob and I was able to just jump right in and have a blast. The article points regarding movement and the smart pistol made me sit up straight and take notice.

        Man… I’m hovering over the ‘BUY’ button on Origin, but I can’t make up my mind. My wife and kids are in Stockholm over the weekend, so I close to four solid days of pure solitude and I just finished my epic campaign in Rome 2. Arrrgh!

    • Eggman says:

      Re: “I tend to be pretty confident in life, but for some reason I can’t handle the stress of multiplayer. There’s something about complete strangers belitteling me that just tears me apart in ways it shouldn’t, and even if everyone plays nice the adrenaline of MP tends to make me shake like hell. Not small tremors, mind you, but big-ass shakes and cold sweats.”

      1.) In the N. and W.Europe data centers, I’ve seen zero belittling in the Titanfall lobbies, and there are a lot of people with 1 pilot kill & 8 deaths.

      2.) Multiplayer shakes is Very Normal. Once you get accustomed to playing with other people (20 hours isn’t much in this context), there’ll be less adrenaline as your brain will feel more comfortable.

      3) IMHO, focusing on the movement aspects of a MP game is a red herring – Battlefield infantry moves slowly, but you will not have time to read the in-game chat and with 48+ players, you’re pretty anonymous.

      4.) Are you Swedish? Join an Arma 3 casual friday session at anrop.se. Once you witness how people can royally f*ck up and laugh it off, even knowing most of the sessions get uploaded on youtube, you will not worry about random people in a Titanfall lobby.

      • Reapy says:

        This struck me as well, I took a long, long multiplayer break post college, maybe due to boredom with fps games and moms and the like, but it also put a huge dent in my confidence getting online. It was finally mount and blade that sucked me back in with its theme and mechanics, sort of like titalfall did for you. Always great when a game can defeat old demons and shake off the rust like that.

    • sinister agent says:

      I’ve been off it (and most things, for long and boring reasons) for about a year, but I played tonnes of Planetside 2, almost exclusively solo. I almost never communicated with anyone, beyond the seven or eight sound effect shortcuts (ie: “Thanks!”, “help!”, “incoming!”, etc). I very rarely look at the chat window, and disabled all voice forever on my first ever game. I have no regrets.

      I don’t know what Titanfall’s like, but I’m getting the impression you can kind of do your own thing, so you might find it playable if you do the same.

    • JohnnyPanzer says:

      Screw it, I’m gonna click that buy button and give it a go. Thank you all for the input, I’ll report back with my impressions. :)

      • Eggman says:

        Cool. Btw adrenaline rushes can help your gameplay as well, if you just ride the rush, let instincts help you, don’t overthink tactics.
        Some people need to spend a lot of cash on drugs to reach that kind of rush.

        • JohnnyPanzer says:

          Well, tried the first map a few minutes ago, and… YES! I sucked, I failed, I flapped around like a brain damaged seagull, but boy did I have fun!

          The shakes were there, but not the kind that makes me wanna puke, and I’m poretty sure I was called names on a few occations, but the fluidity of it all made it impossible to care about such nonsense. I can honestly see myself playing this for many hours, and once I get the hang of each map I’m sure I’ll look much less… seagully? Is that a word? It is now.

          After only one map, it truly rubs the same joy-glands as Brink and Space Marine, which is a rare thing indeed for me.

  14. Carra says:

    Been a while but I find myself wanting to boot up this game once I get home. It’s been a while since that happened with a shooter (TF2 actually).

    I do wonder how long it will last though. I have been playing TF2 on and on for years. Now and then, Valve releases a new patch with some new levels or weapons and hey, it’s fun again. Oh, it’s also got free DLC! As Titanfall is now I doubt that I will be playing it for months or years.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      Titanfall is pretty much the opposite of TF2 in terms of design. The “new stuff” in TF2 is so bad I would buy DLC that turns it back into the brilliant and tightly balanced game it was when it came out.

      • sinister agent says:

        I got into TF2 just as the first set of new weapons were coming out. Strikes me that this was its peak, because it added just a little variety and flexibility, but kept things simple and comprehensible.

        A year or two later, and it’s a clusterfuck of irritating, confusing gimmicky bullshit, and I’ll quite frequently have no idea what the hell just happened because I didn’t know that there’s a new weapon for a class that does 200% renal damage, or does nothing but if you get hit twice you turn into a grapefruit, or it drains your speed and makes you 15% more susceptible to existential crises but only if you’re not wearing a hat.

      • C0llic says:

        I sort of agree there. I havent touched TF2 in years and I used to love it. I poured hundreds of hours into it; it was my ‘go to’ game. The one class update I felt actually improved the game was the medic update, the others just muddied the brilliant design.

        One other thing I’d like to note about the matchmaking in titanfall is also that while I wish there was a server browser and mods, I can remember TF2 being swamped by horrible 32 player spam fest servers, and being limited to just one or two (vanilla) servers I enjoyed playing on. As annoying as it is, at least it does mean that won’t happen here. That’s the other side of the coin when it comes to mods and user rented servers people forget about.

        Most people wouldn’t know a balanced, good time if it slapped them in the face, and left unchecked many online communities just destroy themselves by fracturing and ruining the base game. This game will have DLC, but we’ll have to see if its as ruinous to a large player pool as that.

      • silentdan says:

        This. Thank you. I used to really love TF2. A big part of why I loved it was, there were no unlocks. No upgrades. It was just a level playing field with plenty of classes and well-designed maps. I’d been playing some online CoD4 and was irritated by grenade spammers just shelling my entire vicinity, and popping into pre-unlock TF2 just felt grand. So simple. So straightforward. So lacking in pointless treadmills. Then, they announced the unlock shit, and I nearly cried. The one really excellent unlock-free multiplayer shooter had committed suicide … or treason, I guess … either way, it was gone. I said my goodbyes to it and uninstalled.

        I would really, really love to see TF2 Classic return, but it will never be. Though it would be much, much more fun, it would appear empty to those who have gotten used to whatever it is now, and no one would play. Oh, well.

        • Enkinan says:

          Unlocks? The gear drops for free. Frequently.

          I’m confused.

          The only pay for stuff is cosmetic or strange/killstreak.

          • silentdan says:

            I think the confusion comes from conflating “unlocks” with “loot” and/or “DLC.” To get an unlock, you have to do something in-game. Heal 10 teammates to get a new medic gun, or make 10 headshots to get a new sniper rifle, or dual-wield weapons for an entire match to get a special set of pistols, or earn 1000XP to get an extra grenade slot. Stuff like that. Not “pay $10 of real-world money to get something.” Also, unlocks don’t drop; that’s called “loot.” You get unlocks 100% of the time when specific conditions are objectively met, not as a 0.1% chance on every kill you make, which is usually how loot works.

      • Enkinan says:

        I’ve played TF2 on and off since beta and honestly it is just as balanced as it was then. I’d actually say more so since the majority of players have so much experience and can counter anything but flawless teamwork.

        All of the new weapons are just slight variations of the vanilla ones, with the exception of the demoknight stuff, and there are only about 5 per slot after 8 or so years.

  15. LionsPhil says:

    (It also makes me feel desperately sorry for Brink, but that’s another story).

    Poor Brink.

    Pink.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      I reinstalled Brink recently (between Titanfall Beta and Titanfall launch) to give it another try, see if it’s as good or as bad as I remember and let me tell you: It’s really bad. It’s worse than you remember. It is so unbelievably bad. The concept is good, but the execution is so, so awful.

      I honestly don’t know how the people that made Quake Wars could screw up an FPS so badly.

  16. kuangmk11 says:

    I played the beta and decided to pick it up after I saw the “Mexican VPN” discount yesterday. I am bored already. The modes need some serious work to be compelling. It really needs a battlefield style conquest mode or something. Give me Titanfall 2142. Back to MWO Lurmaggedon IV…

  17. malkav11 says:

    Unfortunately, TF2 was one part of a bundle of equally brilliant games that cost me $30 right around launch (I think MSRP was $50, but Best Buy had a Black Friday sale) and never another red cent, whereas Titanfall is $60 by its lonesome and will be asking for more. I might get into it in a way I generally don’t with multiplayer, the way you have, but I’m certainly not going to drop $60 just on the slight possibility.

  18. derbefrier says:

    Still loving it myself. The maps are really well designed in my opinion too and offer enough variety to keep it interesting. I see people complaining about lack of content and yeah more maps would always be nice but I can imagine it takes a lot to get one properly balanced and I think what is there is pretty damn good. It could use some more interesting game modes. Its got all the standard stuff but i feel they missed an opportunity there. This is the first FPS I have bought in a long time where i find myself at work counting the hours till i get to go home and punch some giant robots.

    I am a huge fan of these types of shooters though some may prefer slower paced tactical stuff, some may prefer the big open levels and player count of the battlefield series but I love a finally tuned arena shooter and this is the best one to come out in years.

  19. Megakoresh says:

    I dunno… I kinda liked the world of it more than the gameplay (since it’s versus MP), I much rather play a Single or Coop story-focused game in that world, ideally with branching paths and non-linearity.

    I think the biggest issue with the gameplay is just how the same the guns are. Smart pistol is so controversial with some people liking it a lot, also because it’s the only weapon that actually feels different. The recoil on weapons, which is the primary method of differentiating gunplay, is virtually non-existent, and they all work in the same way.

    Look at something like Tribes Ascend, or Loadout: games also have highly mobile characters, also don’t have much in terms of recoil, but the mechanics of the weapons differ so much that it’s not really needed. I get that in a game with high mobility recoil might be a bad idea: but that just means you gotta differentiate weapons in another way. There are plenty of ways. Spinfusors are one. Sticky mines are another. Cluster bombs. Arcing rifles. DoT crossbows, double barrel shotguns.

    In a sci-fi game you are limited only by your creativity in terms of weapon creation. And it seems like Respawn was limited a lot in that regard. Here’s hoping they fix that in the next installment of the franchise and don’t fuck this one up with DLC spam.

    • Bull0 says:

      Look at the pilot guns as utilitarian rather than an expression of the designers’ creativity. The titan weapons are closer to what you’re looking for – the primary weapons, ordnance weapons, and tactical abilities all work differently and in turn can all be used in different ways depending on which other equipment you’ve chosen. Far more scope there.

  20. Bull0 says:

    Seems like a lot of Internet People are promoting using your titan as a guard dog rather than driving it but I’ve got to say my kill count goes through the roof when I’m in my titan. You can say what you want about strategy but when you’re killing the enemy you’re keeping them from carrying out their plans, so, yeah.

    • db1331 says:

      Most times I am going to want to be in my Titan. Like you, I get way more kills that way. I’m deadly accurate with the 40mm cannon, and can snipe pilots across the map, or ejecting from their own Titan. Maybe once I unlock the enhanced targeting chip, I will let him roam around on his own more. Right now about the only time I leave him is to put him on guard mode outside our base in CTF, so he can stay and play defense while I try and cap the flag.

  21. parapaa says:

    Beautiful article, but please fix your typing.

  22. secuda says:

    Looks like MS and EA´s pockets goes down deep again for good impressions in the press.

  23. Crainey says:

    Thanks for the write-up; I appreciated reading the perspective of somebody who’s less attuned to FPS. When I first played the game the bots and smart pistol kind of baffled me and I was very critical of them, but I quickly came to realise they are an amazing mechanic for the reasons stated. Though, I must admit the smart pistol still kind of pisses me off, but that is my elitist attitude rearing its head.

  24. SuicideKing says:

    “Movement” in a conventional FPS always makes me think of Borderlands 2.

  25. Chirez says:

    I find your opening comments about the fear of multiplayer very interesting. I share those sentiments, and I suffer very badly from depression and anxiety.

    Oddly enough, I tend to find World of Tanks enjoyable, even though it’s straight up competitive multiplayer, and I suspect the reasons may be similar. For the most part in multiplayer games it’s all about winning or losing, but often in WoT I find myself enjoying defeats, and regretting victories, because my actual measure of a battle is not my team’s performance, but my own.

    If I play well, get a half dozen kills and still lose, I feel good, because I did my very best against unequal odds.
    If I donk out completely and die without firing a shot I feel bad, even if my team goes on to win.

    Ultimately it seems to be a recapitulation of the old adage, it really does matter not whether you win or lose, but how well you play. I suspect anonymity and lack of useful communication probably plays a part too, insulating me from the judgement associated with most online games. Still can’t play Hearthstone though, makes me choke with rage.

  26. db1331 says:

    As soon as I read that intro, I knew he was a smart pistol user. IMO it shouldn’t be in the game, or at least should only be able to lock onto AI minions. It’s completely stupid that you can kill another player by facing their general direction, waiting 2 seconds for the lock, and firing. Last night in a round of CTF, I grabbed the enemy flag and hopped on a zip line out of their base. Halfway across and flying at full speed, I get killed instantly. Smart pistoled, The guy never even aimed within 12′ of me. That kind of stuff has no place in a MP shooter. I realize it’s there so bad players have something to do, but then again so are the minions. Let them just farm them with a regular gun. It’s so bad that I actually am relieved every time I watch a kill cam and see somebody corner camped shoot me in the back with a rifle. I’d take that over dying to an auto-aim pistol every time.

    The only thing I do like about the smart pistol is when I put a stream of bullets in its owner’s face while they hold for the lock when they weren’t able to sneak up behind me for their free kill. That always makes me smile.

    I’d like to see them either make it take 2 lock on cycles to kill a pilot, or make it not lock onto pilots but increase the damage so 2 shots ADS will kill other players.

    • Bull0 says:

      It has to lock on 3 times to kill a pilot, I think. Still only takes a couple of seconds, but that’s a lifetime if the target can see you and is using a conventional weapon. If you get the drop on somebody, you’d just as likely kill them with a conventional weapon as you would with the smart pistol. The trouble is with it locking on to exceptionally fast moving targets, as you said, and also the fact that it locks on through sight-blocking vegetation so you can just lie down in a bush and zap people you otherwise wouldn’t be able to see, and it’s tricky for them to see you.

      • db1331 says:

        I mean it should have to take two 3-lock on cycles to kill a pilot. It’s just too easy to use. The only way to counter it is if you see them first.

        • Bull0 says:

          Like I said, half the time it’s down to who sees the other first, anyway. Your change would render the thing totally useless against other players. Are you really finding it so problematic as that? I can’t think of any times I’ve been killed by a smart pistol that I’d considered unfair. Now the shotgun? That thing needs some balancing.

        • Moraven says:

          If you die to the Smart Pistol, you likely would have died to any other weapon because that meant you were being rather immobile if someone got 3 locks on. Also in a face off if the smart pistol is not also being mobile, and screwing with his locks, he will die quicker.

          I end up using it manually more than auto lock. Good Grunt killer.

          • db1331 says:

            If I get shot square in the back with a shotgun, then yeah, it wouldn’t matter. But with nearly every other gun I at least have a chance to turn around and return fire. Not so with the smart pistol though. And again, my main issue with it is that you don’t even have to be aiming anywhere near someone to get a lock. If they just made it so you had to actually be pointing directly at someone to first initialize the lock, it would be much more balanced.

            And yeah, the shotgun could probably use a nerf. If you use it on a CQC map with the card that lets you see everyone on the map, or the radar pulse to see through walls, you are near unstoppable.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      If he had a rifle you’d have died in 1 second instead of 3 – and at longer range. The Smart Pistol has one niche – short range, shooting from an ambush, without the ability to screw it up and killing Minions – but it pays for that in every other situation. Every weapon in the entire game wins a straight fight against the smart pistol. Half the arsenal can kill from a range the smart pistol can’t even lock on from. Every weapon in the entire game kills from an ambush position faster than the smart pistol.

      If you got killed by the smart pistol, watch the kill replay and marvel at how badly you moved from your killers perspective, because if a smart pistol got you – you fucked up.

  27. RegisteredUser says:

    This all sounds great, and I’d love to buy and play this, but I will sooner die than financially support the Origin scheme(or the whole DLC piecemeal).

    Make this a true steam game, with steam sales, steam friendlist, steam everything and no third party DRM(its an online only game anyhow), and I’ll go for it.

    Its not that I hate EA for nothing; its that they and Ubi feel they can still tell people how to play(and not just by forcing system login and delivery, but even restricting IN GAME UNLOCKS to having things like “Uplay points”, the dumbest idea ever had) when millions have already voted for steam.

    • Alec Meer says:

      So if I send an assassin to your house to hold you at gunpoint and say ‘buy a game from Origin or I’ll kill you where you stand’, you’re taking the bullet to the head, yeah?

      • silentdan says:

        I would. I’m broke right now and the payment wouldn’t work, so I’d be kind of fucked. (I’m assuming the assassin is using the lock-on pistol; if not, I’d go for my shotgun and take my chances.)

        Seriously, though, as anti-Origin sentiment goes, this one was pretty mild. If the hyperbole bothers you, here’s one I really would stand by: I would sooner eat a live earthworm plucked fresh from the ground than buy another game through Origin. If an assassin came to my house and said “Origin purchase, earthworm snack, or death” I really would pick the middle one, even if I had money in the bank.

      • RegisteredUser says:

        Some folks just got that “give me liberty or give me death” streak.

        If it weren’t for them, we’d still be okay with bearing the odd “necessary evil” of oppression by others.

        I prefer the staunch resistance option to “accepting evil just because if I’m just in the priviledged enough class, it doesn’t hurt me as much as the ones directly affected by it”. Or because if I just accept it, it can mean getting advantages for myself despite having to accept that the underlying price is giving in to bad things.

        In summary: Buying Titanfall is definitely equivalent to being pro-slavery.

        But on a more serious level: Nothing will ever change to the better if we all keep supporting the things we are supposedly against. Its that “quick satisfaction for me now vs overall broader satisfaction for everyone later” kind of human dilemma thing.

        Also: What if it were war and nobody went?

        • drewski says:

          Except in this case it’s “give me slavery Platform A, not platform B, or give me death” which is a bit weird, really.

          I can understand people being anti-DRM but the demanding one rights platform over another when they’re both effectively the same thing (albeit one is vastly more convenient)? Weird.

          It’s also odd (to me at least) that Blizzard doesn’t get the same blowback for tying games to Battle.net that EA does for Origin.

    • Enkinan says:

      “and it arrived dripping with the slime of corporate greed such as as in-your-face DLC and the obstacle of Origin. ”

      Nailed it.

      This is why I’m not buying it. A damn shame because it looks fun as hell, but no way am I going to be a DLC hostage. What are there, 9 maps? That sounds half assed for a 60$ game.

      • darkChozo says:

        15, actually, though only 9 are in the campaign. It’s the one area where the game matches or trumps other similar games in content count, if you find that to be a useful metric.

  28. clom says:

    FWIW, I really would like to give this a try. But getting screwed out of USD 100 with BF4 + Premium is stopping me spending any money on EA in the near future. I got about 40hrs out of that waste of diskspace but most were frustrating ughh :-(

  29. drewski says:

    These 4 Weird Titanfall Tricks That Will Blow Your Mind, eh Meer?

    I’m onto you.

  30. SpaceDementia says:

    I can totally relate to the beginning lines of this article. It’s like the author read my mind. I was really looking for another relaxed multiplayer-shooter like TF2. Thanks, RPS

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