Titanfall – Respawn Entertainment's remarkably fresh take on the mech and shooter genres – finally arrived yesterday on PC and Xbox One, following a much-talked-about E3 2013 reveal, and an acclaimed mid-February 2014 beta release.
In Titanfall, you control well-armed pilots and gigantic (yet surprisingly agile) mechs that can unload a world of hurt in just a few seconds, but that doesn't mean you should enter combat busting off shots and firing missiles without a gameplan. Titanfall is a game of both combat and combat awareness, so you must react fast, but think even faster.
Titanfall has elements in common with other first-person shooters – Respawn Entertainment counts many former Call of Duty developers among its ranks – but the game also possesses several unique features that separate it from competing FPS titles. Titanfall's tutorial introduces you to many of the concepts, but if you want to apply tactics in an effective manner, check out this collection of ten tips.
You can thank us when you’re done dominating lesser mech pilots.
Noobs, grab the Smart Pistol
FPS games can break newcomers who don't quickly learn the shooting mechanics, but Titanfall gives green gamers an equaliser of sorts – the Smart Pistol. This bad boy auto-locks onto enemy combatants, thus eliminating potential aiming woes. The Smart Pistol auto-kills AI grunts with a single trigger pull, but multiple shots are required to bring down human-controlled pilots. As a new recruit, if you want to quickly become a contributing factor in your team's multiplayer success, grab this gun.
Don the cloak
A useful tool for new and experienced players, the cloak is an essential part of the Titanfall experience. When you activate the cloak, your pilot turns semi-invisible for a few seconds, which creates many unique tactical opportunities for sniping, sneaking up on opponents (those on-foot and in Titans), and evading enemies. Warning: You'll be spotted if you're sprinting about in the open, and the cloak drops as soon as you let off a shot. Cloak with care!
Walk walls and roofs
Titanfall's maps are designed for parkour-like movement, so make the most out of your pilot's booster-jet capabilities by scaling structures, wall-running, and double-jumping across rooftops. These tactics allow you to escape enemies, put you in prime position to snipe from a distance, or launch a surprise melee attack. Besides, do you really want to be on the ground level when multiple mechanical behemoths are unloading rounds? Taking the high road also has another benefit – you can leap off a structure and initiate a Titan rodeo (see the next tip).
Rodeo the Titans
This is another benefit of staying off the ground. If you're on an elevated level and a Titan heads your way, jump towards its head and lock on to it. You'll land atop the mech, pop the pilot's hatch, and have the opportunity to get in some easy shots. Beware – your target can shake you off, or eject from the mech to avoid being air-vented. Some Titans will automatically explode after the pilot ejects, and you’ll explode too, if you’re still clinging on.
Stay on the attack
Titanfall rewards skilled players who are actively engaging in combat with the ultimate prize – faster access to the game's mighty mech beasts. The more XP (experience points) that you amass – be it by popping human-controlled pilots, mowing down AI-controlled grunts, or seizing hardpoints, among other things – the shorter the time you'll wait for your iron giant to be dropped onto the battlefield. Don't worry about dying: If your pilot catches an unfortunate one, the countdown clock will continue to tick along, so all your efforts won't be lost.
Burn through Burn Cards
Burn Cards are in-game bonuses that add limited-use goodies (XP multipliers, powerful guns, and much more) as players complete challenges and level up. You can equip a Burn Card before the start of a match, but if your pilot dies, you immediately lose the bonus weapons/abilities. You start with the ability to play a single card, but as you level up, you can equip multiple cards.
Do as Neo would do
Remember the scene in The Matrix where Neo first realises the full extent of his capabilities and stops the Agents’ bullet barrage in mid-air? You can pull a similar stunt in Titanfall if you select a mech with the Vortex Shield load-out. Pressing the left bumper button (Q on the PC) activates a Titan's Vortex Shield, a defensive tactic that gathers enemy gunfire headed in its direction and holds it in place. You can then turn those captured bullets on their former owner, the ultimate revenge. Unlike Neo's magnificent world-shifting power display, your Titan's bullet-catching abilities only last for a few seconds, so be mindful of your timing when it comes to activating the shield.
Dodge, dodge revolution
Titanfall's mechs are easy targets due to their size, but that doesn't mean that they're sitting ducks. Each mech has a rechargeable dodge move that lets you evade incoming firepower. Don't waste it on standard weapons unless you're in extreme danger of having your mech wrecked – save the dodges for anti-Titan weapons like the Charge Rifle Sidewinder.
Make nice with a soldier's best friend
Piloting a Titan is oodles of fun, but you may find success by exiting the death machine and fighting alongside it instead of piloting it. Upon your leaving the Titan, the machine automatically enters Guard Mode, where it defends its area with massive amounts of gunfire. Also, you can put the mech in Follow Mode, where it will walk after you, spraying the competition with shells. Wisely use these modes to your advantage to add more firepower to your squad.
Remember: It ain’t over ‘til it’s over
When you lose a multiplayer scuffle in most games, the match ends – but not in Titanfall. The losing team has the opportunity to scramble to an extraction point, and should it successfully board the escape ship, its members are granted an XP bonus. The winning team becomes invested in this post-match mission because it gets XP for preventing the losing team from escaping.
For more on Titanfall, see our review roundup from earlier this week.