This is Co-Opinion, where two Joystiq editors play a game and discuss their experience. This edition focuses on a Gamescom 2013 hands-on session of Titanfall, from developer Respawn Entertainment.
Richard Mitchell: So, Alexander and I got to play the PC version of Respawn Entertainment's Titanfall at Gamescom. Let's get one thing out of the way right now: We both had an absolute blast. Personally, I was already very interested in the game, and I was keen to see if its blend of infantry mobility and large scale mech combat would really work.
But you, Alexander, went into it without many expectations, right?
Alexander Sliwinski: I had no clue what to expect. I'd obviously followed the news and background details on Titanfall, but I knew nothing about the feel of the game going into it. I knew it was a shooter and I knew it had mechs. However, I was not expecting the level of locomotion given to the Pilots and the diversity of experiences available in a match.
Richard Mitchell: And it immediately clicks, too. The Pilots (player soldiers) are extremely agile, able to run on the walls of buildings and double jump using a jet pack. The map we played, Angel City, featured lots of buildings with a network of roads running between them. Within a few seconds, I was already running along walls, jumping across the street from one building to another, and climbing my way onto the nearest rooftop – all without stopping or touching the ground. And the buildings aren't just window dressing either. You can walk around inside them (though I wouldn't recommend it).
Alexander Sliwinski: And you have a moment to appreciate the environment and get your bearings before getting into a fight. The respawn system seems to do a solid job of putting you near the action, but not so close that Titanfall turns into a spawn-and-die game. You've got enough time to check your radar, figure out where things are going down and then position yourself to get into the fight by double-jumping, wall-running and climbing up the environments. The Titans are an exciting element of Titanfall, to be sure, but the Pilots can certainly hold their own and the weaponry available felt like it got the job done. But let's talk about the Titans anyway.
Richard Mitchell: Oh yes, let's. Titans are huge mechs that each pilot can operate. After a certain amount of game time elapses – two minutes in our matches – you have the option of calling in your Titan wherever you want. A quick press on the D-pad will mark your selected drop point and, after a few seconds, your Titan will crash down from the sky. That's where we get the name: Titanfall. And yes, if you're not smart enough to get out of the way, a falling Titan can kill you.
Once the Titan hits the ground, you're free to hop into the cockpit ... and that's when the magic happens.
Alexander Sliwinski: The first time you get in a Titan it's hard not to immediately smile. Although agile, the Titan doesn't feel twitchy. It feels like you're in a substantial piece of machinery designed to give the opposition a very bad day. The Titans are also equipped with special equipment. My favorite was the vortex, a force field that can collect bullets shot at you by the opposition. You can then fling the projectiles directly back at them.
Richard Mitchell: Titans can take down enemy Pilots and AI soldiers (more on that later) with relative ease, but battles between Titans are another matter. Titan fights are protracted, and the victor has a chance of "executing" the loser, plunging its metal fist into the enemy Titan and ripping out the Pilot before tossing them away like yesterday's garbage. There's a flip side, though. You have a few seconds to eject from your Titan when you take too much damage. Jamming on the eject button sends you flying skyward and allows you to drop onto the Titan that took you out. Riding around on its back, you can tear off a panel and start shooting its mechanical brains out.
Alexander Sliwinski: Yeah, it's not like you need a Titan to have fun. While having a Titan is great, they aren't unstoppable vehicles, and every Pilot is equipped with anti-Titan weaponry. It takes some effort, but a Pilot keeping their cool can take on a Titan and win. Just have to be sure to have some cover, and it really helps to make sure to stay away from the Titan's line of sight. A rear offense is best.
Richard Mitchell: The Pilot's mobility is key here, too. A Pilot can very quickly achieve a nice, high vantage point over a Titan, and can just as easily move to another. Anti-Titan weapons are also a great way to help one of your friendly Titans as they engage the other team's machines. While the enemy Titan is distracted, it may not notice you blasting ordinance up its backside. Oh, and one more thing: When you hop out of a healthy Titan, it will follow you around and keep fighting, so it's not like you're leaving an asset behind if you disembark.
We should probably mention that we weren't even playing Titanfall's standard multiplayer mode, but rather its "Campaign Multiplayer." Titanfall's campaign is an always-online experience, with each mission advancing the story and pitting you against both human players and basic AI infantry. Titans, Pilots and AI all offer different point rewards when killed, and earning points helps decrease the amount of time it takes to get your next Titan.
Alexander Sliwinski: And after a match is over, the fighting doesn't stop there. Titanfall also features an "Epilogue" battle, which finds the winners chasing down the remnants of the opposition, while those who were on the non-winning side can avoid being total losers by escaping to an incoming dropship for extraction.
Richard and I don't know what that feels like, because we handled the other teams with our telepathic squad skills, finely tuned through years of Battlefield.
Richard Mitchell: It's true, our team won both matches, largely (entirely?) thanks to our telepathic link. I know I read your mind after the first match, when we looked away from our monitors and grinned at each other like idiots: This is something special.