[Dtoid community blogger Wrenchfarm shares some tips from his first few weeks with Titanfall. Want to see your own blog appear on our front page? Go write something! --Mr Andy Dixon]
I've been playing a LOT of Titanfall over the past weeks, snuffing out Grunts and dropping Titans every chance I get. Titanfall is an insane game and between the high-flying pilots, the pitiless robotic Titans, game changing perks, weapons, and burn cards, there are a lot of moving parts to keep track of.
I've been experimenting with as many different set-ups and options as I can, trying to find the best ways to deal jet-pack murder on your foes. I have a few tips and tricks to share that I can guarantee will make you a better, stompier, player.
Many of these kit and Titan builds require you to unlock some equipment first. If you're just starting fresh, Chris Carter wrote up a great list of general tips from the beta. Follow his advice, and you'll live a lot longer as a Pilot, kick extra ass as a Titan, and unlock the toys I'm going to talk about much faster.
David Dunking on Goliath
Getting stuck on foot while the enemy team is fielding a small army of Titans can suck. Fortunately, the crafty Pilot has more than a few ways to execute a little robotic removal.
While you might pass on the the herky jerk, recoil heavy Spitfire LMG for fighting other Pilots, there is no single weapon better for rodeo riding an enemy Titan and dumping into its exposed circuits. All the recoil in the world doesn't matter when you're spraying into a target three inches away, and thanks to the Spitfire's huge clip you can generally take a Titan down from full health to exploded bits without reloading. You can add the Slammer mod to the gun to make it even MORE deadly to Titans, but it almost doesn't matter. While the Spitfire might be a poor choice for general combat, consider keeping a custom build with it equipped in your back pocket that you can switch to when you're getting crushed by merciless robotic despots and need to stage a little revolution.
Don't like to rodeo for long periods of time? Rather than sit around on top of an enemy Titan waiting to get choke/fried by Electric Smoke or shot in the ass by one of his buddies, you could just drop a pair of Satchel Charges on the exposed brain of a Titan. Jump on, deliver your explosive presents down their brain chimney, jump away laughing as you watch a massive chunk of its health bar disappear in a cloud of smoke. Basically, become the Anti-Santa and take away all the miserable spoiled brat's toys.
Of all the anti-Titan weapons, the unsung hero of the bunch might just be the Charged Rifle. This thing is ridiculous and it boggles my mind that I don't see more Pilots using it. Similar to the laser in Halo, this is a weapon that automatically fires a robot melting energy beam when it reaches full charge. A little timing and aim is important, but given that your target is a giant killbot the size of three mini-vans stacked on top of each other, let's not act like you have to be Annie Oakley to make that shot.
The Charge Rifle is crazy good. It gives you all of the crushing single hit damage of the Archer Missile Launcher, but without warning the enemy Titan about a lock-on signature or drawing a billowing smoke trail straight back to you. Unlike the spammy Sidewinder rockets or Mag-Launcher grenades, the Charge Rifle lets you do your damage and then get back behind cover before you eat a giant metal knuckle-sandwich. Best of all, it's extremely accurate; a little aim will let you hit critical spots with ease. Once you start taking the Charge Rifle out and about, it's hard to think of reasons to go back to any of the other anti-Titan weapons. Just make sure to break it off quick and clean -- no drunk-texting the Sidewinder in the middle of the night.
Better, Harder, Stronger, Faster Titan
The ramp to unlock all the weapon mods for a given Titan weapon can be a long one. Scoring 25 Titan vs. Titan kills with one specific weapon (and not accidentally polishing off the enemy with say a rocket barrage, or a pneumatic punch) while also contending with Pilots running about, and your own teammates scooping up kills (bastards) can be something of a feat. So if you really want that burst fire mod for the 40mm in the foreseeable future, I recommend you check out Last Titan Standing mode.
Last Titan Standing starts both teams in their Titans giving you six potential targets a round. When every Titan on one side blows up, it starts all over again -- no fuss, no muss. While it isn't the best mode for experiencing everything the game has to offer, there is no better grindhouse for quickly achieving Titan on Titan kills. A little coordination goes a long way in this mode, so see if you can rope some buddies into joining you.
When it comes to equipping your Titan, you have a lot of options. In general, I really like the Electric Smoke tactical ability. While the smoke is usually used to get rid of meddling Pilots trying to jack your ride (and I LOVE it for that), it has a lot of other applications I don't see players using often enough. The smoke cloud will break any locks which makes it a great last ditch resort to survive enemy Titans using Slaved Warheads -- better to use the smoke to break a lock than to lose your robot entirely. Electric Smoke also does great damage to Titans who hang around in the cloud. This makes it a fantastic defence when a lumbering Ogre keeps trying to melee you: make him back off or waltz through an electric haze and soak up a bunch of damage. You can also have some sadistic fun if you manage to box an enemy Titan into a corner. Pop smoke and watch that robot wither like a liberal arts major thrust into the real world.
The Particle Wall is a great ability that I don't see people using. While the Vortex Shield can be devastating if you practice your return serve and get good at sending enemy munitions straight back into them, that's easier said than done. I see a lot of people using the Vortex just for defense, but the Particle Wall provides a better force field than the Vortex, allows you to stay mobile while you use it, and most importantly, lets you return fire through it. If you find yourself constantly missing your Vortex rebounds, just switch to the Particle Wall -- you'll thank me later.
Hot Robot on Robot Action
When it comes to sheer robot bullying, you can't beat the Ogre equipped with the Chaingun and Accelerator mod. The Accelerator more than doubles the size of the clip and changes the way the Chaingun fires -- it will start slow and speed up, eventually spraying bullets like a DonDonPachi boss. Basically, you want to turn your Ogre into the Heavy from TF2: a big giant jerk that waddles right up to the enemy, tanking fire, and laying down an unbelievable shitstorm of bullets. Get right up to hugging range with this gun and between the incoming damage and massive screen-shake, you'll see Pilots abandoning their Titans faster than a Xenomorph abandons a scientist's chest cavity.
Good perks for this set-up include the Tactical Accelerator for getting the Orgre's extra shields up faster, Survivor for lasting a few more crucial seconds in a brawl, or maybe Nuclear Ejection since you'll be right next to enemy anyway (might as well take them with you). You never want to stop firing or moving towards the enemy, so pack Electric Smoke instead of either shield. To top it off, the Cluster Missiles will help you control space, take out Pilots, and easily farm Grunts. Seriously, I call this set-up the Bastard-Tron2000. It might not be the most nuanced or skill heavy build, but it's one of the best.
The Stryder is not my favorite mech, but I did find one particularly fun niche for it: the Stryder and the lighting spewing Arc-Cannon go together like peanut butter and murder-jelly. While the Arc-Cannon's charge time is generally a liability, the super mobile Stryder can more than compensate, especially when equipped with the Dash Quickcharger perk. Charge up a full powered bolt, dash out from cover, "RIDE THE LIGHTING BITCHES!", and dash the hell out of there before a bigger robot rips your arm off and beats you to death with it. You can kite slower Titans up and down the map like this, zapping off chunks of armor while they get in the occasional pot-shot trying to track you down (bonus points if you put the occasional Particle Wall in their way to block them). Just make sure you don't back yourself into a corner or accidentally dash off a ledge (not that I would ever do something so foolish of course...). The Arc-Cannon is a decent choice against Pilots and Grunts, so I would recommend a solid back up ordinance like the Rocket Salvo to help deal extra damage if you end up in a Titan brawl you can't scoot away from.
Use your burn cards.
If you play a round where you're not burning some kind of card, you're basically guilty of self-harm. Burn cards give you that little extra boost over the competition. You get plenty of them and your deck will fill up if you never use or discard any of them, so curb your gamer prediction towards hording resources and just BURN em.
Of course, not all burn cards are created equally. If you're willing to put in a little thought and creativity, some cards can entirely change the way you play.
Make sure you read the fine print on things, burn cards only expire when the player dies. This affords you an interesting opportunity in Last Titan Standing mode where it's entirely possible to survive through a round. Only the Titans need to go down in Last Titan Standing, so win or lose, if you can keep your Pilot alive, you can keep your burn card for a second go around. A card like the Core Supercharger, that automatically gives you a Core charge at the start of a match, can provide you with a dominating advantage. Use it, wipe out half the enemy mechs single-handedly, survive to do it again. It's flat out unfair and probably an oversight of design. The devil is in the details indeed.
Speaking of flat out unfair, have you used the Ghost Squad burn card yet? This card gives you permanent Active Camo, which is pretty damn great on its own, but it can become downright fiendish when you add on a suppressed Smart Pistol, the Stealth Kit perk, and the Stim tactical ability. Fly around invisibly popping off fools like a very special episode of Unsolved Mysteries and silently wiping out every Grunt on the map. I pulled this trick myself the other night and snuffed out 10 Pilots and a busload of Grunts before I got myself stepped on (I probably could have gone a lot longer if I was watching where I was going). It's a crazy overpowered gimmick and the only thing keeping it in check is the relative rarity of the Ghost Squad card. Don't horde it when you get it, treat yourself to a crazy fun round where you spoil everyone else's fun. You've earned it!
Don't forget about the Campaign missions. While the story is pretty flat, the individual missions set up some interesting scenarios you can take advantage of. A friend of mine posted a video of himself using the Spectre Camo card (which dolls you up as a Spectre, complete with clanky footsteps) on the "Made Men" mission at the Spectre manufacturing plant.
Incredibly fun, but I found a way to improve on the formula. Toss in the Minion Detector or Ice-Pick perk (they're mutually exclusive so pick your poison), track down and hack a few Spectres over to your side. Now you've got a posse of bro-bots at your back, racking up points, providing ineffectual firepower, and more importantly helping you blend ("blend" is of course a euphemism meaning you're going to use your bro-bots as human-shields. Or robot-shields. Whatever). The Wi-Fi Virus card which auto-hacks Spectres can also be a hoot on that mission or "The Colony" -- definitely worth a try if you have a few of those cards lying around.
When All Else Fails, Have Fun
Titanfall is an incredibly fast game with a lot of interacting systems. While I think I've found some decent tricks, I know that we've only just begun to scratch the surface of what's possible. There are still tons of tactics, options, and ridiculously unfair gimmicks to discover. More than getting hung up on your K/D average or ability to land wall-run headshots, just try to get out there and have fun. Get creative, pick different perks and weapons, test shit out.
This is a game about giant robots that fall from space to beat up jet-pack men -- have some fun!