Are you sick of hearing about Titanfall? Too bad.
Actually, I'll try to spare you a bit, as we talk about this game non-stop. But we blabbler on for good reason -- it's amazing.
Instead of only blabbering on about just how amazing it is, we'll just update you with the new details from our hands-on experience here at gamescom 2013. There's a new mode, new loadout details and more.
Many are getting their hands on Respawn's baby for the first time here at gamescom, so the buzz is insane today. We've seen it before [brag], but this is our first time playing the newly announced Attrition mode. This is a spin on the standard team deathmatch where one side will work to hold off enemy forces while the other moves in for an attack. The other thing that makes Attrition different is that AI enemies of all types join each team. There's a fight coming from every direction, which makes things a bit nuts.
With Attrition, teams play to reach the score limit first, but another spin on the standard formula is that scoring varies, and kills aren't equal. Of course, blowing up a Titan nets you huge points, while taking out an AI grunt isn't worth much. The action is so crazy that you're really out there blowing up whatever you can, whenever you can. It's so good like that.
And while we're talking about differences, Titanfall's addition of the massive mechs isn't the only thing that sets it apart. They've created maps so that players can get up off the ground and get vertical. Skills like double jumping and wall running mean that you never have to touch the ground if you don't want to, and combining the two makes for some good fun. Seriously -- you can play entire matches without ever touching the ground.
That said, and despite Respawn's efforts to encourage otherwise, I watched several matches on the Angel City map, and almost everyone began playing the way they're used to playing first-person shooters -- on the ground. But those that tried and learned how to get vertical seemed to fare better in battle. Some did insanely well from up high. In my own matches I found that it took a bit to get used to moving up and above the action, but when I got the hang of it I found myself giggling quietly with the advantage it provided.
Of course, the biggest advantage you can have in battle comes when you're inside one of the massive Titans. There's actually three types of Titans shown here at gamescom, each coming with a different loadout. There's a standard Titan, one with heavy weapons, and one made to blow shit up quickly. The standard Titan has this neat magnetic field shield that can catch and hold projectiles fired at it for a time, and then can send them back. The others have a smoke screen that can help it hide or jam up other enemies. Each is also equipped with its own weapons. One has a cluster rocket that it can use while its main weapon is reloading.
There were also three pilot loadouts, each coming with a normal weapon, a sidearm, and an anti-Titan weapon. All of them also have the ability to cloak for a time. I tried all of them: assault, tactical, and CQB loadouts. Each had unique strengths (the tactical pistol can shoot around corners!), but all had me counting down the minutes until I could hop into my Titan.
My pattern for the first match: kill others as pilot, wait for an airdrop, kill others in titan, win, and then chase survivors down in the Epilogue, where the losing team has to get to the dropship before a counter runs down. So. Much. Fun.
I tried both standard PC controls and an Xbox 360 controller. I had a better time with mouse and keyboard, but the console control method worked perfectly fine, too. In fact, I was surprised how well I was getting on with the controller. The control is perfectly tuned already.
I think Titanfall has a couple of strong things going for it, and these combined are winning people over. Having a huge titan to call on and use is an obvious draw, but I think that there's this unique feeling that comes from having a healthy mix of pilots and titans on the map at any time. There's this feeling of freedom that underlies all of the on-screen madness, and this makes for an environment that feels really easy to get into. I haven't put my finger on what exactly this is, but I think fine tuned balance plays into this.
The other thing I think that could be winning players over is that Titanfall feels amazing. I'm not the greatest FPS player, but even I gelled with the controls instantly, and never fumbled from that point. Movement -- both as a pilot and a titan -- is spot on. The control in Titanfall is so beautifully executed that I think people are taking it for granted. I'm guessing that they're so wrapped up in how cool it is to pilot a Titan that they're not realizing how nice of a job Respawn has done under the hood.
What a game, folks. What a game.