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Titanfall beta: EA and Respawn open next-gen development to the players

Monday, 17th February 2014 16:36 GMT By Matt Martin

titanfall

Matt: I’ll welcome any new spin on something familiar. Burn cards also add a neat, almost tactile element to customisation that I like. It’s easy to be wowed by the big graphical punch of Titanfall but the small illustrations on those cards are just as important to me.

How about the Specters and Grunts? They feel like a smart addition – the battlefields are busier and give the sense of a full-scale conflict, without the madness of 12-a-side real-world players. I’m not the greatest at online first-person shooters and this limit to 6 versus 6 is perfect for me. The Grunts and Specters are also handy for those extra points. Although they’re not just cannon-fodder – I’ve been killed by them a couple of times and felt deep, deep shame…

“I hope the way EA has handled Titanfall online is representative of changes that have happened at the publisher since Sim City and Battlefield 4″

Dave: Yeah the AI grunts are a nice touch, and I really feel they’re more about fleshing out the play-space. They’re fodder used to chip seconds off your next Titanfall. If you had 64 versus 64 in those maps the game would suffer. I always use the example of the zipline in Black Ops map Kowloon. You were so visible and open to many players while using it, without the option of returning fire, that nobody used it. Now, if you had 32 players looking skyward for jumping or wall-running Pilots in Titanfall, you’d be melted by their gunfire every time you left the ground. Jumping and going up would lose its advantage, so 6 versus 6 is ideal for now.

The cloud AI definitely got tripped up a lot for me. It rarely killed me, and sometimes it was just standing there doing nothing. In those instances I got some easy kills, but it broke the illusion of them being somewhat formidable and more than just easy points. You also see them grappling with bots from the other side, which looks cool but again it’s like, ‘Here’s your free kill: brought to you by the cloud.’ I think they need a degree of work, to make them feel more ‘seamless’ if that makes sense?

Matt: AI bots are always going to look out of place to some extent. It’s like shifting from single player to multiplayer in a game like Call of Duty or Battlefield. There’s no comparison between AI and real-life opponents and any training with bots is in no way representative of how the game will unfold online.

titanfall 012814

I wanted to talk about the whole online beta experience because I think it warrants praise. It’s easy – and usually justified – to crucify games developers and publishers when they release a game that’s a complete mess. We’ve been there before with EA, with the debacle that was Sim City and the online problems with the most recent Battlefield. But honestly, I hope the way they have handled Titanfall is representative of changes that have happened at the publisher since then. The beta process has been smoother than I would have expected and both EA, Respawn and Microsoft have been really communicative. I can’t image some other big name publishers (who will remain nameless) taking such time and care to listen to and answer players’ problems. It’s easy to act privileged and forget this is a free beta. I’ve already played Titanfall and enjoyed it a lot longer than some games I’ve paid £40 for. It’s too easy to say “this is how it should be done in the future” because not all games have such a mega budget, but it’s clear to me that money is being really well spent, not just on the talent at Respawn, but the upcoming infrastructure to keep this game running smoothly come launch.

Dave: Yeah that’s absolutely right actually; Zampella and the Respawn crew have been responding to fans on Twitter and forums with real transparency, and they’ve made no promises that – so far – haven’t been honoured. They were even honest about 6v6 which, as we now know, got them no end of flack from those worried about the game’s scale. The beta itself is chunky too. I managed to max out at level 14, fiddle around with my load-outs and more. They seem to get what a lot of developers don’t; that to get the best kind of feedback from a beta phase you need to actually let players play your game and not restrict too much content. In a shooter that only has online play, this is utterly vital to ensure the balancing is on point.

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33 Comments

  1. mistermogul

    Is VG247 totally transparent?

    Are EA/Respawn/MS paying for so many Titanfall coverage/posts?

    #1 7 months ago
  2. Dave Cook

    @1 Errr, it’s sort of a big game at the moment. Most other sites have done a preview based off the beta too. Is it bad that we’ve done one too?

    #2 7 months ago
  3. absolutezero

    I’ve played it a grand total of twice, both times I’ve had drifting to the right while not moving or indeed touching the pad. Even with the option firmly turned on in the options menu. It kind of shows that I have not really heard anyone say they’ve had the samething happening because no one actually stops moving while playing the game.

    I thought it was utterly bland and hugely depressing that the guys from Infinity Ward took such a massive risk doing what they did and this is what they produced. A huge blank cheque and complete creative freedom from EA and this is it, this is the entire thing.

    #3 7 months ago
  4. Xbone

    6v6 ?
    Brainded bots?
    Terrible optimization (so far)
    ……………..
    No thanks.

    #4 7 months ago
  5. digmouse

    @absolutezero so you gave a conclusion after two games and blame the game for what’s Microsoft’s issue which they said will fix (Xbox One’s controller), cool. And if you are talking about playing on PC with a controller why I and the majority of people didn’t have that problem?

    #5 7 months ago
  6. mistermogul

    @Dave Cook – No not at all.

    Just that the gaming press has had much shifty backhanders recently and when it feels like every other post is about one game I find it a bit suspicious!

    #6 7 months ago
  7. absolutezero

    @digmouse

    I said I played it twice, not that I played 2 games. I think a good hour and a half is enough to judge what has been put in front of me so far. Its the Xbone version I’ve played, and I honestly did not know that MS was to blame for the pad problem. I was quite sure it would get fixed at one stage or another, I just know I have’nt read about it anywhere. Or heard about in any of the many many videos.

    #7 7 months ago
  8. OlderGamer

    This game is way way way down on my radar. As in if it has a demo…on Steam(not origin), I will give it a go and decide if it is something I want to invest in.

    But I think a good portion of the gamer backlash is due in part to a couple of different things:

    The game should NOT be Console xbox exclusive.

    It will prolly be an Origin exclusive.

    It is by EA(do they finally have their CoD killer?)

    It is just another shooter, no offense…but it is just a shooter. Meaning that how many AAA shooters does the Online Competitive Shooter space have room for? And it is ANOTHER shooter.

    It has no campaign.

    The marketing is big, too big. The game is everywhere.

    Lots of other things have been and could be said about the game. Like I said I could take it or leave it. I am an occasional CoD player. I own Blops II. It is alright, I esp liked the co-op(WiiU) play with the second screen, that was cool. But nothing I spent too much time on. So TF prolly isn’t going to be in my wheelhouse anyways.

    The thing about CoD is that while a lot of people bitch about it, a lot more just buy and play it. I suspect the same will be true with TF. What I wonder is how long the game will stay exclusive, and what type of franchise EA will want to mold it into(yearly?). I really don’t want another 110usd a year(60usd for the game, then 50usd for the DLC Bundle) online shooter(BF/CoD). That is why I didn’t buy either CoD or BF this year.

    All in all I feel like the game is over exposed and over hyped. However that is the nature of the beast. But, wtf are game sites going to talk about? Cars? Politics? Music? Nope, games. And this is a big game. But is it a big game because EA and MS say it is, or is it a bug game because millions and millions of fans have it preordered and are scouring for info on it?

    No idea if it is true or not, but a friend of mine said the reason they opened up the beta was because not enough players were playing. Of all of my Steam friends, only Polly is playing it. I just don’t think it is GTA huge, tho some folks think it is or should be.

    #8 7 months ago
  9. CPC_RedDawn

    graphically the game looks like shit. Even on my PC max settings 1080p 8xmsaa it still runs at 60fps all the time and oh my god it looks like a game fro 2005 not 2014.

    The gameplay is fast, fluid, and action packed, however it gets far too boring far too quickly. Sure there is wall running (seen it before), there is double jumps (seen it before), there are guns (seen it before) there are mechs (seen it before).

    This game is just a more advanced, more money driven version of Blacklight Retribution and that game is FREE and all it lacks is wall running.

    The hype train strikes again only this time its hitting a solid metal wall at 200 miles an hour…

    #9 7 months ago
  10. Hcw87

    People seem to forget it’s not only the media hyping the game up. If you’ve been anywhere on the internet, you’ll see the vast majority of people who’ve played it actually enjoys it a whole lot.

    It’s a breath of fresh air in the FPS genre for me personally, there is really no other game with the same fluid movement/verticality. I’m positive this will get solid reviews from 8 and up from the vast majority of reviewers, and it really isn’t hard to imagine why after actually playing it for a while. If you don’t enjoy FPS games, then fine. But then again, it wouldn’t matter what kind of FPS it was if you dislike an entire genre.

    #10 7 months ago
  11. OlderGamer

    I am sure the reviews will be fantastic, glowing even. I am also sure that reviews are bought and sold and in the end most reviews don’t mean much.

    One thing we do agree on HCW, no doubt is that this game will sell fairly well. It will prolly take over the top spot on X1 as well. Xbox platforms are starving for quality games. In fact so are most platforms right now(see recent software sales numbers once again plummet).

    If I had to measure this game(personal excitment wise) against Destiny, I wouldn’t even give TF a spin if I had Destiny sitting next to it. For me(PC gamer) there are a lot of other choices out there. Like I said if a demo comes out I will try it(if it is on Steam). If not ‘meh, no loss. But to say that everyone out there loves the game in the face of many voices that say either otherwise or that they lest have little interest isn’t very convincing. It just sounds to me like a few fans that are trying to convince(themselves?) others that the game is amazing.

    Keep in mind I never said it was bad. Just that I am not as interested as the hype might indicate I should be. If that makes any sense. There are a lot of good games that I never felt like trying. Sometimes I was busy playing other things, maybe I didn’t have the platform, or just wasn’t motivated enough to care. TF seems like one of those games in my book.

    If I is good, I would play it on PC. If it ends up being amazing and my friends all jump on to for XB360, I might play it there. But no way in hell do I spend 500usd for the X1, 60usd for TF, plus who knows how much for DLC…just for one game. That is what I mean it isn’t a system seller for me. Now if a gamer did buy an X1, I could see how they would like TF to be a game that justifies that system purchase. The same way I am hoping that Destiny and few other games for PS4 will make the investment worth that purchase.

    However more and more, I am playing PC and caring even less about consoles.

    #11 7 months ago
  12. bobnice

    @mistermogul, are you kidding? If anything VgA 247 has been a little playstation bias.

    #12 7 months ago
  13. polygem

    i love shooters hcw and this is why i am disappointed with titanfall. as a shooter it´s just average. the game plays it very safe, it plays alright – the basic codish feel is undeniable – no problem with that, it works. the game makes me feel bad ass and constantly reminds me about that but overall it´s a boring and quite shallow experience anyway. it just doesn´t have the hooks that a good game needs or at least i can´t see them. if this is supposed to be “fresh air” for the genre then i think we should all start counting it´s days. tf will sell but like with many other things, sales mean that stuff is popular, it doesn´t necessarily mean it´s good.
    sales have always been an invalid tool to measure a games quality from an enthusiast gamers perspective imo and i always feel that it´s strange when people bring it up on videogame forums to proof their point why a game must be good.
    titanfall is good if you want an ok shooter that plays smooth and plays around with the established cod formula a little bit. you can have some fun with your buddies for a while. i personally think there are better options out already but hey, that´s just me. if you want a revolutionary new shooter game (they try to sell it as that of course), or something challenging, or something unique, then you wont get it here.
    to me personally this game shows exceptionally well whats wrong with many games in general these days, especially the AAA mainstream ones. devs are getting lazy. this biz became a platinum cash cow covered with diamonds, shitting gold nuggets for the big pubs. they are playing it too safe. they do not invent much anymore. they grab the stuff that has been successful in the past 10 years, improve and tweak a little bit here and there and pimp it´s looks. this will change again at some point but only – and here´s why sales kind of matter unfortunately – when sales numbers drop :)

    #13 7 months ago
  14. fengato

    @OlderGamer “If I is good, I would play it on PC.”

    My suggestion is that instead of typing up big blocks of text, that you try the beta. It’s not the second coming, nor the next big thing in my view. But spending your time weighing up hype seems counterproductive to me.

    I find it to be a fun little game with some flaws – though a good antidote to a long session of something like sniping on BF4. I’ll get at least a week out of it.

    #14 7 months ago
  15. mal617

    Fun game can’t wait to get it.

    #15 7 months ago
  16. Henry

    ” I still think it needs to be on PlayStation 4 to justify the high costs and reach the maximum appreciative audience.”

    Either deja vu, or this is not the first time I see this opinion on vg247′s article.
    But why?
    How about Deep Down? Witness? Resogun? Why shouldn’t they be on Xbox One too to broaden the audience?

    #16 7 months ago
  17. AppleRedX

    “I hope the way EA has handled Titanfall online is representative of changes that have happened at the publisher since Sim City and Battlefield 4″

    Titanfall is running so smooth is because Respawn isn’t using EA’s inferior server infrastructure. They are using the Xbox Cloud (Azure Network) with dedicated servers all around the world.

    #17 7 months ago
  18. Erthazus

    I’m playing the demo and it really looks like shit although gameplay is good but at the same time there is no satisfaction once Titan’s comes because they are PAIN IN THE ASS for your team or other team.

    and when you kill suddenly a random AI grunt that is Stupid (compared to Quake or Unreal Tournament games) and you missed the wrong target that is actually a player this is NOT THE MOST SATISFYING THING IN THE WORLD. That’s for sure.

    The maps are big shich I applaud but 6vs6 is not enough. 12 people across a map that is bigger then in CoD so in the end it is a mess with Titans. You hve no choice but to wait for your titan and fight.

    #18 7 months ago
  19. Erthazus

    Anyway, so far Titanfall to me looks like a great concept but with poor execution.

    They require Titanfall 2. IMO

    #19 7 months ago
  20. Legendaryboss

    @Henry That’s hardly the same thing.

    Titanfall is not exclusive and is not published by Microsoft.
    Deep Down is the only legitimate claim but there are differences, its a true exclusive and does not share Titanfall’s level of hype and therefore its not highly demanded for Xbox One. The witness is a timed exclusive and Resogun is published and owned by Sony. None of those share Titanfall’s hype thats why.

    #20 7 months ago
  21. The_Red

    @Erthazus They need to do 2 things with TF2:
    - Add a proper singleplayer campaign.
    - Shake up their graphics team.

    Seriously, I am one of those people that were unsure about the game but fell in love after playing the demo / beta BUT… And that is one sad but, there are parts where visuals look terrible. This is even below COD Ghostos in spots. Of course there are decent scenes too, though not enough.

    #21 7 months ago
  22. Henry

    @Legendaryboss Titanfall is a true exclusive too. MS signed a deal with EA, making Titanfall (excluding any sequel) never going to PS console.
    And I highly doubt if Witness is a timied-exclusive. The indie developer said more than once about disliking MS.

    Anyway, I am pretty sure there must be other PS4 3rd-party exclusives that are similar to Titanfall’s exclusivity situation.
    The only difference is: none of them has Titanfall’s hype.
    So, if a game is highly hyped then it should go multiplat? That’s the logic?
    I don’t get it, honestly.

    #22 7 months ago
  23. OlderGamer

    A quick hint to all core and dedicated MS fans:

    The tide has changed.

    It leaves you sitting there and scratching your head. It leaves you wondering if the gaming world has suddenly gone mad. Wondering where the bias has come from. So many people seem like rampant, angry fanbois, from websites to fellow gamers.

    Why?

    Because the tides have begun to shift in the console space.

    The same thing happened last gen. Long time Sony faithful saw the same type of thing. After the run away smash that was both the PSx and the PS2, the PS3 flopped hard out of the gate. There is a parallel here in this gen. A lot of things are comparable. Remember the Sony guy saying PS3 was so good, gamers will want to get a second job to be able to afford one? Remember # justdealwithit? Same type of cocky disdan for their fan base. Toss in a higher price tag(PS3>competition, X1>competition), a lot of things.

    Now add in the Microtransactions. Add in Over flogging of Mega Franchises(even Bungie wanted to stop making Halo). Add in forcing Kinect down our throats. Add in a seemingly non game focused, multimedia “gaming” machine. Add in overspending to buy exclusives(from DLC, to timed, to platform/console). Easy to see, to me, why so much hostility is to be found for MS, X1, and for guys like EA whoring themselves out to MS.

    Like I said, tide has shifted a bit.

    I was a long time Xbox gamer. MS drove me away, so screw ‘em. Now I own a WiiU, PS4, and mostly game on my PC. I do NOT want a X1.

    Walking into almost any store and seeing a pile of X1s, and an empty shelf where the PS4 sold out, is pretty solid visual proof to back up what I am saying. PS4 is ahead of X1 2-1 and the PS4 wasn’t even out in the worlds 2nd biggest console game market, which happens to be the systems home territory of Japan. The biggest problem the PS4 has is supply, Sony can’t make enough, fast enough.

    It always works this way tho. The core dedicated fans always stay with their chosen platform, while the bulk of the gamers bounce tend to bounce around generation to generation. Only twice has one company won a gen back to back: NES/SNES and PSx/PS2. I highly doubt MS takes this round. Or Nintendo for that matter. Truth be said I think the PC/Mobile/other overtake the traditional big three consoles this gen anyways.

    But my point in all of this is if that it feels to you like world has gone mad and people hate X1 and its games…maybe you over looked a few reasons why.

    #23 7 months ago
  24. Legendaryboss

    @Henry So Titanfall the game launching on PC, Xbox One and Xbox 360 is a true exclusive on the same level of exclusive status as Deep Down on PS4. I’m sorry it will never work that way and redefining the word exclusive as so many have with this won’t either. That deal won’t last as long as anyone thinks.

    PS4 third party *exclusives like Titanfall*? There is none. The Witness is confirmed timed exclusive, but as for later platforms no-one knows. As for hype thats simple, Titanfall has massive hype, it bound to sell well but it won’t sell gangbusters unless a PlayStation port is underway: What Matt/Dave meant is that they want that other audience to have Titanfall to cover costs and get in everyone’s hands.

    #24 7 months ago
  25. super3001

    Game is just amazing. Most fluid parkour an gunplay ever in a fps. Bit like Brink but good!

    Titans are so satisfying too. Vortex shield tennis anyone? :)

    #25 7 months ago
  26. super3001

    #23

    Fuck that was boring post. Nobody cares at your pointless hate.

    #26 7 months ago
  27. polygem

    @super3001
    #23 was the best post in the last 3 weeks i´d say

    #27 7 months ago
  28. super3001

    #27

    Then you are stupid as him.

    #28 7 months ago
  29. polygem

    @super3001
    your words clearly don´t leave room for interpretation.

    #29 7 months ago
  30. OlderGamer

    Thnx Polly, maybe I struck a nerve with Mr. 3001

    #30 7 months ago
  31. polygem

    you probably chainsawed his nerves.

    #31 7 months ago
  32. boiled lobster

    “Electronic Arts isn’t a one-console publisher, not when it clearly wants the game to be another mega-franchise in its portfolio.”

    Maybe it is a strategic change.

    Different platforms cater to different audiences. So what’s the point in overgeneralization, in trying bring the same experience to everyone with a one size fits all product or service? A better way to boost revenue is by differentiating brands, making each platform specific.

    Specialization offers an economy of scale that generalization will never match.

    #32 7 months ago
  33. Cathodeo

    @super3001 @polygem @OlderGamer

    I’ve come to see posts like #23 as idiotic rants from people that seem like they have other weird issues in life.

    On the other hand I’ve got all the time in the world for decent folk who simply post something like, “I’m not likely to get an X1 because I’ve got a PC & PS4 which I’m thrilled with”. You can always tell the decent people who are worth listening to because they don’t need to talk smack. That’s like admitting defeat before you’ve even started your argument if you need to resort to have an imbalanced rant.

    #33 7 months ago

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