Gunplay & Pilot skills
Titanfall’s a shooter of course, and that means there’s an arsenal of weapons available to your Pilot, each with their own damage output, fire-rate and reload time stats, to name a few parameters. The R-101C Carbine assault rifle is the jack-of-all trades weapon that is unlocked from the start. It’s got little kickback, a neat digital scope and a decent magazine size. It’s a gun that will serve you well for your entire career, but I’d recommend putting time into scoring kills with it to unlock extended mags.That way you can almost rodeo-shoot a Titan to death without having to reload once.
There’s also the Smart Pistol MK5 that automatically locks on to enemies. This was presumed to be a simple point-and-win weapon by gamers when it was first unveiled, but it’s not that easy to use. After keeping an enemy in the pistol’s reticule for a few seconds you’ll see three dots light up on the HUD. This signifies that the target is locked, leaving you to kill them with three quick shots. The problem is that keeping fast-moving Pilots in that small reticule for long enough is difficult. It’s not an instant-win scenario by any means.
“If you must run away from a threat or cross open, contested ground, use your Cloak skill to reduce the chances of being spotted, and always, always look to the skies for enemies hiding up high.”
I’d argue that the Smart Pistol is better for stealthy play rather than face-to-face encounters, because you’ll be killed before the reticule has time to lock on. It works if you’re one of those players who likes to scout ahead along the fringes of the map or by sneaking your way behind enemies for a quick kill. Combine it with the cloak skill and you can take out Pilots from the shadows without them ever knowing you were there. Roof snipers will rue you for this if you can get to them before they move on.
Pilots take a fair few hits to go down in Titanfall, much more than soldiers in Call of Duty: Ghosts that’s for sure, so you’ll need to concentrate your shots effectively or go for the head to take them down before they have a chance to return fire. I tend to get in close for a short-ranged kill with the Carbine, but not before taking a split second to check my surroundings for other threats first. It’s no use following a Pilot into a room to take him out if five of his buddies are waiting inside. That’s just foolish.
I often cook grenades within an inch of detonation and hurl it into the room before I go in for the kill. The frags are strong in Titanfall, so I’ve managed to rack up a lot of kills using this tactic. Pilots will just run or jump away from uncooked grenades, so why give them the chance to flee? If you must run away from a threat yourself, or cross open, contested ground, use your Cloak skill to reduce the chances of being spotted, and always, always look to the skies for enemies hiding up high.
You have two ability slots, and while there’s few skills to choose from, finding the right mix can really aid you in battle. Take Stim for instance, which increases your health regen and speed for a short while. Couple that with your ability booster in the other slot and you’ll be able to top up your health more often during sticky situations. There’s also a Parkour booster that lets you wall-run and wall-hang for longer, but I’ve never felt like I needed it.
There’s another ability that I’m not so fond of, because I feel it puts players not using it at something of a disadvantage. It’s a radar ping that reveals Enemy and friendly Pilots, as well as all AI troops through walls. You need to be within close proximity to see others using the skill, and there’s a degree of lag each time the radar sweeps, but I found my capacity for scoring kills increase considerably while using it. Couple this with the passive Minion Detector skill – which reveals all AI troops on the map at all times – and you will gain a real advantage in the field.
“Be aware that when locking on to a mech with the Archer rocket launcher it will trigger a signal within the target’s cockpit, complete with a directional marker that tells them where you are.”
Aside from your stock arsenal, you also have one Anti-Titan weapon slot, and while these heavy duty guns can be used to kill Pilots, they’re perhaps not as accurate when faced with smaller targets. The key here is to always target the head, as this is a common weak spot for all three Titan classes. Be aware that when locking on to a mech with the Archer rocket launcher it will trigger a signal within the target’s cockpit, complete with a directional marker that tells them where you are. The key is to find cover and peek out to release your rocket, then hide again instantly.
Make no mistake; Titans can kill Pilots by walking over them, or with one blast from their weapons, so you need to approach them with a great deal of caution. I favour the Archer and Mag Launcher, which unleashes a fast barrage of magnetic grenades. They do less damage, but faster, which is great for keeping up with dashing mechs, particularly the Spyder class. The Sidewinder grenade launcher is also fast – essentially a slow anti-Titan LMG – but weaker, while the Charge Rifle takes time to charge and a good aim to register.
Back to abilities: it’s worth pointing out that some Pilot skills apply to Titans, such as as longer Dome Shields, which protect your mech after it falls from orbit. This lets you enter your vehicle without the threat of being killed, and keeps it unscathed should you need more time to reach it. Enemies also die if they enter the shielded area, so this can also be used to block off routes. Couple your Titan drop with the Pilot’s Warpfall ability, and you’ll reduce the distance it takes to fall into the map. Simply point at a spot, call in your ride and watch as it quickly smashes down, crushing enemy Pilots underfoot.
Beyond the crushing tactic I mentioned above, there are a few things you should know about being an effective Titan Pilot. The first and probably best piece of advice I can give is to not feel like you’re invincible while in a mech. If you stomp in without any regard for your own safety you will find yourself reduced to scrap in moments. I’ve been killed in less than a minute before because I tried to take on two mechs and pilots at once.
Use buildings as cover, and if you can avoid director confrontation with another mech, you should strafe in and out of a safe spot while unloading everything you’ve got at enemy vehicles. Try and keep moving and avoid low roofs to minimise the risk of hostile pilots jumping on your back. Dashing is important, as this is your primary method of dodging incoming rockets and escaping fights when your armour is low. The Ogre Titan can dash twice in quick succession before recharging, the Spyder three times and the Ogre can only dash once before having to cool down. Don’t be afraid to use dashing, but be aware of recharge times in the heat of battle.
When going toe-to-toe with another Titan, I’d recommend strafing back and forth and using your Vortex Shield to stop incoming rockets and shells in mid-flight before hurling them back at their sender. Don’t over-use it however, as rival mechs can grab your thrown rounds again and send them back. Be prepared for a long volley between vehicles and use your Vortex skill wisely. If you do manage to ‘Doom’ a Titan – which means it’s only got a few moments left before exploding – you can melee it with your mech to punch through its hull and grab the player inside. Not only will you earn XP for the mech kill, but the Pilot too.
“If you manage to ‘Doom’ a Titan you can melee it with your mech to punch through its hull and grab the player inside. Not only will you earn XP for the mech kill, but the Pilot too.”
Earlier on I mentioned a trick using Magnetic Smoke whenever a Pilot jumps on your Titan’s back. If you do receive a warning that you’re being boarded, simply unleash your smoke and their health will start to drain. This will force them to abandon their position and leave you without an itch on your back. Another tactic I like to use during each round’s epilogue comes with a great deal of risk-reward, but it can work wonders if you’re clever about it.
A round’s epilogue gives Pilots a short time limit to reach the extraction point and flee the map for an XP bonus. If you die during this time you don’t respawn and must sit the match out until the next lobby screen. This is a problem when you happen to be on the other side of the map and with a sea of Titans between you and safety. I’ve successfully made the extraction by calling in a Titan during the epilogue and purposely getting it doomed by enemies. When that happens I just hit the eject button and boost my way to the pick-up point, or at least much closer than I was before.
It’s not guaranteed to work every time, but it’s useful for getting up to higher extraction points, and when you fear you’re not going to make it. Finally, I’m really fond of the Titan’s Triple-Threat grenade launcher, which spews three massive explosive spheres that roll on uneven surfaces. These are great for firing into rooms housing enemy Pilots. The explosions are so vast they catch anything nearby and they explode on impact. They’re also great for slamming into a hostile Titan at close range. I’m currently packing it on all of my Titan load-outs.
Lastly, we come to a short section about Burn Cards, which are collectibles you earn after levelling up or completing Titanfall’s many challenges. Over time you’ll unlock enough space to take three cards into a round, and these can be played before the match starts or between death. They essentially give your Pilot a perk for one life only. Once you die the effect wears off and you have the chance to play another Burn Card, if you have any left. It’s a great system that ensures players don’t have sustained, balance-breaking perks like Call of Duty’s Ghost skill.
Don’t be afraid to use Burn Cards, but at the same time you should be mindful of squandering them needlessly. For example, one card type gives you an amped version of certain weapons. There’s no point in calling in an amped anti-Titan gun when there’s few mechs around. I would suggest that playing an amped version of your Pilot’s primary at the start of a round can really give you an edge and help you gain your Titan faster. Scoring a ‘first kill’ bonus is also advantageous.
The same is true for Pull Rank, which shaves up to 80 seconds off your Titan build time. There’s no point using it if you only have 20 seconds to wait, but it’s understandable that you might grow anxious if you’re having a rough match. The last piece of advice I can give is to continually discard any unwanted Burn Cards in your deck, seeing as you can only hold 25 of them. It’ll give you a clearer view of what you have to play with.
That’s all for now, but if I discover any new tactics along the way I’ll be sure to add them in here.
Happy Titanfalling everyone!