After a weekend spent painting the landscape with blood, sweat and engine oil, Empire has emerged from the Titanfall beta test battered, bruised and longing for the full game's March 11 release. This latest, greatest contender for the online shooter throne is a bold new take on the genre and, as such, will catch new players unprepared. With the beta opening to the public today, we’ve assembled 10 essential tips to help you crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentations of their teammates.
Titanfall matches are limited to six-on-six but thanks to a generous flow of AI cannon fodder conflicts are always bustling with bodies. League of Legends fans will know the drill well enough: grind the creeps and reap the rewards. Grunts are stupid, fragile and terrible shots – easy pickings for a pilot on the rampage. Their slaughter reduces the time to your next titanfall, unlocks challenges and in Attrition mode also contributes to your team score so minutes spent thinning their ranks is always time well spent. Spectres offer the added benefit of being hackable, switching sides after a well-placed data-knife to the head. Use this tactic to build up a cadre of metallic bodyguards to hide among – an even more effective tactic when using the Spectre Camo burn card.
Unlikely as it may seem, that ten tonne mech lumbering across the battlefield can be less of a threat than the flimsy meatbag sighting down on you from the opposite building. Pilots are fast, agile and very hard to hit – especially when you’re inside a titan. Shields wane quickly under anti-titan ordnance, vision blurs from a well-placed ARC grenade and if a pilot gets on your titan’s back then a doomed state is often close at hand. Pilots show up on your radar as large red dots – never ignore them.
Much has been made of Titanfall’s verticality and with good reason. Mastering the pilot’s movement is the key to success on built-up maps like Angel City, allowing you to traverse the landscape at speed and strike behind enemy lines. The built-in tutorial will help with the basics but it takes time before you can flow effortlessly across the rooftops. Two things the tutorial doesn’t tell you: wall-running resets your double-jump, letting you chain runs and height gain with ease. Secondly, you can wall-hang temporarily by holding the left trigger. It does leave you exposed but you’d be surprised how few people remember to look up when approaching a defended hardpoint.
Running heedless through the streets is a sure way to end up being scraped off the bottom of a titan’s foot but free-running the skyline can be just as perilous. On terra-firma you can blend in with both scenery and grunts but the rooftops are bare and the AI doesn’t make use of the skyway, so those traversing it tend to stand out. Keep moving and make judicious use of the cloak but bear in mind that it won’t make you completely invisible – bots are oblivious and titan operators may overlook you but other pilots won’t be fooled for long.
The most potent anti-titan weapon in your arsenal is neither rocket nor grenade but the ability to jump on the monster’s back, rip open the carapace and blast away. Mastering the art of the rodeo is key to taking down a meched-up opposition and a factor that prevents titans from dominating every engagement. For best results approach from above or behind (descending from a previous ejection is a perfect opportunity), under cover of cloak or while the pilot is otherwise occupied. A canny opponent will disembark immediately (if the titan bends down, jump away fast) and attempt to shoot you off or he might deploy electric smoke to do the job for him. To stack the odds, pick titans already engaged in a firefight, forcing them to endure the abuse or risk exiting straight into oncoming fire.
With roles reversed an unwelcome passenger is a major annoyance, especially given the HUD warning doesn’t activate until your attacker is already unloading their weapon into your back. Helpfully, unwanted hitchhikers make a distinctive sound when scrambling for purchase on the carapace, giving you the chance to jump out quickly and end the assault before any damage can be done.
See that tiny figure rocketing skywards? That’s the pilot and he’s undoubtedly pissed that you blew up his ride. What’s more he’s likely to return the favour if you don’t address the problem. The chaingun is best suited for skeet shoots but anything will do in a pinch, so angle up and make sure to finish the job you started. Better yet, close the distance and melee as soon as an enemy titan enters its doomed state to rip the pilot from the cockpit and crush them in-hand – but beware the telltale glow of a nuclear ejection.
The natural inclination when your glorious, armoured killing machine first drops from the heavens is to mount up and let rip. However there can sometimes more to gain by placing your titan in guard or follow mode and treating it like a traditional Call of Duty kill streak. It draws fire, backs you up and can hold one hardpoint while you stake a claim on another. The AI doesn’t do a brilliant job but it can hold its own against a single opponent and will flatten any bots that cross its path, all the while keeping the heat off while you move in for the kill.
If you end up with a sizeable desk of burn cards in your inventory then you’re doing something wrong. Cards are easy to earn and can turn the tide of battle so once you unlock them at level 7, use them every game. Early cards give minor perks like enhanced movement speed and a souped-up weapon but as you progress they become increasingly powerful, offering such treats as extra titans, perma-cloak (combine with a marksman rifle for monster sprees) and echo-location, which lets you see through walls and get the drop on defenders. They’re also a handy way to sample some of the ordnance otherwise unavailable in the beta.
So make the most of it. One of the most potent weapons available to you falls from the sky every few minutes and instagibs whatever it lands on, be that grunt, pilot or another titan. Canny aiming of the titanfall can lead to some of the game’s most satisfying kills and the ultimate humiliation for an enemy on a spree. Combine with the Warpfall Transmitter kit, which cuts the drop time by half, for even more splat-happy fun.