The most hyped and anticipated game from the 2013 video game conference circuit is finally upon us, and like thousands of other gamers around the globe I too embarked on my Titanfall career at the stroke of midnight on March 11, 2014. The midnight launch experience wasn’t perfect, but it also wasn’t a disaster, which speaks volumes about the work Respawn and Microsoft put into Titanfall’s launch to make sure the infamous cloud could handle the inevitable rush of gamers logging in to play.
I chose to pick my copy of Titanfall up at the local Gamestop, and once again the management team there hosted a very efficient process to ensure that myself and other hardcore gamers had the fastest route possible to getting to some Titanfall gameplay action. By 12:05 AM I had my Xbox One copy of Titanfall in my dirty little hands and a collectible poster to boot, so I jumped in the Buddha Wagon and prayed that the servers weren’t already too bogged down from the other early adopters.
Let the network crunch begin
Upon popping the Titanfall disc into the Xbox One’s tray I was immediately notified of an 842mb patch that needed to be installed before the game could be launched. My heart sunk into my chest a bit, knowing that an 842mb download could take ages to complete during a mad rush of gamers all trying to pull the same patch. To my surprise the download actually sped along quite nicely, and I thought I’d be hitting the battlefield with a Titan in tow by 12:30 AM, but then my install process hit a snag around the 96% mark. It took what seemed like an eternity to go from 96% complete to 100% complete, so when the install process was all said and done I clocked it in at a whopping 45-minutes in total. Yes, the Xbox One still has issues installing disc-based games, and yes it takes even longer to install during heavy usage windows. Such is life for now on the Xbox One.
After the install completed I was luckily able to connect to the training grounds tutorial without a hitch. I had already gone through it with the beta, but the achievement whore in me coaxed me into completing it again, which may have been a mistake on my part. After I completed the tutorial I was more than confident that I’d be able to jump right into some multiplayer action, but I was quite wrong.
The infamous “CONNECTING…” screen haunted me for much longer than I hoped for. This evil little tease ran through its matchmaking routine over and over with no signs of a connection being made. Things were getting dire at this point, and my dreams of playing Titanfall shortly after its official release were slowly becoming dashed. After about 20-minutes of waiting I decided to reboot my entire system, and that included my network’s router, modem, and a hard reset of the Xbox One itself. Think of it as a last ditch attempt to find some missing bandwidth that would ultimately get my Xbox One connected to a Titanfall server. It was definitely a wishful thinking type of operation with no guarantees of success.
Once everything came back up I gave Titanfall another go, and to my surprise I was able to connect after just about 3-minutes of waiting. Who knows if my network refresh helped or not; it did get my Xbox One a better ping (40ms) to the east coast Titanfall servers, but only the gaming Gods will know for sure if that old school IT fix was the solution or not. Regardless, I was finally playing Titanfall and it felt great. In total it took about 1.5 hours to actually play a real match, but when you consider the rush of gamers all trying to do the same thing at once, the delay isn’t as bad as it may sound. I wouldn’t say that the “power of the cloud” did a great job, but at least the entire platform didn’t crash and burn for an extended period of time.
Wonderful first impressions
One of the first things I noticed about the official version of Titanfall over the beta is that the main lobby is slightly different thanks to the addition of the campaign mode. From the lobby gamers can now choose if they want to play in the campaign styled multiplayer matches, or if they just want to go full multiplayer.
The campaign mode is truly just more multiplayer, but Respawn wraps the matches with a bit of backstory to give each match an objective that contributes to whichever faction’s end game your on. While in a match there’s much more radio chatter as well to give the illusion that you’re working towards an overall goal for your faction to complete.
The pure multiplayer mode on the other hand is what gamers experienced in the beta. There’s a few more game modes in the retail version, but I mainly stuck with Attrition. Matches still play out in a frenetic pace that doesn’t feel too fast, but also feel much quicker than most modern FPS games. To me the speed feels a bit like the Unreal franchise, but not as twitchy, which is fantastic for the type of gameplay present in Titanfall.
The pure joy and addictiveness of Titanfall is still present in the full version, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that played the beta. The gameplay is still relatively balanced, and players of all skill types should have a blast. I was able to level up to rank 13 in just over an hour, so if you played the beta many of the skills you honed there will definitely help you to succeed in the full version. It’s also nice to see all of the weapon unlocks that weren’t in the beta, which will give hardcore Titanfall players plenty to do en route to unlocking each aspect of every weapon.
Outside of a 1.5-2 hour rocky period during the Titanfall midnight launch, the overall experience was a blast. It would’ve been nice to get into playing without having to wait on a 45-minute patch to install, but at least the system remained stable enough to allow players that braved the midnight launch to actually play Titanfall at some point during the wee hours of the morning. The game looks and plays great, although it does have some framerate issues on the Xbox One, but thanks to the pure fun factor, this degradation is easy to overlook.
We should have our full review out by the end of the week, so make sure to stop on by once an official score is determined. If you can’t wait that long then just go and buy Titanfall, there’s no way you’ll be disappointed; well maybe if you hate video games, but that’s the only reason why you won’t enjoy Respawn’s first video game project.
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