TitanFall PC Impressions

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Well, I was able to snag a Titanfall beta code…about a day before they just opened it up to everybody. But, that is usually how it goes now doesn’t it?  I figured I would give my initial impressions as a level 7, indicating I’ve played for a few hours at least.  It’s hard to cram all the time I want into the game given my life schedule, but I’m trying.  The first thing I’m reminded of while playing this is Call of Duty, which is fitting given the studio behind this game was started by the former head of Infinity Ward, the studio that arguably brought CoD into the forefront with the first Modern Warfare.  But enough about that, let’s dig into Titanfall and how it feel on the PC?

Graphics and Scaling:

What do I mean by scaling, exactly?  Well, a game can look great on the highest settings, but sometimes turning down those settings don’t help your framerate much at all, the supposed “minimum” system requirements aren’t really true and you only end up getting 15fps.  Not playable at all (I’m looking at you Crysis…)

For Titanfall I decided to install it on my main computer and my laptop to get a sense of how well it would run on both, but these images are all from my laptop.  I’m assuming any images you come across on the net is going to be of the game running max settings so I wanted to give a better idea of what it looks like on lower settings, but I’ll talk about the performance on both systems.  First, we have my main computer:

  •  Intel i7 3770K

    Click to Enlarge
    Click to Enlarge
  • 20GB 1600mhz RAM
  • 5870×2 Radeon Video Cards
  • 22-inch x 3 (eyefinity) screens
    running 3500×1920 resolution

The video cards are a bit outdated, but they are work horses that can still run every game available.  One thing to note is this game will not run crossfire (both video cards at the same time,) it will only ever utilize the first GPU even when attempting to force it using RadeonPro.  Yet, even without being able to use crossfire this game ran really well.

Graphically, even at it’s max across the board, it isn’t the prettiest game.  Polygon counts are a tad low, dynamic effects are lacking, post-process blur effects, pretty sparkles, and all the other crap you find in Battlefield aren’t present.  But is it the worst looking?  Are you going to be distracted by how BAD it looks? I don’t think so, unless you are some sort of elitist.  Running at 1920×1080 on my main computer (specs above) I was able to run with all settings on high (AA off) and still get well above 30fps.  I hesitate to say 60fps but it felt like it could have been, it was very smooth.

Switching over to my laptop the game took a visual decline, though still very playable with the settings turned down which really shows how well it scales:

Inside a Titan, Click to enlarge
Inside a Titan, Click to enlarge
  • AMD A8-3500M CPU
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • Radeon 6620G GPU
  • Xbox 360 Controller

The game automatically sets what it believes to be the best settings in the graphics department based on your hardware.  It plays it pretty safe in my opinion.  As I jumped into the game I instantly notice how much worse the textures appear.  During firefights it isn’t a distraction but the instant you step into the Titan, the textures you see as you get in are essentially non-textures.  Blobs of color with no definition.  This is really the only area where I went “Holy shit, is that a glitch or… what the hell am I looking at?”  It only lasts a second, but it’s extremely noticeable.  Running at 1366×768, the highest this laptop can go and all settings on low it runs at about 60fps.  Again, only hesitating to say exactly 60fps because I didn’t get an exact number displaying somewhere, but it was silky smooth.  I went in and bumped the textures to medium and kept the rest on low, this was how the screenshots were taken and for the majority of the game it was still well above 30fps which is what I consider the playable range for fast paced FPS and racing games.  Anything below isn’t acceptable.

Gameplay:
I’m not going to get to too into it but I will talk about how the game feels as a whole and the differences between this and CoD.  First off, when you are playing as just a pilot with a typical loadout and you don’t jump around, it’s a LOT like Call of Duty.  The speed, pacing, animation all screams “I’m  Call of Duty too!”  Which, as someone who isn’t really a fan, feels slightly lazy but I do understand  why this is done so I won’t complain.  Things start to change when you start picking the more exotic loadouts, such as the Smart MK5 pistol which will “home-in” on people when given enough time and it’s basically an auto-kill without aiming.  It’s a lot of fun to use but using a more traditional weapon is still more preferred as the amount of time it needs to lock onto it’s targets leaves you pretty open.  Things change a bit more when you start jumping around.  The game allows for wallrunning, double jumping, and climbing.  Some Call of Duty purists are probably spitting right now.  But this allows for insane urban traversing that adds a big element to the firefights and is essential for bringing down Titans which themselves bring the biggest mix up to the gameplay.

Each pilot is allowed a Titan after a certain amount of time, that Titan arrives sooner the more kills you rake up.  Once one drops and you step inside the game changes.  If you are a pilot against a Titan you no longer want to be on the ground, you get high and try to take it down with your anti-titan weapon while watching your back.  The Titan’s lack of jump but ability to stop bullets and missiles and to send them back to their sender is pretty awesome.  They are slower and can’t turn as fast, but they fall shy of feeling clumsy.  The ability to exit them and have them protect and follow you just adds more depth too.  I’m not even getting into class perks for both Pilots and Titans, the “Cards” you can earn which allows for more perks per game, the challenges that unlock more weapons, etc.

A mouse and keyboard is obviously the preferred method but the controller was found instantly when I plugged it into the USB port, no need to set it up, all the menus and tutorials changed to indicate the new button mapping and it was without lag or issue.  So both are viable options.  Clearly, if you are on PC using a controller you are in for an uphill struggle against those with a mouse.

On the Right, is the textures on INSANE.  You think they look very "insane?"  and on the LEFT is what happens when a kid eats a box of chocolates and gets sick.  Seriously, I'll let you guess what setting that is.
On the Right, is the textures on INSANE. You think they look very “insane?” and on the LEFT is what happens when a kid eats a box of chocolates and gets sick. Seriously, I’ll let you guess what setting that is. Click to enlarge

Summary:
At the end of the beta, which is still going on until tomorrow, I believe, I am really enjoying Titanfall.  It contains elements of Call of Duty that I enjoy but brings in elements from other favorite games.  Mirror’s Edge with it’s parkour, urban traverse and Mech-Assault with it’s big rowbutts.  I’m ultimately glad the PC version scales so well.  I think the biggest issue with PC gaming is it’s fascination with bleeding edge and ignoring those who haven’t updated. A very small fraction of PC owners actually pay attention to graphics cards that are able to display the kind of graphics that the fanboys lust over.  The rise of indie games on PC is kind of proof of that.  The large majority of great indie games can run on pretty low spec systems.  I believe if Respawn can keep this games scaling in check they can bring in a lot of people who typically aren’t into PC games, especially when this isn’t available on Playstation… yet.

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