It’s tough out there in space. Every planet you visit is a crumbling war zone patrolled by gigantic bipedal death machines, and every spacecraft hangar and neon-drenched highrise is populated only by swarming grunts and wall-running pilots – at least half of whom are totally out to get you.
Yes, this is the world of Titanfall, the multiplayer sci-fi shooter that’s set to compete with Call of Duty as the go-the game for online battle. Developer Respawn Entertainment has tried really hard to ensure that newcomers don’t fall into the grinding ‘spawn-death-spawn-death’ cycle that has made CoD a nightmarish challenge for the inexperienced. However, it can still be difficult to get a foothold in each match, especially when you’re on servers with people who have somehow racked up 100 hours of game time in the week since it launched.
So here are 10 basic tips just to get novice pilots into the groove of the game. It would be great if more experienced players could add their own suggestions in the comments section.
Keep moving, keep high
As with most fast-paced shooters, it’s best not to stop still for too long, unless you know the maps really well and are fairly confident you are safe. A moving target is much harder to hit, especially from a distance. Also, use the jet pack and double jump to get some height – the rooftops are exposed but they give you a great overview of where enemy pilots and titans are and allow you to pick off targets on the ground. Being up there also ensures you’re not stomped on by enemy titans. Remember to use wall-running where possible and use the wall-jumping mechanic to zig-zag between the buildings to quickly climb to the top. Stringing parkour moves together also allows you to build momentum so you can leap across greater distances.
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Start out as a grunt hunter
Forget other players for a while, when you first start the game concentrate on shooting the AI-controlled Grunts and Spectres. They’re easier to hit, do less damage to you, and you’ll get XP for bringing them down – plus, if you’re playing Attrition, you’ll also get points toward your team’s victory. Select the Minion Detector Kit, which reveals the position of all the computer-controlled soldiers, then get to work. And if you fit a suppressor to your gun, you won’t show up on the map to alert human enemies of your position. It’s sneaky, but it gets you used to the maps. Also, taking out minions will reduce your titan delivery time, so you can get mechanised on their sorry asses. And when you unlock the Burn Cards, make sure you combine your minion culling with a card that provides extra XP.
Use your minions
When you respawn on a map, have a look around for your own minions – if you see grunts running off in one direction, the chances are they are engaging the enemy, so you can follow them to the action. Also, tagging along with a group of minions is a nice Assassin’s Creed-style ‘hiding in plain sight’ tactic. Not only are your computer-controlled brethren great sources of mobile cover, but opponents will often take them on without expecting serious comeback, so you can surprise your foe with a counter attack.
Customise, customise, customise
The basic pilot and titan charges are fine for a while, but as soon as you unlock the ability to customise your load-outs, go for it. Think about how you tend to engage the enemy – if you do it up close and personal, you’ll want the shotgun or smart pistol, probably with the cloaking ability to sneak up on victims. If you tend to “run-and-gun” and engage at mid-range, you want the R101C assault rifle or the G2A4 semi-automatic, and perhaps the Active Radar Pulse ability to keep enemies in view. If you like to maintain your distance and sneak around, you need a sniper rifle, a few arc mines to keep your immediate area safe and the Enhanced Parkour of Stealth kit for subtle movement. Meanwhile, speed and alertness are important in Pilot Hunter, so the Stim ability comes into its own.
Pretty much the same rules go for the titans: work out how you usually play, or your favourite primary weapon and build everything around that. It’s worth keeping a selection of custom load-outs that are optimised for different mode types. For example, it’s a good idea to have the lighter, more sprightly Stryder titan chassis in the Capture the Flag mode, so you can help transport the enemy’s flag to your base (and use the Electric Smoke ability to create cover for your flag-stealing comrades); and as a pilot, the Active Radar pulse is useful for spotting any sneaky enemies hiding around their flag zone. But you may want a beefier Ogre-based machine for Last Titan Standing, as well as a pilot designed to get onto rooftops fast with the most damaging anti-titan weapon possible, as well as the Spitfire LMG. The key thing is to get your primary weapon, tactical ability, kits and Burn Cards working together.
Master the ordinance
When you get to a certain level you unlock the useful satchel charges which are remote detonation bombs that can be lobbed anywhere in the environment. These are particularly useful in the Hardpoint and Capture the Flag modes. In the former, when you have captured one of the three hardpoint positions, lob a couple of satchels at the hacking terminal (the object at the centre of the location – the one your distance counter runs down to), then head off. Now, if you see on your mini-map that the enemy has started neutralising that location, simply trigger the bombs – the chances are you’ll catch someone in the blast. With Capture the Flag, surround your own flag with satchel bombs and either hide out nearby or leave the area. As soon as you get a warning that the enemy has your flag, detonate the charge. Arc mines are great for defending key entrances to hardpoint locations as they’ll go off automatically if an enemy approaches. There’s a Burn Card that gives you infinite ordinance so go for this one if you’re taking this rather sneaky approach.
Learn the maps
There are 15 maps in the game and they all have their own little quirks, action centres and fox holes. While playing, make a mental note of the key choke points – ie where most of the fighting takes place and figure out how and where you can get a good high vantage point on the chaos. Maps like Angel City and Colony are all about controlling the rooftops, so maybe go for the Enhanced Parkour Kit to ensure you have the freedom to get up there quickly and patrol effectively. Don’t overlook the ziplines that let you travel between points quickly – these are invaluable on maps like Rise, Lagoon and Overlook allowing you to ghost in behind enemy positions. Programming gun turrets is also an easy way of picking up a few extra kills and you earn XP for every target acquired, so remember where these are. On most maps you can use the parameter routes to travel relatively quietly – Fracture even has little concrete pipes to use as rat runs. And if you have to charge into a choke point area, cloak first.
Become a Burn Card shark
Learn which cards suit your style of play, and always make sure you have three cards selected at the beginning of every match – it’s easy to forget. As we’ve mentioned, the types of cards you go for can depend on your style of play, but the mode also matters. In Capture the Flag, endurance is of the essence so the Adrenaline Transfusion and Smuggled Stimulant cards are useful, while in Attrition you’ll maybe want one of the Amped weapons cards to ensure you have the upper hand in every armed encounter. The Prosthetic Legs card is handy for Hardpoint because it lets you get to capture points quickly.
Be a team player
Respawn hasn’t provided any lone player modes for a reason – this is a game about teamwork. If you’re not confident enough to take the enemy’s flag in CTF, shadow the player who does grab it – provide cover from rooftops or just another target for enemy fire. If you see an enemy attempt to rodeo an allied, titan, shoot them off. If you’re not good at titan battles, guide your mech to a hard point or CTF base and set it to guard mode, then get the hell out. The best way to progress in Titanfall – like all online shooters – is to find a group of friends and play together, mastering different approaches. A good Titanfall team is like a good football team: you need strong defenders, a couple of contrasting midfielders (one holding, one creative) and one or two fast, aggressive strikers. Titan battles are a lot easier if you can coordinate attacks between players so that no-one gets outnumbered. Finding your role on a team, even if its with strangers on a public server, is crucial.