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Titanfall hands-on preview: Surprisingly deep robot-on-robot violence

Hayden Dingman | Feb. 13, 2014
I'm being chased. I can't see the enemy, but I can hear it crashing through the streets mere seconds behind me. I vault through a window, then through a burned-out floor to a second story landing. I jump from another window to an adjacent rooftop, careening across the metal and concrete of this industrial landscape.

I'm being chased. I can't see the enemy, but I can hear it crashing through the streets mere seconds behind me. I vault through a window, then through a burned-out floor to a second story landing. I jump from another window to an adjacent rooftop, careening across the metal and concrete of this industrial landscape.

A rocket explodes to my right. Then to my left. It's still after me. I look at my Titan indicator. Five...four...three...two...one...

I beam a set of coordinates to Command.

"Stand by for Titanfall." A streak of flame erupts across the sky. The entire ground explodes mere feet from where I'm standing. The smoke clears, and there's my Titan — a mass of steel and hydraulics, a giant mech outfitted with a cannon on one arm and a shield on the other, bristling with missile launchers.

And just in time. Around the corner lopes the enemy Titan.

I could hop in my own Titan and take the enemy one on one. I could — but I won't. Instead I quickly toggle my Titan's AI into Guard mode. My Titan unfolds from its hunched, protected position, bringing guns to bear on the foe. Confronted with something its own size, the enemy Titan forgets about me.

Big mistake. I sprint past the enemy, now locked in a duel for the ages. I take special care not to die beneath its enormous feet — a particularly egregious death both in terms of physical pain and embarrassment. Once past, I turn and sprint toward — yes, toward — the enemy Titan, leaping onto its back.

They call it "rodeoing." I call it terrifying. I rip open one of the Titan's access panels. Inside is a bundle of wires that look vaguely important. I aim my gun at the Titan's innards and pull the trigger.

The TItan is doomed, and the enemy pilot knows it. He mashes the eject button, and the top portion of the once-mighty machine erupts, catapulting us both into the sky alongside with it. To add injury to insult, I shoot and kill the pilot while we're temporarily weightless, a quarter-mile above the surface.

I land next to the smoking remains of the enemy, my own Titan now placid in the absence of enemies. I toggle it into Follow mode, and we waltz away from the scene to find more battles.

Betas and battle modes
The Titanfall beta, as suspected, will start this Friday, February 14, and runs through February 19. You can sign up for it now, though you'll need an EA Origin account. It's also limited to the PC and Xbox One. All my impressions come from a similar build of the game, which I spent three hours playing last week. It wasn't enough. I need more.

 

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