Titanfall – Launch Impressions

13 Mar 2014  by   Tim McDonald
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After the shambles that was Battlefield 4, it’s perfectly understandable that you might want to wait for some launch impressions before diving into EA’s next multiplayer shooter. Battlefield 4 was full of graphical and sound glitches, profile resets, server crashes, lag, and a whole lot more. It was sufficiently broken, in fact, that DICE stopped work on their forthcoming DLC until the game was in a “suitable” condition.

So now Titanfall is out (well, the UK release is tomorrow) and I’ve been playing it for a few days. How’s that been going? Does it have server problems? Have I had difficulty connecting to games? Has there been unbearable lag? Has my profile reset? Has the game exploded repeatedly? Did Origin reformat my hard drive or steal my soul?

Titanfall

This soldier also appears to have launched pretty well. I’m not sure it’ll be enough to avoid the guns of that Titan, but you never know.

Actually, uh… no. This is one of the most stable launches I can actually remember, of late.

We’re pretty much all still playing Titanfall in the IncGamers office right now and we’re planning on doing some joint review stuff with this, so – barring some brief thoughts – I’m mostly going to focus on the technical bits and pieces rather than gameplay impressions. This isn’t a review. This is just a look at how the game has been performing in the time I’ve been playing it.

It’s worth noting that, while the UK launch is tomorrow, the PC version has been out in other regions since Tuesday, so we can reasonably assume that the game is “live.” That’s why it’s somewhat bizarre that I’ve had basically no problems that can be attributed to “far too many people trying to connect at once.”

titanfall pc beta (4)

Too many people connecting would make the servers crash. Sort of like this Titan, which has just dropped out of the sky.

So, first off, I’ve had no issues getting on to play. Considering that the launches of most big multiplayer games result in connectivity issues or queues as servers strain under the load, that’s a genuinely pleasant surprise. In fact, I’ve actually had less trouble than I did with the beta.

Part of me wonders if this might be down to the fact that the game is launching on PC, 360, and Xbox One. I don’t think the Xbox One will have a gargantuan install base just yet, so there will likely be fewer people playing on that than there would be for, say, the PS3, which might mean there’s a slightly smaller server load (even if only for the profile/levelling stuff) than there would be if it was PC/PS3/360. I’m not sure how the servers are set up to function, though, so maybe I’m completely wrong.

Alternatively, it might simply be a combination of robust netcode/server tech, and a strong desire not to fuck up as horribly as Battlefield 4 for a second time.

titanfall pc beta (3)

Battlefield 4’s launch was slightly more fucked up than this guy, and he’s been shot in the face.

My ping has been bearable – while it’s maybe a little higher than I’d like, that’s mostly down to the fact that I’ve had to play with Americans more than anything, and there’ve been plenty of matches that have given me the ping I’d expect from a more local server. So no, I can’t complain there.

With a couple of minor exceptions, it’s been pretty flawless in terms of general presentation. I haven’t had any horrible sound bugs, and only a couple of small graphical issues. One was when I joined a game in progress and spawned inside somebody else, and then couldn’t move until the pre-mission cutscene had ended, so I heard the entire thing while staring at the interior of someone else’s face.

Titanfall

Just once, I’d like to see a game try to give weapons and vehicles names that aren’t laden with gravitas. This targeted rocket launcher is called the “Archer.” Why not call it “Steve”? Steve is a good name for a rocket launcher.

The other was a bit more serious, in that my first play session was cut short after about three matches when the game exploded in a whirlwind of colour and enough flashing textures to inflict seizures on people in neighbouring towns. It’s really hard to convey what happened, but… well, textures and polygons flashed across my screen, wall and floor textures were bugging out, overlays containing barely legible text (which I think was pretty much “other things that could appear in that space of the HUD”) kept flashing over the screen, and the framerate plummeted. Stuff like that is also a pretty good sign of a graphics card dying, but I don’t think that’s what happened here. Either way, it hasn’t happened since, so I’m not too fussed. Depressing as the implications are, only one large glitch (which may not actually be down to the game) in about eight hours of play is actually pretty good going, these days.

That glitch aside, it runs smoothly and looks lovely. That’s perhaps not a surprise – I haven’t yet tried it on the absolute highest settings, but I haven’t had any struggles at all with everything turned pretty high up – but for the most part this feels like a “proper” port. As in, it doesn’t actually feel like a port. There’s even an FOV slider! Which goes up to about 90, if memory serves.

TitanFall 2014-03-13 21-09-23-70

It turns out that memory does indeed serve.

So, in short, I haven’t seen anything about the launch thus far that worries me. It runs fine. It seems well optimised, and designed for PC. I’ve had no connection issues or profile resets or anything of the sort. The only issue is that it seems to crash when I quit it, which doesn’t seem to have caused any real problems, so… it’s about as good as I could’ve hoped for, really. It’s rather sad that we’re in a state where I can praise a game (and be faintly amazed) when it doesn’t break on launch day, but considering recent high profile releases, launch issues are certainly a very real concern.

In pure gameplay terms I’m not as enamoured as I was with the beta – the campaign doesn’t quite live up to the massive amounts of potential inherent in such an idea; I really wish a few things were balanced differently; and games with uneven teams are just utter nightmares – but I’m still enjoying myself rather a lot. I did say, though, that I wasn’t intending to review the game itself here, so I’d better point out that all of this is subject to change as I haven’t played that much, just yet.

If you’re uncertain whether or not Titanfall is your cup of tea then we’ll likely be knocking our heads together to form some sort of joint review next week, but if the only thing stopping you from picking it up is EA’s recent track record with multiplayer and online, then I haven’t seen any indications that you should be wary of Titanfall. As far as launches go, my experience has basically been hiccup-free.

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