Before we got to play the game, our group of excited gamers were sat down with wireless headphones and were shown an introductory video on the big screen in the style of a military briefing. This was clever on several levels; it kept the people in the queue happy while they waited, it built up the fervour and expectation but, especially in my case, it meant we knew how to use the basic controls before we got to the controller, allowing us to get straight into the game.
The demo gave us a choice of three different classes of Pilot with Assault, Tactical and CQB. These had loadouts and abilities matched to their class with new unique weapons. The Tactical loadout, the one I played with, had no assault weapons, but a choice of two pistols, the first, the Wingman B revolver, packed quite a punch in the style of a magnum and was quite useful. This was the secondary weapon for all classes. The unique weapon for the tactician was the Smart Pistol, which allowed you to lock onto enemies and shoot a salvo of micro-missles which followed the enemy as he ran away. More fun was the special weapon. Each class has a gun that can be used against the Titans. The tactician's weapon was the MGL, the Magnetic grenade Launcher, which, as the name suggests, fires grenades at the Titan, adhering to its metal frame. The tactician's special ability was an invisibility cloak, which worked in much the same way as the Killzone cloak; limited time of use which dropped if you fired your weapon.
The Titan classes were classes were; The Main Battle Titan, The Heavy Weapons Titan and the High Explosives Titan. As the names suggest, their weapons are balanced with their speed of loading and amount useable. I went for the Heavy Weapons Titan, which came with a Rocket Launcher, shoulder mounted Cluster Rocket Ordnance and the ability to create clouds of electric smoke which occluded vision, but also acted as an EMP cloud disabling other Titans that walked through it. What was interesting was finding out which combination of Pilot and Titan you went for. I imagine on release the game will have more classes than was presented at the demo but, for the sake of simplicity and balanced gameplay, these were kept to a minimum for the show. It will be interesting to see what else is available.
The multiplayer also acts as part of the campaign, with story elements presented as objectives in the game. You're dropped as a pilot into the battle from an airship and land in a futuristic city with the objective of finding a particular character (Baxter, I think he was called). Immediately you can run up walls and double jump to high up ledges and rooftops to move across the landscape. This game is a proper three dimensional shooter, with battle occurring at all levels at high speed. Respawn mentioned in the briefing that it was possible to navigate all the way across the map without ever touching the ground, and I had a go at doing this. This is proper fun, you can leap from building to building, slip into windows, take out a player and then move on, making a cat and mouse game frenetic and exhilarating.
After a time, your Titan meter fills up and, with a click of the D-Pad you Titan falls from the sky into a designated area of your choice. Jumping in is every bit as satisfying as it looks in the trailers, with the padded doors closing in front of you before turning into a cockpit screen. The Titans are slow and ponderous, with limited mobility through choke points, but they're powerful brutes and can take out swathes of pilots if they get in your way. The tendency is to seek out other Titans and have at it in a maelstrom of whizzing, swirling contrail-soaked ordnance. In practice you're a big target and being the Titanfall noob that I am, I didn't last long. Still it was bloody good fun.
At the end of the game, after a team has won, instead of going to a loading screen, you had an extra game called 'The Epilogue'. This was a short thirty second finale where the losing team had a chance to dash to a drop ship to escape, while the winning team chase and hunt you down. Needless to say, in the ensuing panic I forgot how to climb walls to get to the dropship on the roof of a building and spent a frantic time scrabbling at the walls like a cat locked out of the house, before being left behind by my teammates.
All in all, it was a lot of fun. It was a refreshing change to the standard military shooter, it looked absolutely fabulous and I left the booth with a big smile on my face. It's not a deep tactical game like Battlefield, however it will fill the needs of the spray and pray shooter fan and, as we know from the success of COD, there a plenty of those.