Titanfall

titanstand

First, I’d like to say that this is one of the most responsive first person shooters I’ve ever played on a console. The controls feel good, and the thumb stick acceleration is just perfect. I’ve had the chance to try the Beta for both the PC and the Xbox One. It plays well on both, the PC doesn’t offer much over the Xbox One version even with an Eyefinity setup. The Xbox One version does however offer the Xbox Live experience, which I personally prefer over the PC multiplayer platform. So you can imagine that I will be getting the game for the Xbox One.

Now having shown you some of the Beta game play, in the Beta most users experienced three types of game modes. Attricion, Hardpoint, and Last Titan Standing.

Attricion is where you start out as the pilot and wait for your titanfall. You decrease the titanfall wait time by getting kills and scoring points, etc. You can manage many titafalls with this game type. In my experience this is a very disorganized and lone ranger run and gun game mode.

Hardpoint is a mix of Attricion and to what BF4s conquest mode offers. You capture points and the enemy can recapture them. Didn’t really spend much time in this mode.

Last Titan Standing is by far my favourite game mode and one I spent most of my time playing. This is a team based effort and you really have to communicate with your team, what and how you will attack the enemy. This is also where the Xbox Live voice communications come in very handy. In this mode you have only one life and you start out in a Titan. Once your Titan is destroyed you can eject and assist your team as a pilot. As the mode indicates, the team with the last titan standing wins. Doesn’t matter how many pilots you have left, it’s the titans that count.

Burn cards are similar to Call of Duty’s perks. Except that they need to be selected prior to the level being loaded. Once in game one can select and use a burn card prior to the round starting. Burn cards have options such as, 80 second decreased wait time for titan fall, alternate guns for the load out, sort of sonar that pings the level every x seconds to show friendlies and enemies on the screen, permanent cloak for the pilot, an additional AI titan to be dropped and help your team out, nuclear titan core that blows up everything in your proximity when your titan is killed, etc. You get the picture. These can come in very handy, and if you win the round the card will be carried over to the next. If you lose the card is burned or discarded.

Controls on the Xbox One are fluid and just a treat. This is by far one of the best FPS type games on the console as far as controller sensitivity and responsiveness goes. When playing I felt that it was perfectly balanced and I needed no further adjustments to sensitivity. Button mapping is very basic and and it took only minutes to get used to the layout. After about 30 min of play I was worried that the game would get stale and boring really fast. This was not the case, there is a lot of replay value and even with two levels and limited load outs this game managed to keep me occupied for about 6 hours straight and then some. 

In the Beta there was only one titan to play with, the Atlas class. So there wasn’t much choice there. The choice was in the load out and guns one can equip, a heavy machine gun, a 40 MM cannon that packs a punch, and quad rocket launcher. Then on the secondary side of things you had passive rockets and ones that lock on to their target. In addition to the guns you could customize the defensive load out and go with the vortex shield that catches gun and rocket fire then sends them back towards the enemy, or an electric smoke screen that gets pilots off your titans back and damages enemy titans if they go through it. The vortex shield can make for an interesting game of catch and there were instances where opponents would throw ammunition back and forth between them. As for the electric smoke screen it comes in handy during close combat situations between titans. My favourite was dashing towards an enemy titan, deploying the electric smoke and following up with a titan punch. Then there is the titan core load out, when you titan takes too much damage it explodes. As far as load outs for the Titan core go you have Damage Core and Survivor. With the damage core when your titan blows up it creates a nuclear explosion and takes out any titans and pilots in it’s proximity. Survivor gives you extra time and your health drops at a slower rate when your titan is doomed. Another load out is auto eject, and Regen Booster. Auto eject ejects your pilot when the titan is doomed, Regen Booster regenerates the titans shields at a faster.

This was a fun online experience for me. There was no noticeable network lag and the game play was smooth. A lot of people out there are praising the network capability of the game, I say be careful and take the Titanfall beta with a grain of salt. Remember BF4 beta was also smooth and without network faults, but the finished product was a different story. Having said that I hope this is not the case with Titanfall as it can make or brake the game. See you on March 11th.

Titanfall-Cover-Art-_DEC

Advertisements

Mantle, first impressions in Battlefield 4.

MantleBenefits

Last week DICE released an update to the Battlefield 4 game on the PC. This update supports the Mantle AMD Graphics Processor Unit API. A day later AMD released their AMD 14.1 beta v 1.6 driver which supports this API. There are known issues with this driver so be weary. All graphics processors based on the Graphics Core Next architecture are supported by Mantle. I’m not going to get into details about the architecture or which devices are supported, but if you would like that information just head over to the AMD site. I had a chance to quickly test the performance of the API and Game. This was a very brief test and there are no metrics associated with this, only my experience.

FBMantle

Either way my setup is as follows:

Eyefinity with 3 Dell IPS monitors @ 1920×1200, with 16:10 aspect ratio. Gigabyte Windforce OC HD7970 card. AMD Athlon II x6 1090T processor, with 16 GB or RAM, and everything stored on SSD drives.

pc

Collectively in eyefinity the max resolution achievable on this hardware is 5760×1200. However I have been playing Battlefield 4 @ 5040×1050 resolution which relates to a 16:10 aspect ratio monitor with 1680×1050 resolution. Truth is the system could not handle the higher resolution and playing on low was not an option. That resolution was being played on high with a couple tweaks.

With mantle and the BF4 update, I was able to go from 5040×1050 resolution in BF4 to 5760×1200. That is pretty good, I thought I would have to wait another generation before I could max out my resolution on my monitors.

What does Mantle do? Mantle helps and assist the rendering process by optimizing it and sending batches from the processor to the GPU in parallel. DirectX is supposedly also capable of these parallel communications, but developers have not yet been able to achieve this with DirectX, and instead it sends the batches in serial. Basically with Mantle the information gets there faster, there is more of it, and it is optimized for the hardware as it is not a generic API meant for all hardware.

What does this mean? This means that if you have a slower multi-core processor and a mid range to high end video card you will see some performance increases. As it is in my case I was able to go from 5040×1050 resolution to 5760×1200, without any performance hits. Prior to mantle this was not possible on DirectX and the hardware.

What about high end PCs? Higher end machines, with really fast processors that are capable of fast single threaded processing will not see a big performance boost. Mantle is meant for the Mid range, the AMD sweet spot. There are also other hardware limitations to Mantle, lower end GPUs are not seeing a great performance boost either. Hardware is a factor here. The sweet spot seems to be mid range CPU with a mid range to high end GPU.

Mantle shows great promise for the future, especially for games that will be built from the ground up to support this technology. I’m also sure that there is some more performance that can be squeezed out of the hardware and API, it is still in it’s infancy.

Now if DICE could only fix the broken game.