Another worry that had sprung to mind when watching those initial trailers of Titanfall was the extremely grey aesthetic, and how that might affect differentiating friend and foe. Again, this wasn't a problem. It was surprisingly easy to distinguish the two despite the fact that the Pilot's uniforms are quite similarly coloured. There's still a sense that an splash of extra colour wouldn't hurt the game, but it didn't become a functional issue as we anticipated.
Before we move on to the main event of this preview, it's worth pointing out how diverse the classes are, and how original much of the Pilot's arsenal is. There are familiar takes on machineguns, shotguns and assault rifles, but the tactical class has a pistol that can lock on to enemies and fire around corners, and each class has their own anti-Titan weapon, be it a laser-guided rocket launcher or an extremely high-calibre heavy-machinegun. It's clear a lot of thought has been put into making the game fun, even when you're not lurching around in
one of the game's eponymous Mechs.
Speaking of which, when the match begins, a two-minute timer starts counting down to your own personal Titan being ready. If you perform well in the match by killing enemy Pilots or Titans, the timer counts down faster, which is an excellent way of rewarding good play while ensuring nobody is left out. Once the Titan is ready, you can press a button to "Initiate Titanfall", which launches the mech from what is presumably an orbiting space-ship. This is a fantastic moment, as your first Titan lands on your designated spot with a ground-quaking "Whump.", kicking up dust and debris from the floor. Holding "X" makes your Pilot clamber into the Titan's chassis, regardless of whether you're stood in front of it or making a leap from a nearby rooftop.
While inside a Titan, you are simultaneously three things; a stomping, two-storey high juggernaut of death, a walking wall of cover for friendly Pilots, and a great big target for the enemy. So playing as a Titan is usually a brief, explosive experience, as every friendly and enemy Pilot and Titan gravitates to your position, and you mow down enemy after enemy until their incessant river of gunfire finally forces you to activate the Titan's ejector seat, launching you into the sky, and back into foot combat, at which point the Titan timer begins to count down again.
Titans control in much the same way as Pilots do, they're just bigger, heavier, and much more devastating. They also all have their own unique, class-based weapons, and every Titan comes equipped with a gravity-field that can absorb enemy projectiles and fire them back toward them, and a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher designed to be used in a tight-spot, such as in the middle of reloading your main weapon.
Being a Pilot when an enemy Titan is around is a terrifying experience, but it can also be an opportunity for some truly heroic moments. Using the Pilot's manoeuvrability, it is possible to hop onto an enemy titan, and either strip away some of the armour and blast away at the mech' power core, or simply hijack the Titan completely. It's also possible to hitch a ride on a friendly Titan, and add your own bullets to their immense firepower.
It's those little details, alongside the big mechs, that make Titanfall so fascinating and engaging. Every component of the First-Person-Shooter accumulated over twenty years has been stripped out, looked at, and tinkered with to make it more interesting, more novel, more compelling. Take the endgame, or Epilogue as it's known in Titanfall. When the match is over, and one team has emerged victorious with the requisite number of kills, the game doesn't simply end. Instead, the losing team has to try to evacuate the area and get to a nearby dropship, while the winning team is ordered to hunt down the survivors and eliminate every last one.
Whichever team succeeds reaps a fat crop of bonus points, presumably to spend on upgrades, although we didn't get to see any upgrades directly. Even so, the Epilogue is a fantastic idea, completing Respawn's concept of melding multiplayer dynamism with single-player spectacle. It ensures that even in defeat, there's still something for losers to fight for, and in victory the winners can really twist the knife.
After playing Titanfall, it was clear that my complaint about Respawn wasting an opportunity was idiotic. There's nothing wrong with sticking to what you're good at, and trying to find better ways of doing it. Nobody complains that Ian Rankin only writes crime novels, or that John Carpenter excels at making horror films. Of course, we're still yet to see the full game, so it could possibly all be an elaborate ruse, and the final product is actually a rubbish kart racer. But if the rest of the game is like what we saw at Eurogamer, this will be one of the highlights of 2014.