Titanfall is a game that offers many advantages to people who aren’t very good at first-person shooters.
The game doesn’t tilt the scales in favor of the still-learning, the older or the slow, but it does provide less-skilled players many ways to excel. It doesn’t offer anyone a better way to play, exactly. But it does go out of its way to offer many different ways of playing, depending on your skill set.
If you believe your existence in the Call of Duty series is mostly to act as a punching bag, this may be the game you’ve been waiting for.
Slow but effective
The smart gun has already been derided on internet fora as the ultimate bit of evidence that gaming is being watered down to be spoon fed to the untalented, but the weapon provides just as many upsides as downsides. The one-hit kills only register on Grunts, Titanfall’s take on creeps from the MOBA genre; it takes multiple shots to take down player-controlled pilots.
The gun does lock onto its target, and the large area being swept for targets makes it easy for beginners to gain kills, but it takes a non-trivial amount of time to gain multiple locks on pilots. You have to be sneaky, close to the target and willing to hang around for more than enough time for the target to turn around and paint a nearby wall with your brains. This is a weapon that requires stealth and the element of surprise.
It's also not an all-powerful solution for people who can’t, or don’t want to, learn how to aim with a "proper" weapon, but it does provide a way forward for players who know how to think tactically without mastering the mechanical skills needed to always go for the headshot, or the steady hands needed to sneak up for the melee kill.
The smart gun also makes it easy to farm Grunts, which are worth one point compared to the four you get from killing human enemies in the game’s Attrition mode, giving new players a fun and interesting way to pad their team’s score.
The smart gun rewards players who can think tactically enough to get the drop on other players, and provides them with a way to deliver a killing blow as they learn to use the more advanced weapons. Players who die in this manner have no one else to blame: Always check your corners, make sure no one is sneaking up behind you and don’t provide the opening needed for this gun to take you down.
In the heat of battle that’s not always possible though, and the smart gun provides a great way for players just getting a feel for the controls or who have slightly slower reflexes to put themselves on the board. I left it behind around level five or so, but I was always glad it’s there.
My Titan, myself
Your Titan should never be thought of as simply powered armor; it’s a fully functional unit with surprisingly effective AI. Less-skilled players will find themselves at a much greater advantage outside of their Titan than inside.
You never have to get into your Titan at all, in fact. You can select guard or follow mode once your Titan has landed, and it will begin either patrolling the area for enemies or walking behind you, scanning for Grunts, enemy pilots and other Titans.
A computer-generated voice even gives you frequent updates about what it’s doing and what kind of resistance it’s meeting on the battlefield. You can use your cloaking ability and have your Titan follow you around the level, picking up kills while you also fire upon enemies that are distracted by the lumbering pile of death invisibly tethered to you.
My kill-death ratio went way up once I started using my Titan in this way. If you find yourself in an alley surrounded by targets, simply call down your Titan and work with it instead of inside it to take down the enemy players. The tactics available to you outside of your Titan are often much more interesting than what you can do while directly controlling the unit, and the Titan tends to draw enemy fire while you sneak around to throw grenades or use melee attacks execute the enemy players. A cloaked pilot and a Titan in follow mode can be a deadly combination.
Less-skilled players will find themselves at a much greater advantage out of their Titan than inside.
It’s also important to note that your Titan’s life isn’t tied to your own. Your Titan will continue to guard its area or stomp around the level even if you die, allowing you to find and enter it upon spawning without having to wait for another unit, or to simply enjoy the points it gains your team from farming and attacking other players. My Titan has avenged my death in more than one situation, which is a satisfying outcome to a firefight you technically "lost."
Think of your Titan as an AI-controlled player that provides co-op, as well as a temporary power-up if you climb inside, and you will do much better than the players who utilize their Titan in a more traditional manner. It can move and think for itself, and in many cases it does so better than you. Work alongside it, not just inside it, and even mediocre players will find themselves aiding their team.
Fight smarter, not just harder
Mechanical skill is still an enormous advantage in the game, and the top scorers of every round will be the players who know how to use their weapons in the most effective way possible, but Titanfall rewards smart play by slightly less skilled players in a way that's commendable.
It's easy to surprise enemies, especially this early in the game's life. Drop your grenades straight down if you have to eject from your Titan; you'd be surprised at how few players think to look up for explosives falling from the now-airborn players. This is an easy kill that takes next to no skill. You can fire from the dropship during the evacuation phase of every round, allowing you to offer support to teammates rushing towards extraction; there's little they can do to fight back other than run.
Don't be afraid to leave the human to human fighting to the more talented members of your team in favor of farming the AI-controlled Grunts and Specters; they're easy to kill, they add points to your score and will often make the difference in tight games. Titanfall pulls influences from many genres, not just other shooters, so borrow tactics and plays from those other games as well.
Use your cloaking ability and the smart gun to get your kills. Don't be ashamed to farm Grunts. Think of your Titan as an AI companion instead of just powered armor. Remember that your Titan survives many battles that you may not, and always be aware of where it is and what it's doing. This isn't a standard first-person shooter, so playing in different ways will go a long way towards making up for a lack of traditional shooter skills.
Titanfall hasn't been dumbed down for new players or those with slower reflexes; instead, the game has added a variety of smart mechanisms and strategies that welcome those players into the experience. You won't top the servers, but you'll be able to help, and that's a welcome thing for players used to getting steamrolled in other games.