Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Succeeding at Titanfall 2: Some Closing Thoughts

[NOTE: One in a series of posts on my Titanfall 2 experience. Find the intro article with links to others here.]
Titanfall 2 is a really fun game, even though the multiplayer aspect is not a type of game I do well at or even search out to play in other games. [Ed.: Dude, you have 28 days of total gameplay and you just got Gen 50. WTF? Seriously?]
A few closing thoughts for this series:
  • Find Game Modes That Work For You. Early on I said I’d rather punch myself in the balls while being drug behind a motorcycle through a field of cactus and broken glass than play pure pilot v. pilot modes. I find myself in those modes spending a lot of time dying and cussing. Attrition is different because there are pilots and minions, plus Titans come in to play. I still die and cuss, but have a much better time. The other modes I've mentioned suit my skills and mindset very well. Find modes that work for you.
  • Figure Out Your Goals. Or If You Even Care. In TF1 I was determined to max out at Generation 10 Level 50 just to prove I could do it. TF2 is completely open ended, so my goals were more around game play. Then at a certain point I decided I wanted to play well enough with each weapon to Gen them up to Gen 2 at least. Then I could stop playing ones I hated, because at least I’d proved myself with that weapon. Remember my DMR being in the same grave as Jimmy Hoffa and Chuck Schumer’s conscience? Yeah. That. You don’t have to have goals. That’s just fine too.
  • Get a Mic. Chat With Your Team. The Titanfall player community is really pretty awesome. There’s a lot of funny players online. I’ve only ever had one teammate who cussed at the rest of us. He was playing really poorly and decided it was the fault of all the rest of us he was scoring so poorly. “Worst fucking team I’ve ever played with!” Yeah, pal. That’s exactly why you ended with five kills and few points. Jerkface.
The vast majority of folks with mics tend to be good teammates. A very few even know how to communicate well to help the team, especially when you’re playing Frontier Defense.
  • Learn Effective Communication. “Cover me!” isn’t helpful. Where are you? Where are you going? What direction are you taking fire from? Learning the maps can be very helpful so you can call out useful info like “Careful! Pilot sentry in the main courtyard.” or “Pilot’s camped out in cover up on the grain towers.”
Of course, there’s my always helpful running “useful” commentary: “Well, shit. That didn’t work so well.” Or “Damnit, Funky Chicken killed my ass again because I was stupid and ran in front of him.”
Don’t be me. Be better than me…
  • Have Fun. Like any multiplayer game, it can be extremely frustrating, particularly when the game matching algorithms don’t work all that well. You get baby seals (me!) thrown in with sharks. Which is why I gave up on playing Call of Duty multiplayer after leveling up my Prestige to prove I could. Move past that frustration and focus on all the fun parts.

In Closing

I hope this series has been helpful to whomever runs across it. It’s not getting a lot of views, but that’s not really why I wrote it. I was more interested in getting back in a writing groove, and laying out my experiences was a fun way to do it.
Look me up some time if you’re interested. My GamerTag is FrazzledDad and I’m online 9pm-ish in the Pacific timezone.
In the meantime, go have some fun.

Succeeding at Titanfall 2: Movement and Shooting

[NOTE: One in a series of posts on my Titanfall 2 experience. Find the intro article with links to others here.]

Movement as a pilot in Titanfall 2 is just a crapload of fun. I love flow of dashing around, wall running off even small bits of vertical structure, combining that with a leap and a slide. There are even HUD mods you can use to show your current speed. (That’s cool, but I’m a HUD minimalist.)

Speed Is Your Friend

ProTip from Captain Obvious: The faster you’re moving, the harder it is to get shot. Duh.

Spend time in the Gauntlet learning to move quickly, and learning how to string together moves that add to your speed: wall runs, leaps, grapple, slides, all the neat things that really make moving as a pilot so fun.

Learning the maps well will help you out greatly with your movement, simply by knowing “Oh, yeah, I can bounce along this route right here.”

Colony is a good example of this. If the initial spawn is at the corner back from the garage, then I can get a short run off the corner building’s edge, slide, and get another tiny wall run off the wall ahead of me. I can then use my grapple to get fast boost and fling to the hill by the SOS platform/grain towers.

Speaking of the grapple…

I Love My Grapple

The various pilot tactical mods are all neat, but I have used the Grapple exclusively for many months. The Grapple lets me get to higher spots for better firing positions.

Used well, the Grapple can also get you a huge speed boost. Aim out ahead of you, just below the horizon, fire off your grapple and you’ll get a serious amount of momentum. You can stay on/near the ground (useful in hallways), or you can get yourself moderately airborne with a careful bit of up controller movement.

You can also use the Grapple to literally fly well across the map. Catch the edge of a building, then use your controller to look slightly up and off to one side. This will work just like a rope swing in real life—you’re effectively catapulting yourself through the air. There are some great YouTube videos showing how players can remain airborne for long periods of time with repeated grapple flings. I don’t shoot well airborne, so I don’t chain together these actions, but one fling will get me much closer to a different firing position, so it’s all about quick mobility for me.

Perhaps one of the best things about the Grapple is you can kill opponents with it. Grab ’em with the Grapple and they’re pulled right at you where you can give them a quick melee kill. Warning: they can shoot at you as they’re being drawn in, and they can also out-melee you if they’re perfect in their timing. But holy crap is it a satisfying kill when you pull it off!

Like everything else, the Grapple take some practice to get proficient with it. It’s freaking awesome once you’re good.

As I’ve repeatedly said in this series, this is specific to my style of play. I’m happy for you if there are other tacticals you prefer. Honest.

Changing Direction via Slides

Slides aren’t just for increasing your speed—they also enable you to rapidly change direction! Get a good slide going in one direction, then look in another and do a quick stand/slide action. You can make 90 degree turns, which is awesome for helping you keep your speed up while getting to a new firing point.

Sight Location While Moving

Pay attention to where you’re keeping your hip-fire sights while moving. For the longest time I’d run around with my ADS reticule down below the horizon. No clue why, it’s just how I rolled.

One of the best lessons learned I got from watching the Kill Replay was to see how good players moved and kept their sights just above the horizon. Like, at body height. This is really important because it dramatically reduces time to get the sights placed on target. You come around a corner and SURPRISE OMG THERE’S AN ENEMY PILOT AND MY SIGHT IS WAY OFF IN EAST JESUS AAAAND I’M DEAD.

Moving Sideways, Or Keep Your Sight on Threats

You’re not Charlize Theron’s character in Prometheus. You realize you can move and slide sideways, right? It’s a great way to displace or move to a better position while keeping your weapon pointed at threats or potential threats. Just keep your sight at a good height while doing it.

Get Faster at Getting Your Sight on Target

Getting your sight on target faster means you’ve got better odds at killing the enemy before they kill you. Hello, thanks Captain Obvious.

One part of this is the Gun Ready mod which gets you into ADS quicker. The other part is getting better at getting your sights on the target. That comes through practice, either deliberate practice or in the game.

Spend some time at the gun range in The Gauntlet working on speed and accuracy of good sighting. There’s lots of good exercises in the real firearm world on exactly this sort of thing. Look up things on YouTube or blogs/articles and find something that makes sense for you.

For me it was just repetition of a lot of simple movements: look 30 or so degrees off to one side of a target, then raise to ADS as I’m snapping onto the target. Work on limiting overshooting the target, meaning if you’re traversing left to right don’t traverse too far right.

I spent a lot of time doing things like that simple movement from various directions at various target ranges (near, mid, far).

I’m not great, but it paid off.

Learn to Shoot From the Hip

Firing from the hip saves you time transitioning to sights. It also leaves you a wider view versus the constrained one you get in ADS. Hip fire is especially good against opponent minions who don’t move and dodge very effectively.

Don’t focus on improving just your ADS firing; spend time on hip fire too.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Succeeding at Titanfall 2: Tactics

[NOTE: One in a series of posts on my Titanfall 2 experience. Find the intro article with links to others here.]

Oi. Where to start?

As I was trying to improve my game play, I found it frustrating how little writing there was on how to play better at a tactical level. Not just Titanfall or TF2, but first person shooters in general. There are plenty of rather useless platitudes like “Don’t run across open fields. Learn from every death.”

Thanks a Ton. Next in that series: “Five Ways to Make Friends, Starting With Not Picking Your Butt in Public.”

Here are a collection of odds and ends I’ve picked up. It’s stuff that lots of accomplished FPS players will be saying “Well, duh!” to, but hopefully some readers (all three of you) may find useful.

This is general tactics—there’s a whole separate post on movement and shooting. Yes, there’s some overlap. Deal with it.

Learn The Maps

Know the map. I can’t emphasize how important this is. It took me far longer to figure out just how critical this is for any FPS game. Knowing the map inside and out gives you many critical advantages.

Some things you can pick up in practice mode running solo around maps exploring. I’m embarrassed how long it took me to figure that out. On the other hand, I was always just looking forward to jumping in to battle and having my ass handed to me by folks who knew the maps really well.

Some things to look for as you’re learning the maps:

  • Find good shooting spots

  • Find good shooting spots that help hide you

  • Find good shooting spots that help hide you with good cover that protects you from fire from at least one or more angles. (Think of hiding with a wall to your side or mechanical structures on roofs behind you.)

  • Find good fire lanes—areas that offer good cover for you and lots of visibility to see opponents. Think of the main street under the monorail on Eden; the main corridors on Rise; much of the open spaces on Homestead

As you progress and play more, you’ll find spots where opponents like to hang out on particular maps. These are generally newer players who haven’t yet learned, through multiple, painful deaths, that those spots are actually Bad Places Since Experienced Players Shoot There Right Away. Examples of such places would be the central tower in Colony, the comm tower on ExoPlanet, the courtyard towers in Angel City, or the large central tower in Homestead. “Hells yeah! That’s a freakin’ awesome spot. Imma gonna climb right up top here and snipe me some players right now… Crap I died.”


It took me way, WAY too long to get better at using cover.

If you’re moving, do so along paths that block you from fire from one or more directions. Wall running is great for several reasons. First, you’re moving fast. Secondly, you’re harder to hit. Third, nobody can shoot you anywhere from the other side of the wall.

When you stop to scout or shoot (or recover health), make sure you’re not standing in the open. Don’t stop in front of windows. Don’t stop in front of doors. Make sure you’ve got solid cover in as many directions as possible—and be aware of directions you’re not covered from.

Keep an eye on your minimap. Keep cover in mind when you see threat indicators on the map. Keep something between you and those threat directions until you’re ready to have a look or attack out in that direction.

Avoid Fire Lanes

Above I mentioned finding good fire lanes to shoot from. The converse of that is avoid running through those same fire lanes. If you have to cross one of those areas, check your HUD’s threat map first and see if there’s anything obvious. Secondly, use whatever you can to speed your crossing: sprint, slide, grapple, etc. Casually strolling across a well-known fire lane will likely get you stomped like a narc officer at a biker rally.

Reload Constantly

As Master Sergeant Brianna Fallon eloquently put it to her squad in Chains of Command, “If one of you sons of bitches gets killed for lack of shooting back because you ran out of ammo, I will personally violate your carcass.”

You do not want to die because your mag had one round in it when you come face to face with an opponent who has you in their sights.

Regardless if I’m in a Titan or on foot as a Pilot, I reload constantly. I’ll take advantage of displacing movements to reload, ducking behind cover, etc. I don’t wait for my mag to empty and auto-reload. Instead I want to make sure I’m heading to the next engagement with a full mag.

There is nothing worse than sneaking up for a good shot on an opponent, getting a good aim down, squeezing the trigger, and seeing one or two rounds go downrange to damage your opponent. And alert them so they dash off someplace else while you’re reloading and cussing about how you blew yet another sneaky approach.

Reload. Reload all. The. Freaking. Time.

Fire, Displace, Repeat

You know what I love? I love opponents who fall in love with a clever spot and hang out there firing away, giving me a chance to work around to get shots at them.

Don’t be that player. Don’t fall in love with your firing position. Get a few shots, then displace rapidly to another good spot. If you’re having an extraordinary run of raining death down on your opponents, then you certainly can make a choice to die in your firing position. It’s not a completely wrong choice as long as you’re making it thoughtfully.

What I mean by that is “OK, I’ve gotten three quick kills from this sniping spot. I know the opponents are starting to figure out where I am, but I’ve been faster on the trigger than them, and I think I can get another two or three kills from here before they kill me. I’m OK with a five-to-one KDR for this streak.”

That’s a tactical choice, and it’s not necessarily a bad one. Just make those choices with some smarts instead of “HOLY COW IMA TOTALLY HAVING A GREAT TIME HERE OH CRAP I DIED.”

Watch Your Flanks. Nobody Else Will

Very, very few teams work well together. Frankly, few teams even work modestly well together. Nearly everyone runs off in search of their own glory while ignoring that paying attention to what’s going on around them might help them and the rest of the team.

Especially in Titan-based games, make sure to pay attention to your flanks. It’s a regular occurrence to gang up with other teammates to wreak some havoc, only to find that nobody’s checking six (as in “six o’clock”, directly behind you), or the sides. All of a sudden you’re getting blasted by one or more opponents who circled around and are hell bent on turning you into a red pile of good. Normally this happens right as you notice your own teammates splitting off to dash to some other position.

Keep a weather eye on your flanks. Because it’s rare that others will.

Avoid Rodeoing Titans From the Front

Titans seem to have an ability to melee and kill you when you’ve gotten inside their arm span, and even nearly on top of them. Avoid grappling a Titan from the front and try to rodeo. The odds of getting killed via melee are very high. I know this from lots of painful deaths.

If you do from the front, use whatever ordinance you have to try and distract the Titan. This is partially why I like Firestars—you can blind a Titan and either run or rodeo with much better chance of success. Be careful, though, because you can kill yourself with your own Firestar or electric smoke ordinance. Ask me how I know…

If you’re grappling from the front of a Titan, do not fly towards the titan in a straight line. Use your controller to fly up high, then loop down and mount the Titan. This will keep you out of melee range. Same thing works flying to one side or another. Point being, don’t fly in straight to the Titan.

Odds and Ends

Choose Your Colors Carefully: I love the look of the red character and Titan cammo selections, but they can be distracting. Opponents get lightly highlighted in red, so taking an outfit with red-ish coloring can be misleading. Conversely, I like to run blue or green outfits since friendlies are lightly highlighted in this fashion in your view. This can help give you a split-second advantage when an opponent sees you, similar to the Ghost kit’s semi-invisibility. It’s only a split-second, but it may be enough to help you out.

Avoid Drop Ship Door Fire Lanes: Opponents in the drop ship can still shoot out and kill you quite nicely, thank you very much. If you can avoid it don’t get in the roughly 120 degree arc in front of the doors when you’re trying to shoot at the ship and blow it up.

Don’t Waste Ammo on Pilots in the Drop Ship: You can’t kill pilots in the drop ship, just the ship itself.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Succeeding at Titanfall 2: Weapons, Boosts, Kits, and Ordinance

[NOTE: One in a series of posts on my Titanfall 2 experience. Find the intro article with links to others here.]

Over the year I’ve played I’ve settled into a comfy groove with my equipment. Here’s a few thoughts on my fave and not-so-fave items.


Hopefully you remember that my preferred play style is engaging mid- to long-range. I’m also not the most accurate or fastest shooter. Ergo, my preferred weapons give me a stable shooting platform with either burst mode or modest, controllable recoil. I also prefer weapons that work well shooting both from the hip and Aiming Down the Sights (ADS).

For the weapons mods I use almost exclusively extended ammo and quick reloads across all weapons. While I like the Gun Ready mod for faster ADS, I’ve found it’s just not as good a tradeoff for me. Same with quick swap—the payoff just isn’t there for my style of play.

Hemlock: My go-to weapon. It’s great in hip fire, and I can snipe at very long range. The burst mode gives me several rounds accurately on target, and I can knock out pilots with two bursts. Normally. When I’m playing well.

Flatline: Second favorite weapon. Great impact, solid accuracy both from hip fire and ADS, even at longer range. Moderate recoil is controllable for me when I’m shooting past mid-range.

Devotion: My go-to weapon for Frontier Defense due to its huge ammo capacity, especially when modded up with extra ammo. Beautiful at close range with hip aiming, solid at mid-range ADS. Squirrely at long range, but hey, it’s an LMG.

Kraber: One shot, one kill. Fast reload mod is a must. This is one weapon that I will regularly use the Gun Ready mod for faster ADS. This gun isn’t great for several of the maps with constricted sight lines (think Rise or Glitch), but it’s lots of fun on Angel City, Exoplanet, Homestead, and Boomtown.

Note: This gun is killer awesome in round one of Frontier Defense on Angel City, especially in Normal difficulty. Grab your Kraber, jump up and perch on one of the high towers in the courtyard and rain death down upon the mortar specters. I played with a dude who scored 260 points the first round using this approach. My best has been 210-ish.

G2: Great damage, poor at hip firing. I’m also somewhat slowish on the trigger, so this semi-auto is harder for me to play—but it’s great for wailing away on the same maps the Kraber’s good at. It’s also a great weapon for covering the long angles in Forward Base Kodai.

Note: I had the misfortune to play a match against some high-flying, rain-death-on-everyone-from-above jerkface of awesomeness who spent the entire match on Angel City mid-air leaping from wall to wall, or catapulting himself around with the grapple while shooting everyone everywhere with the G2. He got like 40 kills in the match, half of which seemed to be against me. He’d be mid-air and firing off rounds, on target, like the G2 was a fully automatic rifle. I was in a HULK RAGE because I was getting killed so often, but it was awe-inspiring to watch the kill replays and see how crack this guy was.

Cold War: I love, LOVE, LOVE this weapon for Bounty Hunt. See my notes about it in the Game Modes post.

CAR: I like this gun just fine. Good accuracy, nice damage. I don’t play it much because there’s other weapons I prefer.

R–97: I don’t play well at closer ranges, so I tend not to use this much. But it sounds wicked cool when it fires. Same reason I love the Vector in Call of Duty Squads. So I do run it every once in awhile for fun. Because why not?

Shotguns: No. Just. No. Like I’ve said, me no likey close range combat. I got all my shotguns to Gen 2 just to prove I could, then stopped playing them.

DMR: I do not play this gun well. I just don’t. I get killed by lots of folks who do play it well and I think they’re all disco-loving phone spam call center jerk faces. Or something. I forced myself to play this enough to get Gen 2 because I hated it and refused to let it control me, then I put the thing in a deep, hidden, unmarked grave. Like Jimmy Hoffa or Chuck Schumer’s conscience it will never see the light of day again.

Alternator: Beloved weapon of the crazed crackhead monkey wall-running space flying stim-boosted kids who kill me all the time. I just don’t play it well. I hit Gen 2 with it and put it to rest in the same grave with the DMR.

Others: The other weapons are OK, just not what I prefer. The Double-Take is kind of neat, the Spitfire has too much recoil for me, and the rest are shruggsville. I’ve hit Gen 2 with all my weapons, so I do feel I have had enough game play with them to understand their pros and cons for my style of play.

Anti-Titan Weapons

After having run all the weapons I stick with the Thunderbolt pretty much exclusively. It doesn’t need a lock on, does area of effect damage, and can be fired off at a group of Titans. Its drawbacks are it’s slow, and it blows up if you hit an obstacle before the enemy. It works great against Reapers, stuns stalkers and specters, and will damage pilots too. Yay, big-ass-electro-gun!

The other AT weapons aren’t bad, and I will run the Archer occasionally. The Thunderbolt is just what I prefer. I think I’m up to Gen60 with mine.

A Thought or Two on Sights

Find a sight that works well for your style of play. I love the HCOG and have been using it exclusively for months. It takes away field of vision when you’re ADS, but it works well at all ranges for me.

The Threat Sight is a mid-range sight that highlights enemies when you’re ADS. This can be a big help when you’re working on your proficiency. I used it early on, but switched to the HCOG after I got more proficient at aiming. The Threat Sight takes away your second weapon mod, so it’s an opportunity cost there. Still, it can be helpful as you’re working on your game play style.

I also used this when leveling up my DMR because I hate that gun and had trouble with it. Now I don’t worry about it any more. See comments about unmarked grave in section above…


I’ve run the Firestar solely for months. I love its area of effect, I love that I can damage and blind Titans with it, and I love its range.

The other ordinance options are all solid, and I’ve played them a fair amount. Gravity Star is just plain wicked fun, but it doesn’t do a damned thing against Titans, and it barely knocks dust off Reapers.

So I stick with the Firestar.

Pilot Kits

I’ve come to the place where I use Phase Embark and Titan Hunter exclusively. Phase Embark’s speed of getting into my Titan can be crucial if I’m hurt, or if my Titan’s engaged. Titan Hunter helps me get my Titan faster. Yay, Titans!

Ordinance Expert is nice because it shows you the arc of where your ordinance will hit. This is a great training aid as you’re learning. I moved off it once I got moderately comfy understanding the arc my ordinance would travel.

Fast Regen is also good, especially when you’re like me and tend to spend time in Leeroy Jenkins mode running into battles wiser folks might not.

All the other kits, for my style, are boring or unhelpful.


I’ve run the Pilot Sentry as my main boost for a long, long time. It helps me lock down hardpoints, control fire lanes, kill off bounty Remnant forces, and generally annoy the hell out of opposing pilots.

The Titan Sentry is good as well, but doesn’t seem to do as well for me.

All the other boosts are fine, although I am damned proud to say I have not once used the Smart Pistol. Not. Once. I lived on the Smart Pistol in TF1, but I’m happy with how well I’ve progressed in my gun skills in TF2.

Succeeding at Titanfall 2: The Titans

[NOTE: One in a series of posts on my Titanfall 2 experience. Find the intro article with links to others here.]

Here’s some thoughts on things relating to Titans.

A Bit on Some Titan Kits

Warpfall Transmitter: I use this exclusively. Sure, Dome Shield is nice, but I have crushed a crapload of Titans, pilots, and enemy units via the fast fall feature.

Assault Chip: Don’t. Just. Don’t. It’s a waste of offensive power. Yes, your Enhanced Titan can use the extra abilities, but frankly it never works out as well as you remaining in your Titan and going ham on your opponents. Moreover, if you use this Kit in Last Titan Standing or Titan Brawl then you’re telling your teammates, very obviously, that you’re not paying very close attention to what’s needed to win. Don’t be that guy or gal. I say this as somebody who used to be that guy.

Stealth Auto-Eject: Same. Goosing pilots (shooting them out of the sky) doesn’t seem to be as big a thing in TF2 as it was in TF1. Ergo, you really don’t need to be stealthed, and you’re much better off choosing exactly when to eject on your own. Therefore you’re using a Kit slot for something that may happen half of one percent of the times you eject. (I totes made up that number.)

The Titans

Monarch: Just fun fun fun to play. Great at mid-range, some sniping works if you’re good although the XO–16 isn’t the most accurate at long range. Plus, the Energy Thief execution is freaking awesome. Seeing your titan bitch slap another titan on the way to its demise? Freaking beautiful.

If I’m playing Attrition or similar I’ll use Overcore, Energy Thief, Arc Rounds, Fast Rearm, and Chassis. For Frontier Defense I use Nuke Eject, Energy Thief, Energy Transfer, Maelstrom, and Accelerator.

Legion: Big, slow lard ass with a gatling gun. I love it. Great gun which works really well for sniping with the long range shot selected. The Power Shot is awesome for killing pilots in a single blast, although I find it’s much more accurate in long range mode versus up close. (The “Y” toggle thing.) For Attrition, etc. I’ll use Turbo Engine and Hidden Compartment for its extra power shot, even though there’s a 15% drop in damage per shot. For Bounty Hunt I’ll use Extra Ammo and Overcore—because I want lots of lead flying at Remnant enemies, and Smart Core is freaking awesome at racking up money. For Frontier Defense I’ll use Nuke Eject and Hidden Compartment, although I’m at AEGIS level 20 now so I get all kits…

Northstar: I tend to not play this Titan except in Frontier Defense. It’s fun, but I just don’t aim well enough or quickly enough to make sniping with it fun. I miss a lot, which gets frustrating. For Frontier Defense I use Nuke Eject and Enhanced Payload. As mentioned elsewhere, I’m trying Piercing Rounds, but that doesn’t seem to do all that much for me.

Scorch: Flame on! This is my go-to Titan when the opposing team has someone dashing around being a jackass in a Ronin. The Scorch’s flame shield wrecks Ronins in a hurry. Also does Reapers in quite nicely. If you’re playing Frontier Defense on Drydock, make sure someone on your team has a Scorch, because round four has 21 Arc Titans and a Scorch or two are the best way to ruin those annoying little shits’ day. Standard load out: Turbo Engine, Wildfire Launcher. For Frontier Defense swap Nuke Eject for Turbo Engine.

Ion: Not my favorite Titan, as I have lots of trouble trying to balance energy use. Effectively for me this means I’m rarely able to use the Laser Shot.

Frickin Lasers
Frickin “Lasers”

Standard load out: Turbo Engine, Zero-Point Tripwire. For Frontier Defense Nuke Eject, Refraction Lens.

Tone: Second least-favorite Titan. I just don’t play it well. I see people destroy with it; that’s just not me. I do better in FD mode where you get a better splash damage as you AEGIS level up. Standard load out: Turbo Engine, Rocket Barrage. For Frontier Defense Nuke Eject and Burst Loader.

Ronin: I hate this Titan with a passion. First, I don’t play it all that well. It’s just not my style of play. I got mine up to Gen 12 just to prove to myself I could play it even though I hate the little shitpile. Second, it’s overpowered and far too fast. This means you get teammates who are punk jackass fucktards flying around the map, rarely shooting at anything, then dashing in to steal that Titan kill you’d been working so hard on. Then they’ll phase shift/dash away leaving you with your bare ass hanging out in the wind with the newly dead opponent’s now pissed off team mates looking to take Fist of God retribution on your nasty soon-to-be-dead-and-stinking carcass because you’re there in the neighborhood and that punk-ass Ronin’s traipsing about somewhere else looking for another kill to steal. When facing a Ronin you’ll find it meandering across a long straight, blocking nearly all of your damage with Sword Block while creeping inexorably close to you in order to slash you and your Titan to ribbons like Jack The Ripper on a bad hair day.

In Last Titan Standing an average is 10K damage points per kill. That generally shows you’re working well with your weapons and doing solid contributions. It’s not uncommon to see some little rat bastard running around with a Ronin stealing kills from everyone on the team and finishing the match with nine kills and 20,000 damage points. Screw. Them.

God, I hate the Ronin. I hate it so much that I’d be lost in indecision if given the choice between kicking Paul Krugman or the designers of the Ronin in the goolies.

Unfortunately, the Titanfall folks haven’t nerfed the Ronin by this point means they’re likely not going to.

I don’t play Ronin any more. When I did general load out was Turbo Engine and Thunderstorm.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Succeeding at Titanfall 2: Frontier Defense

[NOTE: One in a series of posts on my Titanfall 2 experience. Find the intro article with links to others here.]

Frontier Defense (FD) is one of my favorite modes, if not outright my most favorite. I like it because it reinforces good teamwork, something the other modes absolutely do not reward. I also like it because it’s pure mayhem without having to worry about that nine year old on the opposing team who’s apeshit awesome and has killed you six times in the last thirty seconds while wall running across the entire map like a spider on an insane mix of peyote, speed, and crack while snorting Wraith Enzyme. Or something.

Points for Leveling Up

Make sure you understand the post on Maximizing Points. All that applies to Frontier Defense Mode.
Additionally, due to the longer match time FD gives you more opportunity for multiple leveling up of titans and weapons. The overall math for points-per-minute is still in favor of other game modes, but it’s nice that in FD you can still get a good amount of XP through good gameplay!

AEGIS Upgrades

FD gives your titans a new bunch of level-up abilities. Each titan gets a unique set of mods that run from chassis and shield boosts to additional glorious OMG lethal blow stuff up way more better things.
For example, the Legion gets rounds that pierce multiple enemies, a one-shot kill for nearly-dead enemies, and Dreadnought—every single Legion Kit at once. Every. Single One. Scorch is one of my favorites, because at max AEGIS Scorch gets three thermite launcher shots per reload and exploding incendiary traps. Northstar’s double cluster missiles and traps are also sweet.
AEGIS upgrades are earned by a separate XP track. It’s similar to your pilot’s XP track and you can supplement with an extra XP by purchasing Titan skins from the store—that point will also share across your entire team.

Unique Titan Mix

Having four different titans on the team garners an extra AEGIS XP for the entire team. I’ll try to fit in whatever titan makes sense for the team, although I try to start with one of my favorites (Scorch, Legion, Monarch, Northstar).

How I Roll for Frontier Defense

Pilot Weapons: I play FD using the Devotion almost exclusively. It’s got a huge mag, especially when using the Extra Ammo mod, and it wreaks havoc on grunts, specters, and stalkers. It’s also great at close to medium range using hip-fire, and holds accuracy for longer shots aiming down the sights. I use quick reload as my other mod for this weapon.
I rotate through sidearms, so there’s no one favorite.
My preferred anti-titan weapon is the Thunderbolt since it’s an area of effect weapon that I can shoot in the general direction of a number of enemies.
NOTE: Anti-Titan weapons in FD mode have unlimited ammo, another reason I love the Thunderbolt for this mode.
Titans: I generally play Northstar, Scorch, or Legion because they’re great at dishing out damage—especially after you get them well up in the AEGIS levels.
Monarch is fun, but I’ve found it harder to get flat out wreck on the Remnant forces. What makes Monarch fun is when you take Energy Transfer as an upgrade, then run around healing up your teammates’ titans. Monarch’s smoke also heals your teams’ titans at AEGIS level 11, which is nice because healing actions give you support points which raises your overall score. This really plays into the fun “work as a team” aspect of Frontier Defense—and it’s valuable.
For Titan Kits I normally use Nuke Eject regardless of Titan type. Because if I’m gonna go, I’m gonna take a bunch of those asshat enemies with me.
Legion: Hidden compartment. Because 2x power shots are great.
Scorch: Wildfire Launcher. Makes total sense when you’re getting multiple thermite shots.
Northstar: Enhanced Payload. More damage from cluster missiles? Take my money. I occasionally use Piercing Round, but frankly I’m not sure of its effectiveness.
Monarch: Energy Thief. Even if getting a battery wasn’t such a win I’d likely keep this just because the execution is freaking awesome.
Ion: Refraction Lens. This totally wrecks Reapers. Yes, lots of damage on other things, but I’ve noticed it the most with how fast I’m able to kill Reapers. And I hate those rat bastards.

Using The Armory

When I first started playing I spent every last cent on Nuke Rodeo bombs. I’ve blown up a lot of Remnant opponents with Nuke Bombs, and damnit, it’s just fun. I’ve gradually shifted to focusing more on healing teammates via Amped Batteries (fast 30% gain for your Titan meter, plus good Support Points!), and buying Arc Traps to scatter down the main lines of advance.
Generally I only buy turrets when playing Homestead, Rise, or Exoplanet. The large number of Plasma Drones require several turrets for the team. The other maps just don’t seem to make sense for turrets, or at least I haven’t found great spots to place them.

A Few Thoughts on a Few Maps

There are other posts elsewhere on The Internets that break down things about the various maps. Below are a few specific things I’ve found on particular maps.
Angel City: Especially if you’re playing on Normal, grab a Kraber and climb up one of the high towers at the center Courtyard. You’ll have easy shots at the Mortar Specters across the entire map, aside from a few who may be blocked at the dockyards. Far shots actually drop a bit, but use the vertical hash on the variable zoom as the aim point and you’ll do just fine. As mentioned elsewhere, I saw a guy score 260 on the first round doing this. I’ll regularly score 200+. Change loadout to something more appropriate after the first wave. This will be harder if you’re playing Hard or higher since the Mortar Specters have A Walls to protect their team. Those walls take three shots from the Kraber, or a couple from the Thunderbolt.
I’ll throw out a few arc traps in the courtyard and back alley to catch early waves, then move them over to the dockards—the final wave is one insane bum rush of Remnants from that corner. A smart team will scatter a crapload of arc traps in the corner, the far dock path, and the yard just this side of it.
This is one of the maps I rarely buy turrets for. I just haven’t found any good spot where I can get more than a few kills. A turret is nearly the same cost as two arc traps, so for me it’s just not good money spent.
Rise: The first wave, regardless of difficulty, starts with a lone titan at the back of the map. Grapple and wall run down the corridors to go steal a battery.
Arc mines are great at the main junction, the far back spawn point, and the low corridor to the right. That corridor is a serious choke point and is the prime spot to hang out in later waves.
I’ll try to play a Northstar if nobody else has grabbed it. Hanging out just outside that low corridor choke point is great when you combine arc traps, the Northstar’s traps, and cluster missiles. You can also use your Core because the low ceiling keeps you nearly horizontal for blasting away at the nasty enemies.
That same zone is also great for Scorch’s ability to stack thermite, flame wall, incendiary traps, and flame core.
Homestead: If possible, grab a Scorch. The metric crapton of plasma drones flow on either side of the large round tower in the middle of the map. Camp out on either side and use the flame shield to destroy swaths of those nasty little bastards.
I like placing one turret at the trees on the left of the small rise just in front of the harvester. I’ll regularly get 60 turret kills from this one alone. Do NOT put your turret on top of the APC nearest the tower. Turrets there spend nearly all their time offline from damage. The APC to the right and closer to the harvester is an OK spot. I’ve seen some folks put turrets on top of the tall rock spire to the right of the harvester. It looks cool, but I haven’t seen huge numbers of kills there.
This map is one where I’ll definitely buy a few Nuke Bombs later in the game because enemy titans will cluster in midfield on the far side of the central tower.
Forward Base Kodai: I love how the game designers included smoke. Seriously. What an awesome tactical mess to have to work around. It’s a modest thing that makes play way more interesting.
First wave I’ll start up top on the left wall behind the smoke and wreak as much havoc as possible. Take care to grab a battery from the sniper titan which drops at the end of the wave. Also take care to not get punched, as that jerkface seems to be extraordinarily good at Titan melees.
Lay an arc mine or two on the main route up top, then start to lay them out to the left of the map where waves four and five will concentrate. You can throw some to the right, but fewer titans come this way. Another good option is throwing in the lower causeway, but I prefer the arc mines closer to the enemy spawn points.
Northstar with its traps is a great titan here, as you can really slow down the rush of Titans in later waves. Plus the cluster missiles do a great job with all the stalkers.
Blackwater Canal: Load up on arc traps for the canyon at the front of the map. Scatter a few to the route left of the harvester too. I don’t bother with arc traps up top because it’s easy to defend and hold the line there.
This is a map where I have a hard time justifying turrets. I’ll have modest success putting a turret high on the spire right behind the harvester, but that’s hit or miss for me. All other locations see to garner few turret kills and a lot of downtime.

Notes on Scores

Getting a really high score is cool and awesome. I’ve never seen any other player in any Frontier Defense match score over 7K, yet I crushed this match with 9156 points. You know how many more XP I got than the guy who scored 1023? None. Well, I likely got a few extra XP due to several level ups, but my point is getting top score doesn’t directly help you with XP.
9K in Frontier Defense
Keep your eye on the prize if your main focus is leveling up. Getting MVP is cool, but it doesn’t directly level you up faster. Even if you get MVP all five rounds…
MPV All Five Waves

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The Leadership Journey