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.

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