EA and Microsoft are throwing a Titanfall beta this week on Xbox One and PC, ahead of the game's release in March - in disastrous news for loving relationships everywhere, it'll launch on Valentine's Day, 14th February. I'm sure you'll take to the beta like a fish to water - or a lamb to the slaughter, if you neglect to brush up on how exactly Respawn's debut game differs from other first-person shooters on Xbox One and Xbox 360.
Worried that you'll come a cropper? Fear not, OXM has a few tips and tactics to share, based on our hands-on time with the game and some conversations with Respawn staffers. You'll read a lot, lot more in our very next issue, which is out on 14th February.
1. Squish somebody with a Titanfall
This takes good timing and no small measure of luck, but the results are immensely satisfying to behold. Pretend that you're aiming a very sluggish mortar launcher.
2. Shoot Grunts to speed up your Titan streak
There's been plenty of controversy about Titanfall's use of AI-controlled characters, but much of it turns on the assumption that the Grunts and Spectres are just there to stand in for real players. They actually serve a number of roles. First off, greener players will find them easy to kill - especially if you're using a Smart Pistol, which allows you to line up multiple auto-targeted shots using a wide reticule.
Grunt and Spectre kills count towards your Titan gauge, so more experienced players may also prefer to target Grunts in order to speed the arrival of their mechanical minions. The most bloodthirsty players of all, of course, will want to escort packs of AI soldiers in hopes of catching an enemy Pilot with his or her trousers down. Think of Grunts and Spectres as recon drones, flushing out enemies as they follow their own routes through the map.
3. Use the eject button as a weapon
When Titans are "doomed", you've got a few seconds to eject to safety. This can actually be an offensive gambit, in skilled hands: the eject boost carries the player well above all the buildings on the map, and you can control your descent in order to land in a good sniping spot. If sniping spots are scarce, you might also consider landing right on top of another Titan - then blowing its brains out. Titans don't have to be at death's door before you can eject, so feel free to exploit this feature when out of combat in order to quickly reach high ground.
4. Use your Titan like a turret
You'll enjoy romping around aboard a Titan, but you may do more damage if you let your Titan pilot itself - double the guns means double the punishment, after all. The Titan AI is no match for a player's wits, of course, but if you station your pet Transformer well away from any obvious ambush points (such as second floor windows), it should prove a highly disagreeable distraction, allowing you to flank assailants or make your way over to another map objective.
5. Shoot from a knifehold
During a wallrun, you can stab your knife into the building and hang in place, picking off enemies with your sidearm. This trick might allow you to break off a run before leaping out in front of an enemy Titan, or in order to get the drop on a pack of foes who've emerged from a door just below. You'll be very vulnerable while dangling in place, of course, so don't do it for too long.
6. Use those thrusters, especially if you're playing a Stryder
The Stryder is the lightest of Titanfall's Titan classes, and while it won't stand up to much of a beating, it's hellishly fast. The mech's manoeuvring jets allow it to dodge away from those slow-moving Titan projectiles and flank the attacker, though bear in mind that there's a cooldown period involved. Greenhorns will undoubtedly prefer the heavy, resilient Ogre, but I expect Stryder players to be a match for all comers, regardless of range, once they've gotten to grips with the intricacies. One thing, though: it's probably not worth ordering your Stryder to defend a position. The poor dear won't survive for long.
Update - It seems that neither the Stryder nor the Ogre are playable in Titanfall's beta - you'll have to make do with the basic, middle-of-the-road Atlas class. The Atlas does have jet thrusters, though, so feel free to put some moves on the opposition when fighting up close.