Titanfall survival guide: Everything you need to know to get started

titanfall survival guide header
Check out our review of Titanfall.

Titanfall has landed, and if you’ve got some manner of Xbox console or a gaming-friendly PC, you’re also probably curious to see what all the fuss is about. Either that, or you’ve already invested double-digit hours into Respawn Entertainment’s shooter, and you’re here for some friendly advice.

That’s what this guide exists for: to help you take your first steps in the mech-enhanced multiplayer shooter’s universe. Click the tiles below to read through tips, strategies, and reference materials that will help you sharpen your game and survive in Titanfall‘s fast-paced 6v6 matches.

The Universe

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A closer look at the fiction behind Titanfall and the state of the universe as we know it when the game opens.

Pilots

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Hints and tips for surviving as a Pilot and a look at all of the loadout customization options you unlock.

Titans

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Hints and tips for surviving as a Titan and a look at all of the loadout customization options you unlock.

The Maps

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A closer look at all 15 maps in Titanfall along with some general hints for success on each.

The Modes

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An explanation for each of Titanfall‘s five multiplayer modes and strategies for surviving them.

Burn Cards

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An explanation of how Burn Cards work, how to best use them, and a list of every known Burn Card in the game.

The universe

Titanfall barely scratches the surface of the rich sci-fi universe that Respawn Entertainment created (and no doubt intends to explore further in the future). Even after watching the game’s intro sequence and playing through the two-sided campaign, it’s hard to get a sense of what’s really going on unless you were paying close attention to the narration. Read on for a rough summary of the universe as we know it right now, as well as a brief rundown of how Titanfall‘s campaign mode actually works.

What are we doing here?

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Titanfall takes place in humanity’s distant future, during a time when the people of Earth have left their home planet behind and begun to spread out across the galaxy. The game focuses on an inhabited region known as The Frontier that, as the name suggests, exists at the edge of explored space. There are numerous uncharted worlds in this region, and that unknown factor attracts a diverse range of people, from explorers and pioneers to outlaws and mercenaries.

The Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC) is one of the two main factions in Titanfall.  Once a small-time mining operation known as Hammond Engineering, the company rapidly expanded thanks to increasing demand for Titan manufacturing materials as well as its own, state-of-the-art planetary survey technology. Hammond transformed over time – following mergers, acquisitions, and other corporate maneuverings – until it became the IMC that is known (and often feared) by all.

The Militia stands against the IMC’s interests as the military branch of The Frontier systems’ territorial defense pact. It’s a loosely organization conglomeration of locals, some of whom are little better than pirates. They’re all united by the common goal of preserving safety across The Frontier, a goal that includes preventing the IMC from running roughshod over the communities in these more rural star systems. There’s a bit more nuance to the relationship between the IMC and the Militia that goes largely unexplored in Titanfall, but again, it seems clear that Respawn intends to revisit this fiction in the future.

The campaign

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The campaign in Titanfall is… unusual. There’s very little narrative going on; you’ve got to simply listen to the voiceover dialogue that plays between each match as well as the dialogue that pops up throughout each campaign mission. Structurally speaking, the campaign breaks down into nine matches that play out on a fixed set of maps and modes. Five of them are Attrition matches and the other four are Hardpoint domination.

There’s voiceover content for both the Milita and IMC sides of the war, but there’s no way to choose which side you want to be on when jumping into a campaign match. You can, however, opt to prioritize matchmaking for a particular mission (provided you played up to or past it), or you can go with the Quick Play option at the top of the screen to be thrown into any campaign match that there’s room in. The nine missions run through nine different maps (out of 15); here they are in order: Fracture, Colony, Relic, Angel City, Outpost 207, Boneyard, Airbase, Demeter, and Corporate.

There’s not much that separates campaign from any of the standard multiplayer modes, other than the fixed maps/modes for each mission. There are Xbox Achievements attached to it, and you’ll want to play through both the IMC and Militia campaigns at least once in order to unlock all three Titan chassis for custom loadouts, but that’s about the only thing that makes this mode unique.

The Universe

Titanfall-guide---Universe-thumb

A closer look at the fiction behind Titanfall and the state of the universe as we know it when the game opens.

Pilots

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Hints and tips for surviving as a Pilot and a look at all of the loadout customization options you unlock.

Titans

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Hints and tips for surviving as a Titan and a look at all of the loadout customization options you unlock.

The Maps

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A closer look at all 15 maps in Titanfall along with some general hints for success on each.

The Modes

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An explanation for each of Titanfall‘s five multiplayer modes and strategies for surviving them.

Burn Cards

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An explanation of how Burn Cards work, how to best use them, and a list of every known Burn Card in the game.

Pilots

Pilots are the player-controlled foot soldiers of the Titanfall universe. They’ve all got the ability to summon and jump into a Titan once the build timer ticks down to zero, but they’re extremely lethal fighters on their own, thanks to both the powerful gear they can equip and their enhanced mobility. We’ll take you now on a guided tour through Respawn’s fixed Pilot loadouts, the range of options available for custom loadout slots, and a few basic tips for fighting effectively in human form.

Pilot fundamentals

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Pilots may be outgunned by Titans, but they have the advantage of increased mobility. You’re able to jump, double-jump, run along walls, and hoist yourself up over ledges when running around in human form. If you press and hold the left trigger (Xbox controller, here and in all subsequent control references) at any time during a wallrun, you transition immediately into a wallhang. Keep the trigger held down and your Pilot will hang there for a few seconds before starting to slide down toward the ground. Wallhanging is an excellent strategy for getting the drop on pursuers, since you can fire from that position without losing your grip (though you can’t aim down your weapon’s sights).

All Pilots head into battle with one Primary Weapon for anti-personnel engagements, one Anti-Titan Weapon for bringing down the towering mechs, one Sidearm, and one piece of Ordnance (read: explosives). They’ve also got a Tactical Ability, activated with the left bumper, that triggers one of three boosts (discussed below); its usage is limited by a cooldown timer. In addition to the gear, Pilots also have two passive boosts – called Kits – that are essentially the same as Call of Duty’s Perks. They’re always active until you hop into a Titan.

Pilots are able to take on Titans, but head-to-head showdowns are best avoided. Your Anti-Titan Weapon (accessed via the D-pad) is your first line of defense. Try to fire when the targeted Titan isn’t looking your way or is distracted by other engagements. Aim for the glowing red bits if you can (usually their backs) for increased damage. Once you score a hit, move to a new position. Most Titan weapons can chew through a Pilot quickly.

If you’re able to get close enough, try leaping up at the Titan’s head. Your Pilot will automatically ‘rodeo’ onto the mech’s back and pop open a hatch that you should shoot your primary weapon or sidearm into. Just be wary of enemy fire. You’re completely exposed when you rodeo a Titan, and – assuming you’re not riding an Auto-Titan – the Pilot is alerted to your presence. Be ready to jump off at the first hint of return fire.

Pilot customization

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Now that you know how Pilots play, let’s take a look at the gear and abilities they bring to the battlefield. Read on for a rundown of every customization option available for custom loadouts, along with descriptions of what everything does. Take note that there are unlockable attachments for all of the primary weapons. There are enough similarities from weapon to weapon that we opted against listing those unlocks here, but you can easily see what they are and what you have to do to get the unlock – usually by killing a certain number of enemies with that weapon – when you equip the weapon to a particular loadout.

Primary Weapons

R-101C Carbine Fully automatic assault rifle. Versatile enough for any engagement, but doesn’t excel in any one area.
EVA-8 Shotgun Semi-automatic shotgun. Devastating in close-quarters, but useless at range.
Smart Pistol MK5 Semi-automatic handgun that locks onto targets when you don’t aim down the sights. Requires three lock-ons to take down a Pilot.
R-97 Compact SMG Submachine gun for close-quarters encounters. Low damage, but high rate of fire.
Longbow-DMR Sniper Semi-automatic sniper rifle that uses hyper-velocity bullets that eliminate the need to lead a target. One-hit kill with headshots.
G2A4 Rifle Semi-automatic rifle trades the Carbine’s high rate of fire for increased damage.
Hemlok BF-R Assault rifle that fires in three-rounds bursts. Damage output is comparable to the Carbine, but burst-fire makes this more accurate at range.
C.A.R. SMG Higher damage than the R-97 SMG, but a lower rate of fire. Accurate enough to handle mid-range engagements in a pinch.
Spitfire LMG High-capacity clip and a middling rate of fire. The trick to using the Spitfire is to keep shooting; the longer you fire, the better the accuracy.
Kraber-AP Sniper The most powerful primary weapon; one shot, one kill. You’ve got to lead your targets though, as the bullets travel slower than the Longbow’s.

Anti-Titan Weapons

Archer Heavy Rocket Fires a powerful homing rocket that requires a target lock.
Sidewinder Rapid-fire, low-damage missile launcher. Can double as anti-personnel weapon in a pinch.
Mag Launcher Fires magnetic grenades that seek out nearby Titans and Spectres, detonating on impact.
Charge Rifle Fires a high-damage energy beam. Shots can be charged, but a full charge can only be held for a few seconds before the weapon fires automatically.

Sidearms

RE-45 Autopistol Fully automatic pistol that’s effective at close ranges but suffers at medium and long range.
Hammond P2011 Semi-automatic pistol has higher damage and accuracy at range than the RE-45. Fires as fast as you can pull the trigger.
B3 Wingman Slow-firing, high-damage revolver. Very accurate.

Tactical Abilities

Cloak Temporarily renders your Pilot invisible to AI-controlled Grunts, Spectres, Titans, and Turrets. Other Pilots can see your shimmering outline, however (think Predator).
Stim Temporarily boosts your movement speed and health regeneration.
Active Radar Pulse Using this Tactical Ability scans the surrounding environment, identifying silhouettes of enemy forces, even through walls.

Ordnance

Frag Grenade Throwable anti-personnel explosive that operates on a delayed fuse. Just like every other frag grenade you’ve ever used in a shooter.
Arc Grenade Lower damage than the frag, but emits a burst of electricity when it explodes that scrambles the vision of Titans and Pilots in its blast radius.
Satchel Charge Sticky explosive that must be manually detonated for very high damage.
Arc Mine A proximity-based mine that produces the same effects as an Arc Grenade.

Tier 1 Kit

Enhanced Parkour Kit Increases the amount of time you can wallrun and wallhang.
Explosives Pack Increases your Pilot’s Ordnance ammo capacity.
Power Cell Reduces the amount of time it takes for your Tactical Ability to recharge.
Run N Gun Kit Allows you to fire small arms – pistols and SMGs – while sprinting.
Quick Reload Kit Accelerates the reload speed of all Pilot weapons.
Stealth Kit Makes your footsteps silent and the exhaust on your jump kit (which fires whenever you double jump) nearly invisible.

Tier 2 Kit

Dome-Shield Battery Extends the duration of the dome-shield that protects your Titan after Titanfall.
Minion Detector Reveals all friendly and enemy Grunts and Spectres on your minimap at all times.
Warpfall Transmitter Speeds up the Titan time, allowing you to bring one to the battlefield more quickly.
Dead Man’s Trigger Automatically detonates any explosives you’ve planted when you are killed.
The ‘Icepick’ A modified Data Knife that speeds up the process of hacking Spectres and turrets.
Guardian Chip Improves your Auto-Titan’s ability to attack and defend itself.

Pilot loadouts

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These are the three stock loadouts for Pilots. You’ll have to play as one of these until you unlock the ability to create custom loadouts, at level 5.

Rifleman: A standard infantry soldier, the rifleman is a capable medium-range fighter that can also fight relatively effectively at close-quarters and long ranges. The class is equipped with the R-101C Carbine, Titanfall‘s standard full-auto assault rifle, as its primary weapon and the Archer Heavy Rocket, which requires a lock-on, as its anti-Titan weapon. The Rifleman is also equipped with the Cloak Tactical Ability and the semi-automatic Hammond P2011 as its sidearm, as well as Explosives Pack and Dome-Shield Battery in its two Kit slots.

Assassin: While there’s no true “sniper” class among Titanfall‘s stock loadouts, the Assassin occupies that role for medium-range engagements, though it’s also a suitable choice for complete shooter noobs. It’s primary weapon is the Smart Pistol MK5, which auto-targets enemies. It’s certainly not a foolproof weapon, and it can be tricky to take down Pilots if it comes to a one-on-one duel, but – for beginners – the Smart Pistol eliminates virtually any need to aim down the sights. The Assassin also carries a Sidewinder as its anti-Titan weapon, an RE-45 Autopistol as its sidearm, and frag grenades. It’s equipped with the Cloak Tactical Ability, as well as Power Cell and Minion Detector in its two Kit slots.

CQB: CQB – short for close-quarters battle – is, as the name suggests, best suited to combat in tight spaces. It’s got the EVA-8 Shotgun to clear out rooms with and the Hammond P2011 pistol for dealing with threats at range. It’s also got the Sidewinder anti-Titan weapon, Cloak as its Tactical Ability, an frag grenades, as well as Enhanced Parkour Kit and Dome-Shield Battery in its two Kit slots.

The Universe

Titanfall-guide---Universe-thumb

A closer look at the fiction behind Titanfall and the state of the universe as we know it when the game opens.

Pilots

Titanfall-guide---Pilot-thumb

Hints and tips for surviving as a Pilot and a look at all of the loadout customization options you unlock.

Titans

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Hints and tips for surviving as a Titan and a look at all of the loadout customization options you unlock.

The Maps

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A closer look at all 15 maps in Titanfall along with some general hints for success on each.

The Modes

Titanfall-guide---Modes-header

An explanation for each of Titanfall‘s five multiplayer modes and strategies for surviving them.

Burn Cards

Titanfall-guide---Burn-Cards-header

An explanation of how Burn Cards work, how to best use them, and a list of every known Burn Card in the game.

Titans

Titans are the beating heart of Titanfall. Thes multi-story mechs can disrupt the momentum in any match, spitting their explosive firepower across the battlefield until nothing remains. For every Titan there is a Pilot, and every Pilot faces a choice: climb into the cockpit of the towering war machine and lay waste to everything in sight or let the mech’s AI take over, either to guard a specific location or to follow you around like a building-sized, metal puppy that trade sharp canines for ridiculous amounts of firepower. There’s no right or wrong approach; it’s all about your own style of play. Read on to take a guided tour through Respawn’s fixed Titan loadouts, all of the assorted Titan customization options, and basic play strategies.

Titan fundamentals

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Pilots can run around like maniacs all day, respawning whenever they’re taken down, but there’s more of a limitation on deploying Titans. Unless you’re playing in the Last Titan Standing mode or using one of three Titan-summong Burn Cards, you’ve got to wait for a two-minute timer (bottom right corner of the screen) to reach zero after a match begins before you can summon your mech. Once that’s destroyed, the timer resets and the wait begins again. It’s possible to reduce the Titan build time, either by using certain Burn Cards or by taking down enemy Pilots, Grunts, Spectres, and Titans. The more you gun down, the shorter the wait.

For those that prefer to stick to being a Pilot while letting the Titan do its thing, there are two basic orders you can give it; switch between the two by pressing down on the D-pad (Xbox controller, here and in all subsequent references). Follow Mode lets the Titan know you want it to stick close to you (to the best of its abilities). The mech will handle shooting any enemies that it sees, but it won’t get wrapped up in knockdown firefights if your Pilot runs straight past. Guard Mode, on the other hand, instructs your Titan to settle in wherever it happens to be standing and defend that location to the best of its ability. It moves around somewhat in order to protect itself, but it will remain in the general location you leave it in whenever Guard Mode is active.

If you choose to operate the Titan yourself, you’ll quickly realize that the controls are almost identical to the Soldier’s. Titan’s can’t jump, but they can dash in any horizontal direction with a press of the A button. Your ability to dash is limited by a meter that appears in the center of your HUD. The number of bars you see dictates how many times you can dash before a recharge is needed. The Titan’s dash recharges automatically, and it’s a relatively quick process, so make sure to use your dash to quick zip into the fray or slip out of an enemy’s arc of fire.

Like Pilots, the left and right bumpers are mapped to a Tactical Ability and Ordnance, respectively. Neither of these is a finite supply, though both are managed by a cooldown timer visible at the bottom of the screen. Your Titan also has a Core Ability which is specific to the chassis you have equipped (more on that below). The Core Ability needs some time to charge, though much like the Titan build time, you can cut down on the wait by shooting things. Titans can also deal out a devastating melee attack (click the right stick) and take out any Pilots or Minions instantly by simply running them over.

One final note on Titans: survival. You’ve got two meters visible at the top of your HUD. The thinner one on top is your shield, which recharges automatically if you can get away from enemy fire for a few seconds. The thicker one on the bottom is your Titan’s armor. This does not replenish. Once it drains out completely, your Titan enters into a “doomed” state. During this time, your shield/armor meters are replaced with a multi-colored meter that drains away quickly. Once it’s empty, your Titan explodes.

It’s a good idea to get away before that happens, either by hopping out of the cockpit (holding X) or by ejecting, which involves pressing up on the D-pad and then quickly tapping X. You can eject from your Titan at any time, but doing so causes it to self-destruct. Still, the height that you get when you eject can be very useful for getting on top of certain buildings or escaping to your evac ship at the end of a match.

Titan customization

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Now that you’ve got a better sense of how Titans play, let’s take a look at the various customization options you can equip your loadouts with (once you unlock custom loadouts at level 10, that is). Much like Pilots, all of the Titan Primary Weapons have unlockable attachments that are earned for completing specific challenges. There’s a lot of crossover between the different attachments, so we’ve opted against listing them here. Just know that you can easily check what can be unlocked for a certain weapon, and how, by selecting the desired weapon in the custom loadout menu.

Chassis

Atlas Standard, multi-role chassis. Even mix between speed and durability. Comes with Damage Core Ability, that boosts your damage for a limited time. Can dash twice before needing a recharge.
Stryder A fast and agile Titan chassis, trades armor for higher speed and acceleration. Comes with Dash Core Ability, that gives you unlimited dash energy for a limited time. Can dash three times before needing a recharge. Unlocked by completing either the IMC or Militia campaign.
Ogre The slow, lumbering tank of the Titan chassis, it’s got the highest armor out of the three. Comes with the Shield Core Ability, that amps up the effectiveness of your shield for a limited time. Can dash only once before needing a recharge. Unlocked by completing both campaigns.

Primary Weapon

40mm Cannon A semi-automatic cannon with a large, 20-round clip. Fires explosive shells with good accuracy at range.
Quad Rocket Fires a four-rocket salvo. Press RT without aiming down sights to send the rockets out in a tight spiral. Hold LT to zoom in and then press RT to fire a slower-moving wider spread of rockets. This alternate fire is best used as crowd control.
XO-16 Chaingun A massive, fully automatic chaingun that’s useful in both anti-personnel and anti-Titan roles.
Plasma Railgun The sniper rifle of the Titan scene. Fires a charged pulse at long ranges. Hold down LT to zoom in and charge up the weapon; fire when the meter that appears in your HUD is full for extra damage.
Arc Cannon Great for crowd control. Fires a bolt of lightning that chain between nearby enemies. Can be charged for added firepower, but it can’t hold the charge indefinitely.
Triple Threat A grenade launcher that spits out three spherical grenades in a horizontal spread. The grenades are great for clearing out building interiors, but they also explode on contact with armor, making them effective anti-Titan weapons at close range.

Tactical Ability

Vortex Shield Press and hold LB to bring up a shield that captures and holds incoming projectiles. Releasing LB (or running out of energy) drops the shield, firing any captured projectiles away from your Titan.
Electric Smoke Tap LB to deploy a cloud of electrically charged smoke around your Titan that damages Pilots, Minions, and Titans alike. Very effective as a counter to Pilot rodeo attacks. Also useful for “hit-and-fade” strategies in which your Titan (preferably a Stryder) dashes in, deploys smoke, and dashes out.
Particle Wall Tap LB to deploy a see-three stationary force field that blocks incoming fire but allows outgoing fire. Enemy weapons damage the Particle Wall over time (which you can see as its color changes), and can eventually destroy it.

Ordnance

Rocket Salvo Fires a swam of unguided rockets in a tight spiral. Limited usefulness at range (except for crowd control), but devastating up close.
Slaved Warheads When you have Slaved Warheads equipped, you’ll see lock-on boxes appear whenever an enemy Titan is in view. Press RB when the box turns red to fire a barrage of homing missiles at the target.
Cluster Missile Fires a single, unguided missile that deploys a series of secondary explosives once it reaches its destination.
Multi-Target Missile System Press and hold RB when an enemy Titan is in sight and keep your aiming reticle on it to slowly lock on each of your missiles. You’re able to paint multiple targets in this way. Locked on missiles fire once you release RB.

Tier 1 Kit

Nuclear Ejection Whenever you eject from your Titan, an energy buildup in its nuclear core causes a detonation that damages any enemies in range.
Regen Booster Speeds up the time it takes your Titan’s bodyshield to regenerate.
Fast Autoloader Speeds up the cooldown time for your Titan’s Ordnance.
Dash Quickcharger Speeds up the recharge time on your dash energy.
Tactical Reactor Speeds up the recharge time on your Tactical Ability.

Tier 2 Kit

Auto-Eject Automatically ejects you when your Titan enters into its doomed state. Also cloaks your Pilot for a few seconds after ejecting.
Survivor Increases the amount of time you have to run around in a doomed Titan.
Core Extender Extends the amount of time a Core Ability remains active.
Big Punch Significantly increases your Titan’s melee attack power, upping the damage and knocking back Titans even further.
Core Accelerator Speeds up the charge time for your Core Ability.

Titan loadouts

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These are the three stock loadouts for Titans. You’ll have to use one of these until you unlock the ability to create custom loadouts, at level 10. Note that this is also the only way to use the Ogre and Stryder chassis until you unlock them by completing the campaigns.

Assault: The Assault Titan is built around an Atlas chassis, making it a great general-purpose mech that turns into a heavy hitter when its Damage Core comes online. It’s got the XO-16 Chaingun, useful for taking on any type of enemy you might find on the battlefield, plus the Vortex Shield and the Rocket Salvo as its Tactical Ability and Ordnance, respectively. It’s also equipped with Regen Booster and Auto-Eject in its two Kit slots. Easily the most versatile and useful stock Titan.

Tank: The Tank Titan is, unsurprisingly, built around an Ogre chassis, and it carries a hefty Quad Rocket into battle for devastating close range damage. It’s got the same Vortex Shield/Rocket Salvo setup as the Assault Titan, as well as the Regen Booster Kit, but it swaps out Assault’s Auto-Eject for Survivor.

Artillery: The Artillery Titan is assembled around a Stryder chassis. It’s got a 40mm Cannon and the same Vortex Shield/Rocket Salvo setup as the other two stock Titans, as well as Nuclear Ejection and Survivor in its two Kit slots.

The Universe

Titanfall-guide---Universe-thumb

A closer look at the fiction behind Titanfall and the state of the universe as we know it when the game opens.

Pilots

Titanfall-guide---Pilot-thumb

Hints and tips for surviving as a Pilot and a look at all of the loadout customization options you unlock.

Titans

Titanfall-guide---Titans-thumb

Hints and tips for surviving as a Titan and a look at all of the loadout customization options you unlock.

The Maps

Titanfall-guide---Maps-thumb

A closer look at all 15 maps in Titanfall along with some general hints for success on each.

The Modes

Titanfall-guide---Modes-header

An explanation for each of Titanfall‘s five multiplayer modes and strategies for surviving them.

Burn Cards

Titanfall-guide---Burn-Cards-header

An explanation of how Burn Cards work, how to best use them, and a list of every known Burn Card in the game.

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