Titanfall is finally here, and you're going to be blowing up tons of Titans. Dozens. Hundreds, even. But with such a tiny body as a Pilot, it can be pretty intimidating to take on a giant robot -- until you read these tips, that is.
First things first: Before you do anything, complete the campaign. Although it isn't a fully-featured solo story mode, the campaign is a separate playlist that's integrated into multiplayer. So basically, you're going to be playing with a lot of newcomers who just picked up the game (as opposed to hardcore people that are in the competitive playlists), which will better help you acclimate. Also, you can earn two new Titan body types by completing the story that will be unlocked for life -- so do it!
You begin most of the game's modes as a Pilot, so let's touch on them first. After you've learned the ins and outs of movement, keep in mind that sometimes mashing the jump button is a completely valid method of climbing up steep vertical inclines. It may look like you can't actually jump or run on a wall, but with the right timing you can jetpack your way all the way up. Using precise timing is preferred, but sometimes a good ol' mash will get the job done.
Also, don't forget that you have a cloaking ability at the start (which you can change up later) -- use it every cooldown if you can, as you never know when someone is watching you. Consider having another loadout with the speed and healing-enhancing Stimpack power-up for objective based games, as it'll allow you to cover more ground when you need it.
In terms of weaponry, all of the primary and secondary guns have their advantages, but my personal preference is the Sidewinder anti-Titan weapon. The rocket launcher is powerful, but it's slow, requires a lock-on, and enemy Titans can see the lock. With the Sidewinder (a machine gun of sorts), you can launch surprise attacks, aim at will, and even shoot and kill enemy pilots with it. Both weapons have their pros and cons and your preference may change as your play style develops, so don't be afraid to revisit them from time to time.
When Titans start dropping (roughly two minutes in), you'll need to change up your tactics entirely, as the entire paradigm will shift. As a Pilot, you'll want to get to high ground as much as possible, so that you can stay out of sight, have plenty of room to aim at Titans, and launch a jumping surprise rodeo attack.
Rodeos are when you jump onto an enemy Titan's head, rip off the doors to its core, and start blasting away. Enemies will see that you're on top of them with an icon, so if the Titan stops, odds are the other Pilot is getting out of his Titan to deal with you. In that case, immediately jump away and cloak to escape, or fight the Pilot one on one. Remember that when Pilots eject they go sky high, so look for them as they start to fly up. You can tell which ones have the auto-eject ability as they'll shoot out right when the Titan is doomed, and they'll automatically be cloaked every time -- so exercise caution.
While melee isn't ideal since the game is so fast, consider not doing executions at all; the neck snap animation when using the melee button from behind takes a few seconds and leaves you completely vulnerable. A well-aimed headshot will do just fine, even if it isn't quite as satisfying. As a general rule concerning the AI, shoot everything that's in your immediate vicinity if you want to take some time off your Titan build clock and Titan core ability, but you shouldn't waste time hunting down individual troops - Spectres and Grunts - during matches, either. Wasting time to pick off individual AI in Attrition (Titanfall's version of a standard deathmatch) can often open you up for another Pilot to take you out (especially with gunfire that lights up the radar), and the paltry amount of points aren't worth it. However, throwing grenades or going after groups of three or four Grunts or Spectres can net you as many points as a Pilot Kill -- this is even easier with the power of a Titan. Just pick your battles correctly and you'll rack up the points.
Once you've gone a few rounds and leveled up a few times, you'll unlock the ability to use Burn Cards, disposable power ups you can use in the heat of a match. Be smart about using these bonuses, because they only last for one life - not round, life. For example, you don't want to use an "extra Titan kill XP" or "better anti-Titan weapon" card early on in a match, as there's no guarantee that you'll even see a Titan in that one life. Wait until a little later in the match, when you can make that particular card really count.
When you actually get your Titan, everything changes once again. A reckless Titan player can get scrapped in less than 10 seconds, but a smart player can last the entire round with one Titan. The way to do this is to conserve your dashes, don't get too greedy with kills, and don't pursue when you don't have to. Instead, use your dashes defensively, and as soon as your shield goes down, jet into a corner to recharge. The key to keeping your Titan for a while is to remember that shields can recharge indefinitely, but your health is chipped away for the life of the Titan. You also don't have to walk into your Titan from the ground -- you can jump in it from above. It's not just cool, it's a safe way to get in, and by entering it topside you get another cool animation.
Having said that, you clearly want to make a difference and go on the offensive, so be sure to learn the "count" of the Vortex Shield (how long it can stay up for), so you don't have to stare at the meter to see when it's going to run out. Another great use of the shield is deploying it for a few seconds as soon as you enter your Titan (since you lose your vision for a second or so while it boots up), in case a hidden pilot is ready to shoot an errant projectile your way. If all hope seems lost against another Titan, use your dash to boost forward and try to punch your enemy to death. Speaking of Pilots, you'll want to occasionally look up, as they will tend to get to high ground if a Titan is near. Since a typical strategy is to "pop and drop" with hit and run shots, getting headshots with your giant Titan gun is super easy.
After the round is done, one team will make a mad dash for their extraction ship while the winning team tries to take them all out. You might be tempted to immediately run for the ship and wait for it to arrive, but don't. The enemy will be expecting this, so stick to the perimeter of the drop zone and look for hidden enemies. Take at least a few of them out, then make the run for your ride.
As an added bonus for situations when you're on the winning team and need to prevent players from escaping, create an extra sniper class (for instance, with your last slot), and use your original custom classes as normal. At the very end before the epilogue starts, you have around 10 seconds to die and get one more respawn -- at this time, switch to your sniper ace in the hole. Even if you never use it during the vast majority of a match, it's always good to have a safe plan of attack at the very end -- considering that one death prevents you from respawning once the epilogue actually starts.
Titanfall can be a pretty complex game at times when you mix both Pilot and Titan strategies together, but as long as you use all of the tools at your disposal, you should get a ton of kills on either side. Good hunting!