Titanfall’s beta goes live this weekend. The final game will be released on Xbox One and PC on March 11 in the US and March 13 in Europe. The Xbox 360 version follows on March 25 (US) and March 28 (EU).

Six on six is quite enough, thanks. Respawn caused a brief kerfuffle last month when its co-founder Vince Zampella nonchalantly confirmed over Twitter that a maximum of twelve players could do battle in Titanfall’s online arenas. For a few online shooter devotees, that figure was worryingly low – compared to Battlefield 4’s skirmishes, it’s miniscule – but as players sampling the game’s beta for the first time today will discover, the player cap is a design decision, first and foremost; it’ll stop the game from turning into “a chaos factory,” as Respawn lead artist Joel Emslie puts it.“You know what, I understand where they’re coming from,” he told us at a preview event last week. “I think when you hear a raw number like that and you’re not familiar with the game then yeah, it can be a little off-putting but we’ve played the game with other player counts and there’s a very specific reason why we chose the number. It’s about making sure that there’s a nice balance of real human players and AI counterparts. We’re trying to do something new and we’re standing by it.”He’s right. Titanfall’s firefights are hectic enough, a slew of AI grunts filling out the map without making them feel clogged up or infuriatingly deadly every few minutes. There’s a subtlety and complexity to Titanfall which belies the thundering bombast of its impending arrival. It’s a game about stomping around firing missiles in giant mechs and running along walls unloading an assault rifle, sure, but there’s nuance here, too.Tellingly, its tutorial is lengthier than most. This isn’t just move, aim, shoot, go; both Pilot and Titan have sci-fi movesets that military shooters can’t justify within their more grounded fiction. The more striking additions include a timed cloaking device, double jumps and wallrunning for Pilots; a dash, a dodge, a Jedi-style vortex shield and a brutal melee smash for Titans. You won’t feel truly accustomed to all of your arsenal until you’ve felt the heat of battle for real, of course.