Mod of the Week: Ironfall, for Minecraft

For weeks I've been dying to summon a robot from outer space, have it land next to me, climb inside, and start whomping on my enemies. Unfortunately, I don't own Titanfall, and simply yelling at the sky hasn't produced a single robot from the heavens. YET. In the meantime, I can play Ironfall, a Minecraft mod that mimics Titanfall's team-based shooting and giant robot summoning. Drop your pickaxe, pick up a gun, and prepare for Ironfall!

There's no real installation required on your part, but there is a little virtual legwork to get into Ironfall. First! Make sure you're running the most recent version of Minecraft (1.7.7 at the time of this writing). Launch a multiplayer game, select Direct Connect, and enter "" (without quotes) into the address bar. Then join. Upon arriving, you'll see a ton of players running around, and a bunch of big signs directing you to the games available. (Apologies, if this is not news to anyone else, I've just done most of my Minecrafting offline.) Head for the one that says Ironfall.

Inside, after a warning sign that the mod is still in alpha, you'll spot a bunch of purple portals. Above them, on wooden signs, you'll see the status of the matches taking place in each portal. The signs will tell you if a match has started, which map is being played, and how many players are in there. Some of the portals are reserved for "premium" members only: I have no idea what that entails, but I guess you need to be an official member of the site, not some gawking moocher like myself.

After plunging into a an available server, you'll be in a lobby, where you'll notice a dozen or so Minecraftians jumping around, climbing things, trying to whack each other, and engaging in all of the usual activities that take place in multiplayer lobbies while we kill time waiting for a match to start. Because we just can't wait. WE CAN'T WAIT.

And the match begins! You may be asked to download an asset pack, which is as simple as clicking yes to the onscreen prompt. Then, you'll be randomly assigned to a team, and next thing you know, everyone is running around trying to kill each other, Titanfall-style.

At the moment, there is only a single map, Rise, based on the map from Titanfall, and it has quite lovingly been recreated in blocky Minecraft form. Points are awarded for killing the other teams' members, and the first team to score 100 points, wins. There's even auto-team balancing if people drop out of the match.

How closely does the action mirror Titanfall? Well, you do have a chaingun, a missile launcher, and grenades with which to tear through the enemy team. You can double-jump, which does a little to recreate the fast-paced, free-running nature of Titanfall. (There is no wall-running yet but there are plans underway to add it, along with more maps.) There are eight players allowed to a side, a slightly beefier roster than allowed in Titanfall. When you die you can float around spectating until you respawn, usually ten to fifteen seconds.

And yes, there be Titans, or in this case, Iron Golems. Just like in Titanfall, you have to wait for a countdown timer to call your behemoth, and when you do, it plunges down from the sky like a fireball. Each team is allowed four Golems at a time (so you may have to wait for one to die before you summon yours, even if your timer has expired), and you can call yours down, climb inside, and start whomping on your opponents. You can't double-jump or use grenades as a Golem, but you've got a massive health bar, a chaingun, and close-range rockets.

On a full server, the action is fast, furious, and... well, you know. It's Minecraft. It's not like it's really going to ape the mechanics of a read shooter like Titanfall. But it's fun and silly, and nice break from mining ore in the depths of the earth. Besides, calling in a giant robot -- either a genuine Titan or Ironfall's Golems -- feels great. Not to mention, how good it feels destroying someone else's.

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