Prepare for Titanfall
The Xbox One launched with a sparse selection of titles and no major multiplayer offering. When Titanfall dropped, it towered over the meager collection and became the first major draw to the platform. It burned hot, bright, and quickly.
The game offered incredibly fluid gameplay, allowing you to traverse the environment in an exhilarating way that put you on equal enough footing with the huge mechs to make playing both enjoyable. It was a new experience in a time when the shooter genre was growing stale. However, this game soon grew old to many who played it. Frustrations mounted over the lack of a single player campaign coupled with the awkward story forced through the multiplayer. Plenty of gamers found the game types repetitive moved on as newer games released. Titanfall maintained a dedicated fanbase, but it was small and it dwindled away.
Although lacking in longevity, Titanfall provided an enjoyable experience and without a doubt left its mark on the shooter genre, heavily influencing the Call of Duty series among others. This game was an excellent first release for fledgling Respawn Entertainment. Hopes are high that they will learn from the complaints as they move past their Microsoft exclusivity deal and launch a sequel on multiple platforms. The multiplayer technical test they ran over the last two weekends gave us our first hint at whether or not this will be the case.
True to Its Roots
The moment you leap out of that drop ship and start running through the map, you know that this game is still Titanfall at its core. Pilots still maintain that smooth movement through the environment, aided by short bursts from jet packs and skilled parkour. This enables intense, rapid gameplay resulting in plenty of memorable moments. It really feels like the same game in a lot of ways, which is a good thing, because the core gameplay of the original was excellent.
The Titans stand tall as an integral part of this game, nearly unstoppable in open terrain or in a face-to-face fight. Pilots can still overcome them by using their movement and the environment to their advantage. The scene grows more epic as mech-on-mech battles begin to break out while more Titans drop into the battle. This all culminates in an epilogue that makes each match all the more enjoyable as the losing team gets a chance to escape the battlefield in a sort of mini-match.
Notable changes have been made to both the pilots and the Titans. The AI soldiers that players could kill for marginal points in the original have generally been removed from Titanfall 2, to the joy of those who found them unnecessary. The robotic Spectres from the first game still make an appearance, but they are actual players. Whether you play as a human or a Spectre is determined by the Tactical Ability you choose.
Tactical abilities available in the technical test include camouflage, a throwing knife that emits sonar, a hologram of yourself, a stim for enhanced speed and healing, and a grappling hook. The grappling hook is particularly a game-changer. It increases the ease of the already fluid movement through the environment and proves useful in combat. It can be used to quickly close the distance on a Titan, and it can pull an enemy pilot to you for a quick and satisfying kill.
The variety of weaponry has changed little. Now, however, instead of carrying both an anti-Titan weapon and a sidearm, you must choose one or the other. Very few opted to forego their anti-Titan weapon in order to carry a sidearm. Additionally, you now earn “Boosts” as you perform well in the game. The technical test featured Amped Weapons and Ticks. Amped Weapons makes your weapons more powerful for a time. Ticks are small robots which walk around trying to latch onto enemies and then explode.
The Titans themselves offer far more variety. Titanfall 2 had doubled the original selection to six with Scorch and Ion available in the technical test. Ion’s weapons are geared more toward speed and precision while Scorch is a slow-moving tank designed to burn everything in its path. The Titans themselves appear to offer fewer customization options, locking much of the loadout to the Titan type.
Titans are still formidable, but they go down a little easier. They will fall more quickly in battle than in Titanfall, but this isn’t such a drastic difference that it ruins the fun of piloting one. Titans who use their abilities and weapons wisely can still pose quite a threat. Decreased Titan durability may frustrate some, but the removal of the timer for Titan drops is a bigger problem. Your acquisition of a Titan is now based purely on your performance in the game, meaning you can miss out on piloting one at all in a match.
Taking a Titan down as a pilot has lost much of its fun. In Titanfall, “rodeoing” a Titan was one of the most satisfying accomplishments. You had to close the distance to climb on board, tear off a panel, and shoot into the electronic components of the Titan in order to cause a catastrophic failure. This was risky, and most opponents played well enough to prevent it.
Titanfall 2’s approach proves repetitive and unsatisfying. You still board the Titan, which poses a bit of a challenge. Then, you quickly rip out a battery and jump off. Then, you must board it again and drop a grenade into the now vacant battery slot and jump off. This won’t bring it down, so you repeat the grenade step. In at least one experience, I had to drop one more grenade to really take down the enemy Titan. This change has managed to turn one of the most satisfying experiences in gaming into a boring task performed only out of necessity.
Prepare for Titanfall (Again)
While the technical test was enjoyable, Titanfall 2 seems to offer more of the same after gamers quickly decided the original did not have enough to offer. The changes that have rendered Titans weaker and harder to acquire will not destroy the game, but they do take away much of the funTitanfall had to offer.
We will have to wait and see if single-player offers enough to draw us in for a while. For now, it looks like Titanfall 2 will follow a course similar to its predecessor, burning hot, bright, and quickly. Fans of the original will love this game — the most dedicated playing it as long as lobbies are open — while many gamers enjoy it for a time and then move on to other things, especially since the mechs that make this game special will be so few and far between, and gamers’ options will be so numerous with the unwise decision to launch close to Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.