Jetpacks, wall running, and mechs seem to be growing increasingly popular in FPS lately, and that might be due to Titanfall. Now, the upcoming Titanfall 2 follows on the heels of the massively successful original with new upgrades to the multiplayer and the series’ first single player campaign. We were given our first taste of the improved multiplayer over this weekend with the public pre-alpha technical test on Xbox One. But how did it stack up to the original and what’s new in this outing?
From the get-go, Titanfall 2 looks great, especially considering that it’s in pre-alpha. The developers have clearly put a good deal of effort into the visuals here and the environments on display give off a pretty good sense of immersion.
The gunplay from the original Titanfall hasn’t changed much and your favorite weapons are still around. They look and feel about the same from what you’re used to, so if you liked the guns in the original you’ll probably like them here as well. The new weapons – such as an energy assault rifle – fit into the game well.
The three gametypes on display here – Pilot vs. Pilot, Bounty, and Amped Hardpoint – are fun. Pilot vs. Pilot is deathmatch without titans, which provides a more traditional FPS experience. Bounty is essentially competitive hoard mode with both teams competing against a third team of bots to earn the most cash. Amped Hardpoint is just a typical domination gametype with a few tweaks.
While it would have been nice to see a traditional Deathmatch option with titans available, that will surely be available in the final release, and it is understandable that the development team chose more unique gametypes to display here.
New secondary equipment includes a grappling hook and a sonar-generating throwing star, both of which offer a nice twist on the formula we’re used to. The grappling hook is especially appropriate as it lets you treat a pilot vs. titan fight as a giant mechanical rodeo, hooking onto them and swinging around to their backs to remove their power cores.
WHAT NEEDS WORK?
It seems that the titans have been made easier to destroy and harder to obtain. There is no longer a timer that eventually gives everyone a titan and in its place is a more killstreak-like system that award titans to players based on performance. This can lead to some serious balance issues if one team gets a few titans out early on and recovering from that position can be difficult, even considering the now weaker titans. Speaking of: the titans are no longer nearly as satisfying to pilot and they feel almost fragile. The bullet shield mechanic also seems much less effective, as do the titans weapons at times.
Titans and pilots alike now both have loadouts, but with titans you’re now forced to select between various types, each of which has its own personality and weapons. While this isn’t far from a typical class system, it is mildly disappointing to see. A fully customizable, mix-n-match titan would have been a nicer option.
Perhaps worst of all, though, is the removal of the default pistol from each loadout. You can still get pistols, but now you have to choose either a pistol or an anti-titan weapon. This was annoying, considering that those who played the first game are used to having both along with their primary weapon of choice. There doesn’t seem to be a good reason for this, and considering that the anti-titan weapons are pretty much a necessity you no longer see the pistol get used very often.
Less concerning than that was the lack of map variety. Only two maps were on display during the test. Obviously, it would have been nice to see more of the maps that we’re going to get in the full game, but that’s a small issue in the grand scheme of thing.
WILL IT BE WORTH GRABBING UPON FULL RELEASE?
While the developers have definitely done some damage to the formula with their balancing attempts, this is still a pre-alpha build so all of this could change. All the same, this new iteration feels in some ways inferior to the now-classic Titanfall. It’s still a fun game with an incredibly satisfying movement system, but the imperfections are definitely there. All in all, though, it seems like it’s shaping up to be worth the $60 price tag when it releases on October 28th.