Xbox One Preview: Titanfall 2 – Technical Test Week 2

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The Titanfall 2 pre-Alpha technical test had its second round this past weekend and, while most of the content was the same, we did get to see a new map, and we were given enough time to unlock the rest of the weapons and perks that we didn’t have access to previously. This second test has only made the game look better, and to understand why we’ll need to look back at the original.

 

Movement and Weapons

When one plays the original Titanfall after sampling Titanfall 2, it becomes immediately apparent that the new movement system in Titanfall 2 is a vast improvement upon the original. The grappling hook alone would be enough of a novelty to keep things feeling fresh, but once you add in mid-air hovering, improved wall running, and much better map design, the original Titanfall really seems to lose its sheen. Titanfall 2’s parkour and aerobatics just feel cleaner, sleeker, and faster in practically every way.

As we observed in our first piece about Titanfall 2, many of the weapons from the original game have made their way back into the multiplayer here, but they’ve been balanced and tweaked in a satisfying way. A few weapons have given way to successors or new companions. Notably, the R-101C Carbine has been replaced by the R-201 Carbine, and the EVA-8 shotgun (while still in the game) has been joined by the Mastiff. The Mastiff is, in particular, a welcomed addition to the game, as it is one of the most unique shotguns that I’ve encountered in an FPS so far. Instead of having a cone of damaging pellets, it fires a straight horizontal spread. It also has a surprising range for a shotgun. These two qualities come together to make the weapon more difficult to adapt to than most shotguns, but it becomes worth the effort when you gain the ability to rapidly cut enemy pilots down where they stand.

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The only weapons that came off as slightly imbalanced were the Light Machine Guns. The Spitfire in particular has become a devastating force, as it can fire off 80 high damage rounds before each reload (make that 88 rounds if you add in the extra ammo modifier that can be unlocked). This is par for the course when it comes to LMGs, aside from one crucial aspect:  it has a pretty quick reload time. While it takes just a second or two longer than the other guns, it delivers such an extra punch that I was left wondering why the reload time wasn’t slightly longer. In its current state, the Spitfire can be used to pull an easy two dozen kills in Pilots vs. Pilots (the Titan-free deathmatch that forces players to fight more traditionally) with very little effort involved.

The L-Star – an energy based LMG – is more balanced, but still highly exploitable because you never have to reload it unless it overheats. Overheating is easy to avoid by burst firing, and the reloads – if you screw up and incur one – are not much longer than that of the Spitfire. The real balance with the L-Star comes in the form of the energy bullets, which are less accurate at longer ranges. You’ll find yourself constantly trying to lead your shots towards wherever the enemy will be in a few seconds, unless they’re standing very still.

 

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Level Design

As I said, the maps here are much better than those in the original Titanfall. While those old maps aren’t bad, the three maps we’ve gotten to sample from Titanfall 2 are all designed with parkour and grappling in mind. This means a focus on not just horizontal travel, but vertical travel. Tall towers, open windows on multiple levels, and well-placed trees all come together to give players a zooming, explosive experience as they dart around blowing each other away. If the rest of the maps in Titanfall 2 are as well designed as those in this tech test then we’re looking at a great selection of arenas for what is quickly shaping up to be one of the best FPS titles this year.

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A Final Word

While Titanfall 2 is looking and feeling great, the issues we pointed out in our first technical test article still stand. The Titans still feel a little weaker than they used to and they’re harder to get. You’re forced to carry only two weapons (a primary and an anti-titan OR a primary and a sidearm), rather than the three at a time offered in the original game. These are issues that will hopefully be fixed before the October 28th release date, especially now that the developers have had the opportunity to hear player feedback via these tests.

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