It is no secret how I feel about Titanfall; I love it. I tell everyone within 500 yards they should buy it, regardless of the situation. “Hey Mr, have you played Titanfall yet?, its proper mint!” I cry. To which they reply “Sir would you please leave me alone I am delivering a baby…and get your head out of there while you are at it”.

The first was a quality shooter

The first was a quality shooter

I have also made no bones about how silly the exclusivity of this third party title was. Titanfall should have been multi-platform as it’s, quite frankly, the best online shooter in ages and the binding to Xbox did no-one any favours from a sales or player-base perspective. In my humble opinion, great games should be played by as many people as possible and I have very little time for any tribalism over systems/ brands; if that’s what you are after reader, please stop now and report to a meta-news site where some tiresome internet argument going on about ‘Why PS4 is like totes better than Xbox one’ or ‘Ps4 Epic fail’ is surely going on right now. That’s a much better place for the facile mudslinging and name-calling.

In my humble opinion, great games should be played by as many people as possible and I have very little time for any tribalism over systems/ brands…

Anyway, to lead into the release of the thankfully multi-platform title in late October, the Beta arrived a few weeks back and I couldn’t resist having a bash; here are the impressions of a middling FPS gamer.

Some quality gameplay, further refinements

Of the small sample made available, its clear Titanfall 2 is not reinventing the wheel, nor should it. The movement and combat controls are still superb and intuitive, taking the buttons from Call of Duty, which are the most commonly used shooter arrangement and tweaking them meant Titanfall 1 always felt natural to play, even if you had never picked it up before. In fact, it was one of the main reasons Titanfall 1 worked so well. Its clever use of map verticality and modulation of difficulty was also the reason it was a much more accomplished shooter than the similar but inferior Call of Duty: Advanced Borefare (a series which I was a huge fan of but in which my interest has waned of late).

Of the small sample made available, its clear Titanfall 2 is not reinventing the wheel, nor should it.

Its sequel has added some more abilities such as the grapple and the hologram but it hasn’t really altered the way it plays. These new abilities are decent (the grapple especially) and slot well into the existing gameplay; they don’t feel bolted-on like the wall climbing in Call of Duty, probably as Titanfall didn’t retroactively mesh a clumsy variant onto an existing mechanic, it seemed more like the game was designed around it. Add a smattering of new game-modes and its looking good already.

Plus, the Bots are now apparently more intelligent but let’s face it, they aren’t going to be helping you with your algebra homework any time soon. However this isn’t really a problem and in fact never really was with the first game; despite the fact the stupidity of the AI was picked up by every detractor of the game.

The Bots in Titanfall are not meant to be a match for the players or ‘Pilots’; they are there to populate the map and add to the frenetic nature of the gameplay by giving you more red dots to shoot at. They also balance the difficulty across the board meaning even less-experienced or skilled players can feel like they are participating in the proceedings, (albeit not as much, as the bot kills are appropriately scored). Sure, some may object to this democratisation of the shooter, but the person who would object is the same sort of person is probably the same one who calls your ‘mum a tramp-shagger’ as you don’t like Dark Souls and their ‘it’s not difficult therefore its lame’ is opinion is a bit silly. Welcoming shooters should be applauded (also a reason why Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2 is such a fine game) as they allow great players to flourish yet let the ‘noobs’ (ugh, I feel dirty saying that) in on the fun too.

… the Bots are now apparently more intelligent but let’s face it, they aren’t going to be helping you with your algebra homework any time soon.

As for the maps, it’s tricky to say too much with only a sample on display, but the sequel seems to retain the multi-layered and vertical nature of the environments which the first did so well and Call of Duty: Now There’s Wall Climbing Too Bitches! wasn’t able to replicate. Map design is sometimes such an indelible thing; a good FPS map should be detailed, just the right size for the game mode and number of players (perhaps the main complaint you could make about some of the first games maps), visually arresting and avoid repetition or samey-ness. The few that I played seemed to hit most of these marks, so here is hoping.

New Titans

The Titans are another reason Titanfall works, as crucially it’s the controls within and outside the Titans don’t change, meaning a seamless gameplay transition between the two. Many games that introduce Mech’s or vehicles chuck away the baby with the bath water and require a different control system for each. Learning more buttons isn’t an especially huge chore I guess but when the existing controls work so well and can be applied across the board, why bother?

Many games that introduce Mech’s or vehicles chuck away the baby with the bath water and require a different control system for each.

Titanfall 2 has slightly altered the Mechs and whilst there will be customisation available, the core Mechs now have names and abilities, so they fall into classes (of sorts). For instance there’s a flamethrower Titan with associated abilities and a rail-gun titan much the same. Its a minor change but adds a little more personality to proceedings.

Titans have new abilities and more unique personalities

Titans have new abilities and more unique personalities

Menu customisation / leveling

The leveling and unlocks have also been tweaked so there’s more to alter and tinker with. The arsenal looks to be expanded (though not all guns were available in the Beta) so those who complained about the partly selection of about 8 guns should be satisfied. The first games arsenal was limited, but what was provided tended to be decently balanced so the signs are optimistic.

Ranking up appears to work in broadly the same way, but the menus have altered and the visualisation appears to be a little more elegant with copious use of branching bar charts.

Story mode

Yes, there’s also a single player campaign now. Titanfall 1’s campaign was a bit of a joke really; a series of multi-player maps with a pre-and-post amble, which went round on a loop like a 5 minute video about weaving at a medieval museum, does not a campaign make. In this respect Titanfall 1 deserved its detractors, but thankfully the other gameplay was of sufficient quality to save the title.

If Respawn and EA can play their cards right we may actually have some emotional investment in the outcome, rather than the series of random double crosses by bad voice actors which litter the first game.

We don’t know much about the sequel’s story bar the trailers released (no single player on the Beta) but it appears that you bond with your Titan and go on adventures. If Respawn and EA can play their cards right we may actually have some emotional investment in the outcome, rather than the series of random double crosses by bad voice actors which litter the first game.

Verdict

Titanfall 2 looks like it should build on the great work from the first game and create another accomplished online shooter with a good balance of difficulty, reward loops and fun with additions to the formula slotted in seamlessly. The understandable absence of single player isn’t too much of a cause for concern in an online beta (nor are the unpolished draft visuals), we just have to hope that the campaign isn’t just a series of horde-like siege encounters threaded into a slim narrative. At any rate, gamers look to be in for a treat in late-October.

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Ed F

I am a keen amateur gamer who has always found himself slightly behind the times. My interest in gaming piqued with jealous looks at my friends copy of Duck Hunt on the NES all the way back in the early 90’s. Since then I graduated to a Sega Mega Drive of my own, a late 90s obsession with PlayStation One and then an ill-advised GameCube phase in the early noughties. Since my relatively late introduction to the Xbox360 in early 2009, I have being playing catch up. Among my other interests are comics, movies and boring my wife to death with talk of ‘cinematic tropes’ and ‘narrative arcs’. I am currently gorging myself on the next gen whilst keeping one foot in the previous one.

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