The Titanfall 2 tech test was released earlier this week and like many of you, I eagerly downloaded my copy and prepared for a revolutionary step forward for first-person shooters. Alright, I’m exaggerating the last part a bit but either way, I can’t deny that I had some pretty damn high expectations for Titanfall 2 going into this tech demo. Now, the real question is: did it live up to my expectations?
Before I answer that question, I’d like to delve briefly into the past to discuss why I was so excited for Titanfall 2. While Titanfall was a flawed game in a lot of different areas, from its lack of single player content to its absence of a meaningful progression system, It still managed to be one of the most fun games I had ever played. The fundamental flaws ultimately led to the downfall of the game and the rapid dispersal of the fanbase, myself included. After I had gotten everything there was to get, there really wasn’t much else attaching me to the game. I had devoted a solid fifty or so hours to the game and I had felt sufficiently satisfied. But, what had kept me consistently playing for sixty hours was the tight gameplay that, at the time, was unrivaled by any other game I had ever played. Titanfall encouraged mobility and freedom on a scale unlike any we had ever seen before in the first-person shooter landscape. There was nothing slow about Titanfall nor was there anything about the gameplay that was inherently bad. In fact, I’d say it was one of the best first-person shooter experiences I have ever had based purely on the ludicrous levels of fun I had. Respawn Entertainment had wrapped a half-baked product around an exceptional gameplay loop which was entertaining enough for me.
When Titanfall 2 was announced and the gameplay footage revealed, a massive smile had leapt across my face. If Respawn would just keep the original gameplay of the first game intact (with some minor adjustments) and add on the key components of a complete package, this would be a recipe for success. Sadly, from what I have seen of the game so far it feels as if they adjusted way more of the gameplay than necessary and added on the additional features that were required. In all honesty, I think would’ve preferred the half-baked game with tight mechanics to the “complete package” that loses that sense of excitement and freshness that the first Titanfall had nearly perfected.
The pilot gameplay from the first Titanfall had created one of the most exhilarating first person experiences that I had ever played. Every game felt new and exciting, and rarely was there ever a dull moment or a lull in the battle. What’s most surprising about the Pilot gameplay from Titanfall 2 is the overwhelming sense of reduction. While new features have been implemented to the game, none of them feel monumental enough to warrant some overwhelming sense of excitement. The grappling hook alone is the single most interesting addition to the gameplay since it provides an additional outlet for mobility around the map. It does require a lot of practice and patience to master though, which may result in the deaths of countless rope wielding fools.
My main concern with the Pilot gameplay is that everything feels slower. I can’t exactly explain, nor prove, my theory but the actual movement and controls fee considerably sluggish in relation to Titanfall. It’s an odd predicament since the biggest drawing point for me was the absurd speed of everything. That’s not to say that the game is actually slower. What I believe is that we have been spoiled on the fast-paced, high octane first person shooter. I understand that the Call of Duty franchise is a very conflicting series. Some people really love it and others really hate it. I look at Call of Duty as this perfect stress reliever. Sure, I get frustrated but no other game is better to just pick up and play. These past few years Call of Duty has ventured into a similar territory as Titanfall and I’d argue that they CoD did the high flying game better. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was released in the same year as Titanfall and is, arguably, a better shooter. Having been spoiled by Call of Duty’s lighting fast, solid gunplay has left me feeling disappointed with the Pilot controls in a way that I didn’t entirely expect.
Again, I don’t want it to come across as if I absolutely hate the Pilot gameplay. There is a lot of really interesting mechanics and systems at play which in the long run could heighten my overall enjoyment of Titanfall 2. At this point, it is merely a matter of experimentation and time investment.
The Titan gameplay is what sets Titanfall apart from the plethora of multiplayer shooters. In the first Titanfall the Titan controls felt exceptional.You truly felt as if you were piloting this massive, lumbering tank that was slightly agile. While the Titan’s still feel as solid as ever, Respawn has made some dramatic changes to the function and usage of the Titan that directly works against the basic flow of a match.
In Titanfall the Titan was incredibly important because it could make a significant swing for your team. The game didn’t require you to be a good ground player, all you needed to do was wait out the timer, kill a few grunts, and hop in the Titan. It provided players with an outlet, an opportunity to trade in the fast paced controls of the pilot for the sluggish by impactful power of the Titan. Either way, your skill in one area did not directly effect your skill in another. The timer was the key component to this, if you wanted, you could just wait out the time and jump in your Titan when ready. It’s not necessarily practical but it helps reinforce my point. Now Titan deployment is tied directly to your skill as a Pilot. Essentially, you need to fill up a bar by killing Grunts or Enemy Pilots which fills up the meter. If you’re not killing, your meter isn’t going up. This key modification completely changes the dynamic of the game in a way that I’m not entirely sure I’m pleased with.
The gunplay is still solid and enjoyable. The actual guns themselves feel as if there is a significant weightiness and impact to them which is exactly what I’m looking for when I’m playing a Titan. It’s the same way I feel when I play Warhammr 40k games. I want to feel like a massive, unstoppable force that is impenetrable anduninterested in the measly weaponry of my lesser foes; not like a soldier in a Battlefield game. They are able to capture this feeling to a tee and I commend them greatly for it. The Titan is still a fundamentally solid component of the game. The issue in lies with the changes made to deployment. That’s really to each their own. If you’re a great Pilot player then you should really have no issues whatsoever deploying a Titan (which is fucked in it’s own way) but if you are an awful Pilot then expect to continue being an awful Pilot for a significant length of time (or until you get good).
Playing Titanfall 2 made me think that Respawn could never rally harness the power and hype behind the original Titanfall. It feels like a lighting in a battle scenario which, if it is, is sorely disappointing. I really enjoyed Titanfall and want to continue absorbing the world itself. It’s a fascinating universe that they have established which they squandered royally in the first game. It’s also an incredibly fun game to play which inherently makes me want to experience more from these games. Sadly, after my time with the tech test only left me feeling disappointed. I can only hope that the full release of the game is a more enjoyable experience than what was presented during the tech test.
I have especially high expectations for Titanfall 2 and I can only hope that it lives up to a fraction of that based on my time with it. I’d highly recommend checking the tech test out for yourself if you have a PS4 or Xbox One. It’s entirely free and can give you a taste of what to expect from the full release of Titanfall 2 on October 28.
This version of the Tech Test was played on the PS4.