It has been two years since Titanfall smashed it’s way into the gaming scene, ushering in a new age of complex, faster paced, high mobility first person shooter.

These days, game enthusiasts will hardly get out of bed for a shooter unless it has a double-jump and it was Titanfall that provided a proof of concept for this kind of play on console. Now the release of Titanfall 2 is just two months away and the game’s developer, Respawn Entertainment, is holding a Technical Test of a build of the sequel on current gen consoles. Let’s examine what has been left unchanged, what has been altered, and engage in baseless speculation. A note for those more inclined to video content check out the most recent addition to the Bit Cultures YouTube channel.

First the old:

Titanfall was one of the first games to take advantage of the current generation of console’s increase in power, such as it is. Titanfall 2 stays true to form and remains one of the best looking games on console, even in this incomplete form. Another thing this technical test demonstrates is the fact that Respawn knows how to make a shooter with tight, responsive controls.

The main aspect of Titanfall that differentiates it from other triple A shooters it the balance of the cat and mouse gameplay between Titans and Pilots. While the skills and load outs of the Pilots and Titans have been tweaked, the overall balance has been maintained from the previous game. This maintenance comes courtesy of some excellent map design, which allows enough room for the lumbering Titans while still giving Pilots places to hide in or ambush from. It must be mentioned here that there were only two maps available for play in the test so players can only hope for consistency.

The technical test includes three multiplayer modes, and only one of those, “Pilot Vs. Pilot” has not been significantly altered from the first game. The mode is essentially Titanfall’s take on team deathmatch. The eight versus eight mode is unique among the modes available to play in that it does not include Titans.

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And now the new:

One of the most obvious changes that the Tech Test reveals is a slew of new Pilot skills and abilities. While all pilot loadouts still include the jet pack, which allows the game’s signature double-jump and wall running abilities, players can now add a grapple hook to make their Pilot even more maneuverable. Alternatively, players can opt for a sonic throwing knife providing the ability to see though walls over a limited area of the map for a limited time. There are several other tweaks and additions to grenades and deployable abilities.

Another change to the loadouts is the reduction of the number of weapon slots by one. In the original Titanfall, Pilots carried a main anti-pilot weapon, a main anti-titan weapon, and a sidearm. The sequel requires players to choose between an anti-titan weapon and an anti-pilot sidearm in their second slot. This move could be a response to a common criticism of the first game that Titans were too easy to kill. Forcing players to pick between a sidearm and anti-titan weapon encourages players to commit to a play style of either focusing on killing Pilots or Titans.

A major improvement unveiled by this tech test is the personality of the Titans. In the first game, the robotic characters were just that, robotic. The new voice lines and more differentiated play styles of the Titans make them seem much more humanized. If trailers can be trusted, one aspect of the story of Titanfall 2 is the relationship between Pilots and Titans and this humanization of the Titans is a promising sign for this being a believable relationship. Titanfall 2 also includes robotic playable Pilot characters, meaning that in the Titanfall universe, small robots drive big robots, which begs two questions: Will we see even smaller robots that pilot the Pilot sized robots? And are there even bigger versions of the Titans that the Titans can pilot?

Titans

There is one completely new mode to play in the tech test called Bounty Hunt. This mode is by far the most complex of the three available to play and is somewhat reminiscent of the map objectives in Heroes of the Storm. The mode is made up of three distinct waves. The first wave requires players to earn points in the form of currency, by killing bots in and around two control points on the map. At the start of the second wave, players turn in points to a bank at a different map location. Until the points have been turned into the bank, opposing players can steal a portion of a player’s point total by killing them. Once either team has reached a certain point threshold, an AI controlled objective, usually a titan of some kind, is spawned on the map, and the third wave begins. During this wave, players race to defeat the AI Titan to score a large point bonus. These waves repeat until one team has earned enough points to win the match. The mode is very comeback friendly, allowing teams losing after the first wave to contest the bank locations or steal a bounty in the third wave.

The final mode available in the Tech Test is a tweaked version of a previous mode called Amped Hardpoint. Hardpoint was the original game’s take on a control mode where teams of players compete to take and hold specific points on the map. The Amped version of the mode adds the mechanic of rewarding players with double points if they remain standing at a given control point for more than a minute. The change rewards a more defensive style of playing this mode and facilitates easier come from behind wins.

Community features in the original Titanfall were bare bones, to say the least, and later in it’s lifespan, this made it hard for die hard fans to find people to play with. The Tech Test unveiled a fairly robust solution to this problem: the simply named Networks. The system allows for the creation of both public and private voice chats of various sizes. This allows an impressive amount of flexibility for a console release, allowing players to set a variety of parameters for their voice chat.

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The leveling mechanics have been streamlined since the first release. Titanfall 2 combats exp bloat by awarding far fewer post match points and lowering the leveling requirements to double digits. The game also rewards players with an in game currency called credits which can be used to purchase specific upgrades instead of the random ones gained from leveling up and some cosmetic items.

Overall, the Titanfall 2 Tech Test was promising. The new game’s multiplayer is as fun as the previous game’s, at least in the bits on display for the test. Let’s all hope that the single player meets the quality standards set in this test.

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