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Respawn has been busy as of late. A portion of the studio is hard at work on a action-based Star Wars game slated for next year. However, the majority of them are finishing up Titanfall 2, the long awaited sequel to the EA published first-person shooter. CEO Vince Zampella promised that players will be able to play it early and we have been for the last two weekends. Respawn released a technical test on both Playstation 4 and Xbox One (sorry PC folks) to stress test the netcode and gameplay changes. Fans weren’t thrilled about the changes from the last game during the first weekend. Fortunately Respawn responded quickly to feedback and applied it for the second weekend for Titanfall 2’s multiplayer.
Three modes were available to play in this technical test. Bounty Hunt is a different take from Titanfall’s Attrition and the main mode to play. AI forces or titans randomly spawn at different points in a map and pilots have to clear waves of them accumulating money. Once a wave is over, stations get activated for pilots to cash in their bounties for 45 seconds to a minute. You can also kill opposing pilots to get their bonuses as well. My gripe about Bounty Hunt is that a whole map doesn’t feel like much going on. Usually it will be just one or two areas of a map that get the action where the AI hangs out to get shot. Attrition back in the original felt like a real battle going off between two factions. I hope that’s back, but if not, Bounty Hunt as it’s replacement still needs tweaking.
Amped Hardpoint is a spin from the original’s Hardpoint Domination. The “amped” twist to domination is that pilots can stay on hardpoints even longer to amp them for double points. My strategy was getting the closest hardpoint at the beginning at the match and camp at it to get an early lead. If things go south, then I just try to capture whatever point the opposing team has. Unfortunately no AI forces are in this mode to keep the map more busy. The big issue from the first weekend regarding this mode was it took a while to get titans since you only had to kill pilots. The change for the second weekend is Respawn bringing the titan timer back to what it was in the original game. The timer to get your titan increases bit by bit every few seconds, but scoring kills gets your titan faster.
Then there’s Pilots vs. Pilots, which is self-explantory rounding out the modes for Titanfall 2’s tech test. I’m not a fan of the current modes, but curious to see how Attrition and Last Titan Standing pan out in this sequel if Respawn brings them back. Camping is more encouraged especially where major focal points of a map are where the action is. Noticing that more frequently along with sniping hampers the flow of the game. Also from the first weekend, many matches were ending by time out before a team reaches the score limit. Luckily that was adjusted last weekend after the developers were aware of that.
While the modes didn’t impress me, Titanfall 2’s gameplay is still top notch. The various weapons feel great to shoot and the new titans are fun in their own ways. Titans now have core attacks where they have to be charged by dealing the business to the opposition. Once charged up, it’s basically a super move that dishes out major damage. The Ion’s is a powerful laser beam reminiscent of Fulgore from the new Killer Instinct. Meanwhile the slower tank-ish Scorch is a big flame blast hitting foes at close range. We didn’t see the sword titans seen in trailers, but the new ones so far are different enough from what we played in the original. Both the Ion and Scorch have offensive and defensive abilities at their disposal from different shields, trip wires and a fissure-like attack.
On the pilot side of things, loadouts and the progression system got some changes. One of the major criticisms on Titanfall besides the lack of content was the level progression. Most players got what they needed early on for their loadout and not messed around with anything else. Loadouts now only consist of two weapon slots as secondary and anti-titan weapons share one of them. Also abilities are tied to your cosmetic looks too. For example, there is a specific look when you have stim and another one with the new grappling hook. Pilot customization cosmetically isn’t there yet, but I hope it goes beyond by just having different abilities. Speaking of the grappling hook, it feels great to use in Titanfall 2 being more mobile other than wallrunning around. Wallrunning also got adjusted between weekends of the tech test because players felt it was slow early on.
After these two weekends with the tech test, I’m still pretty excited for Titanfall 2 when it comes out on October 28th. The multiplayer combat still feels as good as the original from the shooting and controlling the new titans. The new modes however are what I’m not a fan of yet, but with some tweaking they can be better. I want to see the maps feel more busy and epic than having one portion of it having all the action. I’m more curious about the single player campaign whether or not Respawn can deliver on that front. This is still my shooter I’m looking forward to the most this holiday season despite heavy competition. We’ll see however if Respawn use the player feedback for a better game at launch despite fan backlash.