On paper, most of what Respawn Entertainment has done to improve Titanfall‘s multiplayer for Titanfall 2 makes sense. Consumable Burn Cards have been replaced with a richer loadout system, allowing for more customization while also cutting some of the less competitive abilities available in the original game. Titans feel more resilient against enemy attacks, and the gunplay boasts improved shot registration and greater strategic nuance; burst-firing the Carbine seems to improve accuracy, for example. The list goes on and on.
Technically speaking, this weekend’s pre-alpha build also performed far better than the 2014 original; the frame-rate drops and screen tearing that gave me so many headaches two years ago were gone entirely. And players who appreciated the first Titanfall’s sparse, grimy aesthetic will find the sequel at once familiar and much more beautiful.
This weekend’s pre-alpha build performed far better than the 2014 original.
All that said, I was bored within my first five minutes during this weekend’s technical test.
Now, nobody has been rooting for this game more than I. I’m a total sucker for big, badass robots and the various mecha storytelling traditions. But Titanfall 2, like Respawn’s debut, suffers from a distinct lack of emphasis on Titans. If I’m playing a game like Titanfall in the first place, there’s a good chance I’m doing so in large part because of my aforementioned affection for weaponized robots. That there seem to be fewer Titan-based encounters in the course of a Titanfall 2 match than even its predecessor is baffling, to say the least.
Despite the inclusion of a grappling hook and a number of new ways to dispatch your enemies, the game’s physics feel suspiciously familiar, to the extent that it often feels as though you’re simply playing a patched or remastered build of the original Titanfall. It’s nice to see Respawn experimenting with greater variety in terms of game modes, and the added potential of a single-player campaign, granted. But judging from this early tech test, the developer seems to have inherited the unflattering Call of Duty trait of changing as little as possible from one major release to the next.
It often feels as though you’re simply playing a patched Titanfall.
Given the first Titanfall‘s underwhelming player population, the staggering number of similarities here don’t bode well for the future of the property. After Black Ops III and other FPS titles adopted Titanfall’s rigid parkour mechanics, I wanted so desperately to see a more natural movement system implemented in this game. I wanted to find the joy in Respawn’s world all over again. Truth is, we might be better off sticking with the original; Titanfall 2’s innovations are largely superficial. Alas. Non progredi est regredi.
The tech test returns next weekend, however, and I intend to challenge some of my own impressions by revisiting the game with a fresh set of eyes. My number-one hope is that there will be a different selection of game types to try. That’d help to give us a better sense of the scope and variety on offer in the full and final release of Titanfall 2.