Wow, I never thought I would be so blown away by a shooter, especially one that I have always associated with riding the coat-tails of other giants of the genre. However, my first experiences with Titanfall 2 improve over the first game with speed, fluidity, and style, promising that this follow-up could easily soar over the franchise’s original imprints. That is, when it’s finally released–and with a couple of tweaks.
One of the largest factors that set the original Titanfall apart from other competitive shooters was the ability to jump, and almost parkour, around the map during combat. Titanfall 2 sees the return of this form of getting around, but it has never been smoother, even on this early build. In the first title, the jumping sometimes felt awkward, not double-jumping at correct moments or wall running when you didn’t want to. Thankfully, Titanfall 2 seems to have remedied this issue, with tighter parkour and animation cues to ledges. The vaulting and action feels more like second nature. I was hard-pressed to actually sprint through the map when hopping on top of buildings and gaining high ground was only a couple button presses away.
Whenever my feet were on solid ground; the action was right up in my face. The densely populated map made combat explosive and extreme–when you could find it. While there were dense trees and vines, along with tin-roofed buildings with dimly lit corridors, the action was often sparse. Unfortunately, like a lot of multiplayer shooters, you are tasked with actually having to go find the action. This can become an annoyance when you are respawning from such intense action. The jumping certainly helps you get back to where you need to be as fast as possible, but I still felt a small sense of dread each time I had to go find the battle I was suppose to be fighting.
Despite that, when the action was found, it was good. Every shot I took felt good to take, and everything from the sound design to the physics engine let me know that I was being effective in combat. The engine for Titanfall 2 is new, allowing for more depth in flora and fauna, to things such as metal found atop your mechs. This was emphasized by the development team, being that the physics were more visibly sound. There wasn’t an indication as whether this was a modified Source Engine that the first used, but when asked, it was stated as a “new physics engine” built for the game.
To piggy-back on those traits, the sound design once again shows its importance. Those small cues add so much to the gameplay and leave you with the feeling that you put inasmuch as effort as you could, regardless of your rank in the match (for the record, I ranked second to last). The guns were explosive in a way that reminded me of 2016’s DOOM. The small cues from robots and enemies are still present, tailoring the gameplay to feel like its own in the Titanfall universe.
Another welcome addition to this combat is the grappling hook that has been causing such a stir. This nifty feature allows you to pull enemies right up to you, and kick them to their death in a way that is devilishly satisfying. While this is inclusion is small, it adds yet another level of depth to the build played.
Despite all of the potential, I couldn’t help but feel like the game may be falling back into the pitfalls of the original title. While the combat was fluid on the ground, titan combat still felt clunky, and the kills dealt in the titan felt cheap, and at times, undeserving.
Titanfall 2 still has a lot of time before it’s released for everyone, and the full campaign that is going to be added to the game could stir things up for the entire title quite a bit. This was one area that wasn’t included in the original, but there is still question as to whether it is needed.
The game feels like it has the potential to push FPS games forward in a huge way, and hopefully the few faults that I noticed are only remnants of the original title and not design decisions for the future. Titanfall 2 is slated for launch on October 28, 2016.