This game is weird...
The first Titanfall wasn’t given much of a chance when it originally launched in 2014; its lack of a singleplayer campaign and console exclusivity on the then-unpopular Xbox One overshadowed the brilliant multiplayer design that made Titanfall such a memorable FPS for those who gave it a shot.
With Titanfall 2, Respawn has responded to some of the criticisms of the original. In an attempt to tap into an unfamiliar playerbase, they’ve ripped out the framework of the first game and rebuilt the multiplayer from scratch. After some time with the tech test, it’s clear that nothing was sacred and a large part of the original Titanfall was scrapped at the cost of some of the series’ identity.
The biggest difference in Titanfall 2 is that Pilot and Titan loadouts are asymmetrically designed. The clear, defined roles for each loadout that were in the first Titanfall have been muddled in favor of something more freeform.
To elaborate on the “symmetry” of the original Titanfall, there was a fine balance between Pilot v. Pilot, Titan v. Titan, and Pilot v. Titan combat. You could customize your loadouts based on how you wanted to handle each type of engagement, but no matter what you chose, you were always ready for each kind of encounter.
Part of the first Titanfall’s genius was that a Titan felt just powerful enough to be important, but not so tough that a crafty pilot couldn’t edge it out 1-on-1.
In Titanfall 2, that measured approach is thrown out the window in favor of randomizing abilities and perks in nonspecific ways. And that’s not immediately a bad thing, as games like Overwatch use this sort of “free-for-all” mentality in how each hero’s abilities interact with one another. This design is also popular in MOBAs like League of Legends where although heroes might fulfill the general role of tank, healer, etc., there isn’t a clear-cut designation for how each hero is supposed to be played.
And this seems to be the direction Respawn wanted to take Titanfall 2 in. It’s not necessarily a negative, but the people who loved the original are likely going to feel a little disoriented trying to get into the second one.
Also, there seems to be less of an emphasis on Titan combat. Titans are earned so infrequently that they feel more like a killstreak than a constant part of the battle. In contrast to the first Titanfall, where a good game would earn your three or four Titans, in the beta I’d get one, maybe two Titans in a long match of Hardpoint.
Rather than each weapon having a clear purpose, Titans just seem to have random abilities to fit their “themes”. Instead of the shield, damage and dash cores which cleverly complemented each chassis natural abilities, Titans now have Ults that just do a lot of damage. Again, this is a perfect example of how Titanfall 2 has succumbed to its MOBA influences and abandoned the first Titanfall’s clear, original vision.
Taken at face value, Titanfall 2 is shaping up to be a great, great game. It might even put up a fight this fall against the competition of Infinite Warfare and Battlefield 1. It’s well-made, but as a Titanfall fan, I can’t help but feel like Respawn sold out on what made the original such a unique game.
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