E3 2016 – Hands on with Titanfall 2

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I admit, I completely missed Titanfall back in 2014. I tried the demo at the time, and I really liked what I saw, but for some reason, I skipped EA’s futuristic mech-piloting FPS.

I don’t think I was the only one. The fact that Titanfall didn’t have a single player campaign, nor local South African servers, seemed to dissuade many gamers from even giving it a chance. Those who did though, found themselves in the company of a fun, fast-paced shooter, and they swore by it.

Now, thanks to their prayers and wishes, we have Titanfall 2 on the way, which is to include a fully-fledged single player campaign. Unfortunately, I saw none of it at E3, but I did get some frantic hands on time with the multiplayer at least.

Titanfall2_1Having very little experience with this particular franchise, I genuinely expected to get torn apart by the opposition from the very first second. One of Titanfall’s strengths back then however, was that it catered for both the casual gamer as well as the experienced one. This sequel is no different.

There were many AI controlled characters on the playing field, all of which made for excellent cannon fodder. Granted, I found them to be a little -sorry for lack of a better expression – dof, but they were exciting to dispose of nonetheless, and proved to be an excellent warm up tool. In my first round, I encountered around a dozen of them before I spotted another human player, who promptly put me down. Prior to that though, in-between killing those twelve bots, I had time to get a hang of the movement system.

If you’ve played Titanfall before, you’ll be pleased to know that roaming about is still just as smooth and slick as it was in the original (in 60 fps goodness). Wall running, sliding, and double jumping are all there, and they feel better than ever. I came to grips with the system fairly quickly, and before long, I was using the environment to my advantage.

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The map on offer during the hands on session was one called Boomtown. It’s an urban battleground that comprises a nice combination of tight spaces and open places. The former of course, favours pilots, while the latter, the Titans.

Being a pilot in the first Titanfall (I.e. being out in the open MINUS a nice robot to sit in) usually resulted in death. Thanks to the various buildings scattered throughout Boomtown however, I didn’t feel completely vulnerable when I was short a Titan. In fact, I went through my entire first round without piloting my own mech. That may or may not be because I called mine down just before I was murdered horribly (leaving it to be hijacked I presume) but that’s beside the point.

Essentially, I was left to run around along the rooftops just for safety sake. This proved to be quite an advantage though. Titans battling between the narrow spaces below were too busy to notice my attacks from above. At first, I shot from afar, too scared to get involved. Then I realised that the class I was playing came equipped with the new grappling hook, and everything changed.

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Before long, I was getting thoroughly involved in the skirmishes taking place in the alleys. I mean right in the thick of it, either riding atop an ally Titan, or hanging onto the back of an enemy, praying that I wasn’t shot before I grabbed their power core. The grappling hook made this all much simpler. Yes, you can get around without having it in your inventory, but having one makes going vertical that much easier, and a lot quicker.

The physics of the gadget felt a little off truth be told. On the one hand, I liked that it didn’t pull me straight to the target location, like the grappling hook in Dying Light does. On the other, slamming into a building, and then having the device reel me up and into the sky didn’t feel quite right.

I don’t know if this was because I didn’t have enough time to adjust to it, or if the device genuinely was wonky. I don’t think it will be a problem moving forward though. With the release date of Titanfall 2 being a few months away, there’s still room for tweaking on EA’s part.

Anyhow, this wouldn’t be much of a preview if I didn’t talk about the Titans themselves, right? Don’t worry, after my first round, I went off to queue again to make sure I got some hands on time with the hulking robots during my second session.

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I got to test out two of them actually. The first was a Titan called Scorch. Its specialty is, you guessed it, fire. The second one was called ION. It was my favourite of the two, as it was much easier to use. It has the ability to drop an explosive spring trap of sorts, which is pretty cool if you want to drop unsuspecting enemies who are hot on your tail.

My favourite weapon on the ION by far though, was its high powered laser beam. Look, it’s not the most imaginative form of offense, but when you get a shot lined up, and turn an opposing Titan into an empty husk, it’s damn satisfying, and makes me want to play the game even more.

If you were a fan of Titanfall 1, I’m quite certain you’ll love this sequel. If you weren’t, well, all I can say is that the multiplayer, just like the first, is fast-paced, and incredibly fun. If that doesn’t interest you in the slightest, then you’ll just have to wait for more info to break with regards to the single player campaign.

My only real concern with the game to be honest, is that it’s launching a week after Battlefield 1. Yes, it’s a different FPS to the World War 1 title, but I can’t help feeling that EA are shooting themselves in the foot. Fans who want to play both are now going to be forced to choose. If you have zero interest in classics eras, or large-scale battles rooted in reality, your decision should be easy at least. Titanfall 2 is all about speed and tight shooting, with giant mechs thrown into the mix. Personally, I much prefer the sound of that.

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Last Updated: June 13, 2016

Matthew Figueira

Defence of the Ancients? More like Defence of the cabbages! Have you seen my head? I look like a Merino Sheep on pole. NO SHANGE only SHAPPIES! :D

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