Titanfall 2 feels like its taking some titanic steps backwards

6 min read

Titanfall 2 (2)

The original Titanfall was a game that made having an Xbox One worthwhile. It was a game so magnificently polished, that really proved just how effective a first-person shooter could be with an added dose of acrobatics and verticality. And gigantic earth-shattering mechs that could even the playing field in a crunch.

It’s honestly one of my favourite FPS games of all time, even if it happens to be a multiplayer-only title. And that’s because Titanfall has always managed to feed that power fantasy that I live with. It’s like waking up on Christmas morning as Ebeneezer Scrooge and paying hoodlums to go break Bob Cratchit’s legs in front of his family because have you ever tried going mad without power? Nobody listens to you.

Titanfall 2 (1)

Point is, Titanfall was the closest that I’d ever get to a Pacific Rim game. When you’re in a Titan, you’re a walking act of god, standing against a hurricane of grenades and fighting back. It’s honestly the best way to describe Respawn Entertainment’s benchmark debut title, which manages to pull all manner of positive emotions out of me every time I boot it up. Feelings which I’m not experiencing with this sequel so far.

Now first off, the caveats. First and foremost, this wasn’t an Alpha or a Beta test, but rather a technical test (or pre-Alpha), meant to assess how much stress the servers could handle rather than gauge the actual gameplay, so we might see a variety of changes before the game actually releases.. Remember, the Titanfall 2 technical test has only a sparse selection of content: Two maps, three modes and a starter pack of gear to kill around with. That needs to be made clear off the bat. But it’s not the size of your gun that counts unless you happen to be cornered by a titan, but how you use it. And that’s where my biggest gripe comes into play.

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Titanfall 2 (3)

Because I just don’t feel so super anymore.

There’s a heightened sense of reality at play here in Titanfall 2, that gives soldiers more heft, more weight to their actions. And there’s nothing wrong with that, to a particular market. But at the same time, I think that by giving its players a proper sense of gravity, Respawn has lost some of the soul of Titanfall. Look up matches between the two games.

Titanfall 2 (4)

Notice how players operate in the first title, like a gun-obsessed Spider-Man. You’re not going to see that in Titanfall 2. Titanfall 1 gave you a bullet ballet, a chance to leave gravity with a bloody lip and wall-run on impossible surfaces while calling in a Titan and peppering the field with bullets. It was monumental in how it managed to somehow balance being on foot or in a titan. You were equally deadly in either role.

But that balance feels uneven here. You handle like a whale with an eating disorder with any weapon that isn’t an SMG. That lightning-quick action feels bogged down, with too much emphasis placed on the grappling hook system, effectively cutting your tactical options in half in case you were an acrobatic fan of the original. The harmonic groove of bullet to body is missing.

Juggle in how earning a Titan feels more like the kind of bonus that you’d earn in a Call of Duty Killstreak that rewards only a handful of players instead of everyone, and the soul of the original feels truly gutted. I’m also not a big fan of boosts over Burn Cards. I always liked how Burn Cards created variety in how you played Titanfall original flavour, controversy be damned. Boosts, while helpful in a pinch, just lack that punch.

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Titanfall 2 (6)

Look, I’m not saying Titanfall 2 feels like a bad game. Far from it. I think it’s going to find a very dedicated audience when it releases, but at the same time I’m finding myself less and less excited for a sequel that wants to be both Battlefield and Call of Duty, sandwiched between releases for those actual games.  And with release a mere pair of months away, this is very much already indicative of the path that Titanfall 2 is taking if we are to believe that the technical test used gameplay we expect in the final product.

Titanfall 2 (7)

I was genuinely expecting Titanfall 2 to be a prime example of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” thinking with a new splash of paint on top of it. That’s just how far ahead the original game was and still is compared to the rest of the market. But at this rate, I’m going to feel better off sticking to the guns of that first sublime title and hoping that Respawn Entertainment pays heed to some valid criticism about fixing the feel of this sequel.

The power fantasy needs to be restored.

Last Updated: August 22, 2016

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia’s M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

  • HairyEwok

    Wait hold up, a technical test to stress test how well the servers would cope…. But they haven’t stress tested with PC players… or is it just the beta they’re skipping PC.

    • Pariah

      PC has too many variables for this test. Too many different systems and the game’s nowhere near optimising stages.

      • oomjan

        in other words it will run like crap on pc

        • Pariah

          On some PC’s, yes. On others, no. A console gives a stable, set environment for testing of this nature. It eliminates one set of variables from the equation.

  • ” You handle like a whale with an eating disorder” line of the week!

    • Pariah

      Have you SEEN a bulimic whale? Yeah, not so pretty.

    • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

      That’s what he said?
      *After seeing a chiropractor for the fifth time

      • You shurrup! That was just ONE time!

        • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

          I’m amazed you could lift her the first time O_____O

  • Pariah

    Or you could just bribe your way into a Ferrari. It’s about ethics in games criticisms.

  • You can polish a turd all you want. In the end it is still a turd

    • Sageville

      it’s sooo far from a turd I even felt the need to correct you.

      • Pariah

        It’s not a correction without a death threat…

        • Sageville

          All my words have implied death threats…

          • The smiley face on profile pic does not help for that xD

          • Sageville

            That’s the face I make looking down at corpses yo!

  • Sageville

    Seems like if you played the original, you will be upset that it is not the original.

    Meanwhile those of us untainted by the original probably feel this is the best thing since sliced bread, I’m thinking how the hell can COD compete with this title.

    As for the test itself, that is exactly how developers should do things in the future, this was really a demo in disguise. The test opened up with a small intro video which showed you glimpses of gameplay, described features and explained what they wanted to test, then you got 2 very solid maps and 3 modes of play. It was smooth and beautiful and now I want this game so bad. Note I had only passing curiosity before hand now I’m pre-order level interested….

    As a COD player I did feel right at home (Maybe that’s what D alludes to). My only micro-gripe was that the grapple felt a bit slow to winch you up.

    • Guild

      Based on the price of the new CoD, I’m getting TF2 this year and skipping out on CoD.

      • Pariah

        Based on the price of new graphics cards I’m not buying a new release for the next 5 years. >_>

    • Trevor James

      I completely agree with you. Never had a chance to play the original but this Tech test was simply amazing for me. Pre order may be on the cards here.

    • Nick de Bruyne

      But I want you to think… that if you like this *that* much, imagine just how much you might like the game that everyone (who has played the first) is raving about. This feels like a supercharged COD, which is nice, but really the sheer fun factor and pace of the first combined with the overall concept of the AI battles and everyone having titans etc… really, its just something else, and it was amazing

      • Sageville

        I didn’t feel right about falsifying information in order to get an american account. Hence I missed out.

        How can I possibly get excited about TF 1? It was denied to me, so I only have TF2 to look at, my observations are accurate based on that. Clearly TF1 players have a different experience, which I cannot deny, but those not previously influenced will be happy with the game, I don’t think even you can deny that.

    • TwinStripeUK

      ‘As a COD player I did feel right at home’..

      And that’s part of the problem – two of the best mechanics from the original (other than the basic traversal) were ‘burn cards’ and ‘timed Titans’.

      Burn Cards were one off boosts that you randomly got from packs earned through XP. They could range from simple weapon and ability boosts, to the ability to disguise yourself as A.I. or ramp up your abilities. Once used, they would last a set amount of time or until your character died and then they were gone forever.

      Timed Titans meant that EVERYONE got a chance to call a Titan in, although gaining kills sped up the timer (with more time shaved off for player kills rather than bots)

      Both were fair and balanced systems – good players could use cards tactically, and call in their Titans quickly, the rest of us mortals could get a lucky card drop or just stick it out until the timer expired.

      And the map design? In the first game there was just simply no camping… ever. You had to keep moving or die, and it made the game fast and frenetic and enabled you to pick up the maps really quickly.

      Now that’s gone.

      Instead we’ve got the same-old, same-old COD experience tree where the hardcore will max everything within 24 hours and then watch the player base drop to nothing as it becomes impossible to compete if you’re a new player.

      Same with the titans – I played a few matches in the Alpha test where one player didn’t get to call in a titan in SEVEN matches, and eventually just disappeared from the rotation.

      The maps have become the usual COD camp-fests, with one guy in match I was playing not shifting position for the ENTIRE GAME.

      And the grappling hook? In the midst of a game involving giant robots and sick parkour skills, they somehow managed to make it feel like a gimmick.

      Shame, because I actually quite liked the new game modes (didn’t play Pilot V Pilot because I might as well wait for COD:IW), but for me they’ve done the exact opposite – changed me from somebody pre-ordering n expensive Limited Edition to wondering if I’ll even bother getting it at all…

      • Sageville

        Fair points, Fortunately some of us don’t come with that sequel baggage, so this is fresh and exciting for us.

        If they tweak some things to more of a TF1 flavor, would you get it? (Considering, this isn’t even alpha yet)

        • TwinStripeUK

          I think a poster on Reddit put it best:

          ‘If you gave us Titanfall 1 with more weapons, more maps, more Titans and a single player campaign, we’d all start queueing outside stores NOW for the chance to be the first to pick the game up in October’

          I’d go with that!

    • EVD1202

      the original one felt a lot like cod, but in a much better way. trust me… hopefully they fix this

  • I saw multiple “influence streams” as I think people call them now on Twitch last night 😛

    • Pariah

      *Live, paid-for adverts

  • FAQyoumate

    Gosh, it really sucks when the game is becoming better with a sequel.

  • Viper_ZA

    Okay, so no day one purchase then. Will wait and hold out for price drip on the PC version, hoping that we will be able to enjoy some resemblance of local online multiplayer? I have no doubt Titanfall 2 could kid CoD in the kisser, but then again it doesn’t take much to outfox any newer CoD.

  • Mighty Meh

    Well that’s rather disappointing, I was really looking forward to this one.

  • Darren Peach

    4 days till I can buy another PlayStation. Screw Titanfall…….for now.

    • The Order of the Banana

      Save your money sire – the PS4 slim is almost out!!

      • Darren Peach

        That’s like telling a crackhead to wait for the next batch. Besides, If I can get one at a cheaper price considering the relative buoyancy of our much beleaguered rand, I am going to do it. Slim or not 🙂

        • The Order of the Banana

          Lol, I know that feeling. I hate to admit it, but if my PS4 died today, I would get a new one the next day, even if the Slim was on the horizon. 🙁

  • Pariah

    Seriously folks. “Pre-Alpha”. That’s BEFORE Alpha. Which is BEFORE Beta. Even from Beta things can change, get polished etc. Right now they’re working on the skeleton, not the eyeliner.

    • FAQyoumate

      The more popular the game, the more haters are there. It’s been always this way. Remember CoD and the most downvoted trailer on YouTube of all time. The funny thing is that the people who downvoted that trailer will still buy the game

      • Brad Davis

        “The funny thing is that the people who downvoted that trailer will still buy the game.”

        Funny, folks defending the new Ghostbusters flick were saying the same thing (Folks who dislike it will still see it)… didn’t work out too well for GB. We shall see if Titanfall 2 meets the same fate (vastly underperforms sales wise) or if it does well in a few months.

        • FAQyoumate

          Hold on a sec. Are you trying to compare an FPS about giant robots and parkour with a shitty movie about 4 dumb broads?

  • Ebinski

    No local servers = shit

  • The Order of the Banana

    Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way, I hated the first one. I thought it was trash. I still think it’s one of the worst games EA has ever squeezed out of its colon, but the beta for Titanfall 2 has left me me wondering, “how on earth could they make it worse?”. To make something that was crappy to begin with worse has to be a talent.

    Titanfail 2… the boredom continues! Titanfall 2 is the Evolve of EA gaming! Yes, I went there.

    • Sageville


      • The Order of the Banana


        • Sageville

          That only comes in DLC….

  • EVD1202

    couldn’t agree more with your assessment of the game. i absolutely looooooved the first one. don’t know if i’ll even buy this one. what a shame.

  • ericphillips

    I also love the original. In fact I reinstalled it on my Xbox One and have been playing steady for a month or so, all in anticipation of this title. I want more of this, but bigger and more badass. If what the article said is what the final product will be I may pass.

    I did fear that the introduction of the grappling hook would mean the wall climbing would be reduced to emphasize it. Darryn is right, that is how I like to play.

    Also, they didn’t get rid of the smart pistol. I hate that thing.

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