This weekend, Respawn Entertainment launched what they referred to as a “Tech Test” for Titanfall 2 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The test was likely designed to see how the game handles in “the wild”.
Open to anyone with a PS4 and an Xbox One, the test was free and did not require any special membership to any sort of service. This will not be a proper review and will only discuss the impressions of the pre-alpha version of the game that was available. As with any game that has not been officially launched yet, it should be noted that any aspect of the game can be changed by the developer before the game is launched. That means anything discussed could very well become nonexistent. The game could end up looking very different from the build that was played over the weekend.
The up and coming star of the game is without a doubt the grappling hook. The ‘hook is one of the most useful tools in every pilot’s arsenal. The range is long enough to allow players to latch on to the tallest tower or a far-away rooftop. Some may find the learning curve to be a little steep, but once you get the hang of it, you will be swinging around buildings like Batman. The grappling hook is also versatile enough to cause damage to pilots, grapple Titans, and pretty much guarantee that you will never miss another dropship at the end of the match. The only real concern with the grappling hook is that it renders some of the other tools useless. Why would anyone want to use a sonar knife when they can run circles around any enemy with the grappling hook?
So far, Titanfall 2 seems like a polished and refined version of Titanfall 1. Some new bells and whistles have been added to improve upon the old game. For instance, the old Burn Card system has been replaced with the Boost system. Actions during the match, such as pilot kills and hits on Titans, will add to a player’s progression to unlock two different Boosts. One boost is called “Ticks”, which involves terrifying little robotic bugs that run around and attack the enemy. The other boost “Amps” your weapons, giving them a higher damage output. Ticks are fun and all, but until Respawn balances things out, Amped weapons are the way to go.
While the extent of customization is still unknown for the final version of the game, the two available Titans appear to be variants on the models from Titanfall 1. The Titan named “Ion” has some sharp edges that give it a distinctive tactical look. “Scorch” is reminiscent of the old Atlas titan, but some clever animations help to make the Titan look and feel more active. The pilots also have distinctive looks, with more than one of them having the appearance of a mechanical robot instead of being a human soldier.
The tech test has two maps where players can blast each other to smithereens. Both seem to have more buildings and places to take cover than Titanfall 1. There also seems to be more opportunities for wall running and grappling hook use in the two maps. It should be noted that both of the maps had a very striking style to them. “Homestead” presents as a nice settlement that has several taller buildings that add an element of verticality. “Boomtown” is similar except that many of the buildings are bombed out. The most intriguing aspect of Boomtown is the pseudo-sky pockmarked with gaping holes that reveal the whole thing to be a palette of tiles that replicates an actual sky. Imagine a Star Trek Holodeck that has taken some considerable damage.
The tech test offers the game modes of Bounty Hunt, Pilot Vs Pilot, and Amped Hardpoint. Pilot Vs Pilot is pretty self-explanatory. No Titans allowed in a straight up pilot match. Bounty Hunt pits pilots and
Titans against each other. The catch is that kills earn money for each player, but does not count toward the team total until it is stored in a bank. Banks are only available at the end of “waves” where AI Grunts and Spectres drop in to cause havoc. Special “Bounty” Titans drop in from time to time and are worth an increased amount of money. As is usually the case, it’s a fun game mode so long as people play the objectives.
Amped Hardpoint is a familiar mode that has players attempting to capture three different areas. Team points are accrued based on how long and how many hardpoints are controlled by either team. Of the modes, Bounty Hunt is the more entertaining. Pilot Vs Pilot seems like a novelty since most players would prefer to jump into a three-story robot.
The most concerning thing about the tech test is that it does not do enough to distinguish the game from Titanfall 1. Many of the weapons are the same, the locales feel familiar, and aside from the grappling hook, there is not much in the way of innovation. Titanfall 1 had engaging and tight gameplay, but it lacked depth. If the final version is similar to this weekend’s tech test, then Titanfall 2 runs the risk of suffering the same fate as its predecessor.
Visually, the game looks better than Titanfall 1, however, that alone will not be enough. Hopefully, the long requested campaign will propel Titanfall 2 to heights that are not yet visible through the eyes of a tech test player.
If you missed his weekend’s tech test, fear not! The Titanfall 2 tech test will return next weekend and will run from 8/26 to 8/28 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.