I got my hands on a multiplayer section of Titanfall 2 during EA Play today for 10 minutes. Myself and a group of journalists were escorted from the EA press conference onto the rooftop of the Novo Theatre, the smoggy and sun-soaked landscape of LA stretching out before us. We were then abruptly shoved into a small, hot tent packed full of PS4s.
While 10 minutes isn’t a lot of time to form an opinion of a game, it is enough to understand what’s new, and what isn’t.
The core of Titanfall 2 will be familiar to you if you’ve played its predecessor: kill enemies with your standard FPS-arsenal, and periodically call down a giant robot that you can jump in to and wreak havoc with. Those enemies can either be other players, or computer-controlled grunts. Killing enough of them will let you call down your Titan more frequently.
Instead of Titans coming equipped with a Dash Core, Damage Core, or Shield Core, they now have four abilities similar to a MOBA. The first three have brief cooldowns and you’ll be using them constantly. For my Titan, there was the Vortex Shield that lets you catch bullets and throw them back, and some laser trip-wire explosives that you can attach to surfaces. Thirdly, there was a long-range laser cannon, which was perfect for taking down pilots jumping towards me. It was unclear if these abilities can be swapped out however, as I didn’t have access to loadout options.
The final ability is Titan-specific, and functions like an ultimate – it has a long cooldown, but does a lot of damage. For me it was a directed energy weapon that shot a huge beam. It was particularly devastating, and it nearly destroyed an enemy Titan in one hit. It telegraphs heavily though, having a long charge-up time, distinctive sound, and bright red glow.
The mode that I played had your typical deathmatch subtext, but the sinew holding it together gave it a very different feel. The game operated on score – the first team to reach it, won. The wrinkle is that you’ll only gain points towards your pool if you kill foes in designated zones on the map.
Mixing it up further is the fact that those zones move. I can see what developer Respawn is going for here. They get to make the most of their map design by directing where encounters will occur, instead of the centre of the map seeing the most action.
By far the largest addition however is the grappling hook, which you can spot a couple times in the trailer. The device doesn’t completely change Titanfall’s core movement – which, is still fast and fluid like the first game – but it really does help you maintain momentum, or move in unpredictable ways. Unlike Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’s hook which throws you on linear trajectories, Titanfall 2’s has weight and heft, and it lets you move with multiple degrees of freedom.
For example, you can plant the hook into the top ledge of a building, and use it to swing around a corner. I also used it offensively to mount other Titans, but the speed with which you approach your target seems slower than what you’d want. When you’re on the other side of it, it’s a little jarring seeing an enemy pilot slowly inch their way into your vision as you try to bat them out of the air.
From what I’ve played of Titanfall 2, it isn’t a vast departure from its predecessor – but the additions seem smart. The new abilities that you have with your Titan add a level of unpredictability to the battlefield, and the grappling hook feels nice to use.