As someone who only recently acquired an Xbox One, and as someone with a social circle of PlayStation friends, I haven’t had much to do with Titanfall. So consider this an impression for PS4 owners like me who’re showing up fashionably late. If one could consider Titanfall 'fashionable’.
(The beta, or tech test, was released across two weekends, but not weekdays. As such the content across both weeks differed due to player feedback and changes made by Respawn. So it might also read like a teenage girl’s flippant journal).
It seems a tad trite comparing this to Call of Duty, yet again, this is nothing but a pissing contest between Activision and EA - shameless mimicry and passive-aggressive jibes abound. They both have killcams, they both have parkour, they both feel the same, and now they both have kill-streaks.
Apparently the first Titanfall sent everyone a mech regularly like a magazine subscription. You had a chance to throw down regardless if you sucked or not. People who wanted to play the 'titan’ part of Titanfall had a guarantee of doing so.
That wouldn’t seem to be the case anymore.
You won’t get a Titan until you’ve satisfied a meter bar - usually by landing kills. Now the performers get better while the stragglers get worse. An egalitarian experience which I imagine was quite tactical, has become an achievement one. That’s not necessarily a good thing - even for competitive multiplayer.
Most people know what kind of experience kill-streaks foster, and going back to them only prompts recollections of Titanfall’s origins. 'Titanfall’ then becomes a misnomer, because they don’t fall from the sky like a regular shroud of weather - they come when you’re good enough.
Titans only appeared in bounty hunt and hard point modes. Bounty hunt being the more interesting of the two - any kills you get transfer as money, which you must deposit at space ATMs, otherwise they won’t count toward your team-total - and dying with money in your pocket cuts your cash in half. All the while AI-controlled titans will appear for either team to take down for bounties.
Hardpoint is just a variation of conquest modes. The more areas captured - the more points your team gets. 'Amping’ a control point (waiting there longer) doubles the points gained for a short time. And pilot vs pilot is just team death match without mechs.
Mechanically the game plays smoothly like a healthy bowel motion. One of Titanfall’s hooks has always been quick-gliding gameplay, and as someone coming a bit behind, Titanfall has that bullet point down better than most. Everyone gets grappling hooks, so we can all pretend we’re playing a first-person Batman, hanging from ledges and beating each other up in giant Bat-suits.
So Respawn were obviously listening, because now everyone's a winner, and everybody gets a titan. The aforementioned titan meter gains percentage every short while, albeit not much, but enough to give you at least one titan a match. As with the first game, defeating other players and aiding objectives quickens the pace.
After releasing a third map this weekend, it's dawned on me how unremarkable each has been. There's no map I root for, or sigh at. They're aesthetically different of course, but practically they're too similar to provoke their own quirks, a choke point everyone goes to, landmarks you'll remember, or differing design that changes your play. The funnelling streets of Boomtown were the closest thing to real variation. Right now they feel like a congregation of the same buildings arranged in mixed order.
I can’t say whether or not Titanfall 2 is just Mobile Suit: Call of Duty. At times it certainly felt so - yet the rest of the multiplayer and the campaign could fly in the face of any Transformer jokes. It was serviceable fun that appeals to the slidey/jumpy side of your adrenaline. To a newly inducted PS4 player, it feels likes the lovechild of Activision's baby and Battlefield; paranoid-reactive shooting combined with the vehicular combat of what's essentially one vehicle.
Have EA peaked my interest enough for me to take sides and fork out dollars? That's always the thing with beta's - you can never tell. But I wouldn't say 'no', at least not yet.