Titanfall 2 Multiplayer Technical Test 1 – A Disappointment
August 25, 2016
When I first laid my eyes on Titanfall’s debut trailer, I was left with my mouth gaped in absolute awe. I had wanted a game that embodied the true spirit of giant mech combat while not being limited to being exclusively inside one, like Armored Core. I bought my Xbox One just to play Titanfall and I was not disappointed by what Respawn Entertainment delivered, not in the least. I was anxiously awaiting Titanfall 2 and it was announced this year!
I recently played the Multiplayer Tech Test that they held which is supposedly a “Pre-Alpha” build of the game (which makes no sense since it is coming out in October, only 2 months from now). I was left absolutely disappointed by what I experienced and all of my hype faded away instantly.
How did things go so wrong? Training
The first thing I really want to go over is the “Training” option that was available. Now, the original Titanfall did a very good job of training you over everything you needed to know so that when you got into the game you were prepared for what you were going to face. They covered movement options (both on the ground and inside the titan), weapon options (against pilots, grunts, and titans), ability options (for both the pilot and titan), and titan options (both inside of it and outside of it). It was pretty straight forward and covered all the mechanics. This was not the case with Titanfall 2’s training that was present within this multiplayer technical test.
The training that we saw covered in the Titanfall 2 Multiplayer Technical Test included movement options, gun options, and nothing for the titan. You would think that with them changing things so drastically from the original Titanfall, and the fact that those who were Playstation loyalists did not get a chance to experience the game at all if they did not own a PC, they would do well to tell everyone everything they would need to know. Sadly, they did not. This is just one of the big reasons this game was a disappointment to those who had played the original game. Veterans who played the game expected one thing and were greeted harshly by another; expecting a mechanic to work as they remember and then quickly finding out that has been rendered obsolete. Respawn covered absolutely nothing about the titan, which is supposed to be the key aspect of the Titanfall series (I mean come on! It is in the name of the game!).
A lot of the things they missed about a training pilots to titans is how they operate as a whole. Earning them is completely different, how they work in fights is completely different, and bigger core mechanics like “Rodeo” have been completely re-worked from their origin in the original Titanfall. I mean, I had no idea until I called in my third or fourth titan that electric smoke is now standard on every single one of them. This is something that should have been covered in training. The game could have possibly been more enjoyable for the majority of people if they gave everyone the complete training before they jumped into the game whatsoever, or at least so that people who were fans of the original game would know what changed and how to address certain things that came up in the midst of gameplay.
All-in-all, we might see something bigger and longer, more extravagant and detailed when Titanfall 2 is finally released. Unfortunately for Respawn and many players, they seem to focusing more on Pilot vs Pilot action and deem it more necessary to focus on playing well at that level rather than accommodating those who depend on titans. Ridiculous, but that what happens when they attempt to make it appeal to a “broader audience”, which is more than likely pandering to the typical first-person-shooter genre crowd (also known as “Call of Duty fans”).
Problems with the Gameplay
Something I do not want you to get me wrong on, Titanfall 2 is enjoyable on some level. I did very well on the game and I consistently placed well on my teams during my tenure playing the game. I managed to drop at least 2 or more titans per game, and I gave hell to those who were my enemies. However, even with me doing well I did not particularly enjoy the game because it was not exactly Titanfall.
Overall the game play was way slower in all respects compared to the original. It was nowhere as fast paced, it was not intimidating and chaotic, it was not an adrenaline rush every match. It was more-or-less a shadow of its former self, weakened to hopefully bring in newer players by making it more accessible to those who want something new, but do not want to stray too far away from a typical FPS.
Titanfall was so good because it strayed away from what a typical First-Person-Shooter was. It mixed an insane amount of mobility coupled with the fact that giant death machines were walking around and could pop up at any time. You had to learn how to effective fight within those machines if you wanted to do real damage to the enemy team, but likewise you were equipped with all the tools as a pilot to effective take down both a titan and the pilot inside. The balance between them both were perfect… now… now so much.
I feel they have essentially taken a massive stepped backwards, something that was even said by many fans and other websites. They have taken away the core of what Titanfall so fun and instead opted to go for more of a pilot centered game play, which makes absolutely no sense. Why call it “Titan” fall if we are going to be fighting more-or-less as pilots for the majority of the game and that is what you are so focused on selling?
Respawn needs to delay this game and fix everything that is wrong with it. I have never seen so much negative feedback from fans of the first one, and I have never seen so much feedback so quickly from those who were anticipating (hell, I am normally not one to write on forums and I felt I was obligated to do my part for this game). The core game play of Titanfall was so good that we saw a massive increase of their mechanics within every FPS after it, showing that it was on the right path. Why try to fix something that is not broken?
Things They Should Change
All right. I have a good number of things I think that they need to change and make better before we have the official release of Titanfall 2. However, we do have another multiplayer tech test this weekend, so maybe some of this will be addressed by then; who knows.
This game is called Titanfall, emphasis on the word “Titan”. The very first game had a good mix of combat between pilot and titans and you had to be ready to deal with either at any time during the math. Titans themselves were powerful but not overly so. They were not overpowered because they did not automatically guarantee kills as pilots could take you down (rodeo, titan weapons, their own titan, etc.). However, for whatever reason, Respawn has felt the need to actually make it as though titans are an afterthought with how they are represented in Titanfall 2.
They have taken away the timer in Titanfall 2, meaning that it is not guaranteed that everyone will be able to earn a pilot if they are doing terrible. It used to be that even bad pilots would be able to earn a titan to engage in the fight at least twice per game, and they would be able to drop even more if they were able to contribute to their team in a big way. This change made by Respawn means that titans are seen as a reward for doing well and will be earned more frequently by those excel, while those who struggle will barely be able to earn a single one during the game (or only one). This is a terrible way to do things.
Titans are a key aspect within Titanfall, taking away the ability to earn one through time means that you are now destroying a two important elements; chaos and anticipation. Without burn cards (more on this later), to reduce titan build time or even drop a titan unexpectedly, you know you will not have to deal with a titan at the beginning of a match. Also, because you know titans are not on a timer, you will be less likely to face swarms of them popping up out of nowhere. The pace has significantly changed because where as you had a minimum of 24 titans popping off every game (two from each person), you will now have a decreased number because of the struggling players. Many people on the forums said this game was “Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 with mechs”. While I do not really agree but so much, I get what they are talking about.
Something else that is terrible is the new “battery” system. This is plaguing both the Rodeo mechanic and depriving titans of their shield. Titans spawning without their shield is terrible and makes them easy pray for pilots and other titans. Titans are supposed to be these big, hulking death machines and I was not afraid of them at all during the game because they seldom appeared and were easy to take down when they did. Titans need to come in with a shield, and they need to be able to regain their shield automatically like in previous games.
Last but not least we have the titan dashes. Titans move slower now, and dashes feel like they recharge more and you do not get as many per titan as you should. They need to address this to make sure titans are just as agile as they were in the previous game.
Rodeo use to mean a pilot jumping upon a titan, climbing up to the back of their head, then removing a panel to expose their circuitry to enable damage directly to their life past their shields. This forced the enemy pilot to either use Cluster Missiles, Electric Smoke, or disengage from the safety of their titan’s chassis to engage the threat directly to save their machine. This mechanic is what separated good pilots and bad ones when it came down to facing titans; as rodeo could quickly, efficiently, and single-handedly allow someone to take one down a titan or lure them into their demise. This has been changed in the worst fashion possible for Titanfall 2.
The anthem of Titanfall 2 seems to be attempting to fix what is not broke, and rodeo is one of them. This time around a pilot jumps onto the back of a titan, removes what appears to be a battery, and then instantly jumps off. If the pilot jumps back onto the titan after the automatic dismount, then they will be shown an animation where a grenade is thrown into the titan, destroying it automatically. This is completely different than what we first experienced and it lessens the strategic ability of the pilot while simultaneously robbing Titanfall of one of the core mechanics which made the game exhilarating.
The reason that the old method was so fun was because you could easily have a strategy for it. Jumping on and off when you wanted could bait a pilot into exiting the safety of his titan for an ambush, to keep the auto-titan stationary just long enough to warpfall your titan to crush theirs, or simply to distract them while they are busy engaging other titans. The new method destroys the complexity of the system and can even put the pilot at a disadvantage by forcing them to leave the enemy titan automatically; potentially putting them into a position where they are surrounded by enemies and would have been better off continuing to rodeo and dismounting at a later time.
This needs to be reverted back to the old mechanic with a few things implemented from the new system. When jumping onto a titan, you should still rip off their panel and be allowed to shoot, just like the old system. You can also choose to attempt to pull out a battery to weaken its shield against any titan it is currently engaging.
The titan’s “battery” is the reason that they titanfall without their shield, and it is also something that plays a key part of the rodeo mechanic as well. However, in its current state it does more harm than good, and that is because you need it to give a titan a protective shield and it makes rodeo loves most of its purpose.
Batteries should be rewards for successfully defeating titans. They should be able to be picked up by pilots no matter if it was an ally or enemy titan that was destroyed. By using it when you call a titan, you should gain an overshield similar to the Ogre’s core mechanic in the original Titanfall. If you use it to help a teammate’s titan, you should be rewarded with reduced timer time for getting your own titan (assuming they bring back the timer), meaning people will be more likely to help out teammates instead of holding onto it to make sure their own titan will have a shield. Also, this will be good because if you see a pilot running around with a battery on its back, you have more reason to pursue and kill them.
At the moment, if you are the first to fall you are at a disadvantage, not an advantage. They really need to think about the usage of the battery in Titanfall 2 and make it so that it is more-or-less a reward that can aid your team in an unselfish way.
For whatever reason, Respawn has felt it necessary to outline enemy pilots out of the crowd when you are engaging them in Titanfall 2. It could be that some people complained about opponents getting mixed up with grunts in Attrition during the original Titanfall, or it could be that they simply wanted to make it simply to identify enemy players out of the crowd upon engagement. However, the way that they did this is pretty terrible and it takes away the experience.
One of the biggest things when you are playing a fighting game is making sure that you are paying attention to your surroundings. If they are busy and distracted by grunts or cannot tell a pilot from a grunt, then that is their problem to deal with. A pilot ability known as “Sonar” throws what appears to be a kunai that emits a wave which identifies enemies. If you were outlined due to this, that is fine would have been completely acceptable. Currently this is not the case and Respawn needs to fix it.
Something that I thought that stood amongst the best features of Titanfall was its level design and how impressive it was. All of the maps in Titanfall (including the DLC ones) were phenomenal. They were moderately sized or large, plenty of multi-tiered objectives for pilots to scale and attack from, even wall-running and maneuverability was encouraged by the configuration of the levels. Also, because of the vastly opened design with multiple ways to get around, it was extremely hard to camp because someone could be coming from anywhere; even directly in front of you and you would not be able to see it because of the buildings and environmental objects. However, I feel we have witnessed a change coming into Titanfall 2.
The two beta maps we got for Titanfall was Angel City (my favorite map) and Fracture. Angel City was one of the maps which defined why Titanfall was good, and Fracture was a bit more open, but it had plenty of spaces that were good to maneuver and fight against pilots and titans alike. Unfortunately, Titanfall 2’s maps, DigSite and Homestead, tell of a different direction his time around for Respawn. The maps are largely composed of a one or two levels, and barely anything to wall run or jump off of; you are simply running around in the open most of the time with no way to take advantage of the maneuverability options. It feel more-or-less like a Call of Duty style map with loads of places to be able to hide. Linear stages without many ways to get around means more promotion of a “camp” mentality.
I heavily question their decision simply because one of the things that made Titanfall so great was the fact that people who are used to camping were way less effective because of the way that maps worked. Now, they seem to promote simpler game play by drastically slowing down the ability to move around the map. While using the “grappling hook” makes things better, you should not have to depend on a pilot ability in order to compensate for bad stage design. They really need to go back to the drawing board and stick with their original plan orchestrated in the first game.
Time to Kill
Time to Kill (or TTK) is something that heavily needs to be addressed in Titanfall 2. Titanfall was the type of game that if someone started shooting you, you had enough time to react or get away if you were skilled enough. While someone shooting you first meant that you were at a heavy disadvantage, it did in no way mean that you would be guaranteed death unless it was from a shotgun or sniper rifle. However, within the beta we saw that it had incredibly short times for kills. It felt like Battlefield or Call of Duty with how short the time was in order to lay waste to someone, you did not need very many bullets or concentrated fire at all.
Less maneuverability and a shortened TTK means that the game feels more rewarding for those who hole up somewhere and wait for opponents. It is harder to get the drop onto them and it is harder to fight back if you notice someone immediately after they are shooting you, you are pretty much as good as dead. This kills one of the skill parts that goes along with Titanfall, including promoting less of a reason to run and gun, something that the previous game clearly promoted.
In order to fix this issue, I promote increasing the Time to Kill by 50% at least. Make it so concentrated fire is rewarded and minimum accuracy is somewhat penalized. Make it so that pilots have a chance to fight back once they are caught up within a situation or given a chance to escape once they notice what is going on. In fact, just make it how it was in the original game.
Customization is something Titanfall did not have a lot of, which was one aspect I wish they had really addressed. Titanfall 2 has about the same lack of customization which is disappointing. In the original game your gun determined how your pilot was going to look, but you had a choice between whether-or-not you wanted male or female. In Titanfall 2, your pilots look is determined by their pilot ability, something that they need to rectify. However, the customization of titans in the first game is nowhere to be seen within this one, and that is something that genuinely bothers me.
The first thing I want to get on is how you should be able to pick the pilot you want regardless of your loadout. Some people simply have preferences based on what they are given, and I want to choose what I want to choose without having to sacrifice anything to achieve it. I really love the Sonar ability pilot, but if I want the grappling hook I have to go with someone else, why should I sacrifice looks for tools or the inverse? They really need to go ahead and make it that you can pick any look you want with any setup you want so that everyone can be happy with how they enter the game. Simple.
Titanfall allowed you to pick any loadout that you wanted with your titan chassis of choice. If you wanted to have a Strider titan with a Plasma Railgun, I could; if I wanted to have the Ogre titan equipped with the 40mm Cannon, that was possible; and if then decided I wanted my Atlas titan to be able to use a XOTBR-16 Chaingun, it very well could. Now we have it where you have pre-determined loadout for titans, which means that the developers are deciding how you should go about playing these robots. While you do have lesser customization options on the titans themselves to make them more offensive, defensive, or better in certain areas than the stock; it does not change the fact that you are no longer able to freely give your titans weapons from all those available in the game. If you wanted your Ion titan to use the Scorch’s titan weapon, you better think again.
Allowing titans to have shoulder weapons and primary weapons better allowed people to mix and match. If you want a shoulder weapon to deal with something, a weapon to deal with something else, and a core ability you much rather prefer to another, you cannot anymore. I feel that Respawn has really missed what they needed to do here.
Titanfall 2 is still within its beta (or alpha) stage, but I feel like not many things will change before launch because we only have two months before it drops into stores and the digital marketplaces. I feel, at its core, Titanfall 2 will remain largely how we see it with a few changes made based upon community interaction. I feel like they are really dropping the ball on this, and they really lost their identity trying to wheel in a crowd that this game was never meant for.
The original game was something that many people loved; the fast past chaotic action, the titans and their lethality, and the way the maps were designed to complement pilot mobility. Now we have them attempting to gain the Call of Duty crowd and slow this game down to something that those who will never will truly appreciate will ditch as soon as Battlefield One and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare comes out.
The next piece of the open beta is tomorrow, and supposedly they have already made some changes. Hopefully these will change my mind from what I experienced last weekend, because right now I am mourning the loss of a great game.