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Titanfall 2

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Release Date: Oct. 28, 2016


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PS4/XOne/PC Multiplayer Preview - 'Titanfall 2'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Aug. 30, 2016 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Titanfall 2 is a sequel to Respawn's inagural online game that combines fast-paced multiplayer action with the heroic set piece moments traditionally found in campaign mode.

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In the original Titanfall, two sides were engaged in a never-ending battle involving the use of advanced technology that ranged from super suits to giant robots. One distinctive feature was the high-mobility on-foot gameplay. The pilots in Titanfall are capable of double-jumps, wall-running, sliding and other feats of mobility. This means combat is about moving around as quickly as possible and coming at your foes from unexpected angles. Another aspect was the Titan gameplay, where you could summon a giant robot ally who could be a significant force on the battlefield — and a much bigger target. Titanfall 2's introduction of a single-player mode is sure to change around some of this, but in our playthrough of the multiplayer beta, we can say that a lot of it still holds true for Titanfall 2.

In Titanfall 2, players can customize their pilots in a number of ways. You can choose a faction to ally with, adjust your character's icons, and so on. You can also create a custom set of pilot loadouts to set up exactly how you want your pilot to function. Primary weapons are the assault rifle, light machine gun, sniper rifle, shotgun and submachine gun options you see in most shooters, but there are multiple options and mods for each. For example, you can choose to go for a twin-shot sniper rifle instead of one with a strong scope, or a rapid-fire SMG instead of a slower but higher-damage one. You also can customize your grenades, allowing you to focus on area control, anti-Titan capabilities or just good ol' firepower.

By far the most interesting part of pilot loadouts are the tactical options, which allow you to pick your pilot's specialized ability. In the demo, this included a holo-clone to distract enemies, the ability to cloak, a quick-healing stim pack, a sonar throwing knife, and the all-important grappling hook. The only issue is that the grappling hook is so fun and interesting that it's difficult to have to choose between it and other abilities. None of the abilities felt bad, and each provides additional options in battle. The hook is better for taking on Titans, but the stim or holo pilot are more useful against pilots. You should choose what works best for you. You also can pick specialized perks that change your pilot. One of the perk options seems to be passive abilities, such as reducing your tactical recharge time or making you regen faster. The other appears to have more interesting mobility improvements, such as allowing you to hover in mid-air or hang on walls.

In short, you build your pilot exactly how you want to play him. Do you want someone who focuses on fighting enemies on foot? Go for weapons like the light machine gun and bring along a health stim and frag grenade to make yourself a pilot-killing master. Do you want to hunt Titans? An electric rocket launcher, Titan-blinding arc grenade and the grappling hook should more than suffice for giving you a chance to go David and Goliath on the enemy Titans.

As in our previous preview of Titanfall 2, the multiplayer beta allowed access to two Titans: Ion and Scorch. Ion is designed to be flexible and control the battlefield. She has a central energy resource, which powers most of her abilities, including a barrier that blocks attacks, a long-range precision laser, and the ability to drop trip-mines to stymie enemy Titans and pilots. Her biggest and most exciting weapon is her laser core, which allows her to fire a chest-mounted beam of energy that can do tremendous amounts of damage but needs time to charge up. She's also armed with a splitter rifle that can drain her energy to do more damage. In comparison, Scorch is more straightforward and all about fire. His primary weapon is a thermite launcher that can set the area on fire. He can also lay down firewalls and incendiary traps to prevent enemies from advancing and  incinerate everything in his path. Both Titans are extremely powerful and can change the tide of battle. New to the sequel is the fact that Titans can function autonomously in combat. Summoning a Titan doesn't obligate you to pilot it if you'd rather have a temporary AI partner instead.

The beta has three available game modes. Bounty Hunt, which we saw at E3 2016, is a combination of PvP and PvE combat. Two sides are battling to take down enemies and each other to earn bounties. At the end of a wave, players must rush back and bank their prizes to keep the bonus points they've earned. Amped Hardpoint is a "capture the spot" mechanic where players capture and hold Hardpoints before the enemy can, with the titular Amped Hardpoints giving improved points. Finally, Pilots vs Pilots is an 8v8 combat mode where players can battle without Titans for those who prefer the high-mobility combat of the on-foot gameplay without the interference of giant robots.

Titanfall 2 is shaping up to have a lot of the same core gameplay values that fans enjoyed in the original, while also improving on the weaker points. Pilots are still fast and mobile and have plenty of new options. It's hard to get a real feel for everything from a demo, but what we saw has a lot of potential. It's fun to see an enemy and chain together a wall-run, double-jump and grappling hook to ambush them when they least expect it. Titanfall 2 is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC on Oct. 28, 2016.

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