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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


PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Titanfall 2'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on June 15, 2016 @ 12:00 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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A mix of huge robot action and fast-paced shooter gameplay, Titanfall was one of the Xbox's more memorable exclusives. The original game had a lot of strengths, but perhaps due to its release early in the new console generation, it also had quite a few weaknesses. However, the potential was strong, and it's no surprise games like Call of Duty began to adopt high-mobility gameplay after Titanfall's release. While information is still relatively sparse, everything we've seen about Titanfall 2 looks like a case of learning from its predecessor's mistakes while amplifying its strengths.

Anyone who played the original Titanfall will tell you that one of the game's biggest strengths was the insane mobility of the pilots. Titanfall 2 doesn't play around with something that worked and introduces some exciting new mechanics. You can still run along walls and double-jump, but added to the mix is a new grappling hook. In Attack on Titan style, the grappling hook adds insane mobility to the battlefield, allowing you to dart from point to point, swing around to attack from unusual angles, and take the fight directly to the behemoth robots. It's no surprise that the preview videos for the game focus so heavily on the hook. Even in its early beta state, it's easily one of the most enjoyable FPS mechanics I've ever encountered. Battles with newcomers who fumbled with the mechanics quickly evolved into fast-paced, high-mobility fights with everyone darting over the battlefield and coming at each other from above.

Overall, the core mechanics of Titanfall 2 feel very similar. The weapons, mobility and general flow have a lot in common with the original.  One of the big things Titanfall 2 emphasizes is that the titans now have personalities, which obviously plays into the single-player mode. The multiplayer portion continues that with six new titans, each with a distinct personality and character traits. In our multiplayer demo, we saw two of them in action: Scorch and Ion. Scorch is based on fire, its AI personality is forceful, and its weapon loadout relies almost entirely on napalm and explosive weapons. It's fantastic at area denial and can set parts of the environment ablaze, forcing enemies out of cover or burning them alive. Ion, on the other hand, is more refined. She focuses on lasers, including trip-wires you can place around the battlefield to harm enemy pilots, a powerful laser weapon as her primary weapon, and an incredibly awesome chest-mounted laser beam that shreds whatever it hits.

Titans function autonomously on the battlefield but are only at their best when pilot and machine are united as one. You have to play carefully, as titans have to be earned and are vulnerable to sustained fire.

You have to master the titans to succeed at the game mode we tried, Bounty Hunt. Two sides are battling amidst swarms of enemy AI, and when enough soldiers have died, a Bounty Titan appears on the battlefield. They're stronger, faster and tougher than an individual titan, and you can't defeat them on your own. Once a Bounty Titan has sustained enough damage, it needs to be "claimed" by pilots executing a Rodeo Kill move or by another titan performing a melee attack. This makes titans extra important because they deal tons of damage and can claim a kill much quicker than their human counterparts.

It's an interesting twist on the gameplay because succeeding isn't just about having the best shooter skills. Taking down and capturing a Bounty Titan requires teamwork and the combined execution of pilots and titans. The entire game mode feels like it's designed to encourage both types of players to work together. The titans bring the firepower and area control, and the pilots are mobile and capable of attacking from any angle. Winning a round in Bounty Hunt begs you to use every tool at your disposal.

Of course, Titanfall isn't just about the multiplayer. We didn't get to see it in action, but Titanfall 2 will bring a true single-player mode to the franchise for the first time. The protagonist team in Titanfall 2 is a sentient AI mecha who is forced to adopt a pilot in order for both to survive. The unlikely pair must learn to utilize each other's strengths to avoid destruction in a hostile environment. We're not sure what will change from single-player to multiplayer, but at very least it looks like there will be special cooperative elements not found in the multiplayer titans. The single-player sizzle reel ends with the titan tossing his pilot across a deadly gap that couldn't be circumvented alone.

Titanfall 2 is shaping up to be a very worthy successor to the original game. We only got a small amount of hands-on time with the multiplayer segments, but it felt like a proper amplification of the original title. The titans were cooler, the pilots more mobile, and the gameplay more intense. Bounty Hunt feels like it could be a must-play mode for both hardcore and casual gamers alike. Hopefully, the single-player campaign can live up to the fast-paced multiplayer that the first game introduced. Titanfall 2 hits PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on Oct. 28 of this year.

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