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E3 2016: Titanfall 2 First Impressions and Preview

by on June 22, 2016
 

During E3 2016, Electronic Arts held the the very first EA Play event. Since Electronic Arts didn’t have an actual presence on the floor at the actual convention, EA set up its own event right across the street from the Los Angeles Convention Center at the Novo Theater in LA Live. ToonZone was on hand to check out and actually play Titanfall 2. Respawn Entertainment found great success with its multiplayer first-person shooter Titanfall, but Titanfall 2 is going to take the franchise in some slightly new directions. For starters, Titanfall 2 will be truly multi-platform. The game will be playable on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The demo at EA Play featured the PlayStation 4 version of the game. However, the other big addition is the presence of a new single-player campaign, which the first game did not have.

The first Titanfall was a decent enough game, but it seemed lacking in some areas. However, with Titanfall 2, it truly comes off infinitely more playable. The Titanfall 2 demo was just a lot more fun and intuitive that makes it seem like Respawn Entertainment has really cracked the franchise open here and created something truly special. For starters, using the PlayStation 4 controller for this game is a dream come true, at least as a longtime Sony PlayStation gamer. At times, playing Titanfall on Xbox’s rather big and cumbersome controller made the process a bit more daunting. Now, using the PlayStation controller makes the process of playing Titanfall 2 a whole lot smoother.

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The demo allowed players to control one of the new player classes for Titanfall 2, the Front Rifleman. What’s exciting about the Front Rifleman is that he’s armed with a retractable and reusable grappling hook. The grappling hook feature plays remarkably well and makes traveling around the map a snap. The grappling hook is a versatile feature that makes combat and travel in the game that much more fun. It’s a great way to get to some higher to reach parts of buildings, and it can also be used in battle to grapple onto Titans. Using the grappling hook, the Front Rifleman can grapple right onto a Titan and cause damage that way.

The gameplay mode for the demo was Bounty Hunt. In Bounty Hunt, the computer randomly assigns AI bounties for players to take out on each opposing sides. Bounty Hunt made for some fun gameplay, as players jockey for superiority in a military exchange. For the demo, Bounty Hunt comes off like a very strong objective-based gameplay mode. Team strategy and communication for multiplayer is very important. However, when a strategy pays off, such as attacking an enemy from both sides, or performing a pincer move on a Titan, the payoff becomes that much sweeter.

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Even the Titan gameplay came off as more fun and action-packed for the demo experience. There will be even more Titanfall models to choose from in the actual game, but the demo only had a few models to pick from. For the purpose of the demo, I picked a model that had a mix of good defense with an energy shield and some powerful rolling bombs. The Titan also has the ability to shoot a high-powered laser. Titan gameplay and movement feels a lot smoother this time around. The learning curve for the combat and Titan mechanics is smaller. As a result, the Titan showdowns and battle royals come off as way more exciting and explosive. Even if the team is unsuccessful, there’s this great sense of getting into a Titan will give you a feeling of charging toward a giant tornado and laying the smack down on it. There’s a certain thrill with the ability to “rodeo” a Titan. Using the grapple to rodeo the titan is awesome because it launches the pilot right on top of the hull of the Titan to either rip out its battery or sabotage it with a grenade.

In short, it was a lot easier to dive into the world of Titanfall 2 with the demo and have lots of fun. After the experience of playing the original Titanfall the first time around, I walked away with the feeling of, “That was OK.” In the end, I ultimately had no desire to buy or play Titanfall again. But after playing the EA Play demo of Titanfall 2, plus the news of the new campaign, it’s a game I definitely want to play more of again. Respawn Entertainment took the basic ideas of the original that worked, enhanced them and appears to have built an even better sequel.

One flaw that’s worth pointing out is that some of the free-running and movement techniques that were present in the first game return for this one. The map that was playable for this demo is quite wide open with little in the way of tight corridors or areas to perform wall runs or wall jumps. The benefit here is that a single-player campaign is being built for Titanfall 2. Some of those techniques will likely become a better fit for the game’s single-player mode. However, in terms of these movements and techniques for the multiplayer mode, having these abilities comes off as rather ¬†superfluous. Or rather, they superfluous in the sense that the maps do not really seem conducive to perform running wall jump moves and attacks throughout the gameplay.

Granted, the grappling tool makes dynamic movement and travel throughout the maps in multiplayer a lot more feasible. With the way the grappling hook item can literally launch you through the air and to greater heights, it seems to be the best way to ease players into the freedom of movement that the Titanfall series allows for its gameplay experience.

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So far Titanfall 2 is looking like a very promising game. Based on the demo alone, it looks like Respawn Entertainment really nailed the gameplay for the sequel. Now, I’m looking forward to enjoying more of the Titanfall series and where the franchise, along with the new storyline will go. Titanfall 2 arrives on Friday, October 28 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC via Origin.

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