Last week, Titanfall didn’t just get the Frontier’s Edge map pack, the second of three packs that are part of the season pass, but it also saw the fifth big update to the game, which adds features and tweaks for everyone playing the game. Admittedly, it’s been a while since I last played Titanfall, but with almost five months since launch I hopped back onto my PC to see how it has come along since then.
Most of the changes made in update 5 come outside of the main online gameplay, with the daily challenges and black market the two marquee features. It’s quite self explanatory, but with daily challenges, three new challenges are added each day for you to try and complete in game. They’re all things that you can do quite quickly, and even within a single match, compared to the regular challenges for 1000 kills.
These will cycle out every three days, as there’s a maximum of nine that you can have concurrently, so it’s a neat way of giving the community new things to do and it’s actually quite interesting to see just how many people were using the Arc proximity mines and the smaller Strider titan over the weekend, just because those were featured in the daily challenges.
The other thing that will draw players to these is that completing them earns you not just XP and particular burn cards, but also credits for the black market. Now, these are a purely in game currency, so this is not the inward creep of microtransactions, but there are similarities to the sticker packs from Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare. Just as in that game, you buy packs of random burn cards, with the more you spend earning you rarer and more powerful cards.
The only thing is that I’ve never struggled for burn cards and actually find myself forgetting to use them over the course of a match. So I’ve always got tons and tons of them spare, and throw a lot of them away, earning myself a few credits back in the process. The objects of desire are the Titan insignias which can be bought for 25000 credits each, and come in addition to the reams of insignias that were added for challenge completions in a previous patch. Having said that, I’ve no idea where to look for an insignia in game.
All in all, these all feel like pretty minor changes. The biggest difference in update 5 is how people play with the daily challenges pushing them to do certain things, but the core gameplay remains largely the same. Much more important is that Respawn are showing an active interest in continuing to improve the game and look after their community, however small the changes are. The way that they only have a small selection of game modes, and will swap them in and out to keep them populated is quite a good one, for example. The current one is Marked for Death, where a player on each team is made the target and must try to outlast their opposite number, and puts another twist on that central interplay between Titan and Pilot.
However, I’m not sure if many of these features are going to see many people coming back to the game. The gameplay is still just as good as before, I found, with the mixture of AI and human enemies helping me to still feel like I was contributing as I got back up to speed with the controls. If you’ve strayed away from the game, though, I don’t think that even Marked for Death is enough to switch up the gameplay and bring people back, and certainly not the black market or daily challenges. Those will merely serve to try and keep people invested for longer.
What will grab peoples’ attention and pull them back in is the new DLC maps. Frontier’s Edge features three new locations, the grimy industrial complex of Dig Site, the labyrinthine and densely packed buildings of Export and the idyllic beach resort of Haven. Each is really quite different, and there was that learning process of trying to feel my way around the new layouts. Export was the worst for me, and I’m still not all that confident of getting around on it, aside from two or three landmarks.
Export’s big feature is the towering bridge-like construct that goes right down the middle. It’s a lot of close quarters fighting as you go between buildings, and I feel that Pilots potentially have a bit of an advantage over Titans because of the number of small interiors and doorways they can tuck themselves into. As the Titan combat gets more intense around the centre of the map, ejecting Pilots have the chance to try and get up onto some of the underslung pipes of that central bridge and can snipe down from above. But, that doesn’t make this a very sniper heavy map since there’s a distinct lack of cover to hide behind and shooting an electrical doodad in one of the many buildings lets you send electricity surging along it, frying anyone standing up there.
Dig Site has a similar centrepiece, with a big rock saw at one end providing the high ground. This one’s quite a dark and dank map, with a lot of industrialisation, but feels to me like Titans reign supreme, thanks to the rather open areas that surround the more central complex. On a couple of occasions, I was able to survive really quite a long time through a match and rack up a lot of kills.
Finally, Haven is quite a strange one. I quite like the theme and setting, that of an expensive resort, filled with shops and clubs, and I love the way that Pilots can potentially wall run between the upper reaches of the skyscrapers. Fighting amongst the buildings and on the beachfront is wonderful, but it’s also visually quite jarring in some ways. It feels like everything on the map is just too big, from the cars and busses that are wrecked on the road, to the size and scale of the building interiors. It means it all feels quite open, as a consequence, but it just feels odd.
There’s plenty to enjoy across the three new maps though, and I feel that as a whole they’re a good way to shake things up. I just have concerns about their longevity. They’re split off from the main game, so that you’re put into a separate lobby and map rotation, rather than merging everyone together via matchmaking. While I don’t have the previous Expedition pack, I can’t help but feel that this will end up with DLC player counts dwindling quite quickly.
Strike that, I’ve been told below that they will crop up in the regular rotation, but that’s something I didn’t spot over the last few days. Gives me a good excuse to head back in and double check!
What they can do is bring people back into the game that bought the season pass, and that allows all of the little changes that Respawn have made over the last few patches to add up to something more significant, as they strive to keep people invested in the game. It won’t be long, however, before thoughts turn to the next map pack and eventually to a sequel.