The thing that stood out for me, when playing Titanfall 2’s multiplayer last week, wasn’t the double jumping, wall running, or the Titans, but the guns. They’re all of a fairly conventional sort, with the most outlandish technological notion being a laser LMG, but they’re also fun and feel great to play with.
There’s actually only a relatively small number of guns to choose from, but Respawn have clearly poured over them to make sure that they’re satisfying to shoot. There’s the usual array of SMGs, LMGs, sniper rifles, shotguns, and so on, with many of them coming across from the first game, but there’s also the more unusual weaponry.
One LMG starts off firing slow, before ratcheting up the rate of fire over a few seconds, there’s a shotgun pistol that fires a trio of firecracker-like blasts, a sniper rifle that fire two parallel bullets, and an SMG with two little ears on the barrel that go back and forth as it fires bullets from its two barrels. You may notice a bit of a theme there, but it’s an effective little twist to the various gun designs, and they’re almost invariably satisfying to use. Remove the mobility and pace of the pilots, take away the Titans and the fascinating imbalance of power, and the fast and furious gunplay can easily hold its own.
Of course, for many of those who played the technical test, they’ll want to know what Respawn have done to tweak the game in time for launch. Many people loved what they got to play there, but a lot of fans of the original were not so enamoured. One of they key tweaks, which was actually made during the test, was to preserve your higher speed from wall running, letting you leap across vast gaps as you blaze a trail from one side of the map to the other. It lends the game a frighteningly fast pace, and when you’re skating round corners on your knees, or gunning people down as you run along walls, and more, there’s a delightful fluidity to the game.
Some maps do a better job of catering to that than others, and it’s fair to say that the three maps in the technical test were not the best examples of the game’s freeform mobility. More maps in the final game cater to the kinds of end to end wall running that was a staple of the first game, but even those first three maps feel better and more flexible to play on.
The game needs that variety though, because of the range of game modes on offer. Attrition returns, blending team deathmatch with being able to call in Titans and having AI grunts and spectres there to let you keep your team’s score ticking over. It’s still a great mode and sure to be the game’s go to mode.
Amped Hardpoint takes the Hardpoint Domination from the original and lets you overcharge a control point to score twice as many points, but there’s little to explain about Pilots vs. Pilots or Capture the Flag. Bounty Hunt, on the other hand, needs a little bit too much explaining, with AI grunts and AI Titans being dropped into the battlefield, with each AI kill earning you cash to deposit at a bank between rounds. It’s a clever mode, but takes a little while to get used to in comparison with the clarity of Attrition and the other modes.
Another key thing that Titanfall 2 does right is give you more visual cues as to what to expect from your enemies. Titans still come in three sizes, but they’re now bespoke, named classes, with set weapons and abilities. The smaller frame of Northstar soon became my go-to, with its charge up rail gun able to deal massive amounts of damage from afar – and it’s always fun sniping pilots – while Ronin was another smaller Titan, but one that specialises in getting in close and wielding an electrically charged sword. They’re both a big difference to Legion, one of the heaviest Titans, with a chaingun in its hand that has an energy shield built into it.
Each Titan is more easily identified, and so too are the pilots. You can still pick skins, but the various outfits and designs to the characters will let you know if they’re rocking the cloaking ability, stim packs, can phase shift, send out holographic decoy soldiers, or whatever.
Oddly separated from the rest of your loadouts are the boosts. It’s here that you’ll find things like a placeable turret, a weapon damage boost, the ability to wind yourself back to where you were stood a few seconds before, and it’s also here that you’ll find the Smart Pistol. It’s no longer a main weapon, let alone a secondary, but a limited use booster with only a small number of bullets, that replaces your secondary weapon until you die. It’s still just as good as before, letting you blast away rapid fire and land practically every hit to great effect.
All of this is built into a fairly conventional progression system, with new weapons and items unlocking as you level up. However, one twist is that you earn credits as you play and rank up, letting you buy certain bits of gear before you’ve earned them.
Having sunk plenty of time into Titanfall 2’s multiplayer, I’ve had a blast. I was a big fan of the original game, as Respawn led the way for the current era of ultra fast paced first person shooters, but the sequel shows that they’ve gone through the game with a fine tooth comb and made tweaks here and there. The weapons have been added to in interesting ways, the new game modes are nice and varied – it’s still all about killing, at the end of the day – and even just the new battery system where rodeoing a tank and supporting your team is a thoughtful and meaningful twist.