Titanfall 2’s first tech test has come and gone, and developer Respawn is promising to address a number of complaints a significant portion of the community have levied against the mech shooter.
But those complaints are wrong.
Respawn is going to run another test this weekend for Titanfall 2, and it will feature faster character speeds, an ever-filling Titan meter, and different maps. In a blog post today, the studio explained why it made some big changes to how Titans work from the first game to the sequel. It claims it wanted to improve gunplay, encourage teamwork, and focus players on the objectives. During the test, I paid no attention to how forums around the web were reacting to Titanfall 2. Instead, I put in 10 hours of gameplay, mostly in the Bounty Hunt mode, and I came away impressed with how great it felt — and how smart the Bounty Hunt mode is.
Why Titanfall 2’s Bounty Hunt is wonderful
Titanfall 2 and Bounty Hunt work because of a number of factors. It has a nice ebb-and-flow as well as a strong risk-reward mechanic. Players only get points if they’re killing off waves of A.I.-controlled enemies near dropzones that are marked on the map. This attracts both teams to these hotspots to fight over creeps. Naturally, as A.I. Titans drop, they are worth even more points, which take the form of dollars in this mode.
As you rack up the cash by playing the objective, you also are getting bonus money. At the end of each wave, two banks open up, and you can deposit that bonus to help your team win even faster by increasing your team’s total. Like with the DZs, the banks attract players, but now you have a huge chance to kill an opponent and steal half their bonus before they have a chance to deposit it.
This loop creates several rounds of two teams fighting to get to the A.I. fodder and then fighting directly against each other. Going back and forth between these two goals elevates the action by adding drama to what is happening.
By the fourth or fifth wave, when both teams are fighting over giant A.I. Titans that are worth a lot of money, every shot is important. And then, if you happen to get the takedown, you have to try to make it back to the bank with upwards of $500 on your person. The other team can see that by looking at the stats page, and they can try to cut you off by waiting to ambush you at the bank.
It hurts when you lose a gunfight and watch the credits drain out of your account, and it is exhilarating when you snatch a huge bonus from someone on their way to make a deposit.
While I loved what I’ve played of Titanfall 2, I got the sense that most people didn’t understand what the hell they were doing in the objective modes. I finished on the top of the leaderboard with the most points for my team almost every time, and I ended up outside of the top two maybe once. So I’m betting that most people just need to take the time to learn what they’re doing.
But Respawn isn’t sitting back and praying that people will have patience. It is addressing nearly every complaint that you might’ve heard over the weekend. Only, I’m not sure how necessary some of them are.
The studio clearly turned down the speed of your pilot a bit in Titanfall 2. In the next test, Respawn is addressing that.
“We’ll be tuning air speed and wall-running speed to be faster,” reads the company’s blog. “[And] players should once again accumulate and retain more speed when chaining wallruns.”
Accumulating and maintaining momentum is awesome. That is something that I’m glad Respawn is fixing, but I think the slower overall character movement made the game more fun as a shooter. Respawn claims that was its goal in the first place, and it succeeded. Getting into battles with people didn’t turn into two pilots randomly flailing in a million directions and was more about getting your gun out and aiming. If you do want to turn into a tough target to hit, your character can now chain wallrunning, sliding, and skills like grappling or holograms together to evade and avoid danger. It requires a little more skill to get into the flow of piecing slides together with sprinting and special moves, but it’s something most people will get the hang after a few matches.
Another major complaint people had were in regards to how fast players acquire a Titan, how long those mechs survive, and how fast they move. Respawn is also answering these concerns.
“Pilots will once again acquire a small passive amount of Titan meter every few seconds,” reads the blog. “[And] titan dashes will recharge faster.”
During my time with Titanfall 2, I noticed that if I played the objective, I got my Titan relatively quickly. The development team claimed that was its goal. I understand that it’s frustrating to play the objective and not get a Titan because you didn’t do very well, but I think most people were off killing pilots in Bounty Hunt mode and then wondering why they didn’t get a free Titan.
Faster-moving Titans are fine — although Torch and Ion (the only two Titans in this demo) lumbered around appropriately in this demo to me. And they also seemed like they could survive in plenty of situations, and this is the one point where Respawn is standing its ground.
Here’s what the team said about that in its blog:
“This is one of the more complex issues to address for several reasons. First, we’ve changed from Titans having energy shields to a new Titan battery system which we believe improves rodeo gameplay and rewards teamwork. In Titanfall 1, rodeo was lethal to Titans, forcing pilots to disembark and engage in a 50/50 fight. In Titanfall 2, the rodeo pilot steals a battery and damages an enemy Titan. If they can give that battery to a friendly Titan, the Titan receives a shield and the Pilot gets Titan meter points. As players become more familiar with the system, we expect that Titans will live longer. This is an area we will continue to monitor leading up to launch.”
It took me a few games, but the battery system really started to make sense. While I was running around as a pilot, I loved jumping into fights where one of my team’s Titans was taking on an opponent in his mech. Stealing a battery from the enemy and jumping off and immediately popping it into my teammate’s rig almost always guaranteed that we would win that fight. Titanfall 2 already gives you the option to tell your team that you have a battery with the press of a button, and it’s an interesting mechanic that should make team fights more complex.
Red outline on enemies
Titanfall 2 shows players who is your enemy by putting a red outline around their character. That’s something we’ve seen in games like Overwatch. Players have a problem with this because it can mean that snipers can easily spot and shoot you from across the map. Respawn is answering this.
“We’re going to bring in the fade distance for enemy outlines so they don’t reveal pilots at extreme distances,” reads the blog.
I don’t think the studio needs to do anything more than this. One of the maps in the tech test is friendly to snipers because it has a tall tower overlooking everything right in the center. But I found that those players rarely made a difference in the way matches went, and it was easy to punish them with an assault rifle or large machine gun from a distance. Even if they are stealing bonuses in Bounty Hunt, they have to get all the way from the center of the map to the banks on the outer ring to make a deposit. That creates a high probability that they’ll get into a closer range fight before they can reach their target.
Titanfall 2 is out October 28, and Respawn obviously wants to reassure fans that it is listening and can make rapid improvements so that no one does anything crazy like cancel their preorder. But I also think that the studio is on to something great here, and I don’t want the developer to overcompensate by letting the players take the lead. That could spoil something that is working. And I’m betting once everyone gets a chance to see Titanfall 2 working with a larger lineup of maps and fuller roster of playable Titans and pilots, most people will come around on it as well.