I’m embarrassed to admit, but before this past weekend, I was a Titanfall virgin. Luckily Titanfall 2 will be released on PS4 alongside the other platforms so I was able to spend the weekend with the pre-alpha tech test. If this teaser is anything to go by, Titanfall 2 should be a serious competitor for the other big shooters coming this holiday season.
Here’s the lowdown. Respawn are running technical tests over two weekends, so if you missed this one fear not, you only need to wait a few days for another chance to play. The pre-alpha is available for PS4 and Xbox One, unfortunately no PC for this one. It includes a single player training mode with leaderboards and three multiplayer modes. Pilots vs. Pilots is the traditional team death match which supports 8v8 gameplay. Amped Hardpoint sees teams of eight capturing locations on a map and harnessing their mechs when enough credits are earned.
Bounty Hunt is quite a unique mode. Players gain cash for killing foes and at the end of each round that money can be deposited into a bank. The team with the most money banked is the winner. Although each time you die, the credits you’re holding are halved. On top of that, a force of AI enemies, pilots and mechs, provides an additional threat. Bounty Hunt is impressive in that the better you perform, the more nerve-racking the experience.
The pilot’s movement is fluid and fast-paced. Aiming from the hip or down the sights feels simple, and there was very little recoil from the weapons I sampled. Each weapon has a selection of attachments that are unlocked by gaining experience. The gunplay and weapon customisation are reminiscent of Call of Duty, although, in Respawns defence, the design choices that were inspired by the behemoth yearly franchise have become staples of modern shooters.
Harnessing the double jump, wall run, sliding and unlimited sprint makes you feel incredibly powerful until you’re reminded by a string of quick deaths that everyone else possesses the same skills. The grappling hook was easily the best item available. Titanfall 2’s maps are designed for verticality, with experienced players utilising hard to reach areas. The grappling hook allows even the most rookie gamer to reach these heights in a matter of seconds, opening up the full potential of the maps for everyone.
The demo offered up two different mechs to try out. Like the pilots, each mech possesses a range of unique abilities and characteristics to cater to different playstyles. The Ion Titan is a faster mech, suited for an offensive playstyle, while the Scorch Titan was slower, but possessed greater firepower, better suited to defence. These hulking machines are not overpowered, and only as useful in battle as the player piloting it. Experienced on-foot pilots can make use of their heavy weapons and structures as cover to sneak around and cause significant damage to the Titans.
FACT: Titanfall 2 is developed using a heavily upgraded version of Valve’s Source engine, the same engine used for Half-Life 2 all those years ago. Titanfall 2’s pre-alpha holds up against almost all other games on the PS4 concerning graphics, and I only experienced minimal frame rate dips.
I managed to play the pre-alpha over two days without experiencing any technical or network errors. Respawn even had dedicated Australian servers up and running for the test which was greatly appreciated. On the second day of the test, there was an announcement stating that Respawn had listened to player feedback and made changes to the time it takes for a Titan to drop. It’s clear that Respawn is committed to giving new and returning players the most enjoyable experience possible, and hopefully the feedback provided from the Alpha will evolve it further before its release.
Next weekend’s tech test will feature different mechs, gadgets and maps with an increase in the level cap from 10 to 15. I will be returning next weekend and am very much looking forward to trying the single player campaign when the titan’s fall on October 28.
Michael Vane is a freelance journalist and co-editor of PN2. He’s on Twitter @DrVane