It feels like only yesterday when we were being inundated with a tidal wave of marketing for Titanfall, the multiplayer-centric, marines-and-mechs FPS that looked like it was going to revolutionize AAA shooters back in 2014. Then the game came out and... kind of faded into the background after a month or two. Even with all those thrilling robot fights, the playerbase didn't stick around, despite the fantastic premise and explosive presentation. Fortunately, the team at Respawn Entertainment is getting a shot at redemption with Titanfall 2 - now with giant swords to complement all those colossal guns.
EA will assuredly drop a megaton payload of Titanfall 2 info at the EA Play event that coincides with this year's E3, but for now, hard info on the game's features is pretty scarce. Now's the perfect time to go through our wishlist for the best ways Titanfall 2 can improve on the original; we're keeping our mech-suit fingers crossed that some of these changes make it into the sequel and give this Titan more staying power in the cutthroat FPS arena.
The original Titanfall did have a story campaign, but it felt more like a multiplayer tutorial than a narrative-based adventure set in the Titanfall universe. The levels took place in the multiplayer maps, not in environments created specifically for the story mode, and the only real difference in the campaign was that NPCs spout the forgettable narrative in your ear. Titanfall 2 needs a dedicated story mode that truly introduces players to the Titanfall universe, and better explains the conflict between the Militia and the IMC (while making sure we get to play those stages in a logical progression, unlike the haphazard pacing of the first game). Give us massive set-pieces, largescale Titan battles, and characters to relate to, and we'll get invested in seeing the series' future installments.
Titanfall has some incredibly entertaining gameplay mechanics, giving players the ability to act as some of the most agile and technologically advanced soldiers on any virtual battlefield. But great gameplay doesn't guarantee staying power with the playerbase, and there are few reasons to keep playing the original game with its small arsenal of weapons and Titans. Titanfall 2 needs to motivate players to keep coming back to multiplayer matches with more equipment to earn, advanced gameplay options earned at higher levels, and better reasons to move on from the default assault rifle (because that thing is way too good). Give us multiple firearm models to earn for each weapon type, futuristic gadgets that change the way matches are played, and Titans that make lower level players jealous.
Titanfall matches used a lean 6v6 structure, likely because the game needed to run smoothly on the aging Xbox 360 in addition to the current-gen systems. To prevent matches from feeling too empty, a steady stream of AI-controlled minions would fight amongst themselves and shoot at players if given the chance (just like a MOBA). The problem is that, from a distance, some AI bots' silhouettes look almost identical to that of an opposing player, so you might think you're dominating a human before realizing, no, all you did was drop a borderline-brain-dead grunt. In order to make a minion kill actually feel gratifying, they'd need to act and fight like a human would, instead of wandering around aimlessly or letting enemies casually walk on by unscatched. A more extreme solution might be to get rid of the minions entirely; while their presence gives less-experienced newcomers more targets to shoot at, they can feel like clutter getting in the way of player-versus-player duels. With any luck, Titanfall 2 won't have to restrict team sizes to account for potential performance issues.
Yes, the act of calling in your personal mech from orbit to smash down and wreak havoc is right there in the game's name, so it's fine to expect some Titans falling every time you play. But unlike the killstreaks of Call of Duty, or the carefully placed power-ups of a classic arena shooter, bringing your almighty mech into the fight is a sure thing, no matter your skill level. With each mech drop timed at roughly two minutes (which you can speed up via kills), the map is practically flooded with mechs at all times, making them feel way less special when you're calling one in for the 30th time in an hour. Yes, every player should have the chance to call in their mech every so often, but Titanfall 2 ought to make your giant robot pal feel earned, rather than inevitable. To make their arrival feel even more momentous, they could be stronger and more resilient as a tradeoff for their rarity, making them feel way less disposable and inconsequential. And just imagine how many trillions of dollars each faction will save on 'bot production.
Titanfall beat Call of Duty to the punch with its exhilarating methods of futuristic movement, specifically with its double-jumping and wall-running that let your pilot bound around the map like a techno-acrobat. And while the maps are designed to reward those who get particularly creative and seek out new pathways, the average player has no incentive to learn the intricacies of the best ways to speedily traverse each map. Titanfall 2 ought to encourage mastery of the pilot's movements with guided versions of each map with suggested routes, or add tricky levels designed exclusively to test your jump kit skills (and track them via leaderboards), akin to the ingenious Freerun mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. That way, newbies could practice their parkour with some helpful guidance, while experts would have a new way to show off their dexterity. Moreover, it would simply be tons of extra fun.
The first time you bust out the Smart Pistol - particularly against a group of AI grunts - it's a blast. Thanks to its auto-lock-on aiming and quick rate of fire, you can eliminate multiple targets in the blink of an eye. But when it comes to firefights with real people, the Smart Pistol is a weapon that breeds contempt, as dying to it is the absolute worst. Watching a killcam of someone merely glancing in your direction and letting the gun do all the work is enough to trigger anyone's feelings of "That was complete BS" unfairness and frustration. Even if someone skillfully got the jump on you, it's all but impossible to give them credit for using a weapon that automatically finds its mark, especially in a genre that rewards skillful aiming. It's fun to use, no doubt - but maybe it should be relegated solely to single-player shootouts, made way less effective at scoring speedy kills, or axed entirely.
Titanfall missed a huge opportunity to let players bedazzle the hell out of their Titans. Giving players the ability to pilot their own mechs opens up plenty of personalization opportunities and Titanfall 2 needs to allow players to differentiate themselves. We want to be able to do custom paint jobs on the armor, hang trinkets in the cockpit, or even customized attack patterns for the unmanned autopilot mode. Your Titan should feel like an extension of your personality giving you a chance to leave a mark on the battle and customization goals to work towards. Not only would we feel awesome taking our personalized mech into battle, but earning new customization options would give players a reason to play the game for hours on end.
With most of the environments in Titanfall, you wouldn't know if you were on an alien planet or on Earth. There's plenty of variety with maps set in deserts, forests, and mountainous areas, but most of the maps are set in military bases making each location feel same-y. Titanfall 2 should put an emphasis in highlighting the worlds that players make war on. And because the game's canon isn't limited to environments on earth, the alien planets can be a bit more outlandish and make players feel like they really are far, far away from home on some remote battlefield. Instead of confining us to manmade locales, Titanfall 2 ought to break the mold with ancient alien ruins, treacherous lava fields, or any host of exotic territories that break away from all the steel and concrete structures.