I’ve had fun with Titanfall 2’s pre-alpha, but I wouldn’t say it’s better than the original. It has its problems. A lot of problems. And a lot of people are complaining.
But let’s start with the positives. The thing I’ve enjoyed the most so far is the grappling-hook. It allows for more freedom to quickly navigate through maps, if you’re skilled enough. Running along walls and slinging through trees and over buildings has a Spiderman-like feel to it. Titanfall’s movement system already felt liberating compared to most other FPS games, and this only furthers that sense of freedom. Now I can just grapple to the top of buildings. No more spending thirty seconds to climb a twenty-metre wall for me!
Weapon balancing is a little all over the place. Pulse-blade might be a little too powerful with its wallhack style ability. The R-201 assault rifle still feels a little too good at range. Adversely, the Alternator SMG absolutely dominates in close quarters, only needing three shots to kill (two shots with a damage boost). Snipers feel much more useful than they used to, which is thanks to the current maps, which have long alleys and high-nests that make sniping a lot easier in such a movement based game.
However, the alpha also suffers because it feels a lot slower; in part due to mechanics, and partly because of map design. It’s a lot hard to move quickly around these maps compared to the original. Homestead in particular is very open, which is great for Titans, but terrible for Pilots. I played one ‘Pilot vs Pilot’ match that had the majority of players just sniping each other.
Boomtown is more reminiscent of the classic urban Titanfall maps, but something just doesn’t feel quite right. It might be the reduced Pilot speed, which makes it a bit harder to get from A to B. Executions are no longer a quick snap of the neck, but drawn out animations that are unavoidable if you melee an enemy from behind. If I’m out of ammo, I don’t want to spend precious seconds stabbing an AI Grunt as his teammates shoot at me. I just want to punch and run.
Titans themselves have far less of a presence than what should be expected. Previously they were on a countdown which was sped up as you earned points through kills and capping objectives. But in Titanfall 2, there’s no countdown, only points. Not a problem in ‘Bounty Hunt’ where scoring is easy, but in ‘Amped Hardpoint’ most players wouldn’t get a Titan during a match due to the limited ways to score.
There are other methods to build your Titan. The fastest way is to rodeo an enemy Titan and take its battery, then place it into your teammate’s Titan. The process is a little involved, but promotes teamwork and can nab you two-thirds of your Titan’s build time and restore the friendly Titan’s health. The downside is if your battery is stolen, you lose a significant amount of health. As there are few anti-pilot countermeasures, this makes Titans feel a little under-powered against Pilots, but that could be my lack of skill.
Something that’s great about the Titans is actually the reduction of customisability. The two available Titans feel unique and require different approaches. Scorch uses explosive and fire based weaponry and can be devastating in close ranges, whereas the Ion Titan uses laser and energy based weapons for sustained fire from medium to long ranges.
A lot of people are calling for Titanfall 2 to be delayed, which I think is over-kill, this is a ‘pre-alpha’ after all. The main problems are due to balancing, and they could be fixed before launch in two months. Respawn have already reduced the time it takes to earn a Titan in ‘Amped Hardpoint’. That’s not to say I’m not concerned about the issues; you might want to hold off on buying it until you see the reviews. But overall I’ve enjoyed the multiplayer so far (mainly as I got collateral snipe, as well as my best airborne quickscope ever in the first day). Here’s just hoping they also solve the original’s biggest issue, content.