Titanfall 2 Pre-Alpha Impressions (PS4)
Though extremely limited in its progression system, the original Titanfall was a blast to play and there was nothing better than the feeling of calling down your mechanized battle suit and watch it impact the ground like a meteor before jumping into it to cause some havoc. Thankfully, that feeling hasn't changed and for the better, neither has Titanfall.
Playing by myself, the Titanfall 2 Pre-Alpha works especially well. Aside from a few graphical hiccups here and there, the game looks and plays beautifully. After changing around the controller settings, I launched into the new 5v5 mode, Bounty Hunt, which is basically a wave system where after each wave, the opposing team needs to deposit cash earned from collecting bounties on non-playable characters such as grunts, spectres, and even enemy titans, and whichever team reaches the deposit limit first, wins. And the bigger the enemy, the better the cash. It's a really fun mode and reminiscent to Halo 5's Firefight.
Playing with friends however, is a nightmare. The 'Invite Friends' option rarely works properly, and is often times unresponsive when selected. And sometimes, the game requires to be restarted for it to work at all. When friends are able to join one another, there is a 50/50 chance that someone will be kicked before a game even starts. Just this morning, I twice joined my friend's party and was twice kicked once he found a match. It's a real hassle but with the game being in Pre-Alpha, it's hard to get really upset. As long as the networking issues are resolved by release day, I'll be a happy customer.
The game itself is great. The controls of Titanfall 2 feel really tight, which is a given considering it was developed by Respawn Entertainment, a company amassed of people who previously worked on Call of Duty. As a result, shooting feels satisfying and the overall speed of the first game is still intact, running at a buttery smooth 60 frames per second. Wall running and vaulting are still there from the first game as well but the levels themselves don't feel designed around wall running like they were before so I often forget to use it and often only use it vertically when climbing walls. With the inclusion of the grappling hook, wall running is made even less useful as the grapple becomes a better mode of transportation than anything else. However, in order to use the grapple, it must equipped to the character.
Characters can now select different Tactical abilities, similar to Call of Duty: Black Ops 3's character class abilities, but they're not character specific and only one can be equipped per loadout. So far in the Pre-Alpha there are only five abilities: Pulse Blade, a throwing knife that emits a sonar revealing enemies in the area which can also be used as a weapon; Grapple, which allows players to reach new heights and even grapple enemy titans; Holo Pilot, a holographic projection that can be used as a diversion to escape sticky situations or draw out enemies; Stim, which heals the player and boosts speed temporarily; and the Cloak, which turns players invisible. I've only tried out the Pulse Blade and Grapple so far but both are very useful in certain situations.
Weapon variety is commonly scarce due to the game being a Pre-Alpha with only one Assault Rifle, two SMGs, two LMGs, two Sniper Rifles, one Shotgun, and one Grenade Launcher for the Primary weapon slot while there are three Anti-Titan weapons such as the laser beam Charge Rifle, a Magnetic Grenade Launcher, and the Thunderbolt, which fires a slow-moving tesla bolt. There is a Pistol which can be equipped in place of the Anti-Titan weapons but it's really only useful during the Pilot vs Pilot mode that excludes the use of Titans. I've been enjoying all of the weapons so far and I haven't really picked favorites as they're all unique in certain situations. I really didn't like the Thunderbolt at first but playing with it more and more, it's become rather handy against titans and even smaller enemies.
The Titans themselves are still a blast to play and it's still cool as hell to watch a titanfall and after the player jumps into it. The Pre-Alpha only comes with two Titans (that I know of): Scorch and Ion. Scorch deals specifically in incinerating its enemies via a one-shot incendiary grenade launcher, an incendiary gas trap once ignited that causes area damage, a fire wall that extends towards enemies, and a fire shield. Ion is more of the assault-based titan with a large auto energy rifle, a shoulder mounted laser cannon, a vortex shield that prevents damages and catches all incoming rounds, and a laser barrier trap. Both titans also come with a Core move, similar to an Ultimate like anyone would use in Overwatch or most MOBAs. Scorch's Core move is a giant shockwave that causes enormous damage and Ion's is an Iron Man-like chest laser that decimates enemies. I'm absolutely loving Scorch and since switching to it, I haven't looked back at Ion. Some men just want to watch the world burn.
This is the first of two weekends the Pre-Alpha will be open and I'm excited to see what Respawn might be able to implement into the second weekend. Here's hoping they can fix the 'Invite Friends' issue but the only thing I'm worried about is longevity. Within the first week, I was able to unlock everything I wanted in the first Titanfall, after which I lost interest because I no longer felt any progression, no dangling carrot on the stick. I really hope there's enough to keep me around a little while longer this time, especially with Battlefield 1 releasing a week earlier.
Titanfall 2 will be released on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 28, 2016.