Electronic Arts has taken the wraps off a big update to Titanfall that adds ranked play, "map stars," visual optimizations, new unit types, and three new modes of play including Frontier Defense, a cooperative four-player battle against waves of IMC enemies.
The Frontier Defense mode, demonstrated on Twitch, is the big hook in today's hefty Titanfall patch. Pitting four players against increasingly difficult waves of AI attackers, it adds some all-new types of enemies to the action including Sniper and Suicide Specters, Arc Titans that can drop the shields of opponents who venture too close, and Mortar Titans that lob heavy shells from a distance. Defensive turrets can be placed around the battlefield, and new Loadout Crates will enable on-demand loadout switches during battle. Players who are killed in combat are returned to the field via a dropship that circles above the action before landing, allowing pilots to fire on their enemies through side windows before touchdown.
Two other game modes will follow Frontier Defense: Deadly Ground on November 5, in which the floor is covered by electrical fog, thus strongly encouraging wall-running, and Marked for Death Pro on November 26, a round-based version of the Marked for Death mode.
The update also adds "map stars," three of them for each primary game mode of each map, which players will earn based on their performance. The stars are persistent, and new Titan Insignias can be unlocked by earning 30 stars in a particular game mode. Seven new Titan Insignias have been added as well, two for Frontier Defense and five for Map Stars completion.
Ranked play has also been added to the game, although it will remain in beta at least until the end of October. Once the beta is finished, ranked play will be opened to all players of level 32 or higher, with new seasons beginning on the first of each month. All Gen 10 players will be given access to the beta automatically, and will also be able to invite other players to join in.
The PC version of the game will enjoy a number of changes under the hood as well. Those with the horsepower to handle it can take advantage of HBAO (horizon-based ambient occlusion) and either 2x or 4x TXAA (temporal anti-aliasing). Load times are now "significantly faster," decal rendering has been further optimized, and the interface has been improved to include a countdown indicating when new daily challenges will come available.
As promised, this is a big update, and there are numerous other additions, changes, and fixes above and beyond the main points listed here. A full breakdown of what's in store is up at titanfall.com.