Titanfall was a clever, fresh take on the competitive arena team shooter, but it quickly vanished from our regular playlists and seemed to peter out over a scattering of map packs. Nonetheless, we harbour fond memories of the month or so we spent dropping mechs onto the battlefield. Titanfall's jetpack-powered traversal systems were a joy, the guns were loud and deadly, and battles were busy with NPC droids and dropships. It was great. 86% great, to be precise.
Titanfall 2 could be quite special. With only a meagre teaser trailer to go on so far, we've been thinking about what we want from the sequel. There is lots we'd keep, like those tense end-of-match chasedown sequences, but we're always hungry for more. Here's what we want from Titanfall 2.
More mechs, more customisation
Titanfall had three mech chassis with easily identifiable silhouettes. They had different special abilities and varying strengths and weaknesses—small and fast vs. big and tough, and so on—and could be customised with different weapons and gadgets. Extra classes are an obvious expansion point for a sequeI, so we have to speculate—is the sword shown in the brief Titanfall teaser be an inventory item, or part of a dedicated close-combat class of Titans?
New Titan designs means more tactical options and interesting counter play. More than anything It would be great if the Titans weren't so grey. Where are the violent pink paintjobs and skull-and-crossbone decals? Imagine customising your Titan's drop-in effect, adding a lick of red flame and, perhaps, the odd firework to set yourself apart. Decorative items give you a way to show off on the battlefield, and they let you build a personality in a way that loadout unlocks don't.
Season passes kill competitive games. Specifically, they kill first person shooters: including the first Titanfall. EA have stuck with this business model even as other publishers have started to move away from it, and it’s currently the biggest obstacle in Titanfall 2’s path. Respawn hit upon a tight competitive formula with the first game, but that doesn’t matter if people don’t stick with the game beyond the first couple of weeks after launch. Plenty of other online games have done player retention right, and the key is offering players exciting, low-barrier-to-entry reasons to come back. Charging the full price of the game again for a year of mediocre maps that divide the playerbase has the opposite effect.
The problem is that it’s very profitable. Here’s hoping that Respawn and EA look into other, less damaging ways to make money from the game post-launch. Again, Titanfall is a perfect vehicle for cosmetics, after all: I’d happily pay for a couple of Titan skins if it meant having free maps every couple of months.
Titanfall had real potential as a serious competitive game: it was fun, dramatic, and had a lot of scope for team play. The problem is that the interest wasn’t there from a developer standpoint, and traditionally it’s not something that EA have been particularly concerned about. Lots of major FPS publishers are moving in the opposite direction: Activision acquired MLG, after all, and Ubisoft have enthusiastically pushed Rainbow 6: Siege’s nascent competitive scene. This is another way to solve Titanfall’s player retention problem. If the community spends their lunchbreaks watching the latest round of pro play, they’ll want to play the game when they get home.
Even if you don’t care about watching other people play, supporting esports benefits everybody who plays the game. Whether you want tools to make machinima or simply a better-balanced game, there are reasons to support the development of a competitive scene.
Multiplayer PVE activities
One of the biggest complaints about The Division is that its endgame isn’t meaty enough. There were high hopes for the raid-like Incursion activities, but ultimately the first one amounted to little more than a bullet sponge wave mode set in a single room which canny players were immediately able to ruthlessly exploit for top tier gear. Now we know that Titanfall is embracing PVE content in the form of a single-player campaign mode, it would be exciting to see that approach taken further in the form of substantial co-op multiplayer content. Imagine fighting through mechanically complex encounters like those in Destiny’s Vault of Glass or King’s Fall raids. BUT USING MECHS.
Capture the flag
According to a Respawn blog post in May 2014 only one percent of the community played Titanfall’s surprisingly good capture the flag mode. There was some controversy as the developers removed and then reintroduced CTF, but it was too late for the mode. If the playerbase falls below a certain threshold, matchmaking can't give players quick games, and fewer people stick around to try it. It's a vicious circle.
Titanfall CTF was a strange and chaotic affair, but the addition of huge metal walkers enabled dramatic new escape strategies for flag carriers. As a lone pilot, you're a small target, and with good map knowledge you can carve a route across the map at a blistering pace. Alternatively you can hitch a ride on a friend's mech and brute-force your way home, preferably with a convoy of robo-friends. Titanfall's exceptional parkour systems makes it a great game for chase scenarios, so if we don't see CTF (and we very probably won't) we can hope for other modes that encourage players to chase each other down. Alternatively...
Pure parkour game modes
Titanfall’s traversal was one of the best aspects of the game, so it felt like a lost opportunity that some form of deadly time trial mode didn’t come in the package. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 beat Respawn to the punch last year with its parkour-oriented Free Run competitive mode, but there’s no reason Titanfall 2 can’t do it too, with improvements. Any opportunity to hone those traversal skills in a competitive context would be welcome, even if it resembled something like Lovely Planet—a speedrunning affair with a focus on speed and twitchy, one-shot-kill combat. Whatever the case, Respawn nailed movement in the original, so it’d be fun to spend more time with it.
A larger Titan that you can put your Titan into
What’s cooler than summoning a robot shell from the sky? Summoning another, larger robot shell that throws your first robot into it. A matryoshka titan, if you will. With Netflix’s Voltron revival a couple of months away, this would be a timely addition. If this for some reason isn’t within the scope of the project, we would accept titans that could be operated by multiple players simultaneously.
What would you like to see in Titanfall 2?