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Titanfall 2 Was a Massive “Disappointment”

I understand how thoroughly I’m going against the hivemind of the internet with this opinion, but you must understand before you read these complaints that I was a massive fan of the original Titanfall.

I got up to fourth regeneration (prestige), twice. I unlocked practically everything and continued to play after I did. The only reason I actually stopped playing was because the Australian population died more than me actually wanting to stop playing it.

So, when Titanfall 2 was announced, despite the rough edges of the original, I was massively excited. I pre-ordered the game, I played the multiplayer beta, and I was let down in so many different ways once the game was out.

Understand that I have beaten the campaign, and I have hit generation 2 (Titanfall’s terminology for ‘prestiging’) so I have plenty of time in Titanfall 2. Heck, I’ve tried going back to it more than a couple of times. The last time I tried, the game was 100% dead, with 30 minute wait times for a match (note: I play on PC). So, with all of that said, let’s take an extensive look at just how Titanfall succeeded, and how Titanfall 2 failed.

The Campaign Story

How Titanfall nailed it—

The sense of scale in-universe was unreal, every map felt different, and vital to ‘the war effort’—it was pretty obvious why you were fighting over a spectre factory or a fuel depot. The story being delivered in the background by audio log was actually surprisingly engaging, and the lack of set pieces made moments like the planet blowing up underneath your feet feel more impactful.

Why Titanfall 2 was worse—

The entire game is restricted to one dull planet, in a universe full of thoroughly more interesting places to visit (see: every other planet in Titanfall). Outside of one or two set pieces which always get bought up whenever someone brings up the campaign, most of it is entirely unmemorable landscapes. Most of the characters from 1 don’t show up in 2, with the few that do show up feeling shoehorned in, and at the end, the war doesn’t feel like it’s gone anywhere at all, compared to TF1 where a planet exploded with actual consequences.

The Campaign Level Design

How Titanfall nailed it—

Having story and multiplayer be on the same map gave the level designers tons of time to play around with the concepts they were working with, and most of the levels feel huge, are fun to play in, and are all memorable in their own ways. You have plenty of options for on foot, in titan, and a combination of both. You can definitely argue that this is an unfair comparison, but I would say that it inserts some level of expectation about what the sequel should do, level design wise.

Why Titanfall 2 was worse—

They went Call-of-Duty style full blown action set piece bonanza on it. Under normal circumstances this would be alright. The downside to this kind of design is that it often restricts you in one way or another—on foot, levels are either simple obstacle courses or point-and-shoot galleries, and you can’t mix the two. Enemies do a lot of damage, and the higher difficulties aren’t afraid to kill you if you stick your head out for even half a second. When your Titan does show up, the levels are even more linear, with a ton of wasted potential. When you play Titanfall, a game about you running over the sides of buildings, and commanding a robot buddy in the streets below you, having a level set on a train almost feels like an insult.

The Gameplay – Pilot Movement

How Titanfall nailed it—

The physics on the pilot were perfect. Taking a pilot, running around on walls, shooting at people from those walls, and pulling off ridiculous tricks with nothing but your mouse and keyboard was one of the most satisfying things to do in an FPS to date, while still being friendly enough to pick up and play. Manoeuvrability is king in making Titanfall feel like Titanfall.

Why Titanfall 2 was worse—

They screwed with it, and they screwed with it hard.

The community outcry at the worse physics, less speed, and just general nerfing of pilot agility was heard somewhat after the multiplayer beta did not impress, and they tried to patch it post launch, but the sluggish feel still remains after all this time. The grapple tactical feels almost mandatory for a Titanfall player to feel comfortable with Titanfall 2.

The Gameplay – Pilot Combat

How Titanfall nailed it—

While Titanfall had limited weapon variety, each one slotted perfectly into a way to play, and since there were so few guns, each one was tweaked to handle effectively. Pilots get three weapons, so you could fight anything you came across—main gun for the first pilot, pistol for the grunts, anti-Titan for…yeah—even if the enemy had a slight advantage over you because your weapon wasn’t great against theirs.

Why Titanfall 2 was worse—

There weren’t many additions to the weapon selection, and all of them felt like gimmicks.

Pilots only had two weapon slots on launch, meaning way less versatility—choosing whether you wanted to mainly fight Titans or Pilots/Grunts is a decision you should never need to make in Titanfall. This error was so obvious they patched in a third weapon slot after the game came out! This also resulted in rendering Grenadiers—a new type of weapon introduced in Titanfall 2—useless. Grenadiers were most likely introduced in an effort to allow for a weapon that could effectively combat both Titans and Pilots so that the two weapon limit wouldn’t hurt as much, but they ended up being horrible for both, and you never saw any online even when the two weapon limit was around. Also, no smart pistol, at all, only as a Boost.

The Gameplay – Pilot on Titan Combat

How Titanfall nailed it—

Not every Titan got a free ‘go away’ cloud, making it an interesting challenge to approach a Titan. You could actively kill a Titan if you wanted to, meaning that the other Pilot would have to come out and face you, or risk losing his Titan, meanwhile it was a heavy risk to mount a Titan over long periods—anyone could shoot you off at a moment’s notice. Any damage you did would stick. The risks were high on both ends of the combat. And if you didn’t want to get close, the anti-Titan weapons, while lower in number, were equally as effective in the hands of a skilled pilot.

Why Titanfall 2 was worse—

Every Titan got a free ‘go away’ cloud.

This reduces Pilot vs Titan combat to “get close, run away, get close again when the smoke wears off.” You can only take a small portion of the enemy’s health, and it’s strangely easy to just turn around and finish a Pilot that attacked you while in a Titan, but with no way of easily getting your battery back.

Rechargeable shields took away the permanence of some of the Titan combat. And when you hop off a Titan, you have to make an effort to find a friendly one so that you aren’t wasting resources, taking you out of the fight for a while. Anti-Titan weapons were nerfed, with the only truly useful one being the Archer Rocket, leaving most of the real fighting Titans to be Titan v Titan.

The Gameplay – Titans

How Titanfall nailed it—

The customizability of your Titan, while somewhat limited, meant you could make your own style, from glass cannon grunt killing machine to tanky Titan-tormentor. Leveling up, while not the best unlocking system, at least gave you a constant supply of stuff to work with. Every Titan in Titanfall is capable of taking down another Titan in head-to-head combat, one way or another. It’s cool to see the first-person animation of getting in the Titan.

Why Titanfall 2 was worse—

The preset Titan classes, while okay at first, are thoroughly predictable and eventually become less entertaining to fight. You know exactly what a Titan has and what it’s capable of as soon as you see it on screen, leading to no fun surprises or changes in tactics.  If you come up against a Titan that you’re bad against, you might as well just give up and eject. Leveling up individual Titans in order to unlock their special kit is repetitive and not fun. They removed the first person animation of getting in the Titan as well, taking some of the personality with it.

The Gameplay – Progression

How Titanfall nailed it—

While it did borrow the traditional kills-and-challenges system from Call of Duty, there were a lot of challenges for literally everything you could do, and that resulted in a lot of rewards, both in leveling for upgrades, and disposables like burn cards. It ensured that you would be rewarded for every step you took. Prestige progression relied on ridiculous, yet possible, challenges in order to push you and your skill to the limit.

Why Titanfall 2 was worse—

They introduced a new system, ‘credits’, which you earn at about the pace of a snail on a turtle. No more fancy challenges to speed up your progress with what you want to use, you have to be constantly swapping between weapons for the fastest progress. You only earn 2 credits for a loss and 3 for a win at the base level, making it feel like your leveling speed is on a roll of the dice. Credits can only be used on unlocking things early, and the prices are so high that it isn’t worth the effort. Infinitely less satisfying on a base level.

The Gameplay – Burn Cards and Boosts

How Titanfall nailed it—

You get three ‘burn cards’ per game, which are disposable boosts for that life and that life alone—anything from a slightly better weapon to a new Titan. Nothing in particular, even the free Titans, was particularly overpowered, and would let you do some fancy tricks, or try things like weapons you might not have yet. You would get them constantly via challenges, so you could use as many as you like, and try out ridiculous strategies as much as you wanted.

Why Titanfall 2 was worse—

The replacement, ‘boosts’, are glorified score-streaks that aren’t even particularly fun to use. Some are almost useless, such as the “Hard Cover” shield that you can’t move once you toss it down, or the Anti-Titan turret that’s too easy to destroy.  This easily could have been a decent Burn Card system (with a point limit on when you can use cards to fend off “but muh balance!!!” comments from the first game), but instead it feels almost inconsequential.

Multiplayer – Game Modes

How Titanfall nailed it—

Attrition was the main mode, was the best mode overall, and was treated like it, but modes such as Capture the Flag and Hardpoint Domination were well designed and still felt appropriate. Modes introduced later, like Marked for Death, were original ideas that were great alternatives.

Why Titanfall 2 was worse—

Attrition was nerfed into the ground in something that I need to cover in its own section. Bounty Hunt, the new ‘main mode’, was disliked so much that Amped Hardpoint took over, but its reliance on the ‘amped’ mechanic made the game much slower and less enjoyable, and special modes that really should have been upgraded into a main mode, like Marked for Death, continued to fall by the wayside as ‘featured modes’. Modes that didn’t really need to exist, like Live Fire, Coliseum and Pilots vs. Pilots took attention away from the good modes.

Multiplayer – Map Design & Scale

How Titanfall nailed it—

You felt like a big fish in a humongous pond. Maps felt true to scale, with some being absolutely massive. Grunts and pilots would look tiny in the massive open areas or complex city streets. Tons of paths between multiple central areas helped with feeling nothing like Call of Duty’s infamous three-lane design. You had plenty of room as a pilot to find your way out of tough situations, while it wasn’t impossible for a Titan to stick his head in and clean your clock if you weren’t paying attention.

Why Titanfall 2 was worse—

Blatant three-lane design across most maps, with most of the in-between paths being connectors to the others. The entire physical scale of the game is way off in multiplayer, with the entire world feeling simultaneously smaller and larger than it should be—it’s utterly bizarre if you’re familiar with TF1, then move straight to TF2. Most maps are unmemorable, boring slogs to fight on. The devs realised this, with several ports of maps from Titanfall, only for them to suffer pointless redesigns and scale problems, ending with them feel nothing like the originals.

Multiplayer – Attrition

How Titanfall nailed it—

The best mode in the entire series. Team Deathmatch with a twist—AI enemies running around trying to fight, and killing them earns points. You can control allies AND enemies if you want to risk your neck, and you get points for their kills. It’s entirely possible to win a game of Attrition by comp-stomping. They would move tactically, fight other groups and gave the entirety of the map an ‘at-war’ atmosphere, unlike any other FPS I’ve played before or since.

Why Titanfall 2 was worse—

The AI was nerfed into the ground.

Grunts are thoroughly dumber than before, Spectres have been made into annoying tanks that aren’t worth the effort to kill, the scale problems means there’s way less of them and they’re incapable of communicating a battlefield atmosphere. Inhumanly powerful tank units are dropped in at certain points, ruining the flow of battles.  At least they didn’t embarrass themselves by making this the main mode.

Alright, that’s a lot of things they got wrong in Titanfall 2. But surely they did some things better, right? Let’s go over what was better.

What Titanfall 2 Did Better

Free DLC maps…although that’s like commending a cat for not pooping on the rug.

You don’t have to be always online to play, which I can understand being a plus.

The time travel section and house building section in the campaign were kinda cool.

The relationship between BT and the player in the campaign was alright, if generic.

The new pilot ordnance isn’t terrible, and would have fit okay in Titanfall 1.

…honestly, I don’t have much else good to say, and I could continue with nitpicks for another few paragraphs.

I just can’t bring myself to like Titanfall 2. I played so many hours trying to convince myself it was a good game, but it fails in almost every way imaginable at being a good sequel, or a good game. I balked at the amount of people who loved it, when the original Titanfall was a superior game in every imaginable way.

I’m praying and hoping that Titanfall 3 swings back towards the original Titanfall instead of continuing on 2’s trajectory, but considering that Titanfall 2 is still the most popular out of the two games by far, I’m not holding my breath.

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Post Comment

  1. I understand the gripes you have with it but here are a few counter-arguments I’d like to throw out there;

    They wanted the movement to feel more weighty and tactical as well to balance Titan vs. Pilot combat

    They focused on one planet and a story of basically Behind Enemy Lines/The Iron Giant is because of the lack of a focused story from Titanfall

    I noticed no mention of Frontier Defense here(I really love that mode)

    Some people, myself included, kinda got tire of same looking guns and character models in MP so while I agree that the progression needed to be a lot faster everything looked much more pleasing and distinct.

  2. You make a lot of convincing points, and I’m very upset about it. Nice article lol

  3. I’ll always be bummed I missed out on both 1 and 2. I can still purchase, and play the campaign for 2, but the time to play the multiplayer for both games is long gone. It’s one experience I’ll be kicking myself for missing for a long time.

    • Semi-pacifist on March 3, 2019 at 10:07 am said

      2’s multiplayer is still active on xbox in the USA. You can snag it for 20 or less bucks as well. I still recommend picking it up but will admit Ben has a point.

      The game has a huge issue with its self-identity because it’s dealing with the sadness of not setting the world on fire with the first installment which was more to do with the bad release timing than anything. The whole point of the first was generating a interweaving, densely populated battleground. They nailed their initial vision.

      I won’t say Titanfall 2 is a bad game but they definitely gave up some soul in order to appeal to a larger audience. That being said Titanfall 2 has been my favorite FPS since its release beating every other big name shooter.

  4. I really wanted to hate this lol but I gotta admit you make good points. I love both games but will always prefer 2 over 1. To each his own, I suppose. I think we can all agree the real tragedy is what happened with TF3. Ugh. Goddamnit EA!

  5. This comparison is absolutely spot-on. There’s not much I could add.

    I will say, however, that I really loved the campaign in Titanfall 2. All criticisms aside, I enjoy a single player campaign, and Titanfall 2 gave it to me. While the campaign in Titanfall was engaging enough (if you paid attention to all the audio tapes), it still felt to me like the story was continually interrupted at the conclusion of each match while I waited in the queue for the next level to begin. Small complaint, I guess.

    On the other hand, the matchmaking in Titanfall 2 was such a jarring transition from its progenitor that it was completely unplayable. I did seem to enjoy it more so in the beta. Upon launch, though, I ran through the campaign in a single sitting, played some handfuls of matchmade rounds and then dismissed the game forever as an unfortunate waste of potential.

  6. Chris Higgins on February 19, 2019 at 6:44 am said

    I’m sorry, I cannot bring myself to believe your argument that Titanfall 1’s “campaign” is better than the one in Titanfall 2.

    To be clear, I love both of these games. They both hold a special place in my heart that has never been filled by any other games and likely never will be again. The campaign you mention being so good in Titanfall was nothing more than a 30-second cutscene before your generic multiplayer matches. It didn’t feel like a campaign. There was just no substance there.

    If a game studio includes a campaign in their game, which I think they absolutely should, then it should be just that. A campaign. It should not be multiplayer, and it especially should not just be a tiny cutscene before a regular multiplayer match.

    Titanfall 2 also had one of the best FPS campaigns in recent shooter history, with a great many people echoing this statement when they completed the game. Titanfall 1 did not share in this glory. It’s story amounted to almost nothing, even if the story they were trying to tell might have been good at first.

  7. ReprovedReaper on February 19, 2019 at 11:03 am said

    While I prefer Titanfall 2’s multiplayer, that is still something that is mostly subjective so I won’t commenting on that.

    Where I strongly disagree however is the campaign.
    Titanfall didn’t have anything that I would classify as a campaign it was just som audio conversations delivered over normal multiplayer combat which not only made it hard to follow (in fact reading this article is how I found out that apparently a planet exploded), but it also created other issues. Such as that your team could kick the absolute crap out of the other team that is actually supposed to win that engagement according to the story, which creates a huge disconnect between the narrative and gameplay, which is a really bad thing from at storytelling perspective.

    The fact that Titanfall 2 has a single player mode where the narrative is the focus makes it’s campaign objectively better.

  8. I never really good into Titanfall because I already play Mechwarrior Online (and probably the upcoming Mechwarrior 5 if it’s not bad) for my giant stompy robot fix. It was still a good read though. Always good to see direct design comparisons.

    Mechwarrior Online also had the same complaints as you did when they lowered the agility of the mechs in one update to make them feel more big and lumbering. In the end they slowly increased the agility of some mechs in another patch.

  9. Honestly I have to say, Are you Insane Titanfall 2 was better than the first in every way.

  10. I hate this and love this at the same time ( ͠° ͟ʖ ͠°)
    I hate the criticism of titanfall 2 , one of my best games ever
    But I love the fact that your points are damn good.
    (on a general note THIS makes this website worth it)

  11. Gravewalker on February 21, 2019 at 8:51 pm said

    I have to disagree with the author’s notion that the Titanfall 1 campaign is better than Titanfall 2.

    The Titanfall 1 campaign mode was essentially a series of multiplayer matches with some audio dialogue during the matches to give the players a little bit of context about the universe and some of its characters. However, this approach somes with its own set of problems.

    The frantic pace of Titanfall 1 meant that, during campaign levels, it was easy for players to miss story content simply because they failed to pay attention to a certain bits of dialogue. The player also could not explore and get to know the Titanfall universe at his or her own pace, because you were too busy trying to win a match. Also, having to wait in a queue before each match so that you could continue the campaign was quite jarring. If you happened to be disconnected from the game for some reason, it often meant that you had to restart the campaign from scratch.

    Except, perhaps, for Demeter, the Titanfall 1 campaign has zero memorable moments.

    Titanfall 2, on the other hand, has one of the best level designs I’ve ever seen in a FIrst Person Shooter, and I’ve playing these types of games for over 20 years. The game allows the player to use the standard Titanfall gameplay mechanics in ways that would not be possible in a multiplayer match. The way the game builds the relationship between Jack and BT was also magnificent.

    Having multiplayer matches with some story content is fine, but they are no replacement for a fully-fledged singleplayer campaign.

  12. Jun Chillo on March 1, 2019 at 11:25 pm said

    ok ok so i get what you mean about titanfall 2, its not the best sure. Titanfall 2 however is the best shooter to come out and we should support respawn and other titanfall projects, cause they know what they’re doing and they are listening to us.

  13. Burke Bigsby on March 12, 2019 at 8:53 pm said

    Scaled down Multiplayer maps, and having enemy p[ilots highlighted in red glow is the worst part of Titanfall 2’s gameplay to me. It used to be cool to find and route out enemy pilots on the ground, now you see them a mile away…and can hemlock burst them in one shot too (screw that gun). Sniping is also pretty much pointless in Titanfall 2. Multiple skirmishes across the maps turned into Call of duty style hot spot affairs.

  14. Thank you for the terrific post

  15. I’ve tried to talk to people about this very thing. I couldn’t get into 2 with all the changes I hated.

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