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Is EA Sending ‘Titanfall 2’ Out to Die?

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Luckily the infamous “difficult second album”doesn’t usually apply to videogame developers like it does to musicians. An overblown second album might, inadvertently, subvert expectation and alienate the artist’s initial fanbase, but luckily the nature of video game criticism and the willingness of game developers/publishers to listen to their audience usually helps to improve on the foundations of the original rather than dismantle it.  When presenting the first gameplay footage of Gears of War 2 at E3 2008, Cliff Blezinski summarized the direction of all sequels perfectly when he proclaimed Gears would be ‘Bigger, better and more badass.’ Fortunately It appears the good people at Respawn have taken this philosophy on board with Titanfall 2, unfortunately it’s been sandwiched between two of the highest- selling franchises in video game history which might prove detrimental to the success of Titanfall as a life-long franchise.

By simply observing the Titanfall 2 E3 gameplay footage it’s clear to see Blezinski’s rule-of-three in action.

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Bigger

The inclusion of a solo campaign is a welcome addition to its bare-bones first installment. The original’s multiplayer maps always hinted at a deeper story with a living, breathing world, but with only a half-hearted, online-only campaign mode there was never any real context provided, and the lasting effect was that of emptiness and missed opportunity. The Titanfall 2 campaign trailer showcased an intriguing concept built around the idea of the relationship between a pilot and their Titan. The trailer also showed off the dangerous wildlife last seen in the original Titanfall – hopefully they’ll take on a more crucial role in the story whilst adding a bit of diversity to the enemy roster.

Better

As with most action titles, once the main campaign is over it’s time to take off those training wheels and dive straight into the multiplayer. New pilot abilities such as teleportation and decoy clones add a new level of dynamism to proceedings without feeling overpowered. New Titan classes increase the possibilities of mech strategy; for example a new fire-based Titan’s primary function is the elimination of standard infantry through the use of (you guessed it) incendiary hellfire. Titans can also wield weapons such as swords and spears, but their effectiveness remains to be seen.

More Badass

Simple: the grappling hook. Aside from it’s non-lethal functions such as reaching and swinging to those hard-to-reach areas, the grappling hook can also be utilized for a more sadistic style of play. By grappling an enemy in mid-air and propelling yourself towards them you can perform a cheeky melee execution, and the best part is they will never see it coming.

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It would appear that Respawn have taken all the criticism, from the original game, into account whilst working on Titanfall 2, and it shows. It is strange, then, that EA have confirmed its release date for October 28th 2016; a week after EA’s hotly anticipated WW1 epic Battlefield 1, and just a week before Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, the latest installment of the world’s most popular video game series. The last game in the series went on to become the highest- selling title of 2015 across multiple platforms.

Right-off-the-bat EA made a wise choice to expand on Titanfall‘s appeal by making it a multi-platform game – the Playstation 4 audience eclipses the user base of the Xbox One, but will it even matter if consumers already have to choose between Battlefield and Call of Duty? Is it perhaps a bold move on EA’s part to completely disregard Call of Duty from the equation on account of the latter’s disastrous trailer reactions on YouTube? (Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare being the second most unliked video on YouTube). EA might be offering its faithful customers the choice between a sci-fi shooter and a WW1 shooter, but it doesn’t make any sense releasing another FPS within a week of their core title.

Even with a lackluster reception, Activision knows what their audience wants. The announcement that a remastered Call of Duty 4 will be bundled with the special edition copies of the game might prove to be the deciding vote for those who were originally unsure. So where does this leave Titanfall 2? A game that, by all accords, has improved on every design flaw of its predecessor, while still being a relatively youthful franchise in comparison to the annual Call of Duty titles. Why not just avoid the mad gaming rush of the holiday season and aim for early next year during the usual gaming drought? As things stand, Titanfall 2 is at risk of repeating history: a series of empty game lobbies, but the fault won’t lie with Respawn. Is it still a difficult second album if nobody listens to it?

Films, games and music: the big three! If you like any of these, chances are we're going to get on just fine. I'm just a balding, goggle-eyed 26-year old Masters graduate from the UK, and I'm here to talk games! Let's dance.

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