Two years ago, the phrase "Standby for Titanfall" represented the dawn of a new age of first-person shooters. Most of us were familiar with FPS games like Halo, Call of Duty, and Battlefield, but none of them were as ambitious as Titanfall. There was certainly no shortage of praise for Titanfall's mix of high mobility gameplay and responsive Titan controls, to say nothing of how it appeared to have influenced the design of future games. Unfortunately, the game fizzled out after a very strong release, partially due to the divisive effects that DLC map packs have on a multiplayer only game. With Titanfall 2 though, Respawn Entertainment is attempting to capture lightning in a bottle again, albeit with some very major tweaks to the core gameplay that Titanfall was known for.
Compared to the first Titanfall, Titanfall 2 is unquestionably larger in scale. Gone are the maps that almost exclusively featured combat in narrow city streets and sprawling urban slums. In their place are maps that have no shortage of grassy hills and plenty of open sight lines. While this does make Titanfall 2 much more visually appealing, it does have quite a large impact on gameplay. Like its predecessor, Titanfall 2 features gametypes that revolve around five or six person teams and a cadre of AI controlled cannon fodder (although said cannon fodder seem to be much more scarce this time around), but due to the comparatively small maps, there was never a significant lull in action. However, the fact that Titanfall 2's maps are much larger means that the action is much more dispersed, leading to some situations where you simply might not be able to find any other players or AI controlled characters. Of course, this may be a symptom of how people are trying to get acquainted with the maps, but it is a rather noticeable change that has resulted in less combat, and more importantly, less Titans being deployed.
Similarly, your customization options have been expanded in Titanfall 2, despite the odd lack of Burn Cards. Weapons, perks, player faction preferences, your choice of organic or robotic characters, and new abilities (think grappling hooks and sonar knives) represent just some of the things that you can tweak to your liking. However, it appears as though your ability to customize your Titan has been drastically reduced, meaning that you can really only adjust your Titan's perks (or at least that's the case in the public test version of the game anyways). In Titanfall, you could select one of three chassis and equip it with a number of perks, primary and secondary weapons, and a fair amount of abilities. In Titanfall 2, it appears as though you are limited to selecting a Titan from a list of pre-set Titan loadouts, and that's more or less it. While this does make each Titan chassis feel unique, it is somewhat annoying given that you can't really adjust anything on what is supposedly your personal battle-bot; a disadvantage that is compounded by the fact that it seems like the Titans themselves are weaker (i.e. no shields) despite how horribly the rodeo mechanics seem to have been nerfed.
On the bright side, Titanfall 2's core gameplay is more or less untouched from its predecessor, featuring most of the same mobility and fast kill times that attracted almost universal praise when it was first debuted. The end result is a game that is very aesthetically pleasing (with the possible exception of the somewhat cluttered UI), with enjoyable core gameplay, but you can't help but feel like something seems a bit off when you compare it with its predecessor. Much like the Titans themselves, it seems like every aspect of the original game was improved with the notable exception of its "soul", not too different from completely renovating a house and realizing that the furniture inside is very strange and unfamiliar (at least for now).
The Titanfall 2 Technical Test was previewed on the Xbox One. It is also available on the PlayStation 4 and will return on August 26-28. Titanfall 2 is expected to be released on October 28, 2016.