Hands-on with Titanfall 2's robot-punching and grapple-hooking

Seriously, the grappling hooks are great.

At the end of my first match of Titanfall 2, while the clock was running out, I jumped into a Titan and started punching people to death, because I could. If they never make a good PVP Pacific Rim game, I think Titanfall multiplayer is about as close as I am going to get. In Titanfall 1, my favorite moments were all about making a very large robot punch other robots, and I wanted to make sure that Titanfall 2 delivers on the same Pacific-Rim-esque fantasy.

And, to be honest, I think it probably does. In the two matches I played, Titanfall 2 seemed in most ways like either a close replica of or a decent improvement on the original. The jumping and wall-running is still tight. The robot-punches feel and sound like a sports car trying to assassinate a backhoe. (This is a compliment.) Player movement is still quick, maps still encourage verticality, and traversing them seems is easier than ever BECAUSE THERE ARE GRAPPLING HOOKS NOW, THANK GOD. Heavy weapons are so destructive and so punchy that they feel as if they should be illegal. By earning points from completing objectives rather than murdering my peers, even a console-shooter incompetent like me could earn enough Titan activations to keep the rhythm of a match interesting, and the Titan abilities are still completely ridiculous. All in all, my short time with Titanfall 2 pretty much confirmed that all my favorite bits about the original are still here, and they still look and feel great.

Let’s talk about the grappling hooks: they are very good. I love them. They are an optional part of a pilot build, but they feel essential, and they fix a big problem that I had with the original. First-person 3D navigation gets a lot easier when you can grapple yourself to the precise surface that you want to hit. The original Titanfall’s wall-running and jetpack-boosting was usually pretty intuitive, but it was easy to miss your mark, and sometimes it felt as if I was fighting the system a little bit. With Titanfall 2, the grappling hook made me feel like an expert after sixty seconds in the game.

The matches of Titanfall 2 we played at EA Play today were objective-based: specifically, we played a bounty hunter mode where two teams of players face off against one another and NPC Titans simultaneously. Waves of enemies would appear around the map, and after enough of them had been killed, we’d get a wave of extremely intimidating Titans, each one with a unique name and loadout. Both teams damage the Titan as fast as possible, and once its heath bar is depleted, whichever team succeeds in executing or hijacking the wounded NPC titan wins the wave.

Objective gameplay is hard to judge during a press demo, because most players in these demos are interested in just experimenting and getting a feel for the game and its new features. During the first round I played, I performed very poorly with respect to my k/d ratio, but was able to come in first on my team because I was the only one completing objectives. Although we don’t yet have a full multiplayer modes list for Titanfall 2, but I’m hoping there are a few more creative ones like this one in there.

Titanfall’s guns continue to be competent and satisfying sci-fi bullet-monsters. The heavy weapons designed to tear down Titans are still extremely rewarding; there was nothing I liked better in Titanfall than making a thirty-foot-high robot cry, and I basically did it again in the match I played today.

In my short look at it, Titanfall 2 seemed at least as competent, visually impressive, and mechanically satisfying as its predecessor— and that one was pretty dang satisfying already. I hope we get a look at the single-player campaign soon!