I have no shame telling you that I was never great at Titanfall, the 2014 competitive multiplayer shooter in which humans and colossal machines scrimmaged on the same battlefield. Following a brief demo of Titanfall 2, I’m more optimistic about my odds — and the odds of folks like me — in the sequel. I credit the grappling hook.
In the original, newcomers to the genre could succeed easily as one of the titular titans, robotic craft the size of a deli, loaded with enough missiles to dispatch a rival battalion in seconds. But most of a multiplayer match was spent as a "pilot," fleet-footed soldiers that fought at ground-level — when they weren’t leaping into the air, running on walls, and climbing Titans like Major Kong riding the atomic bomb.
I believe I can fly
The original Titanfall did a lot to make playing as a pilot welcoming, like offering a pistol that sought targets autonomously. As in most shooters, though, a gulf appeared between those who played regularly, and those who had a more casual relationship. The best players mastered the acrobatics of the pilot class, leaving us less talented folk on Earth, vulnerable to both Titans and highflying pilots alike.
The grappling hook is Titanfall 2’s remedy. As a lanky human-sized robot, I fired the grappling hook at the roof of a building, leapt over the roof, and flung myself into battle. The hook finally gave me the benefits of verticality and speed, without requiring even half the skill.
Goodbye, learning curve
In the past, trying to close the gap between myself and a Titan gave the craft enough time to spot me, aim its guns, and unload. In Titanfall 2, no sooner did I spot a Titan than I zipped through the street, over its head, and onto its back.
My favorite moments in the original Titanfall were spent wrangling Titans, trying to bring them low with little more than my pilots bare hands. By the end of a single match of Titanfall 2, I was slinging myself from one Titan to the next, removing batteries from their backs, and stuffing grenades into the hollow, vulnerable space.
There’s plenty more to Titanfall 2 — the much anticipated campaign wasn’t playable at today’s event, though EA published footage this morning — but for sequels, sometimes the most compelling reasons to return to a world is a small, incremental improvement. One tweak can make a big difference.