The lights are on
Titanfall has been out for a couple of months now, but the Respawn level designers haven’t been idle. The new Expedition map pack is the first of three planned DLC expansions for Titanfall. I took the day to dive into the three new maps through a variety of game modes.
The first thing I noticed about the Expedition DLC is what it doesn’t include. Some players have been asking for new match options or ways to play, but Expedition is purely focused on new multiplayer maps – with one small exception. In a smart move, the game now includes a new match option that lets you play variety pack matches only on the three new maps, ideal for players who have exhaustedly explored the original release. If you haven’t played since the first few weeks after release, Respawn has also delivered a couple of patches. The biggest addition is private customized match play (currently in beta), as well as a number of balance tweaks that even out some of the spikes present shortly after launch, such as buffing the underpowered quad rockets and adjusting scoring on Hardpoint Domination to encourage more offensive play styles.
My favorite of the three new maps in the Expedition DLC is Swampland, both for its visual distinctness and some fun gameplay options. Swampland finds your pilots and titans running through a wilderness environment dominated by towering trees, and ancient ruins are juxtaposed against modern water processing facilities. The dense foliage makes it great for highly mobile pilots, but some snipers may have trouble finding a good vantage point beyond a couple of high perches among the trees. Players who love the parkour elements of the game should be delighted by the ninja-like jumps now possible between the rounded trees, letting you traverse vast stretches of the map’s center without ever touching the ground. The map is versatile for game modes, enjoyable to learn, and pleasantly different from anything on offer in the core game.
Wargames isn’t a new game mode, but rather a second map that offers a fun twist on the standard strong presentation of a match. Rather than flying in on dropship, the pre-match cinematic sees you strapping into a networked series of simulators like the one you use for training the first time you play Titanfall. Once plugged in, you’re inserted into a city environment that looks like it’s half finished, filled with artifacts and walls that remain unpainted blocks. Imagine a standard Titanfall map run through a Tron filter, and you’re getting close to the right expectation. Like Swampland, I loved the parkour options here. But unlike single trees, Wargames is dominated by long, closely spaced walls, allowing for lengthy runs and wall jumps to cross the stage. When mounted up, Wargames is a particularly strong map for a strategic session of Last Titan Standing. Tight corridors (for a Titan) with lots of crossings force teams to work together or perish alone.
Runoff feels like the odd one out in the group of three, if only because it doesn’t seem that different visually from what we’ve come to expect in previous maps. That doesn’t make it bad. Rather, I like the industrial corridors of this water treatment plant and its many options for vertical gameplay. A depressed canal trench runs through the middle of the map, offering a quick crossing if you dare risk the ambushes that are likely to come in from above – particularly valuable (but deadly) in CTF matches. My favorite matches here were Hardpoint Dominations – each of the three capture points offered valuable options for both titans and pilots. While only one can be captured by a titan, the other three can be easily defended by titans, making each spot a challenge to hold for very long.
I’m a big fan of Respawn’s level design work on Titanfall, and these three new entries do nothing to discourage my enthusiasm. Delivering an environment that is fun to play for the size scale of both titans and pilots is no small feat. Swampland, Wargames, and Runoff all succeed admirably in this regard.
If one is to take issue with the Expedition DLC or the wider Titanfall experience two months in, it’s that so little else beyond new maps is being added to the game. Respawn has undoubtedly crafted some superb game modes and balanced an incredibly complex combat experience, but with 15 excellent maps already available in the core game, it feels as if there are other places that could receive attention. New weapons, game modes, additions to the campaign multiplayer, or progression rewards like a new titan chassis would all offer some added excitement. But as of this first DLC pack, little has changed from the original experience.
If that experience is what you love about Titanfall, there’s absolutely reason to be excited about Expedition. The three new maps are worthy inclusions, and offer further evidence of Respawn’s talent at creating great multiplayer spaces. As of launch, Expedition is priced $9.99, or you can pick up the season pass for $24.99, which will also include the two future DLC packs.
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