I love Titanfall. Though light on cosmetic customisation and all the extraneous fluff we're used to from modern console shooters, it delivered where it counts: numerous exceptional maps and forward-thinking mechanics that makes most other games feel flat and sluggish. Also massive robots. Who doesn't like massive robots?
We scored it accordingly, but over the last few months, things have taken a turn for the bizarre and macabre. Despite a great new map pack hitting all platforms and the core gameplay remaining effortlessly entertaining, Titanfall's matchmaking has somehow been getting worse, not better. Due both to a declining player base and some foibles of the Azure cloud servers (and the last update being broken), we've often had to wait several minutes just to find a session even in the most popular gametype, while the community becomes increasingly irate at the lack of customisation options and modes.
The moaning began. Understandably. Something has to give, and soon, because a shooter I play on a daily basis is now more difficult to recommend than empirically worse games.
Thankfully, Respawn has now revealed a massive new update that... if it works... will fix almost everything we had a problem with; from the overpowered Carbine to the paucity of gametypes.
You can read the details on the official site - and you should. It's a seriously impressive list of fixes, tweaks and, more importantly, meaningful additions to the experience.
In terms of the big new features, Update 4 is set to add a new Featured Game Mode into the mix. This extra gametype will cycle every so often, providing a new experience to dip into alongside the existing modes. As we've often seen in Halo and CoD, fan-favourites could well become permanent fixtures. The first game mode will be 'Marked For Death,' which challenges each team to hunt down an opposing MVP while defending their own.
Fans of cosmetic customisation will finally get to express a little of their personality thanks to Titan Insignias, which are unlocked via completing challenges. This feature is long overdue and comes complete with an optional Challenge Tracker to keep an eye on your personal objectives.
Titans will also receive a new selection of weapon-specific burn cards, which should be easier to keep track of thanks to an expanded card limit that increases with Generation Level and the ability to earn cards over your maximum threshold. There's more, too, from more intelligent auto-Titans to selectable voiceovers that let you make your metallic pal sound like a British butler.
I'm delighted to report that the Carbine is also receiving some much-needed attention. The default weapon was simply too versatile, overshadowing situational weapons in point-blank at extreme distances while locking down mid-range. In effect, using anything else was purposefully hobbling yourself. Brilliantly the Carbine will now recoil too significantly to be used effectively at long-range, making the newly beefed-up Hemlok a more viable option.
And then we have bug fixes, UI tweaks, achievements and more. Again, be sure to read up on the post.
All fantastic stuff, all things we need and want, but none of it will matter if the matchmaking doesn't improve.
Despite working brilliantly at launch, some borderline-broken updates turned Titanfall's matchmaking into a bit of a farce. The Azure servers tend to be obsessed with lumping random PUGs together rather than finding us active sessions or creating new ones, leading to tedious and in many cases deal-breaking wait times on both PC and Xbox One.
"We've made improvements to matchmaking & team balancing," promises Respawn. "Now, teams are rearranged just before the level loads, to further balance the teams' skill and player counts. You'll notice that you're greyed out in the lobby until teams are set. You'll also notice "Connecting…" as players join a match."
Promises, promises. And very promising. As a Titanfall fan myself, I'd love to be able to wholeheartedly recommend it again.