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Titanfall: Frontier's Edge Review | Come For The Update, Stay For The Maps

Jonathan Lester
DLC, EA, multiplayer, PC games, Respawn Entertainment, Xbox 360 games, Xbox One Games

Titanfall: Frontier's Edge Review | Come For The Update, Stay For The Maps

Platforms: PC | Xbox 360 | Xbox One (reviewed, £7.99)

Developer: Respawn Entertainment

Publisher: EA

Be advised: I'm still playing Titanfall and loving it. Though many players have departed over the last few months, angrily citing the lack of a metagame and arbitrary unlockables, the evergreen gameplay and superbly designed maps of Respawn's shooter ensure me a fresh and exciting experience every time I scamper along a rooftop or crush fleeing infantry into bloody smears under steel heel.

Mind you, Titanfall dropped the ball hard post-launch, which I've poked and prodded at relentlessly. From dwindling player numbers on objective gametypes to long matchmaking times and the lack of cosmetic customisation, there's been plenty to moan about. Thankfully Respawn have managed to patch things up in any sense of the phrase, resulting in a sharper, faster, more engrossing and customisable experience after a sequence of updates. Update 5 brings a new economy into the mix that adds a new dimension to Burn Cards, alongside extra fixes and tweaks that improve and expand the gameplay experience for free.

Titanfall: Frontier's Edge Review | Come For The Update, Stay For The Maps

Frontier's Edge feels like the last piece of the puzzle: three thematic stages that lack the obvious gimmicks of Expedition's trio, designed to tempt players back onto objective gametypes with smart scalable design. Come back for the update, then stay for the maps. We'll discuss both over the next few hundred words.

First things first, the maps, of which you'll get three for your £7.99 or included in the season pass. Set on the far-flung galactic frontier, they're all based around a mining complex that shows different sides of the operation, as well as giving us a look into how the less fortunate and more privileged humans live in Titanfall's far-flung future. There's a pleasing degree of environmental storytelling and 'lived-in' world-building that fleshes out the setting when you get your eye into the detail, but let's face it, we're here to snap necks and drop mechs.

Haven is one of the most colourful maps thus far, set in an exclusive holiday resort on a beautiful sunny day. Your first impressions upon dropping in are of bright blue skies, aquamarine seas and vibrant orange scenery, with most of the buildings and vehicles intact rather than eroded by years of brutal fighting. Once you've got over the striking visuals, however, you'll discover a labyrinthine selection of multi-level buildings, nightclubs and resort facilities clustered around open streets.

It's initially confusing, but a little exploration reveals a truly freeform level that caters to Titans and pilots alike, each room boasting multiple entry points and routes for savvy freerunners. Curved outer walls and angular corridors make for very different spaces to master.

Titanfall: Frontier's Edge Review | Come For The Update, Stay For The Maps

As will soon become a recurring theme, Haven is an absolute blast in Attrition but really shines in CTF and Hardpoint Domination. Capture points (one of which is situated in a multi-level Titan-accessible hotel lobby -- eep!) and flags are smartly placed in locations with numerous breaching options and zip lines, while DMR and Charge Rifle users can lock down rooftop approaches and windows. Shotgunners and SMG aficionados sprint through the maze-like interiors, abusing the complex yet never claustrophobic architecture, all as Titans duke it out in the streets and cramped central plaza below. It's a superb, vertical and versatile map; almost the highlight of the package.

Titanfall: Frontier's Edge Review | Come For The Update, Stay For The Maps

Export, however, manages to steal Haven's thunder. At first glance this port town looks like another hard Sci-Fi shanty that blends Mass Effect with District 9, but the level design is utterly sensational. A network of narrow streets and cramped buildings sprawl down a shallow yet significant hill, with the rooftops acting as a battlefield in and of itself. The whole stage is overlooked by a slope on the side of the map that grants canny snipers full situational awareness, but makes them equally vulnerable in return.

The net result is a nervy and intricate affair that supports organically-flowing engagements. There's always a zip line or a open window, never a dead end, facilitating breathtaking flag escapes and last-second interceptions.

Once again, Export excels as a canvas for objective gametypes, and presents a unique challenge due to its sloping geometry. Fighting your way up the slope is very different from free-running down, unless you take your chances in the tense alleyways that could easily hide an approaching Titan around the very next corner. In a curious twist, a particular room houses an electric junction that fries a portion of the level with electricity when hit, which sounds like a ludicrously cheap way of netting kills in theory yet actually serves as a honeypot for greedy players in practice. Opportunistic have-a-go electricians become easy targets for smart pistols and mines, despite an unnecessary achievement sometimes luring your team-mates out of position. Easily one of the finest maps in the game, then, that eschews pizazz for infinitely replayable substance.

Titanfall: Frontier's Edge Review | Come For The Update, Stay For The Maps

Finally, Dig Site is the weakest link in the package, by which I mean that it's very good indeed. Easily the most visually arresting of the three maps, this massive quarry boasts enormous open spaces for all-out Titan battles (facilitating some of the biggest all-out scraps I've ever seen in the game), centred around a massive mining platform with numerous nooks and crannies for players to hide in, whether atop the monolithic cutting rig or scampering around the superstructure. I'm still finding new shortcuts, cubbyholes and vantage points to take advantage of.

Unfortunately Dig Site's verticality and deep eyecatching shadows lead to some problems. Opponents blend into the background and shadows all too easy, making them almost impossible to identify or retaliate against unless you get up there yourself. Frankly it also feels slightly too big for a dozen players, which is again where objective gametypes come into their own as a way of forcing pilots into flashpoints. CTF and Hardpoint are once again the gametypes of choice, allowing you to fully appreciate zip line and platform placement. It's almost as if all three maps were specifically designed for objective modes.

Titanfall: Frontier's Edge Review | Come For The Update, Stay For The Maps

Let's face it, they probably were. The low player numbers for CTF and Hardpoint Domination hit hard especially on PC, but these sensational maps should help to tempt players back out of their attrition comfort zone.

Seriously, let's play Hardpoint Domination again, folks.

My one major concern about Frontier's Edge is that it could potentially split the fractious Titanfall player base even further. We're already separated by too many servers as it is, and not guaranteed to fill out each session with a full dozen players, with this latest DLC slicing the pie yet again. We've yet to see the full ramifications of this, but personally speaking, some server merges probably wouldn't go amiss.

And some more modes, at least once more people are back on CTF and Hardpoint.

Titanfall: Frontier's Edge Review | Come For The Update, Stay For The Maps

Update 5

Frontier's Edge was prefaced by one of the most significant updates Titanfall has ever received. It's free for all players, so won't factor into the score in any way, but deserves a quick rundown.

Titanfall: Frontier's Edge Review | Come For The Update, Stay For The Maps

The first major addition is the Black Market, which adds a new in-game currency earned by completing challenges, converting experience at level 50 and selling Burn Cards. That's right, you now sell Burn Cards rather than discard them, then spend the wealth on randomised packs of specific card types or exclusive Titan Emblems. Respawn have once again confirmed that there won't be any micro-transactions to worry about, meaning that this adds pleasing depth to Burn Card system and gives Gen 10 players a reason to keep earning experience.

Other improvements are more subtle, but by no means less welcome. Frame rate has been improved (but still isn't entirely stable yet), assists are now clearly marked with the name of killed players, daily challenges are on hand to reward routine and workflow has been improved by removing the "pre-lobby." Again, little things, but with big impact that's worth coming back for.


  • Stupendously-designed maps shine in objective gametypes
  • Haven and Dig Site are visually unique
  • Good value for regular players


  • Will split the player base again
  • Dig Site can be too vertical and shadowy for its own good
  • Export is visually drab; poorly-implemented achievement can influence player behaviour

The Short Version: Frontier's Edge may not be flashy, but its three maps are as brilliantly designed, vertical and enjoyable as ever. With luck, their smart objective-based layouts will tempt players back into CTF and Hardpoint Domination.

If you're still snapping necks and dropping mechs on a regular basis, I'd advise you to get involved.

Titanfall: Frontier's Edge Review | Come For The Update, Stay For The Maps

Add a comment9 comments
greysquaill  Aug. 5, 2014 at 12:25

Loving the new maps. Thought Dig Site was the best one initially just because it was such a moody setting and that it looks nothing like the other maps in the game.

However the level design in Haven and Export shine through afterwards. I feel Haven and Export encourage more Pilot play as you can duck in and out of the various buildings, alley ways and rooftops when sniping at the enemy titans.

Tsung  Aug. 5, 2014 at 12:36

Yeah I am also loving the new maps. Export has some wicked zip lines near the sea, in a zig/zag pattern. Zipping along them and jumping between them is fast, fun and 1 mistake usually means your going for a swim!

Had some really good games of capture the flag on there!

Hardpoint works on all the maps, I've even enjoyed Last Titan Standing on Dig site map.

I think it's a solid map pack, not 1 duff in them.

Johnmcl7  Aug. 5, 2014 at 12:44

I noticed EA were selling the Season Pass for £14 (I know it's been cheaper via VPNing to Mexico but prefer this solution which I know will be no issues with) so decided to give it a go to try and get back into the game.

I loved the game itself but felt it was let down by appalling matchmaking which appeared to do little more than grab the first people it found and stuck them in a match, there appeared to be no effort to match skill and experience. Horribly mismatched games are no fun regardless of what side you're on and with no horde style gametype or single player to fall back to I quickly got fed up of the game and stopped playing.

JonLester  Aug. 5, 2014 at 12:53

@greysquaill: Yeah, same here! I was excited about Dig Site ever since the reveal due to its eyecatching design, but Haven and especially Export really did the business gameplay-wise.

Also, agreed, being a Pilot is incredibly satisfying on Haven and Export. Respawn are exceptional at creating maps that are intricate and complex without making us constantly hit dead ends; there's real flow to each one. Glad to hear you're enjoying them too!

@Tsung: Absolutely, I had to mention zip lines several times in the review, as they're placed expertly and really facilitate speedy flag getaways/intercepts. It's clear that Respawn are trying to get players onto objective modes and perhaps designed the maps around enjoyable CTF/hardpoint play.

And yes, LTS is badass on Dig Site. Those open areas let so many Titans get involved simultaneously; 4v4 scraps are often the norm and are amazing to get involved in. Or glommed to the quarry wall with a charge rifle like the sneaky darksider I am.

Last edited by JonLester, Aug. 5, 2014 at 12:54
Tsung  Aug. 5, 2014 at 13:44

As a testament to how good these maps are, when playing LTS on Dig Site it feels like a total different map to playing Hard Point on Dig Site.

I think they have been really clever in the use of space, where hard point is played East to West, yet LTS is played North to South (relatively speaking). So the maps feels different, even thou' they are identical.


I'd love to say it's all fixed now, but no, I've been in some terribly matched games.

Also sadly, it appears aim bots are in the game. One player last night slaughtered us, his score in attrition was 1/2 of the total team requirement. (150 / 300 points). When he killed us and we got to see the kill cam view, he would lock on and track perfectly every time. So sad, and no fun.

JonLester  Aug. 5, 2014 at 15:19

@Johnmcl7: Sorry, was writing my comment as you posted yours! As Tsung said, it's definitely not perfect in terms of balance, but I personally find that skill wins out over arbitrary ranks and gens any time. Though early Titan drops can be a nightmare for less experienced teams to deal with.

I have found that matchmaking is speedier, partly due to the increased player count following any map pack's launch, but also due to the improved workflow and some serious tweaking. We'll need to wait a while for the big picture though.

@Tsung: These days I only play on Xbox One (uninstalled the PC version a while back), so haven't encountered any aimbots etc. To be honest I see TF as predominantly a console game (in the same way that MW was designed around a controller and hardware limitations), but hopefully Respawn will do their best to shore up the PC version and block these malcontents. At least there are some PC-facing performance improvements in update 5 by the looks of things.

Last edited by JonLester, Aug. 5, 2014 at 15:20
Late  Aug. 5, 2014 at 15:22

Forgot this map pack was coming out. Haven't played Titanfall in a couple of months. Might get this and give it a look. All three maps sound great (but they would - every map so far has been fantastically designed!)
And I need to have a look-see what this black market lark is all about.

Tsung  Aug. 5, 2014 at 16:17

Don't get too excited Late, the black market allows you to sell burn cards to buy more burn cards or a few unique insignias.
You earn token coins as well whilst playing the game.

It seems all a bit pointless, burn cards are earned at a decent tick rate after all.

JonLester  Aug. 5, 2014 at 16:44

I really like the Black Market all-told. It does nothing to affect game balance, but gives you a reason to keep earning experience at level 50 and new goals to shoot for alongside the daily challenges. Burn cards also feel more relevant; rather than just using some for the sake of it and throwing others away, you can sell them, giving cards a new sense of value. New packs then let you get a suite of cards you regularly use, recycling ones you don't.

Hopefully future updates will add more insignias and other unlockables to buy on the black market, such as emblems, titles etc. Every little helps.

Last edited by JonLester, Aug. 5, 2014 at 16:47

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