Titanfall – Frontier Defense Mode – First Impressions

Titanfall - Title Shot
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Respawn Entertainment announced earlier this week that a free new co-operative defence game type has been added to Titanfall‘s online multiplayer modes.

I’ve had a quick hands-on with this new mode, called ‘Frontier Defense’, and from the brief time I’ve played so far, I have to say that this new mode is actually really good, and a welcome, refreshing addition to the Titanfall package as a whole.

It’s essentially a four-player Gears of War horde mode clone, only with robots and giant mechs as your enemies instead of the subterranean gun-wielding Locust.

Your task as a Militia pilot is to defend a giant ‘Harvester’ contraption in one of the game’s standard maps, along with three other players; you can all call in Titans like you normally can in the game’s competitive multiplayer modes, only the goal here is to work together to repel the invading CPU-controlled IMC forces.

Frontier Defense is pretty difficult. You and your teammates have got to fight off six waves of robotic and human enemies, all the while defending the rather fragile Harvester, which has regenerating shields, but limited health, much like the games’ Titans. By about wave four or five, you’re going to be absolutely overwhelmed by enemies pouring in from all angles.

The action here is desperate, and surprisingly, quite tense too; on your first Frontier Defense match, you won’t know what to expect at all, and a lot of the normal enemies have cloaking devices which let them sneak up close to your team’s Harvester, which makes the Grunts and Spectres in particular feel much more significant and dangerous than they’ve ever felt in the game’s competitive multiplayer modes.

In addition to the ground troops, enemy Titans also often deploy with floating companion cloaking devices, which you need to shoot down in order to reveal their bulky, lumbering frames. You have an enlarged map in the top left of your HUD, placing a greater emphasis on tracking enemy and friendly movement around the level.

There’s some interesting new twists on the regular enemy types too; you have to keep an eye out for the new Suicide Spectres, fast moving Spectres, strapped up with plenty of C4, who like nothing more than to run at your team’s Harvester, as well as Nuclear Suicide Ogre Titans. These operate just like the Suicide Spectres, only they are much slower, but much more deadly.

You’ve got to balance between taking out the bigger Titan threats, while also not ignoring the Grunts and Spectres, as in numbers they can quickly whittle down the Harvester’s shields and health. Teamwork and communication are needed to keep that precious Harvester in one still-functioning piece. You’re periodically given a defence turret at the end of each round, which you can then put in a strategic spot of your choosing as a means of picking off some of the smaller Grunts and Spectres weaving their way throughout the map. But ultimately, success in Frontier Defense comes from effective co-ordination with your human buddies; playing with random uncommunicative matchmade players when I’ve been online has so far led to disastrous results.

This new mode feels refreshingly chaotic and intense. It’s still the same wall-jumping, action-packed Titan stomping shenanigans that you know and love, only with a co-operative focus instead of a competitive one. It feels so different and entertaining to play in comparison to the usual Titanfall modes that I’m surprised that a mode like this didn’t make it into the main game in the first place. Anyway, I’m glad it’s here and that we’ve got it now in the form of this free DLC.

Everything feels pretty cinematic, exciting and different – much like the main game felt upon its arrival in March. When you die, you don’t just respawn, you’re dropped in by a dropship, which gives you chance to briefly survey the battlefield from above. It really adds to the sense that you’re dropping into an on-going warzone. At times, these cool little things make Frontier Defence feel like the sort of thing that would have been a perfect fit as part of a more traditional singleplayer mode, the sort of gameplay that a lot of Titanfall fans undoubtedly felt was missing from the rather underwhelming multiplayer ‘campaign’.

There’s some annoying achievements that have been released with this new free DLC update, which I’ll grumble about in an upcoming post, but in the meantime, if you’ve kind of forgotten about Titanfall recently, what with all these shiny new games dropping out of the sky left right and centre (much like a Titan), then I highly recommend that you fire your copy up, and try out Frontier Defense. After all, it’s free and, like me, you might just be rather pleasantly surprised by it.

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