Titanfall 2 may have faded from the public consciousness since last fall, but the developers at Respawn have continued to add free stuff to their already excellent first-person shooter. The most recent addition, which landed earlier this week on PC and consoles, adds a four-player cooperative horde mode. It's a good time.
The mode, called Frontier Defence, tasks four players with taking their multiplayer loadout and Titan into one of five possible maps and fighting off five increasingly difficult waves of enemy troops and Titans.
It's actually a carryover from the first Titanfall, when it was also added to the game months after launch. The new update also includes an impressive number of competitive multiplayer tweaks as well as Rise, a fan-favourite multiplayer map from the first Titanfall. (Incidentally, Rise is also in the Frontier Defence rotation.) You can read the particulars in the patch notes.
I played through a round of Frontier Defence this morning and had fun. The basics will be familiar to anyone who has played horde mode in games like Gears of War, or for that matter those who played Frontier Defence in the first Titanfall. You must protect a "Harvester," which is basically just an object in the back of the map that your incoming enemies will target when they aren't targeting you. Each of the five waves gets increasingly difficult, and it's a real fracas by the end. My team of randoms failed to beat the final wave despite the game giving us three attempts before we got a game over. We got overwhelmed each time and couldn't keep the enemy off our harvester.
That's a lot of Titans.
Things start simple, with each player on foot setting up defences and gradually taking down enemy grunts. By the second or third round, everyone's in a Titan, and the enemy waves leap in intensity. By rounds four and five, the fights I was getting into in Frontier Defence were more chaotic and intense than anything I'd faced in the singleplayer campaign or in multiplayer. I frequently found myself making a stand against four or five enemy Titans at once, punching, blasting, and salvo-core-ing my way through them without losing my own titan along the way.
No one on my team was using voice chat, which I suspect was our undoing. Even on easy difficulty, the final wave consisted of 26 Titans along with a bunch of smaller enemies, some of which rushed our Harvester and some of which set up shop in the back corners of the map and fired long-range mortars.
It was just too much, and we were too uncoordinated. With better communication and strategy, we could have set up one player as our on-foot mortar clearer, while two posted up near the Harvester to keep onrushing enemies from overwhelming it. Without clear communication, we had too many holes in our perimeter and the battle was lost.
I'm excited to play more Frontier Defence with a team of friends, all of whom hopefully kept their copies of Titanfall 2 from last fall. I never quite committed to the game's competitive multiplayer, mostly because the acrobatic parkour and speedy time-to-kill put it a bit above my skill bracket for online shooters. Playing Frontier Defence was a reminder of just how good it feels to play this game, and I'm happy to have another way to do that that doesn't involve endlessly replaying the single-player campaign.
It remains a shame that a game as good as Titanfall 2 was overshadowed by so many other games when it came out, but Respawn has been doing an admirable job of supporting it nonetheless. Frontier Defence is a good, free excuse to jump back into one of the finest first-person shooters in years.