There's three new maps in the Frontier's Edge DLC that just landed in Titanfall, but they're not the only fresh pieces of content that need to be mentioned when appraising the game as it stands today. Export, Resort and Dig Site are complimented by the new in-game currency (that's wrapped up under the banner of the Black Market), and both of these pieces of content come alongside the latest update, which in turn brings additional stability to Respawn's shooter.
So there's plenty to talk about. Perhaps it's better to get the trimmings out of the way first. The Black Market is the new in-game currency system that allows players the opportunity to buy packs of Burn Cards (and Titan insignias, if that's your jam). There's different ways of getting the money needed to buy the new cards, and most of you will no doubt be delighted to hear that microtransactions are not among them. Respawn has stated recently that they've no intention of bringing them in either. Phew.
There's different packs, varying in price, from the standard option that'll give you a random spread of cards, to the more expensive and therefore more specialised collections. You get six cards per pack, and you can earn the money needed to buy the packs by finishing and winning matches, completing daily challenges, and by selling your unwanted cards. Also, when you hit level 50, a percentage of your XP will turn into in-game Credits.
All told, it's not a massive deal, and it doesn't change things dramatically, but it is a nice slice of meta-game for fans to busy themselves with between matches, and as such it can't be sniffed at. It's also available to all players; you don't need to buy the DLC to start collecting Credits to spend on Burn Cards.
Another free addition is game update 5, an optimisation patch that does a little to improve the framerates of the different versions of the game. We were testing the Xbox One version of the game, so we can't speak for the Xbox 360 and PC builds, but we did notice a slight improvement in performance. There's still the odd bit of screen-tearing, and the framerate still dips from time-to-time, but overall it is an improvement, even if it's only a mildly noticeable one.
But, at the end of the day, in-game currency and updates aren't why we're all here, so let's get to the business of discussing these new maps. Are they an improvement on what's come before (both in the main game and in the Expedition DLC pack that's already been released), and how do they play?
First, a bit of context, as this is the second DLC collection we've been on the receiving end of. In the Expedition pack we were treated to three maps; Runoff (which, if you ask us, is muddy and boring and is probably among the worst maps the game has to offer), Swampland (where battles rage across and through overgrown ruins) and our personal favourite, the digital battlefield of War Games. Like the maps that star in the base game, all of these maps work well across the different modes that Titanfall has to offer (even if we tend to gravitate towards to the standard Attrition playlist for the most part).
Can Frontier's Edge pull the same trick, and possibly even better the trio of maps in Expedition? And can it better the quality of the maps on offer to all via the main game? The answer to those questions is yes and yes. The standard of the three maps in the latest DLC pack is high across the board.
Let's get the least impressive out of the way first. Dig Site is set in a mining facility (hence the clever name), and (like Runoff before it) it's muddy and a bit dull to look at. However, there's more going on than meets to eye. There's wide open spaces on the ground that play host to the titan battles, and buildings dotted around the map where players congregate and exchange fire. One criticism could be that it's too hard to see enemy players who are camping on top of the buildings. If one team can get established on the tops of the structures, poor visibility can make it hard to dislodge them, even more so if they're running an effective collaboration with some Titans on the ground.
There's mining equipment that sits on the periphery of the battles to run and clamber over, and there's nice details inside the structures, with machinery chewing through rubble and whatnot. Not that you'll notice it all that much as your steam through the different buildings in search of your next kill. All told, Dig Site was probably the least interesting of the maps, and the one that we found has the most potential to be the unbalanced. We still liked it though.
The second map, Export, continues the mining theme, but it has less of an industrial edge. It's set in a trade port near a mining facility (presumably the one that stars in Dig Site - that would make logical sense at least). There's three lanes that run down the map, and the action - particularly when there's titans involved - tends to focus on these points. There's lots of structures to skip over and through, including one that houses a rather unusual feature; a series of flashing cables in one room that, when shot, unleash an electrical attack on the opposite side of the map. There's usually a lot of fighting that takes place in and around that room, and that alone makes it an interesting feature.
There's a nice clean feel to the visual aesthetics of Export; something that we've come to expect from Titanfall. The lanes are a sniper's dream (if you can avoid the amorous advances of enemy Titans), and zip lines help increase player mobility between different areas. This map also works well across the full spectrum of modes, and fits snuggly in the overall roster.
The last map - Haven - is probably our favourite. It's certainly the one that feels most distinct. The battles take place across a backdrop of an exclusive holiday resort, and there's a nice art style that sets it apart from the other maps on offer. The tall buildings and elevated ledges make it ideal for parkour-centric players to move about with ease, and there's plenty of well-designed rooms nestled inside of the buildings that play host to intense firefights, especially on modes such as Capture the Flag.
All three maps switch between the different game modes with ease, and while we personally preferred Attrition across all three, both CTF and Hardpoint Domination work well across the board (as do the other game modes on offer).
Is the new DLC worth the price of admission? Most certainly, if you don't mind the fact that the base game is - in our opinion at least - overpriced. If we had our way these additional map packs would be free, with Respawn keeping the community together across all the content. Titanfall is a very good shooter, and nothing has changed in this regard, but we've always thought something was missing, and perhaps that missing factor is the value that free maps would have brought to the table. But, we're not going to cry over spilt milk; it is what it is and there's nothing that can de done about that. At the end of the day the new maps in Titanfall are all decent, and if you're still playing the game, you'd do well to pick them up.