Titanfall 2 Review - Titan Bromance

When Titanfall 2 was announced this year, I was curious – would the sequel simply be what the first game should have been? The short answer – yes. But what we got with Titanfall 2 was a big surprise – it's clear now that the potential of this franchise was even greater than we'd hoped. Respawn Entertainment held nothing back, providing a well-crafted campaign, the likes of which I’ve not experienced in years, not to mention multiplayer innovations that might be staples in future shooters if other developers are paying attention.

Titanfall 2 finally delivers a single-player campaign – a feature MIA in the first game. You play as rifleman Jack Cooper. At the outset of the game, Cooper's given the unofficial opportunity to be trained by a Pilot in hopes that one day, he might ascend to that prestigious rank in this war-driven world. But a battle quickly erupts, and just in the nick of time, Cooper meets the likable Titan BT-7274, who becomes his Titan thanks to the unfortunate circumstances of war. This campaign brought me to a hopeful mindset – as it turns out, smart single-player campaigns in the FPS genre can still be made in this generation.

This isn’t a repetitive pipeline of enemies to kill. Titanfall 2 doesn’t have characters you will soon forget once the credits roll. No, this is a campaign that fleshes out the world Respawn Entertainment created with proper stage design and thrilling gameplay. It’s a personal story between man and machine, and it’s a story that has a great pace and personality. You can’t help but root for the unplanned duo to succeed.

This 6-hour campaign, which could be considered short by some standards, is a treat from start to finish. It's a good mix of challenging boss fights, character interactions, and puzzle elements that will keep you invested in Cooper’s first mission as a Pilot. There are a variety of locales to explore, with it being big enough to fully utilize the Pilot’s movements and Titan combat. The combination of the level of mobility available to the player and the Titan gameplay are what make Titanfall unique, and this was greatly highlighted during the best parts of the campaign.

From the range of experiences available – a crazy assembly-line level, time travel elements, and even having the wildlife (once engaged) threatening you – all these aspects of the campaign kept me wanting more from this world. I played the campaign on Hard, and the difficulty manifests in the variety of enemy types and in well-designed platforming segments, the type you wouldn't expect from a shooter. Yes, there’s platforming – in fact, these moments helped the campaign a great deal, and might arguably be the best parts of the experience.

As Cooper is breathlessly caught up in different scenarios, the game's pace is constantly changing. Titanfall was known for its fluid controls and movement, and Respawn Entertainment makes utilizing these tools the main concept and focus of the campaign. The single-player experience is a perfect package and a great response to the Titanfall fans who were asking for a campaign to flesh out this futuristic war. But as much as I appreciated the campaign that was included in the sequel, let's be real here: the majority of gamers curious to jump in are in it for the multiplayer.

Just Add To What Already Works

If you’ve played the first Titanfall, then you've got an idea of what you'll get from the sequel's multiplayer efforts, which pretty much amount to Respawn Entertainment adding on to what already worked, with tweaks that don’t change the essence of Titanfall’s gameplay. I was worried after my time spent wrestling with the game’s Open Technical Beta Test, but the changes to the final build put all those concerns to rest. Customization feels simple, but you will find variety depending on your preferred play-style. Close, mid-range or long, there’s enough choices available to encourage experimentation. 

There are six Titans now to choose from – double what we had in the first game – and in multiplayer, these mechs function like classes. Each Titan boasts unique weapons and abilities. For example, Ronin is fast and dangerous up-close thanks to its shotgun-like primary weapon and a sword that can cut down any Titan who dares to hang too close. Tone, a deadly medium-range Titan, can place a defensive shield before it, then fire bullets through the shield to damage those directly ahead. Each Titan available has a specific design, making it quite easy to distinguish who you are up against in the field.

From my time with each Titan, their sets of strengths and weaknesses resemble a rock, paper, scissors scenario, with some Titans being more effective against others.  I found myself switching between Titans depending on the mechs currently on the battlefield. And yes, that rush once you get the 'Go' signal to call down your Titan never gets old. There's still that palpable feeling of imminent threat once Titans are in play, but the Pilots remain a force of their own to be reckoned with.

There’s a good amount of game modes that should cater to all types of players. Those that just want to kill can hop onto the famous Attrition mode that has AI controlled grunts as well as players going at it in a fierce melee. For those that prefer more objective-based matches, Amped Hardpoint, Bounty, and Capture the Flag are available. There’s also a 1-on-1 Coliseum mode that's only available if you're given a ticket while leveling. Credits, the in-game currency, accumulate based on the number of merits you earn per match, and these merits are what you need in order to level up. With enough Credits, you can permanently unlock weapons and skills, bypassing the traditional method of unlocking via level-up.

I didn’t have much trouble with my multiplayer sessions, except that certain game modes such as Capture the Flag and Amped Hardpoint are lacking in active players. This is a common problem in most multiplayer games, and while Titanfall 2's no exception, in this case it’s worse than usual. Having a majority of the game modes dead this early isn’t a good sign. Most players still prefer Attrition and the new game mode Bounty, and it seems as of December, the community isn’t big enough to support all the game modes available, especially in Southeast Asia. It’s a shame, because these modes offer variety for those wanting to change it up every now and then.

As I level up, nearing the max level of the multiplayer mode, I've experienced no lag issues, game-breaking bugs, or even gameplay styles that would make me call “foul”. The game seems balanced – I feel so in control that I didn’t find myself blaming the game or those I’m playing against. More importantly, I was having fun, and the urge to play yet another match was always there. Even after I'd been playing the multiplayer for hours on end, the thrill of the fluid movement and Titan gameplay never faded.

Respawn Entertainment took good notes on what they did and didn’t do in the first game. They implemented a slew of improvements, and we’re given a sequel that could potentially be a Game of the Year contender. The single-player campaign was a breath of fresh air to a genre that, nowadays, prioritizes the multiplayer to the exclusion of all else. For me, with regards to Titanfall 2, the single-player campaign shines bright, and its success is further supported by a solid multiplayer component that still works. It’s a great take on a genre that’s slowly dulling as each year goes by, and we can’t wait for the next sortie in this new world Respawn Entertainment has created.


9 / 10


Pros

+ Amazing single-player campaign that greatly utilizes the player’s mobility
+ Multiplayer is great and intact, with added content to keep you wanting more
+  Fast-paced gameplay can be found on both modes
+ Strong multiplayer replayability

Cons

- Short campaign
- Certain Game Modes are hard to enjoy thanks to the lack of player