Respawn Entertainment does with this game what they failed to do with its predecessor: deliver a FULL gaming experience. The first TITANFALL was famous for its lack of an actual single player campaign. What it did was try to loosely thread the various maps of its multiplayer game together in such a way so as to try and present a narrative. It was a forgettable and brief experience. It was what marred what otherwise could’ve been a truly awesome game–not that the multiplayer itself wasn’t strong and refreshing with its (then) new frenetic parkour-meets-Call of Duty action and the clashing of mechs–but it was just simply…lacking. Respawn listened to the players and learned from their mistakes and rectified it with TITANFALL 2.
In the single-player campaign, you play as Militia Rifleman 3rd Class Jack Cooper (one of the NPCs from the first game). Jack strives to be a Pilot and he gets that chance when his Pilot mentor/sponsor dies during an ill-fated mission and passes his Titan (and important mission) to him. The Titan, BT-7472 (or “BT” for short), is an independent character when Jack isn’t at the controls, which is something that was introduced in the first game, as you could set your Titan to patrol and assist you when you were running around on foot. This game takes it a step forward as BT comes into his own as a character. You can feel the bond between Jack and BT deepen and become stronger as the story progresses, and the relationship between these two characters kind of reminded me of Hogarth and Iron Giant or Hiro and Baymax.In the first game you felt no true affinity for either the Militia or the IMC as you really had no narrative to base anything on, but this time around Respawn makes no bones as to what side they want you to root for. The bad guys in the game are the heartless Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC) and their representatives, General Marder and the mercenary Kuben Blisk and his mercs, the “Apex Predators”.
The game feels a bit like Megaman, as you fight from boss to boss, gaining new abilities and loadouts for BT. The bosses are kind of forgettable but some of the fights kind of got to be a bit frustrating. My favorite boss is a merc called Richter who sounds exactly like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’m not going to spoil the achievement that you get when you kill him, but as a fan of Arnold and his work, the title of the achievement truly made me guffaw when it popped up on my screen. The campaign itself isn’t very long and can be completed in right around 6 hours if not a little less.
The multiplayer action in the game is as fun and frenetic as it was in the first game, wall jumping and running around like a jackrabbit on crank. It has the standard modes that one expects from an FPS:
- Amped Hardpoint – Capture and hold a hardpoint to earn points. Amped Hardpoints give double points.
- Bounty Hunt – Kill enemies to earn points. Earn more by ‘banking’ bonus points at designated points.
- Pilots vs. Pilots – Kill enemy pilots. Titanfalls not permitted.
- Capture the Flag – Steal the enemy flag and return it to your base while stopping the enemy team from taking your flag!
- Attrition – AI soldiers flood the map. Three teams, two players, one AI.
- Skirmish – Small scale conflicts.
- Last Titan Standing – Everyone gets a Titan, and the last one on the battlefield is the winner.
- Free for All – Everyone is killable, everyone will kill you.
- Private Match – A private match between friends.
- Ground War – A mixed game mode mode by default.
- Variety Pack – A variety of mixed modes ranging from a pre-chosen selection.
- Coliseum – requires entry tickets that one wins from the other modes.
My favorite is “Bounty Hunt”, as the importance and incentivization of staying alive in between the times that you get to bank your points adds to the fun.
A big change made to the multiplayer across all modes this time around is in the Titans themselves. In the first game, Titans had a regenerative shield that would bring you back to full health if you could find a safe spot to hide in long enough. This kind of made the Titans into unkillable opponents that could easily unbalance the game. This time around though, that shield is gone and the Titans feel more vulnerable. The only way to keep your Titan alive is to “rodeo” (jump on an enemy Titan) and steal their battery packs. You can either apply this battery pack to your own Titan or give it to a friendly Titan–thus reinforcing the teamwork dynamic that’s missing from many first-person shooter multiplayer games today. There also six different Titans this time around versus the generic three of the previous game. The weapon loadouts aren’t customizable this time around, as each is locked into their specific weapons, but this makes it so that you know what you’ll be facing and what tactics to take with an enemy mech at a single glance. What can be customized are the nose art warpaint on the Titans and weapon skins–earned both thru gameplay and via special offers from advertisers (such as Doritos, Mt. Dew, and Buffalo Wild Wings).
I played the game on Xbox One and can say that the graphics and sound design are pretty top notch (you can easily find videos on youtube to show you comparisons between consoles and PC) and didn’t disappoint. The same can be said for the controls, as they are the standard layout/configuration found in any FPS today. This means that you don’t have to do a tutorial or play the campaign if you just want to jump right into the multiplayer.
What I’m looking forward to is the continued future of this game as Respawn’s head of development David Wightman said “We’ll definitely be supporting Titanfall 2 post-launch, and I can confirm all maps and modes we deliver post-launch will be free.” The reason given for this is that they didn’t want to split the Titanfall 2 gamers into those that have more content than others because of paid DLC. Since nothing in the gaming world is free, I’m expecting some kind of microtransactions–hopefully not the kind that can unbalance the game, such as more powerful weapon loadouts, but perhaps exclusive Titan warpaints or skins. Seeing that EA loves to do nothing but squeeze money out of its customers, one has to wonder how this decision sits with them.
After seeing how Titanfall 2 corrected the mistakes of its worthy predecessor and truly is a fun game to play, I give it 5 Titans out of 5.