General game information
Game name: Titanfall 2
Release date: October 28, 2016
Price: US$ 59.99
Genre: First person shooter
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
The original Titanfall was a flawed gem. Launched at the beginning of this console generation, it was a full price multiplayer only game featuring agile Pilots and hulking Titans fighting in a future war. Respawn Entertainment (founded by the creators of Call of Duty after a messy split with Activision) created a new and exciting IP that seemed poised to take the world by storm. Sadly, their debut game lacked content, and a few months after it was released, the PC servers were almost empty and the release of a $24.99 Season Pass didn’t help. Luckily for us gamers, the development team learned a lot from their first release, and Titanfall 2 is a completely different beast. The new title is still a $60 release, but Respawn and EA have decided to drop paid DLC in favor of free content supported with cosmetic microtransactions, and on top of that, first person shooter fans will be happy to know that there is a full singleplayer campaign, with an estimate length of five hours.
I’ll start my review with my take on the singleplayer campaign, as it’s not exactly what I expected from the creators of the modern military shooter genre. Instead of placing gamers in the boots of a grunt who must follow their leader’s orders at all times, Titanfall 2 lets us be a badass Pilot who can dropkick someone in the face, then cloak and effortlessly wallrun across a massive gap and take out an annoying sniper, all in a few seconds. There are some scripted moments, but for the most part, Respawn Entertainment‘s first attempt at a singleplayer campaign is a rare sight in the modern videogame landscape, as the player can choose how to engage the enemy without being told that they are out of bounds or similar things.
The game’s story is a collection of cliches but it’s well told and the voice actors in charge of bringing both friends and foes to life do a great job. Gamers who didn’t play the original Titanfall won’t be lost here, although the new title references events that happened during the multiplayer campaign featured in the first game in the series. As a militiaman turned Pilot (Pilots are highly skilled special units who can call down Titans and possess superhuman movement abilities thanks to their high tech jump pack kits) we will have to fight our way through territory held by the evil Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation, trying to find a way to stop their oppressive regime from taking over the galaxy. As the game goes on, players will bond with their Titan, a hulking mechanical beast named BT-7274 who can’t stop saying unintentionally funny things. Just as in the multiplayer modes, game time will be divided between on-foot sections in which we’ll have to sneak and make use of our superhuman movement skills, and Titan battles in which we’ll have to engage similar sized threats (and boss Titans)
As I said previously, the on-foot sections are mostly freeform, with the player being provided with an objective and set loose upon huge levels. Although the majority of the campaign consists of gunfights separated by small environmental puzzles, there is a special level which reminded me of Portal and will probably stay fresh on my mind for years, thanks to the way in which it was presented and the freshness of the gameplay on display. Most sections revolve around a particular gimmick or thing to do for the player, and then drop it completely, ensuring that the game never feels repetitive. Aside from the variety in offer during the Pilot parts of the campaign, the combat is also fast paced and rewarding, letting gamers slide across the floor, wallrun and go invisible at the touch of a button all in the same combat encounter. Yes, most levels can be completed with tried and true tactics such as popping out of cover, hitting the enemy in the head with a few well placed rounds and then taking cover again, but the great thing about Titanfall 2 is that this is just one of many possible options. Other modern military shooters have adopted the wallrun and jetpack mechanics, but they still force players to hide behind cover once their health gets low, or to wait for specific scripted moments in order to continue onwards.
Titan combat scenarios are different, because they are mostly linear affairs in which the player must either fight hordes of robots, a few enemy Titans at the same time or a powerful boss Titan. Defeating bosses adds their loadout to the player’s inventory, and BT-7274 can swap weapons and abilities mid fight, something that can be incredibly useful during boss fights. The unlockable Titan loadouts also work as a sort of training for the multiplayer mode, since they are the same different chassis that can be used when battling online.
So, the campaign is great, but I hear you asking… Dear David, how is the multiplayer mode? Is it as good as Titanfall 1 or did Respawn make a great singleplayer shooter with a weak multiplayer component?
I hear you, multiplayer fans, and you can rest easy knowing that Titanfall 2′s online offering is not only a great game on its own, but it also isn’t just a rehash of the first game’s player versus player component with a few tweaks thrown in for good measure. Instead, Respawn Entertainment chose to revamp the entire concept, going from small tweaks such as the removal of Titan shields, to bigger changes like the addition of a grappling hook or the introduction of a completely new mechanic such as Titan Batteries. There are new game modes as well, such as the Pilots only variant (which disables Titanfalls) or the Coliseum, which pits one player against another in a match of sheer skill.
Matches start just as they did in the first title, with everyone running around as an agile Pilot, wallrunning all over the place and using different gadgets such as grappling hooks, sonar based knifes that can reveal the enemy’s position, stealth kits and other fun high tech tools. Killing enemy players advances the Titanfall timer, and once that meter is full, gamers can call down their mighty mechanical buddies. Just like in Titanfall 1, Titans can be set to be AI controlled or the player can climb inside and control them in real time. However, thanks to the removal of the shield system, AI mode titans are quite easy to kill, so they won’t be such a common sight as they were in the first game in the series. Another important change is the Battery system. Instead of rodeoing an enemy Titan and shooting at its core with a gun, gamers will now climb on top of its hull, open a compartment and steal a battery that can be used to add a shield to their own Titan or a teammate’s. This mechanic can be incredibly useful during heated Titan battles, and it adds a strategic layer to the fight, as a talented Pilot can steal an enemy Titan’s battery just in time to save a teammate from certain death in a way that wasn’t really possible in the first Titanfall.
Another big change is the removal of customizable Titans in favor of a class system in which players can choose from six different archetypes who all sport different weapons and abilities. This makes them feel like MOBA heroes or hero shooter characters, as every one of them has a signature ultimate ability that can be unleashed upon the enemy as the core progression meter reaches 100%. Of course, even though the new Titan classes can’t be customized in terms of weaponry or skills, gamers can still choose different skins, making each machine slightly different from the rest.
The progression system has been overhauled as well, and there are a lot more weapons and customization options to be earned as players level up, something that will definitely help the game on the long run. Burn Cards are gone, replaced by a Boosts system which is quite similar to the scorestreak system featured in the Call of Duty series. Once gamers earn a specific percentage of their Titan timer, they can use a boost which can range from an anti-Pilot sentry to the much maligned Smart Pistol that made thousands of gamers rage in the first Titanfall, to an extra Titan battery or even more tools that can be used to further augment the player’s death dealing potential. Weapons can be customized with different attachments and sights, and from time to time, random drops will unlock titles or avatar backgrounds (which can also be acquired through different ingame challenges)
Titanfall 2 shines on the tech department as well, as it not only looks gorgeous (it’s hard to believe that this game runs on Valve‘s Source engine) but it also runs like a dream. Voice acting is perfect, as we said before, and both the sound effects and the soundtrack fit the title perfectly, with chunky hit sounds giving perfect feedback as bullets hit their targets, and catchy tunes playing just at the right moment.
To conclude, Titanfall 2 is one of the best shooters released this year. Respawn Entertainment mixed an unforgettable singleplayer campaign with an excellent multiplayer suite, creating the ultimate action package, something that every gamer worth their salt should at least try.
9.5/10 – Excellent.