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Titanfall is an action game where pilots and robots battle each other. It’s primarily a multiplayer-focused title which is why I never really got into it. The sequel, Titanfall 2, features a single-player campaign and retains many of the mechanics introduced in the first game. I remember when it came out because everybody was saying how incredible it was. I like the idea of robots shooting each other so I wanted to get in on the action. Developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts, Titanfall 2 was released for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in October, 2016. For this review, I played the PC version.
Set years after the events of the first game, the Intersteller Manufacturing Corporation and Milita are battling for control of The Frontier. The story centers on Jack Cooper, a militia rifleman who aspires to become a Titan pilot and is training for his candidacy. During an attack on the IMC-held planet Typhon, Jack’s mentor, Captain Lastimosa, is mortally wounded and transfers control of his Titan, BT-7274, to Jack just before he dies. Together, Jack and BT proceed to complete the Captain’s original assignment and embark on a quest to stop the IMC from launching a superweapon that could destroy the Milita planet Harmony. Overall, I thought the plot was okay but it fails to flesh out most of its characters. In my opinion, the story is by-the-numbers and predictable. The best part of the narrative is the bond that develops between Jack and BT. It’s the emotional core of the story and is one of two things that held my interest. The other was the gameplay. The voice acting is solid across the board but it’s the performances of the two main characters that are the highlights. Unfortunately, the campaign is way too short. I beat it in about five hours.
Titanfall 2 is a first-person shooter that emphasizes movement and mobility. You’ll get to control Jack on-foot and command BT at certain points. Honestly, controlling Jack has been one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had playing a first-person shooter in a while. You can do all the typical shit like walk, run, crouch, jump, and perform melee attacks. But you can also double-jump, slide, and run on walls and you gain more speed when wall running. Movement always feels fluid and responsive and any mistakes I made were always on me. The wall running is the obvious game changer and is what keeps Titanfall 2 from feeling like a rote first-person shooter.
As Jack, you’ll get to pick up and use various firearms, throw grenades, and utilize different abilities. You can cloak yourself for a brief time which enables you to easily get the jump on enemies. As cool as that is, I think it’s outshined by the Time Travel ability. You can switch or travel between time periods at the press of a button and it makes encounters extremely fun. Unfortunately, you don’t get to use the ability for long.
The very first mission in the game will introduce you to the mechanics. You’ll run through a Gauntlet and the game will recommend a difficulty based on your performance. There are multiple difficulty modes and the hardest, Master, will really test your skills. You can play the game like any typical first-person shooter and you can easily get through it playing like that on Regular but if you up the difficulty to Hard or Master, you’ll have to start thinking differently. During encounters, you’ll always want to be moving and shooting. The mobility combined with abilities make the combat very enjoyable and allow you to approach encounters in a variety of ways.
Controlling Jack is fun and piloting the Titan is awesome. When commanding BT, you don’t have the same amount of freedom when it comes to movement, but you will feel like a badass and get to utilize some awesome firepower and abilities. You can walk, run, crouch, perform melee attacks, and dash. Dashing is extremely important because it allows you to quickly evade certain dangers like projectiles. As you progress through the story, you’ll acquire different loadouts that you can swap out with others at any time. Loadouts consist of different weapons and abilities. You’ll be able to hover, capture projectiles and hurl them back your attackers, and fire rockets among other things. As you attack and kill enemies, your core ability charges up and when full, you can unleash an extremely powerful attack. Your core ability will depend on the loadout you have equipped.
Titanfall 2 features an awesome arsenal which includes both human and Titan weapons and abilities. You’ll get your hands on a variety of rifles and machine guns and they all have their ups and downs and feel great to use. It’s the kind of game where I was always eager to try any new weapon I came across and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to swap out your weapon with something else. Weapons will be dropped by enemies and can be found in the environments. You can utilize magnetic and adhesive grenade launchers, fire powerful balls of electricity with the Thunderbolt, and stun enemies with Arc Grenades. When commanding BT, depending on the loadout you select, you’ll get to lay down explosive mines, destroy your enemies with a sword, and utilize different types of shields. You’ll get to wield weapons like a Thermite Launcher, Railgun, and different cannons. You’ll get to stomp on human foes and send them flying and obliterate other Titans. Jack will primarily engage human foes and robotic enemies like Spectres and Stalkers. And what’s really cool is that you can hack Spectres and activate Stalker racks which forces them to fight alongside you.
The campaign will take you to a variety of locations and features numerous set pieces. The game does feature platforming and you will have to avoid hazards and falling to your death. One of the more interesting missions has Jack engaging foes on ships while they’re engaged in battle. You’ll run, jump, and shoot your way through a water reclamation facility, manufacturing plant, and laboratory. The environments are primarily linear but offer numerous paths, making many areas feel open-ended. They are also vertical in a sense. You can wall run to reach higher elevations and will often have to wall run to get across large gaps. As Jack, you can always use the environment to your advantage and the open-ended areas allow you to get creative with your approaches and kills. You’re encouraged to think, wall run, and slide around everywhere. Each mission contains a specific amount of pilot helmets to find which act as a form of collectible and they are often located in out-of-the-way areas forcing you to actually explore and look around. Progressing through areas will require you to utilize the game’s movement mechanics and different tools. The mission where you use the Time Travel ability is a standout because you not only get to use it as an aid in battle but also to get passed certain obstacles. At a certain point, you’ll acquire a device called the Arc Tool which lets you fire energy to toggle things on and off.
The franchise is rooted in multiplayer and even though Titanfall 2 is the first to feature a single-player campaign, it does include a fleshed out multiplayer component. I did jump into it and can confirm it’s still active. There are numerous game modes that feature both Pilot and Titan gameplay, including a cooperative mode. You can customize your pilot and Titan and playing the multiplayer earns you merits which is like experience and earning enough unlocks different things. As active as the multiplayer seemed, players would leave matches frequently. I was able to get into a Titan Brawl match and towards the end of the match, everybody on the opposing team just left. Regardless, it was fun from what I played. I was invited to join other matches but rarely got into any worthwhile action because players would leave.
Titanfall 2 is a great-looking game. The presentation is colorful, the environments are detailed, and the outdoor backgrounds are often gorgeous. The weapon models look great and the actual act of shooting feels excellent thanks to the visual feedback. Smoke effects, muzzle flashes, and explosions look good and there’s just enough gore effects to make kills look and feel satisfying. Headshots often result in puffs of blood and helmets flying through the air. The audio work is excellent. Weapons fire and explosions are loud which makes Titan battles sound like intense war zones and some of the songs accompanying the action are pretty good. On the technical side, the game ran super smooth with no hiccups. I didn’t encounter any bugs nor did I encounter any issues during my brief time with the multiplayer.
On the surface, Titanfall 2 is a very appealing game. You get to shoot bad guys and pilot giant robots. What’s not to like? Better yet, under the surface is one of the most enjoyable first-person shooters of the eighth generation. I had an incredible time with Titanfall 2 and my biggest disappointment with it is the campaign’s short length. Regardless, it’s five hours of pure fun. The campaign is worth playing not for the story but for the gameplay. The combat is both fun and addictive and can get really intense on higher difficulties. The emphasis on movement and mobility combined with how well the movement mechanics are implemented make for a very memorable and enjoyable experience. Plus, you’ll also get to stomp around as a giant robot and blow up other robots.
I would absolutely recommend Titanfall 2 to fans of shooters and action games. It’s an exhilarating game that’s fun and action-packed from beginning to end. The freedom of movement is what makes Titanfall 2 standout from the pack and what is familiar is enjoyable enough on its own. So the end result is a very special and memorable game and hopefully one that leaves an impact. Definitely check it out.