Thrilling adventures with your new best buddy BT…
Titanfall was an amazingly well made multiplayer first person shooter (FPS) designed around the interplay between giant humanoid fighting machines called Titans and their incredibly nimble pilots.The Titanfall games innovate in the FPS genre in a combination of three key aspects: the way pilots traverse the environment, the interplay between Titans and their pilots, and the addition of AI controlled bots to multiplayer matches.
The biggest of the game’s few flaws was the lack of a single player campaign and a dearth of rewards in the multiplayer progression system held the game back a bit in comparison with other AAA shooters. Thankfully, Titanfall 2 has fixed these issues in splendid fashion with a well written, polished campaign, and a heap of new ways to customize the multiplayer experience.
From the astounding graphics and design work to the excellent voiceover and sound design to the smooth, fluid animation and tight, responsive controls, every aspect of Titanfall 2 is well done Nothing about the single or multiplayer campaigns feels rushed or unpolished.
All of the fine detail supports a really strong story in the single player campaign for Titanfall 2. Players assume the role of Jack Cooper a grunt in the militia forces at the center of the interstellar conflict which is the setting for the Titanfall games.
At the start of the game, Jack is undergoing some unofficial pilot training which comes in handy when, in the first mission of the game, his unit is wiped out and he is forced to escape from behind enemy lines with the help of his former mentor’s Titan. That Titan’s name is BT 7274, or BT for short, and it is the breakout star of the game. The voiceover performances for Jack, Matthew Mercer, and BT, Glenn Steinbaum, are both well done with BT, again, being a bit more of a standout. The supporting cast of allies and enemies are good overall, though they are a underdeveloped at times.
After a quick opening burst of action Titanfall 2 slows down a bit and focuses on the two main characters and their relationship, which is a brave choice in a genre known for non-stop action. Another strong choice is the way a lot of the interplay between Jack and BT plays out in gameplay sequences instead of cutscenes. The implementation of this environmental storytelling isn’t quite as polished as that found in The Last of Us, for example, but it’s still does its job of making the main characters endearing to players.
Titanfall 2 is a AAA shooter so, of course, there are lots of really fun “oh wow!” moments. Moments like getting hucked a hundred yards by your friendly Titan buddy, or marching into pitched battle with a dozen other Titans facing an equally large opposing force. There is a fair amount of high action involved in a lot of these moments but, more impressively, a lot of character and heart.
The gameplay of the single player campaign of Titanfall 2 is a mix of combat, and puzzle platforming. Combat situations offer a fairly varied and challenging array of objectives and obstacles. The variation mostly comes from the environments the combat take place in and the types of enemies attacking players. Every encounter builds on the last adding more and more ways to deal with the opposing enemies making players feel more and more impressive and powerful.
The platforming puzzles are equally varied, utilising the double jump and wall running that made Titanfall such a fun experience. There are also several new mechanics that are often discarded just before they become tedious. One example is a sequence in the middle of the game where Jack steals a device that lets him hack certain devices from a distance. This device gets used in a few ways to solve traversal puzzles involving the typically super powerful sci-fi fans but can also be used to hack the killer robots normally used by the opposing forces. Once the sequence is over, the device is discarded and the game moves on to a new mechanic. The puzzles and combat also blend together occasionally with good use of traversal or puzzle mechanics allowing players to bypass some fights.
The addition of the single player brings boss fights to a Titanfall game for the first time in the series. In a series about mechs, this makes for some really cool battles. The bosses usually attack with other weaker Titans on their side, which is a good way of making the fights difficult without making the bosses themselves overpowering. The boss fights also have a bit of a Mega Man vibe to them with each boss’s Titan having strengths and weaknesses that are countered by one or two of the Titan loadouts players find along the way, sometimes dropped by the previous boss.
The multiplayer of Titanfall 2 has added a few new mechanics and abilities as well as new modes and rewards for the game’s progression system. The first and most notable addition is the the grappling hook which adds a whole new level of mobility to the already nimble pilots. The grappling hook is actually just the most useful of several new abilities for pilots including a sonic knife that reveals hidden enemies, a cloaking device, a holographic decoy, and a teleport to name a few more.
While the grappling hook is the most obviously useful across the board, a lot of the other powers can also be situationally strong. There aren’t really classes to play as in Titanfall 2, but these abilities more than any other aspect of the multiplayer seem to nod in that direction.
The number of playable Titans has doubled from Titanfall to Titanfall 2 from three to six. The Titans all still fall into light, medium, and heavy classes, but the individual Titans are differentiated by their weapons and abilities more stringently than the Pilots, as if they are each built for a specific purpose.
The Northstar Titan, for example, is designed to hang back and snipe at enemy Titans while Ion is more well rounded and can mix it up a bit more. Combined with the new Pilot abilities, this rewards players who coordinate their loadout with their team. Everyone on your team using grappling hooks and heavy Titans? Probably a good idea to pick the medic ability and a speedy Titan.
There are also new weapons and weapon types in Titanfall 2. Most notably grenade launchers have been added as an anti-pilot weapon. In the previous game, basically anything that exploded was classified as an anti-titan weapon and could only take up the corresponding slot in a player’s loadout. That loadout system has also changed between the two games going from a three slots to two.
In Titanfall, players could carry a primary, a secondary and an anti-titan weapon and Titanfall 2 combines the secondary and anti-titan slot forcing players to choose between an anti-titan weapon and a second anti-pilot weapon. With the way that the new abilities can make fighting Titans without shooting them easier the loss of a loadout slot feels like a smart balancing choice.
All three of these aspects, the Pilots, the Titans, and their weapons can be customized both in ways that are meaningful to gameplay and in cosmetic ways. One of the chief criticisms of Titanfall was that after a fairly short amount of time players could unlock everything there was to unlock in the game. It is safe to say that Titanfall 2 has solved this issue. Between new Titans, weapons, Pilot abilities, and all the Pilot and Titan skins in the game, there is a ton of stuff to unlock by playing multiplayer in Titanfall 2.
One of the defining features of Titanfall multiplayer was the inclusion of AI controlled bots in most of the multiplayer modes. Titanfall 2 dials this feature back slightly by only including bots in the new Bounty Hunt, a sort of MOBA-esque mode built around earning money for kills and depositing it in a bank for points, and the returning Attrition, a team death-match mode.
Classic modes like Capture the Flag, Free-for-All, and Amped Hardpoint could go either way with the inclusion of AI. Bots could be annoying in some matches, but they also make it easier to acquire a Titan faster.
Titanfall was one of the best looking games of the current console cycle’s first year, and Titanfall 2 continues to impress in the graphics department. In terms of both design and execution, everything in this game looks amazing. Equally well done is the audio of Titanfall 2. The sound design, score, and voice overall sound great. If anything, the sound is even more well done than the visuals.
The addition of the single player campaign, which takes about seven hours on normal difficulty which beneficial to Titanfall 2 for players who may not be interested in a lot of multiplayer mayhem. There are some collectables to reward completionist achievement hunters, and unlockable difficulty levels as reward for repeated playthroughs. And of course the added multiplayer unlockables add a ton of value that was lacking in the original Titanfall.
Think back to the state of AAA shooters in 2014 before Titanfall. The genre had stagnated in terms of storytelling and gameplay to the point that even the smallest of changes to any aspect of the games were regarded as major innovations.
Now think about the current state of this genre, where the Battlefield franchise has released a cops and robbers themed game and a game set in the first World War, and where the Call of Duty franchise has literally gone to outer space.
None of those massive shifts in the landscape of AAA shooters would have happened without Titanfall, and it’s truly groundbreaking gameplay innovations. Titanfall 2 continues this trend of innovation by featuring a character focused single player campaign in a genre obsessed with over-the-top action,and by making really smart additions to multiplayer gameplay. Titanfall 2 is a game everyone should play, even if they just crank the single player difficulty down and explore some jumping puzzles with their new Titan buddy.