WRITTEN REVIEW BELOW
The original Titanfall was everyone’s first jump into true “Next-Gen” gameplay. The first real game made from the ground up for brand new console hardware. Developed by Respawn Entertainment, a company that was formed after former Infinity Ward developers (creators of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1 and 2) left abruptly to seek more creative freedom; Titanfall seeked to “reinvent” the shooter. It was the first futuristic shooter to truly nail the movement system and novelty of futuristic warfare, and competing shooters are still trying to copy it. Launching on PC and Xbox One the game was highly praised for its fluidity and tight controls.
But many issues plagued the original game as well. Not launching on PS4 certainly gave the game a major hit to sales seeing as the Playstation was very far ahead in overall console sales at the time of the Titanfall’s launch. Lack of Private Matches at launch, an unfair “burn card” system, no single-player campaign, and segregated player base through DLC damaged the original’s longevity. But still, Titanfall was a diamond in the rough for shooters at the time of its launch. With Call of Duty Ghosts having a poor reception from fans of the series, and Battlefield 4 still dealing with the scars of a poor launch.
Titanfall 2 aims to fix a lot of the issues from the original. Launching on the 2 major consoles is sure to increase the game’s niche fan-base, and directly addressing issues like the burn card system are certain to make returning fans happy. Planning to make every single bit of DLC content free is also going to draw in a lot of people who don’t feel like spending $120 dollars on every games purchase they make.
Titanfall 2 launches in an already crowded Holiday season. Does Titanfall 2 offer enough to be worth your purchase this Christmas? Or do the same issues still arise that its predecessor suffered from as well?
Titanfall 1 was infamous for having a terrible, sorry excuse for a campaign mode. It was literally just normal multiplayer matches with a talking head occasionally appearing in the top right corner of the screen. It was comical how unimpressive and unexciting it was. Titanfall 2 already takes a step up from its predecessor by introducing an entire fully fledged out Single-Player campaign.
The story follows wannabe pilot Jack Cooper and the veteran Titan BT. A series of events early on in the campaign lead Jack to becoming the Militia force’s newest pilot, and to BT becoming his titan companion. Both characters are extremely likable from the beginning of the game. Jack Cooper, aside from having a rather generic name, is also a sarcastic comic throughout the campaign. But the real humor comes from BT, whom throughout the campaign is often misunderstanding human phrases and sarcasm. Think Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy for reference. The banter between the two makes up for most of the campaign’s slow moments and definitely had me smiling throughout.
One thing I noticed about the campaign is that it felt extremely Halo esque. This is most definitely not a bad thing as most would agree that Halo is near the best of the best when it comes to FPS campaigns. The level design and enemy AI traits just gave me very similar vibes to Halo, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Respawn took some design cues from Halo in the process. This isn’t a knock on the game at all, as Titanfall 2 does some really interesting things throughout the story that I don’t see from other FPS story modes.
The most interesting gameplay mechanic of the campaign is definitely the titan mechanics. While the Titan sections can sometimes feel a bit “on rails”, the game always gives you the freedom to exit BT and continue on foot as Jack with BT following close behind. The game does feature a couple of moments where BT is forcibly taken away from you so that you are forced to play as Jack. These sections are pretty predictable, and before I even began the campaign I expected for moments like these to occur. Throughout the campaign you can find new “Titan Loadouts” for BT to completely change his weapons and abilities. Most of these are the titan loadouts from multiplayer, but some are completely unique and may give a slight hint to players as to what future DLC may be like for Multiplayer.
Titanfall 2’s campaign is a refreshing FPS campaign. After the first game failed on all fronts in regard to story, Titanfall 2 goes above and beyond what I expected. I personally don’t think all games need Single-Player campaigns so long as the Multiplayer has enough content and replayability to warrant the purchase. But Titanfall 2 delivers on both fronts marvelously.
Titanfall 2’s multiplayer is the star of the show when it comes to this game, however. Titanfall 1 multiplayer was enjoyable in its own regard, but as mentioned earlier, it missed key marks that would have made it great. I’m glad to say Titanfall 2’s Multiplayer succeeds for the most part where the first title fell flat.
The controls of Titanfall 2 are the tightest of any game I ever played. This is extremely important for such a fast paced shooter with an extremely quick time to kill. You always feel like you have full control over what you are doing and where you are going. While the movement system of the pilots can be a bit overwhelming at first, with practice you begin to perfect it down until you know how to traverse consistently around every map in record time. Titanfall 2 adds a new element into the equation of movement with the grapple hook. You can customize your pilot to take an invisibility cloak, tracker darts, temporary health and speed boosts, or other interesting gadgets, but the grapple hook is easily my favorite. It is already extremely rewarding to chain together your movement options in Titanfall 2; the grapple hook just adds another layer to the equation that makes it even more enjoyable.
Pilot customization is leagues better than the first game. Something the first game suffered from that not many FPSs do is lack of weapons. There were very few actual weapon options in Titanfall 1, and even less were actually viable. Titanfall 2 expands the arsenal considerably, not just in weapons, but also in abilities and character customization.
Titanfall 2 also includes a feature I wish more Create-A-Class based shooters adopted. And that’s customizing loadouts in game. It helps you better adapt to the situation in game and lets you finish up that one class you couldn’t because the game started while you were still editing. Other FPSs don’t do this I imagine because they don’t want you to make a specific class in game to directly counter the opponent. Making a class with a rocket launcher for example in Call of Duty because the enemy keeps getting air based kill-streaks. Titanfall 2 isn’t really a game based around countering an opponent’s playstyle though, and instead opts for the player to find what they enjoy and then succeed with that kit.
Burn cards are also completely removed from the game. For those who missed out on the first game, burn cards were one time use “cards” that when used would give you a certain advantage in game. This could be anywhere from buffed weapons, to a map hack that reveals the location of every enemy, to respawning right where you died to exact revenge, to starting off the game with a titan already ready to drop! The latter of which was easily the most game breaking since earning your Titan at a steady rate to your performance seemed to be the main dynamic of the game. Thankfully Titanfall 2 replaces this with a much more calm and fair system called “boosts”. These are basically just a single “killstreak” you can select at the beginning of the round to earn throughout the match. These are much less overpowered than burn cards and are a welcome addition since it is nice to receive another little treat before your titan is ready to drop in.
Titan customization, however, is completely overhauled. The first game suffered from there only being about 2 viable Titan loadouts since you had full customization over your chassis, abilities, and weapons. Titanfall 2 instead restricts weapons, abilities, and chassis to your Titan upon selecting it. Instead opting to give you 3 perk trees per unique titan, one tree of which features unique perks for that specific Titan. At first I questioned whether restricting player options was actually the best option for Respawn to take here. But once I got the game into my own hands and tried it for myself I definitely loved the new system. While seemingly restricting player options at first, it actually expands options due to increasing viability between all the titans so players can pick what they prefer and master each accordingly. Also, sword titan is awesome. Giant robot with a giant sword. Enough said.
Titanfall 2 is a very beautiful game. While not getting to Battlefield 1 or Star Wars: Battlefront levels that DICE is able to achieve, that’s not necessary to make a game great. All that really needs to be said about the graphics of Titanfall 2 is that they certainly get the job done. Definitely one of the better looking shooters on the market.
In my experience playing through the campaign, and from my multiplayer experience this past weekend, the game never suffers from any performance hiccups either. This is rather impressive given the scale of Titanfall 2 with players, giant mechs, and AI enemies all roaming the map at once. The consistency of the game world really lets each map feel alive as you’ll never know when you’re going to find a couple of little AI grunts having a mini battle of their own around a corner.
One thing I did notice in the game’s multiplayer is that a lot of the maps definitely look similar visually to a Titanfall 1 map. In fact, I could find a “Titanfall 1 counterpart” for nearly every map in Titanfall 2! While this isn’t really a major issue, it definitely made me try to run a few routes I remembered from the first game at first because my mind involuntarily thought we were playing on a different map! This is the only criticism I can come up with regarding Titanfall 2’s presentation, and it really wasn’t that big of a deal after a couple of hours getting used to the new maps.
Titanfall 2 is just one of those games where it plays just like the scripted cinematic trailer. There’s lots of moments where you’ll completely and utterly fail at doing something cool. But you keep playing for those moments where you get two quick kills, call in your Titan on the other side of building, sprint through the hallways avoiding enemy gunfire from pilots and AI enemies alike, then leap into your Titan’s cockpit and proceed to wipe out everyone who just attempted to take you down.
Titanfall 2 also nails the post launch model. While almost every other game on the market is charging for a season pass and separating its player base through map packs; Titanfall 2 is instead opting to give every player every bit of DLC content completely for free. This will keep the community together, keep players coming back, and more importantly, saving all of our wallets.
Titanfall 2 is one of my favorite shooters of the past few years. It improves in every regard from the first game. Some might say the game is just “Titanfall 1.5”, and I would understand and maybe somewhat agree with that criticism. But at the same time, I don’t necessarily think being a better refined Titanfall 1 is necessarily a bad thing. Titanfall 1 was a game that fell just short of the mark. Titanfall 2 manages to hit the mark the first one missed, and then go above and beyond.