Titanfall was a breath of fresh air for the FPS genre back when it launched in 2014, with its emphasis of boots-on-the-ground mobility and monstrous Titan gameplay offering something that truly felt unique. However, there was just no shaking the feeling that it wasn’t a complete package, because – as good as the multiplayer was – there was no single player to speak of. This was the game’s biggest and most common criticism, so developer Respawn Entertainment made sure to include a story campaign for the sequel. The package is complete now, and the results are one of the best first-person shooters on the market.
Those who played the first game will remember the conflict between the Militia and the IMC (Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation), and that serves as the focus of this game’s story. The IMC (and a mercenary group called Apex Predator) have been causing the Militia problems for ages now as they continuously pilfer their resources and eliminate anyone who gets in their way. They’re now planning on wiping the Militia off the map completely, which leads to you taking control of protagonist Jack Cooper and his Titan BT-7274 to lead the Militia’s resistance.
While the overall narrative itself is straightforward and predictable, it’s the characters themselves that keep things engaging. The cast of characters on both sides play their parts well, with bad guys you’ll come to hate and good guys you’ll come to love. The standouts are easily Cooper and his Titan BT-7274, however, as their unlikely teaming up and subsequent bonding results in plenty of laughs and even a few emotional moments. It’s refreshing for a game of this genre to not take itself so seriously, as the game’s attention to humor is easily one of its strong points.
Outside of the narrative, though, the campaign itself is simply fantastic from a gameplay standpoint. You start off learning the move set of Cooper as a Pilot, but from there the Titan gameplay pops up just as often. Both the boots-on-the-ground and Titan gameplay are consistently intense, providing plenty of action that keeps building as the game progresses towards its big finale. Respawn also made room for some well-done platforming segments, which essentially task you with pulling off some challenging wall-running maneuvers. These will lead you through places like a chaotic factory and an area that has you warping between two different time periods with the press of a button, which are extremely well-designed.
The series’ first story campaign manages to capture what makes the multiplayer so appealing.
It’s the Titan gameplay that steals the show, however, as it’s the part of the game that includes the most exhilarating moments. As you control BT-7274 you’ll be taking on a variety of different mechs to take down, which will usually lead to one of several boss fights that the game contains. It’s these duels with the game’s villains where the game shines the most, as you use your Titans various offensive and defensive maneuvers to try and come out on top. The game also provides you with several different loadouts (six in all) that you’ll stumble upon throughout the campaign, each providing very different play styles that you can swap between on the fly.
Despite the new addition of a story campaign, Respawn hasn’t forgotten about the multiplayer that started it all. While players of the first game will feel right at home here, the developer has made some key tweaks that change things for the better. You’ll still be double jumping and wall running constantly as a Pilot and dealing destruction as a Titan, but both modes of play have been expanded upon. Pilots have new abilities that allow them to do things like grapple hook to any surface, which boosts their already impressive mobility even further to get out of tricky situations more easily. Titans, on the other hand, have access to the aforementioned six loadouts with wildly different weapons, stats and abilities, which is a big improvement over the first game’s basic light, medium and heavy variants.
It’s the expanding of the Titan loadouts that makes each match more interesting than in the first game, as you need to learn each loadout’s strengths and weaknesses to pick the right one for each situation. There are Titans like the Ion that are good for starting out with its solid attack power and defensive abilities, but it can run into trouble when dealing with the long-range sniping of the Northstar Titan. It’s all balanced well enough that you won’t be out of luck completely with a bad choice of loadout, though, and ejecting to safety as a Pilot ensures you can keep fighting if you do get overwhelmed. The chaos that ensues when a handful of Titans are all duking it out in one area continues to impress, and controlling a Pilot to try and take pot shots from the shadows (or even mount one to take them down up close and personal) is still a rush.
The maps that Respawn have come up with this time also offer a more open and expansive feel than the first game’s maps, allowing a bit more breathing room between the hectic firefights. There are plenty of open areas for an army of Titans to wage all out war, though there are just as many small paths and hiding spots to go stealth as a Pilot. The 8 unique multiplayer modes also ensure that there’s plenty of variety, with the new Bounty Hunt and the returning Last Titan Standing being early favorites. Bounty Hunt has you killing enemies to earn money that you need to deposit into limited-availability banks in order to score, whereas Last Titan Standing has everyone starting out in Titans as you aim to destroy every Titan on the enemy team. These join the standard modes like Attrition and Hardpoint (now called Amped Hardpoint that adds a nice twist to the mode’s typical gameplay), and they all do a good job of playing to the game’s core strengths.
This is all of course accompanied by in-depth player progression with both Pilot and Titan customization, as you’ll unlock things like new weapons, abilities and Titan loadouts as you level up. Each Pilot has a handful of abilities (called Tacticals), weapon attachments and kits (perks) to tinker around with, and Respawn provides a whopping 10 custom pilot loadouts for you to meticulously craft a variety of different character types. Titans also have a respectable amount of customization, with body and weapon camo joining the various kits that provide stat buffs and other secondary perks.
Respawn Entertainment had an interesting job going into Titanfall 2, as they had to take what worked in a multiplayer-focused experience and translate it to a single player campaign. However, they succeeded with flying colors, offering both a campaign and multiplayer mode that are near the top of their respective classes. Titanfall 2 improves and expands upon the first game in every way, resulting in a fantastic game that any fan of the FPS genre needs to check out.
- Available On: Xbox One, PS4, PC
- Published By: Electronic Arts
- Developed By: Respawn Entertainment
- Genre: FPS
- US Release Date: October 28th, 2016
- Reviewed On: PS4
- Quote: "Respawn Entertainment managed to take the foundation of the first Titanfall and craft a great campaign along with an improved multiplayer experience, making the sequel a fantastic game that any FPS fan should check out."