As the sequel to one of the most ambitious first-person shooters of 2014, Titanfall 2 and its developers at Respawn Entertainment had an immense task ahead of them. Not only were they challenged with addressing the complaints gamers had of the original title’s multiplayer, but they also had to keep pushing forward with a brand new single-player experience. Thankfully, after two years of hard work, Respawn delivered all of this and more with a fantastic sequel.
Titanfall 2 is the first game in the series to include a single-player campaign, so naturally that’s where I started. In this highly anticipated campaign, players take on the role of a simple rifleman named Jack Cooper. Having survived a few battles on the front lines, Cooper catches the attention of a seasoned Pilot by the name of Tai Lastimosa, who decides to test Cooper’s potential as a Pilot. A short tutorial quickly teaches you into the basic mechanics of shooting and wall-running, and ranks your skills against other Pilots in the Frontier Militia. However, before you are able to move on to the Titan portion of the simulation, the Militia are called into action. After an emergency crash-landing on an uncharted planet, Lastimosa sacrifices himself to protect Cooper from IMC mercenaries. In order to carry on the mission, Lastimosa passes on command of his experimental Vanguard Titan to Cooper.
Clocking in at just under 6 hours, the campaign satisfies every Titanfall fantasy as players team up with a gigantic robot side-kick to save the galaxy from the threat of a dangerous corporation. The only downside is that it has to end. The main focus is on the relationship between Cooper and the BT-7274 Vanguard Titan, or BT for short. The two develop a sort of buddy cop dynamic as they try and work together to figure out what the IMC are up to. Along the way, they learn more about each other and form a bond stronger than that of a Pilot and Titan. We experience most of this through a series of dialogue trees. There are never more than two options, and there is always a correct one. However, choosing the incorrect option actually expands the dialogue and reveals more about the characters. Ultimately, the options are there to add a layer of personality to Cooper rather than BT. Depending on which option you choose, Jack Cooper can be either the quirky, fun Nathan Drake type, or the ultra-serious, Call of Duty badass. Either way, Jack knows how to have a little fun along the way.
Throughout the game’s 9 playable missions, players will switch seamlessly between 4 types of scenarios. These scenarios include missions that require you to pilot BT, missions that require you to leave BT behind, missions that give you the option to do both and finally – the boss battles. The main difference between all the mission types is the scale of the level. In a futuristic world where enormous mechs are fairly commonplace, it takes a little longer for regular humans to navigate around, even with the enhancements of the Pilot jump kit. This results in the Pilot-only missions feeling both longer and more complex as players search a huge abandon IMC facility or try clear a path for BT to follow.
One of the pleasant surprises of Titanfall 2 is how varied the Pilot gameplay actually is. As you dig deeper into the game’s narrative, you’ll realize that there is a lot more at stake than a simple war of attrition. Along the way, you will unlock different abilities that greatly enhance the traversal mechanics in ways that rival games like Assassin’s Creed or the Batman Arkham series. You can outmaneuver enemies through incredible speed and complicated jumps, and get the drop on them every time. Also, there are some moments in the game that the platforming simply blows you away. Without spoiling too much, wall-running across two separate points in time is one of the most fun platforming moments I’ve ever played.
On the other side of the Titanfall 2 coin we have the Titan gameplay. While piloting BT feels amazing, it’s also rather surprising to learn that Titans can take far less punishment this time around, meaning there are plenty of threats players need to be aware of, and that actually includes the grunts. In the original, spectres and grunts were minor nuisances, mostly thanks to the Titans’ regenerating shield. In Titanfall 2, players will have to recharge this shield by collecting spare batteries that enemies drop, leaving them vulnerable to enemy fire in the meantime. This is even more dangerous now that players don’t need anti-Titan weaponry in order to damage a Titan. Yes, pistols can actually damage Titans now.
The greatest addition to the Titanfall experience are the boss battles in the campaign. A hero is only as good as his villain, and in Titanfall 2 players are pitted against the cut-throat IMC Mercenaries. Fans of the original Titanfall will recognize the South African Blisk, who now leads the ragtag group of villains. Each mercenary represents a different type of Titan you will encounter in the multiplayer, except with minor explosive twists. Some of them are equipped with jet packs, while others are significantly stronger or faster than you. What unites them all, however, is the amazing feeling you get when you finally figure out how to take them down and are rewarded with a gruesome kill animation.
As great as the single-plater campaign is, the most important aspect of Titanfall 2 is the Multiplayer. Overall, it feels like Respawn has taken three steps forward with one step back. Matchmaking has been improved through better load times and team balancing, and the maps are excellently designed and incredibly diverse. However, the removal of the burn cards, the fact that each match is refilled with new players and that you’re not always guaranteed to play on a different map, take something away from the experience.
The good news is that these features are all replaced by more tactical abilities that simply require you to overcome a small learning curve. Gone are the days of using the Rematch card to respawn at the point of your last death and surprise your murderer with a bullet to the back of the head. This is the age of reusable tactical abilities. Traditionally, the burn cards would be used once and then go away after you die. In the case of tactical abilities, however, all you have to do is score a few more hits on enemy Titans and your weapons are amped once again. It makes every battle much more streamlined, and I found I quite prefer this new system.
The leveling mechanic has also received a revamp that is infinitely better than the original. Each of your weapons and even Titans has its own individual level, alongside your overall Pilot level. Favoring one loadout over another means you can quickly unlock improvements and attachments to for your favorite items. You can also purchase almost every item, skin, banner and emblem with in-game currency, though collecting it is a slow process. Still, constantly leveling up your Pilot, several different weapons and a Titan at the same time always makes you feel like there are still things to unlock and strive for.
The various multiplayer maps available at launch offer diverse environments locations with various shapes and sizes. The layouts are all well designed and allow plenty of room for Pilots to escape enemy Titans, regroup and flank them from another side. Conversely, Titans also have a lot more room to run around in the middle of battle and are actually given tons of new cover points, which come in handy more so now that Titans no longer have shields. As I mentioned earlier, Titans are a lot more vulnerable this time around, and it actually makes Titanfall 2 a lot more balanced. While players may not feel as powerful or protected in their Titan, they also don’t feel quite so helpless as a Pilot either.
Titanfall 2 is such an enormous improvement, it makes the original game feel like a glorified beta test. Titanfall fans will be delighted to see that everything they ever wanted is now available, including an improved multiplayer experience and a truly anazing campaign. Newcomers to the series will experience it the way it should have been in the first place. Despite its few minor shortcomings, I am 100% in love with Titanfall 2.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.