Titanfall 2 is very different from the first Titanfall game. I played Titanfall for some time and whilst it was fun the myriad of flaws stopped me coming back too often. I wasn’t a fan of the movement, not the traversal system itself which is great but the way the Pilot and particularly the Mech felt when you moved with them. The online play and the overall feel of the game were good but just not something I couldn’t wait to get back to.
Titanfall 2 however has the movement spot on, the traversal system and the way the pilot and Mech feel are fabulous. The 3d nature of the combat is like no other game I have played and swinging and hopping around from roof to wall to roof is a joy.
Based on my previous experience with the 2014 Titanfall I was expecting even more of the grind, the almost paywall like way things in the first game were locked away yet in Titanfall 2 all this is gone and I am very pleased about that.
Let’s start with the short but fabulous single player campaign. Playing an hour or two a night and I had completed the game on the regular difficulty setting in a few nights. So it is short, but it is a great story, told well and I think I would not have given it such credence had it not been for one of the best missions of any game I have ever played. “Effect and Cause” is a mission I will play over and over. There will be spoilers so skip ahead if you don’t want to know some of what happens.
In this mission, you learn about the Fold Weapon, think Deathstar miniaturised with a bit more kick, you will also grow closer to BT, your Mech and you will find out that time travel/fps mechanic is the most fun you can have in a video game period.
There is so much going on in this mission that you cannot help to think there should be an Oscar for game storytelling and that these guys should get the prize.
To start with, that closer relationship between you and BT, there is no crass dialogue to illustrate the bond, it’s not mentioned specifically but at the end of mission BT called me Cooper instead of Pilot, it’s a really subtle thing that you could miss but you definitely feel a shift in the relationship throughout. The mission itself starts with you and BT escaping from a boss battle with Ash at the end of the last mission. You and BT have tracked Major Anderson to an IMC research facility and as you arrive you are presented with a vista of abandonment and disrepair. The facility is overgrown and there are fires burning in some of the rooms. Specters lie broken and rusted all around and the rain makes for a bleak scene.
You start to explore the building and suddenly you are back in time, presented with a vision of the same room, only now its new and pristine and there are people going about their day. A few more steps and you return to the present dilapidated room. BT tells you there are temporal distortions all around the facility. He warns you to be careful when you see a presentation taking place about the Fold Weapon. It will be used to take out the Militia once and for all.
This moment plays out like a cut scene and then you carry on through the complex. You have to fight a few lizard type lion things (officially known as, those damn lizard lion things) and a few more scenes pass by with you watching like a voyeur. Finally, you find Andersons body, he is part way into the floor above and is poking through the ceiling. You grab his helmet which you take back to BT and then have to make your way to the other half of his corpse.
There are a few more fights I won’t spoil and some more visions of the past and then suddenly, during one of the time jumps, the guards notice you, they call you an intruder and you realise these aren’t visions. You have hopped into the past and have to deal with the threat. After you kill the guards you hop back into the present only to see their bodies on the ground, only now they are rotten corpses.
You have been hearing chatter on the radio about a breach, it’s now you realise the breach is you, an invader from the present with what appears to them to be erratic movements.
You eventually find Andersons body and you take a device from his wrist. This device allows you to control your jumps through time, you can hop between the past and the present to solve problems or to flank an enemy and it’s this mechanic that elevated the entire campaign from Good to Great. Pass back in time, engage an enemy, return to the future, run to the rear of your foe, pass back into the past and deal swift justice to them. Pass by lasers and turrets or wall run past obstacles simply by passing into the time that the obstacles doesn’t exist in.
It works so well, and I was having so much fun that at the end of the mission when the device gets damaged and I had a realisation that I wasn’t going to be using it for the rest of the game I stopped playing the campaign for a day in protest. Is it something that I would like to have seen in the rest of the game? Well yes, but having it in this mission alone made it all the more special. There is this really enjoyable FPS campaign and then at mission 5 it becomes fabulous. Combine the time jump with the fluidity of movement and lethality of the Pilot and I was in gamer heaven wreaking hellfire on the enemy and taking zero damage. Thank you time, you are great.
I’m not going to tell you more about the campaign because to tell you more about this act would spoil your enjoyment of a very well written tale, it is the jewel in the crown of a great experience and although it was over in about 6 hours or so I will remember it as a defining moment in my gaming life.
Titanfall 2s’ multiplayer is built on the rock-solid foundations of the single player experience and there is an awful lot to it. Tons of weapons customised load-outs, Pilot and Titan unlocks, rifles, SMGs, shotguns, sniper rifles and more. Dropping a foe, especially a player controlled pilot gives you immense pleasure and when you line your sites up on someone and hit them there is a weight of power you feel as you bring them down.
It’s no wonder as Respawn Entertainment LLC was founded by Jason West and Vince Zampella, the guys who were responsible for the hugely popular Call of Duty games at Infinity Ward. Their experience at bringing us a visceral run and gun shooter is evident everywhere from the map design to feel of movement. It feels like run and gun could be unfair because there is a lot of tactical play to be had. I was sniping on a map and my position was compromised so I cloaked, repositioned and then waited for my hunters, I took them out once more. Each mechanic is effective. Double jumps, wall running, grappling, cloaking and the speed of movement give you the confidence to tear about the map using these talents without anyone of them feeling like a silly add on. Melee is effective because you can surprise a lot of enemies from above or sliding along the ground towards them and tackling a Mech on foot is no longer a suicide mission. You are hard to hit and if you keep moving it’s only the anti-rodeo device present on some Mech loadout’s that will give you pause for thought.
It’s the changes from Titanfall that have given me the most to think about in the multiplayer. Somehow this feels like an entirely new IP. It shares the same free running titan call downs from before but it’s a serious departure from the previous game in terms of playability. If Titanfall was an orange then Titanfall 2 is a posh fruit cocktail with cherries.
Respawn have taken all the good elements from Titanfall, improved upon them and taken all the things that didn’t work and either thrown them out or made them work properly. Watching a kill cam of someone flitting about the map with grace and skill while delivering your deathblow is a joy.
There are a whole host of game modes from Deathmatch, Capture the flag to Bounty hunt. Bounty hunt is like a deathmatch only a marked target is shown on the map and you need to race to collect the bounties whilst remembering to deposit your winning. Get killed before you make it to the bank and you will lose the majority of your earnings.
Bringing down a Titan requires 2 assaults this time around. The first damages shields and rips the battery clean out. If you manage to survive and get back onto the Titan you can deliver the deathblow by dropping a grenade into the hole where the battery once was. It means there is another subtle shift and team play is more important this time. If you are working with your team as an effective unit you will be able to take down Titans quickly with minimal fuss. If however, you are lone wolfing it, solo queuing and hoping to do well you will actually see a lower KD than in the previous games so important is teamwork.
Working as a team adds something quite unique to a game and this is not lost on Titan fall 2. I played in one match with a friend and through a coordinated effort we managed to destroy a Titan, kill the pilot and capture a base all at the same time. I hoped on and removed the battery, the countermeasures went up and I had to get away, as I was doing so the Titan was being distracted by shots from an Anti-Titan weapon. Then it was my turn to distract at the rear so that we could get the grenade into the belly of the beast. Within a few seconds the pilot had ejected and as he tried to escape we gunned him down with a satisfying roar from my R101. This happened around a capture point and we took the point while providing cover for each other should an attack come. I appreciate the effort that went into the game. The level of design to allow us to coordinate our attacks so effortlessly. It’s testament to the devs that they are able to understand how a game like this should work and then deliver that freedom to us.
The unlock system is pretty good. It’s quite generous and felt fair although it can take some effort to get the higher tier skins, however, there is a lot to unlock and pretty much every match results in something heading your way in the form of a skin or an upgrade for a weapon or mech. I also like the fact that by level 10 you have access to all Mechs in the game so that you can learn their style and upgrade them appropriately.
Despite there being a wealth of skins and add-ons it’s fabulous to see that there are no micro-transactions and that you can be assured that all future maps and modes are going to be free.
So to sum up then, Titanfall 2 is probably one of the best shooters of this generation. I can think of two games I would rank this game alongside and they are Rainbow Six Siege because of the team play and possibly Battlefield 1, because, well, you get to shoot horses.
I am looking forward to playing this excellent game for many years to come. It is a necessary addition to any game library and I think that if you like to shoot things, you will like this game.