The original Titanfall was one of my favourite games to be released in 2014. Despite being a multiplayer only affair, the adrenaline rush of the gameplay was like nothing else I’d played before. A fast-paced shooter infused with hulking robot mechs known as Titans created many awe-inspiring moments that had me eager to tell my friends; stories of the times I would eject from my Titan at the last second, raining bullets down on my foes from above before landing on another Titan’s back and ripping out its battery.
It’s moments like these that defined Titanfall and are carried across expertly into Titanfall 2, this time with a surprisingly well-crafted single player campaign, which was something sorely missed from the original. There was a great foundation already in place with the well-balanced back and forth between Pilots and Titan’s, and this has been fleshed out to create one of the more exciting shooter plots I’ve experienced. The narrative itself hits familiar beats that you’d expect and doesn’t resonate much beyond that, but it’s full of memorable moments and set-pieces that I actually went back to play for a second time as they were so genuinely engaging.
Cleverly, you won’t just be smashing through everything in your Titan, named BT, for the duration of the single-player. There are sections that the giant brute simply can’t fit in, and it’s there as a Pilot that you’ll need to solve puzzles, navigate tricky platforming sequences and survive on the ground before reuniting with your robot pal. Wall-running and jumping from wall-to-wall while avoiding certain death below is a frequent occurrence as you run from skirmish to skirmish, but there’s variety in the environments and large open spaces allow for you to tackle situations from different angles depending on your play style.
“…a campaign that has you riding on top of moving aircrafts, bouncing off pieces of debris like a futuristic Mario…”
One mechanic in Titanfall 2 that stands out in particular allows you to travel back in time with the push of a button, with different enemies and puzzles nestled within each timeline. Flicking back and forth is both dangerous and exciting and is just one of the highlights in a campaign that has you riding on top of moving aircrafts, bouncing off pieces of debris like a futuristic Mario and taking on other various enemies during intense Titan vs. Titan warfare that would put Mobile Suit Gundam to shame.
Beyond the impressive set-pieces comes the writing, which is littered with funny quips, especially when you’re communicating with BT directly. It’s the classic set-up where BT doesn’t understand most human terminology and catch phrases, so he takes everything quite literally, with humorous results. You often have a couple of choices of dialogue, and I always chose the one that had the most potential for BT to come back with a confused response. While the bond between the two of you could have had some softer moments, the ones that are there work well and help lead towards a finale that had me captivated even though I predicted the result early on. For me, that’s pretty good story-telling.
Where the campaign feels epic at every turn, it also subtly teaches you the mechanics of the gameplay that are a requirement for multiplayer. There are several types of Titans, including the basic rocket-shooting Brute and featuring more agile options like Ronin, wielding a sword and going in close for the quick slice and dice. The multiplayer is still segmented cleverly; you’re able to trigger a Titanfall, where your mech of choice will literally drop from the sky onto the battlefield, ready for you to take over. The faster you get kills and do damage, the faster you’ll be able to access your Titan, and then each play session really opens up.
What is amazing about a situation where you have both Titan’s and Pilots populating the battlefield is that it isn’t always necessarily an advantage like you would think. There’s an obvious joke here somewhere about ‘size doesn’t matter’, but it’s true, as Pilots are equipped with Anti-Titan weaponry that are very effective in taking them down. While Titan’s will always have the size and damage advantage, they are so huge that they are an easy target and can only really be out in the open, which leaves them vulnerable to Pilot’s who are able to use their environment, find good vantage points and take cover easily when they’re in danger.
The best game modes are the ones that incorporate enemy AI on the battlefield, much like the Attrition mode from the original Titanfall. They are mostly fodder and only contribute slightly to your total score, but having them scattered over the warzone for either side breathes even more life to what would normally be a 6 versus 6 affair.
Titanfall 2’s new standout mode is Bounty, which first requires you to kill these AI enemies, which gives you money that must be taken to the bank. If you’re killed on the way to the bank, you lose half your funds and the opposing team member who kills you then keeps it for themselves. These modes, along with Amped Hardpoint that has you capturing zones, are the strongest and most entertaining options when it comes to playing online. The progression system is satisfying and different from most shooters, rewarding good play rather than just kill count, and with a range of intricately designed maps, the multiplayer is, overall, more exciting than ever.
The Bottom Line
During a time of year where there are such big name shooters being released in short succession, you definitely shouldn’t overlook Titanfall 2. With one of the most charming and riveting campaigns I’ve played in a game of this genre combined with a deep and addictive multiplayer component, I can’t sing its praises enough. The ability to call a Titan from the sky to assist you in combat is in no way a novelty; it’s built into the core and is the beating heart that makes Titanfall 2 an absolute must to experience. Standby for Titanfall…