Titanfall 2 launched a little over tw weeks ago to an absolute minefield of positive reviews from various critics representing all the big names in the video game industry. The problem is that it launched right slap bang between two of the biggest titles in the business, Battlefield and Call of Duty. Fortunately for us, the original game has been one of our most played of this generation of console, so that was enough for me to at least to skip one of those games and pick this up instead. The question remains however, have I made the right decision?
The short answer is, yes. But I’m not going to end this review there , obviously, so let’s get down to business. Since picking up the game on Xbox One, I’ve struggled to spend my free time playing anything apart from Titanfall 2. If I could sum it up in a short sentence, it has everything I loved about the first game, but Respawn Entertainment have taken the series to a whole new level, improving in pretty much every area they could while keeping the core values of the game intact. And then of course we have that all new single player Campaign which I was worried was going to be an afterthought following criticism for the first game.
Fortunately, my concerns about the Campaign turned out to be complete paranoia as clearly Respawn spent a lot of time thinking about what their fans wanted. You play as Rifleman Jack Cooper fighting against the IMC and a band of hired mercenaries with your Titan, BT 7274 never far behind. In the interest of keeping this review spoiler free I’m not going to go into much more detail than that, but what I can report is that this is a very well-polished story full of variety, engaging scenes, fast paced combat and large-scale, taking full advantage of Titanfall 2’s core mechanics… With a few boss fights thrown in for good measure, naturally.
Right from the offset it’s clear what Respawn wanted to achieve here, in the beginning there’s a big focus on the bond between Pilot and Titan and throughout the story you can feel yourself getting attached to BT on an emotional level. It’s been a while since I’ve played a game that’s been able to engage my emotions like Titanfall 2 did. Which is probably why the Campaign was such a joy to play through. However if I did have something to criticize, it’s the length. Even on regular mode where the bad guys are relatively easy the story seemed to take a lot less time than I expected. Of course, cranking up the difficulty would have dragged it out further, but I wanted to enjoy the story behind Titanfall 2, which I don’t feel I could have done having been repeatedly killed over and over.
On the graphical front Titanfall 2 stands firm with sharp visuals and fluidity throughout, as I previously mentioned I’ve been playing since launch day and the only glitch I’ve encountered was an AI enemy getting stuck in a rock on the game’s multiplayer. Environments in both the single and multiplayer are beautifully detailed, bright and colorful and the game holds its frame rates perfectly when the platform’s hardware is tested in the occasional unavoidable frantic moments.
Gameplay is where Titanfall 2 really stands out from the competition however, the fast paced, futuristic combat is a perfect reminder of where this game came from with additional features thrown in to let us know that the Titanfall series has evolved from its roots. Playing as the Pilot, you’re light and nimble, bouncing from wall to wall as you transverse the game’s various environments. Embark in one of the game’s several Titans however and it all becomes a very different experience. Hordes of enemies are dealt with using extreme prejudice while you tower over the in-game environments, it’s a very satisfying feeling. And while I did find myself engaged with Titanfall’s gameplay in the Campaign, the game truly comes alive when you compete in multiplayer.
It’s clear from the offset that Titanfall 2 was meant to be multiplayer game, it’s changed a lot from the previous game, but all the important characteristics that made the first one great are still very much intact. There’s more content, new maps, new game modes and more importantly more all new Titans. Six to be precise, Ion, Scorch, Northstar, Ronin, Legion and Tone, each equipped with their own unique weapons, perks and abilities allowing players to choose how they want to engage in Titan warfare. It’s here that I realized that while there are more Titans, there’s actually less in theory. While the previous game only had three Titans to choose from players were given the option to equip them how they saw fit, meaning plenty of variation, in Titanfall 2 however each Titan has its own weapon and that’s it, no option to change it. You can however choose which perks you want to enchance your Titan’s abilities and how you want your Titan to look, with plenty of skins and paint jobs to choose from, unlocked as you progress through the levels. Each Titan has its strengths and weaknesses giving them different roles within the game and while I’d love to go into each one in more depth, I don’t want to turn this review into a novel. We’ll go more into that in our 4-One Gaming’s guide to Titan warfare (coming soon).
In all mode apart from Last Titan Standing, a popular game mode from the first game, players must first earn their Titanfall. This means its boots on the ground, walls and pretty much everywhere else that the various maps allow you to transverse. As with the first game there are loadouts, but this time there’s a lot more customisation available. Picking your tactical ability gives your pilot a unique look which can be further altered with the use of a large amount of Pilot and Weapon skins. Tactical abilities give your Pilot a sort of special move, my personal favorite is the Grappling Hook and Stim abilities, but there’s plenty of others to choose from such as Cloak, Pulse Blade and Holo Pilot among others which again, allow you to choose how you want to play.
While the previous game suffered from a lack of weaponry, Titanfall 2 has plenty to choose from, all of which are split into categories. Obviously that’s pretty standard for a shooter by today’s standards but the additional choice does at least put Titanfall 2 on par with the amount of selection you’d get from say Call of Duty or other similar shooters. Thankfully Burn Cards are a thing of the past and have instead been replaced by “boosts” which become available shortly before your Titan. These are effectively one use abilities or gadgets to help give you the edge on the front line.
Pilot vs. Titan combat has changed as well, this time for the better, the “rodeo” mechanic is still there, but it’s no longer the death sentence for the victim. Clambering on to an enemy Titan has been made easier, but it now takes several attempts to cause any serious damage. Your first rodeo will remove a Titan’s battery which can then be used to boost the health of a friendly Titan. From there on in you can continue your assault, planting grenades in the hole you’ve created. But be quick on your toes, it’ll take more than a couple of grenades to bring down a Scorch or Legion. Your best bet is to steal a battery and switch to an Anti-Titan weapon to finish the job. As a Titan it is quite difficult to hit such a small target but you do at least get electric smoke as standard on all Titans as a means of swatting the pesky Pilots. There’s also a perk that will give you an additional charge. This is an area that really let the previous game down so it’s great to see Respawn have altered this mechanic for the better.
Titanfall 2 has also landed with an all new leveling system, which sees players earning “Merits” for completing challenges. These Merits contribute to your overall experience, earn enough and you’ll level up, granting you use of additional weapons, perks, abilities and Titans. However it doesn’t stop there, players are also expected to level up their Titan AND their weapons, unlocking additional attachments and perks. It’s unnecessarily complicated it has to be said and while I’ve seen the word “Re-Generate” used several times, I’m still not sure what it actually means in Titanfall 2. It actually lets the multiplayer down somewhat but you can at least choose to unlock weapons etc early through the use of Credits, which are earned at the end of each match. And from what I can tell Respawn Entertainment have done away with the dreaded Regeneration Challenge, an absolute thorn in the side to any player of the original game.
What I can say is that Titanfall 2’s multiplayer has got to be one of the most enjoyable and competitive experiences of this console generation, sure it has its flaws and while there’s a few things I’d have liked to see from the old game, it’s enough of a step forward to say that Titanfall 2 is definitely worth the price. Even more so when you consider that Respawn have already stated that all future content will be free of charge, a rare thing in the modern world of gaming.
I had high hopes for Titanfall 2 and Respawn Entertainment have truly delivered, the Campaign was a great single player experience albeit a little short, but that’s quickly forgotten about when you delve into the game’s extensive multiplayer and call in your first Titan. Gameplay is an awesome reminder of where this game came from while the new content and mechanics give it the fresh new feel any new title needs. If this had been the only game to add to my collection this quarter I wouldn’t have been disappointed and while I can’t do anything about the poorly chosen launch window I can at least recommend Titanfall 2 to the 4-One Gaming community. Seriously, whatever your platform, go out and buy this game. And of course, don’t forget to join the 4-One Gaming network on Xbox One.