When Respawn Entertainment released Titanfall back in early Spring of 2014, it drew some criticism for being a full priced game despite only having a multiplayer component. It was hard for me to disagree with that criticism and having little interest in multiplayer only games, I largely ignored Titanfall. So when Respawn released Titanfall 2 in Fall of 2016, on a superficial level, it was great to see them address that criticism by adding in a single player campaign. I was initially skeptical about Titanfall 2's single player campaign however. Normally when a multiplayer only game adds a single player mode, it's usually just a few of the multiplayer maps with bots, loosely cobbled together with a fairly simplistic plot. Titanfall 2 actually shakes off a lot of that stigma by actually having a decent and under appreciated single player campaign.
You play as Rifleman Third Class Jack Cooper, a pilot-in-training under the guidance of Captain Tai Lastimosa, both of whom are serving as members of the Frontier Militia who are at war with The Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation or IMC. Cooper and Lastimosa are both called in to combat on the IMC controlled planet of Typhon. A short introductory combat sequence ensues before Cooper and a group of Frontier Militia are ambushed by The Apex Predators, lead by Kuben Blisk, who are a group of contracted mercenaries working for the IMC. The Apex Predators massacre the group of Frontier Militia soldiers and leave Cooper for dead. However, Captain Lastimosa sacrifices himself to save Cooper's life after he is mortally wounded in combat and BT-7274 is rendered immobilized. His last action is transferring over his pilot authorization to Cooper, making him BT's new Acting Pilot. After restoring BT's power cores from nearby downed airships, it's up to them to uphold the mission that was to be carried out by Captain Lastimosa.
The game's overall plot isn't much to write home about. It's perfectly fine, but if you've played any other modern FPS within the past few years, chances are you know the overall structure and theme of Titanfall 2's plot. The one thing worth highlighting though is the relationship development between Cooper and BT. While initially tense and kind of awkward, the two of them begin to warm up to each other as the story progresses with BT offering assurance to Cooper in regards to his combat efficiency and Cooper trusting BT with his decision making. This goes a long way towards humanizing both characters despite the fact that one of them is a giant mech fighter. BT will also occasionally drop some pretty deadpan one liners that made my otherwise Resting Asshole Face perk up with a smile. I won't spoil any of them, since they need the proper context and gameplay experience.
At first, an interesting addition is the dialogue choices presented to the player, something that doesn't normally crop up in most modern FPS. However, in practice, there's only 2 options and it usually boils down to either playing it straight faced or adding a tinge of dry wit to the conversation. Don't expect it to influence the story or gameplay in any capacity. It does help you bond with the two characters a bit, but that's about all it's good for.
The core gameplay loop is split between playing as Pilot Cooper and controlling BT. As Cooper, the traversal and combat mechanics are superb. You can wall-run, double-jump, climb and slide so smoothly and seamlessly. Couple that with punchy, fast-paced combat mechanics that rival the Call of Dutys and the Battlefields of the genre and you have a gameplay loop that's endlessly fun to engage in; there's nothing more satisfying than wall running while cutting down enemy soldiers with a submachine gun. The wall-running and double-jumping abilities add tons of verticality to each level, allowing the size and scale of the levels to feel enormous; you are but one measly soldier in a giant, hostile world. The weapons are all standard to the FPS genre. You have pistols, submachine guns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, LMGs, rocket launchers, energy weapons, grenades and remote controlled explosives. The weapons all handle incredibly well and all have really unique designs.
Taking control of BT is never not euphoric, as you enter combat with other Titans and crush soldiers underneath your giant robot feet. Despite the massive nature of the Titans, combat and movement still flow rather well and can still be exciting. You have the ability to dodge enemy attacks. You can switch out various loadouts on the fly, which is nice, thus changing the types of weapons and abilities of BT. You can unlock various loadouts through story progression as they're very hard to miss during the run of gameplay. I never really found myself gravitating towards any one specific load out since they're all balanced rather well and each have there own advantages and disadvantages. If I had to pick one, I'd say the "Scorch" loadout was my favourite because lighting things on fire is never not satisfying and I probably just put myself on a watch list by typing that out...
My one tiny criticism of the Titan loadouts is that the magazine sizes on the primary weapons all feel rather meagre. You have these giant, hulking mech warriors that are the ultimate wrecking machine, why not give them weapons with a magazine size that matches that? I found myself reloading way more than I wanted to and it can kind of screw with the pacing of the game. Thankfully, the Titan loadouts also come with a lot of other weapons at your disposal such as shields that can catch and throw enemy projectiles back at them, a hover mechanic, a giant energy sword, lock on rockets and one that fires a giant gas canister that blows up if you shoot at it, just to name a few. You can also build up your Weapon's Core mode that, when activated, deals a massive barrage of death and destruction to anyone in the way.
Another criticism I have is with the Boss fights. You fight members of Blisk's crew and they're all largely forgettable. Most of them take place in areas that feel too similar to areas that feature run-of-the-mill gameplay rather than propping them up in some sort of environment that differentiates itself from the rest of the game. The one boss fight that actually pulls this off is the one against Viper. It takes place on top of speeding airship hurtling through the sky, the sort of set piece that hadn't really been featured in any other level up until that point. It's a fast-paced, action pack environment which is what a game like Titanfall 2 thrives on. He also flies around a lot making him a bastard to hit at times.
Overall, Titanfall 2 provides an incredibly fun and action oriented gameplay experience. While the single player campaign clocks in at around 5-6 hours, it means the game doesn't overstay it's welcome or feel drawn out in parts. The environments look beautifully rendered and the game's seamless blend of combat and traversal mechanics are well executed.