Titanfall 2 Reviews

Official Site Review

By Dave Horobin, 1 year ago
When the original Titanfall released just over two and a half years ago to huge expectation, it delivered in almost every aspect. Sure, it wasn’t particularly groundbreaking, but the slick use of movement and well-balanced combat between the quick-footed pilot soldiers and the hulking gigantic mass of Titan mechs made it a welcome addition to the first-person shooter genre. It was, however, lacking one major aspect that turned many people off: a single-player campaign. In Titanfall 2, Respawn has aimed to correct that omission. While you’d be almost forgiven for anticipating a tacked-on experience that was included to simply tick that box on the game’s back cover, the result is very different.

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Titanfall 2’s campaign follows on from the events that were originally introduced to us in Titanfall's multiplayer campaign. Here you play as Jack Cooper, a rifleman from the Frontier Militia who is in the early stages of training to be a Titan pilot. During one such practice session, his training is cut short when an attack on the IMC-held planet of Typhon begins and you are forced to enter the battle. In the ensuing fight, his mentor, Captain Lastimosa, is fatally wounded and his Titan, BT-7274, is left incapacitated. With his life fading away, Lastimosa transfers authorisation of his Titan to Jack and your real journey begins.

While the storyline may be slightly generic, there’s a real charm in the narrative between Cooper and his newly acquired Titan that will make you care about them both as they begin to bond over the course of the campaign. At first BT seems cold, issuing orders and following protocols. As you progress further into the campaign, he’ll start to drop dead-pan one-liners that will make you raise a wry smile, and there are even interactive conversations where you can select from a couple of responses by pressing up or down on the D-pad. These moments generally happen at quieter sections in the story and they’re never taken too seriously, but it was nice that Respawn found a way for you to feel a connection to this hulking great piece of futuristic machinery rather than seeing it as an expendable object.

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Where Titanfall 2’s campaign really stands out from the crowd is in the gameplay. Here the original game’s pilot movement mechanics have been refined even further to make double jumps, wall-running, mantling and sliding all combine smoothly and effortlessly. From early on in the game, when you are tasked with finding batteries to restore power to the incapacitated BT, you’ll find that levels are designed with a great deal of verticality to allow you to make the most of your traversal abilities. At first you might use them to simply scale vertical slopes or hop across large gaps, but you’ll ultimately find that using your speed and chaining together combinations of movements is the best way to even the odds against large numbers of enemies, especially on the game’s hardest difficulty. There are even platforming sections in the game that make use of your varying skills and break up the fast-paced action. They’re not especially challenging to complete but they do help to give you an idea of what is possible by chaining different moves together.

The movement mechanics are exceptional but, thankfully, so is the combat. That’s not surprising given that Respawn was put together from ex-employees of Infinity Ward. There’s a feeling of Call of Duty in the weapon handling, with each one of the large arsenal of weapons feeling meaty and unique. AI enemies feel like a challenge on the hardest difficulty, suppressing your last known location and flanking if you stay still for too long, but the balance of your speed of movement and the ability to cloak for brief periods of time strikes a nice balance.

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Contrasting the nimble-footed Cooper are moments when you take control of the hulking great mass that is BT in thunderous battles against other Titans. Unlike the first Titanfall, BT can’t switch chassis this time around. Instead, you can switch between different loadouts that change your main weapon and special abilities on the fly, something that you’ll collect at different points throughout the campaign.

The thoroughly enjoyable campaign combines the best of what Titanfall has to offer in a six-hour action-packed romp, even if it does feel a bit on the short side. While I’d take this quality over quantity approach every day of the week, there are some other minor niggles. Many of the game’s boss battles are largely forgettable and the ending seems especially far-fetched. Visually the game is also a bit hit and miss; the majority of it looks extremely solid, but the engine is starting to show signs of age with close-up facial animations looking considerably dated when compared to EA’s other big FPS of this year, Battlefield 1.

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The game’s multiplayer is as solid as you’d expect it to be considering how successfully it carried the original title. Many of the main ideas from the first game return to allow for a well-balanced experience that has been refined to offer even better gameplay. The new maps seem to offer everything that you’d expect of them in terms of verticality for pilot movement, large open spaces for Titan battles and areas of cover in which pilots can hide. In addition to the maps there are a few big changes. The most obvious change is the overhaul of Titan classes. The three Titan chassis from the first game (Stryder, Atlas and Ogre) have been changed into six Titans that were introduced in the campaign, each with their own specific loadout of weapons, skills and supercharged Core attack.

Pilots have more customisation options with seven different tactical options, a large selection of guns and weapon modifications and special abilities all unlocking at a steady rate as you progress through the ranks. As a pilot, you can now also make even more of a difference when fighting enemy Titans. Whereas rodeoing an enemy Titan previously allowed you to rip open a hatch to shoot its internal mechanics, you can now steal batteries and pass them on to allies to restore some health. This makes the combat feel more varied than the first, especially in Titan battles. At its core, though, it is still the fast-paced game that perfectly balances the tight shooting and some best-in-class traversal mechanics of the pilots with the firepower and heavy armour of the Titans.

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The game modes are largely the same as the original title, although the co-op Frontier Defense mode is nowhere to be seen. There are two new modes: Bounty Hunt is a fast-paced mode that plays out like Attrition, except it focuses the action in areas of the map by having both teams fighting to kill AI-controlled bounties before banking earnings at the end of each round. Coliseum, on the other hand, will be a miss for most players. This requires you to spend in-game currency to enter a strange one versus one battle with heavy weaponry. With no movement other than double jumping in circles, it all seems a little bit pointless.

The return of AI enemies makes Titanfall 2 just as accessible as its predecessor, allowing the lesser skilled amongst us to still contribute to the team's score by slowly accumulating points for killing minions in the Attrition and the excellent new Bounty Hunt modes. You won’t top the leaderboards, but at least you can still have fun and feel like you are more than cannon fodder for the best players. Finally, burn cards have been removed too. Previously single-use perks that could be applied to either your pilot or Titan to give you a head start in a match, these have now been replaced with amped weapons and Titan Core boosts that will steadily build over time providing that you can stay alive for long enough.

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All but three of Titanfall 2's 50 achievements can be earned in the single-player campaign, with the three multiplayer ones taking only a short amount of time regardless of skill level. Most of the campaign achievements can be earned while playing through the six-hour story by completing some specific actions, finishing missions, picking up collectibles and playing on various difficulties. The only achievement that may be difficult to earn is ...Becomes the Master, which requires you to complete the training level in less than 33.65 seconds. With practice it is achievable, but it will also require some skill in accuracy and chaining together movements.

Summary

Titanfall 2 is everything for which you could possibly wish to find in a sequel, answering all of the negatives of its predecessor. While short in length, the campaign is an exhilarating ride that showcases everything that made the first game feel so refreshing, and the refined multiplayer will keep you consumed for months to come. This title is a must own for any first-person shooter fan.
4.5 / 5
Positives
  • Excellent combat and movement mechanics
  • Interesting and unique single-player experience
  • Refined multiplayer
Negatives
  • Campaign is on the short side
  • Visually looks dated in places
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent approx. 15 hours playing the single-player campaign and the various multiplayer game modes, earning 39 of the game's 50 achievements. A physical copy of the game was provided by the publisher for this review.
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