Jack and BT, siting in a tree

Titanfall 2 by Ade Putra (GameAxis)

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Titanfall 2 by Ade Putra (GameAxis)

<b>Pictures</b> Electronic Arts
<b>Pictures</b> Electronic Arts

Titanfall 2 begins with its singleplayer campaign. Backpedalling from the multiplayer-only trend, Respawn has cobbled together a story best enjoyed if you lean back, switch off, and go along for the ride. The game opens with a power-fantasy cinematic to establish how badass Titan Pilots are; we’re quickly introduced to a mentor figure who may as well be carrying a cross on his back.

Militia rifleman Jack Cooper, our playable character, solemnly inherits the mission and BT-7274, an overpowered Vanguard-class Titan. Both Pilot-to-be and machine will forge a close bond as they trek through enemy territory. The writing can be ham-fisted and cheesy at times, such as BT remarking on our increasing combat rating, but it has its humor and moments.

I adore the mercenaries, these international crew of elite Pilots who serve as boss encounters. Their unique personas and Titans leave a strong impression amidst the sea of mass-produced fodder, akin to Borderlands or a distilled Metal Gear Solid.

As scripted as it is, what makes the Titanfall 2 campaign refreshing is Respawn’s reliance on pacing and level design. Obnoxious event triggers, such as waiting for AI companions to move, is more of an exception than the rule.

The game gently shepherds me along, telling me when to get out of my Titan, how to navigate wall runs and jumps, or what weapon would be interesting to use. It has to in order to preserve that blockbuster experience and, frankly, is a welcome change of pace from the flood of open-world games. For a single deployment, there are a ton of locales to tear through, from ruins to factories and moving ships, which leads me to talk about the one thing Respawn excels at: set-pieces.

If there’s one gripe I have about the Titanfall 2 campaign it’s this: the lack of enemy Pilots on foot. I guess that’s where the multiplayer comes in.

Titanfall 2 gets fast, more so on PC, thanks to speed gathering mechanics reminiscent of Tribes. Run along these buildings here, bunnyhop towards a tunnel there, and you can get some serious speed and map awareness going for you. Honestly, it can be jarring making the transition from the slower campaign.

This system was already in the first game, but what makes it better now are the expansion of active player abilities such as the game-changing grappling hook and phase shifting.

In a Titan-dominated round, I may want to use the phase-shifting ability instead, or lay down a shield barrier if I know a map has cramped corridors and window pot-shots. The weapons I choose to pair with these Tacticals, as they’re called, serve to complement the play style I’m aiming for.

Respawn hammered out some changes for Titans too. The mechs now loosely follow a frontline, sniper, or area control model so that players don’t just settle for that one Titan they like best. Where Pilot gameplay is the more traditional run-and-gun style of the “past” era, Titans lean closer to the current focus on class-based shooters. Each Titan’s Core ability is essentially an ultimate, and if players consciously play to their Titan buddies’ strengths, they can make for some devastating plays. A Scorch trapping an enemy for the melee-focused Ronin to go wild is truly a thing of beauty.

Now let me dampen the mood a little. Map familiarity is going to take far longer simply due to the sheer verticality of it all, combined with a generous smattering of dead ends both in- and outdoors.

Rather than innovate career progression, Respawn regressed by slapping unlocks on everything instead – weapons, mods, secondary skills, you name it. There’s an in-game credits system that lets you bypass these arbitrary locks, even after Regeneration (or Prestige Mode in Call of Duty), but the cost of these are still designed to be high to keep us grinding.

Thankfully the weapons are balanced, so any player can perform well with the gear they start with. In fact, I still use the R-201 Carbine and the MGL anti-Titan weapon regularly.

The combination of Pilot and Titan makes Titanfall 2 a compelling multiplayer shooter, one that provides engaging tactical options for players coming from either modern military or class-based camps.

Put in the time to learn the movement system, the abilities, the many strengths and weaknesses, and you’ll soon see why this game does compete with the other AAA shooters out there.

AT A GLANCE

Developer Respawn Entertainment

Publisher Electronic Arts

Platform PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows

Genre First-person shooter

Players Single, Multi

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Conclusion

"Not the groundbreaking gameplay you’re anticipating, but still so damned good."

Titan battles resemble class-based shooters. Each have different abilities such as Scorch, a tactical Titan that can lay down Incendiary Traps or throw up a Heat Shield for AoE fire damage.
Titan battles resemble class-based shooters. Each have different abilities such as Scorch, a tactical Titan that can lay down Incendiary Traps or throw up a Heat Shield for AoE fire damage.
Sprawling multiplayer maps in Titanfall 2 accommodate both ground-based Titan battles and fast-moving aerial Pilot maneuvering.
Sprawling multiplayer maps in Titanfall 2 accommodate both ground-based Titan battles and fast-moving aerial Pilot maneuvering.
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