The original Titanfall released in 2014 was a breeze of fresh air when it hit the FPS multiplayer scene.
Developed by former developers of the Call of Duty franchise, the newly formed Respawn Entertainment quickly made a name for itself with this first game outing that instantly created a hype train just with the first shown demo of the game at E3 2013.
When the game released however, gamers were met with a great game with lots of potential that sadly never really panned out even with DLC content, dooming the game to not have the online longevity that many hoped for.
This is set to change with Titanfall 2. Now coming complete with a singleplayer campaign and many new improvements, here's hoping that Titanfall 2 can bring the franchise closer to the high status that fans originally expected...
Single Player Campaign
The player assumes control of Jack Cooper, a rifleman from the Frontier Militia, who is sent to an alien planet and must ally with his former squadmate's Titan named BT-7274 to fight against both local alien creatures and human enemies from Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation..
What can be initially said and felt from every improvement made in Titanfall 2 is that developer Respawn Entertainment actually listened to almost all demands and suggestions for improvements made by fans of the first game. And nowhere does this become more obvious than with Titanfall 2's singleplayer campaign.
While the first Titanfall also boasted somewhat of a framestory around its multiplayer, it was generally very hard to follow and felt flatout unnecessary within a soley multiplayer focussed game.
This luckily changed in Titanfall 2 where players take on the role of Jack Cooper - a rookie pilot who after a series of extraordinary events has to team up with a Titan called BT. With BT being a very experienced Titan and Jack not even having been promoted to a full pilot yet, it's up to both of them to work together to survive and escape a hostile planet all the while helping to secure the safety of mankind.
Though Titanfall 2's campaign surely isn't the longest with roughly only 5-6 hours of playtime, the singleplayer campaign however is extraordinarily well presented and told. While the main gist of the plot once again revolves around yet another space war between two enemy factions fighting over resources, the thematic focus on the relationship between man and machine, manifested in the relationship between Jack Cooper and BT, is very well pulled off.
With plot moving focussed dialogue that also gives room for the two partners to get to know each other and their personalities, Titanfall 2's campaign is full of action yet also emotions and heart which shine through at the right times to make the entire adventure very entertaining and varied.
|Who would've guessed, but Titanfall 2's campaign is really good.|
What helps the entertainment factor of the campaign even more is that it absolutely never becomes stale, monotone or boring. This is mostly thanks to the campaign's straightforward focus to constantly give you new challenges to overcome that don't always simply require you to "shoot everything in this area".
Thanks to Titanfall's big focus on platforming, the campaign greatly utilizes this concept in many levels. Thus there are multiple objectives or missions that require you to get from A to B whereas the path that leads to your goal isn't necessarily all that obvious. There are multiple times where you will find yourself pausing for a moment, observing your environment and thinking of the best way to actually get there. And with wall-running, double jumping and even other gadgets and tricks at your disposal (which I won't spoil here)
the combinations are very vast and put to very creative use in the level design of the campaign.
In the end, Titanfall 2's singleplayer campaign actually poses as one of the hands down strongest FPS campaigns in recent memory. While admittedly not very long, it's overall experience is simply barely matched by any other FPS game this year (even Doom). Being a great narrative as well as gameplaywise experience, one can only hope that Respawn Entertainment just gives us a longer campaign next time in a very likely Titanfall 3.
|The first FPS shooter in years to utilize platforming the right way.|
Updated Gameplay Mechanics - "It's all about the Balance"
Further taking player suggestions to heart, Titanfall 2 greatly improved its entire multiplayer component.
From mechanics, over customization options to maps and modes, simply the entire multiplayer of Titanfall 2 has evolved to such a point, that it easily makes the first Titanfall almost completely irrelevant in comparison.
Looking at the gameplay mechanics, Titanfall 2 of course builds its gameplay structure on the solid foundation provided by what has already been done in the first Titanfall. With that said, boosting into the air, running on walls all the while shooting at enemy pilots and Titans once again offers an incredibly fast and dynamic gameplay experience. And even though the sensation of simply getting from point A to point B by just navigating and maneuvaring each map's terrain feels just as intuitive and like second nature as in the first game, Titanfall 2 provides even more tricks that help to distinguish rookie players from pro players.
Especially now with the addition of even more gadgets like the grappling hook that gives you the ability to zip up tall buildings in seconds, it's up to the player whether he manages to use said gadgets wisely and intuitievely enough without making him an easy target but to instead make enemy players the easy targets. Most notably during modes like Capture the Flag, the grappling hook can thus become a very powerfull tool.
It's this great emphasis on precise movement AND shooting skills, that make Titanfall 2 a highly superior online shooter than other competing games of the genre.
|From A to B now even faster with the grappling hook.|
Furthermore, titans received big changes in how they work during multiplayer matches and resultingly affect greatly how matches are fought in the game.
Titanfall 2 offers a total of 6 archetypical Titan loadouts or Titan types, of which each offers different strengths, weaknesses and a certain playstyle. For example, Scorch is a very heavy and slow Titan who despite his limited mobility can deal immense damage, while other Titans like Ronin have a far shorter health bar, yet make up for it by being very quick, flexible and having a giant anti-Titan sword to boot.
Even though Titanfall 2 offers a very similar "class-less" player customization like Call of Duty for pilots, the fact that Titanfall 2 gives players the added customization of each pilots chosen archetypical Titan, adds such a somewhat class focussed feature to the multiplayer. Thus, Titanfall for the most part does great in avoiding becoming yet another very self-focussed online shooter like COD but actually gives opportunities to play strategically with each pilot fulfilling a designated role with his Titan (while still not being forced to do so). Thus, a more flexible Titan can take out enemy Titans sneakily from behind, while another heavier Titan can do a great job by providing him with coverfire.
|The Ronin Titan now also wields a giant anti-Titan sword!|
Playing smart with your Titans in Titanfall 2 is also more important than ever, since Titans now no longer have regenerating health and thus cannot be used in an "attack, flee, regenerate, repeat"-kind of playstyle. This makes Titans quite more vulnerable in Titanfall 2 than they have been in the first game, although Titanfall 2 smartly balances this out by removing the ability for pilots to jump onto Titans and immediately shoot away huge chunks of their health. Instead, pilots can steal a battery from an enemy Titan and deal only a fixed amount of damage to them with that maneuver, while additionally, with the stolen battery in hand, they can also help out teammate's Titans by plugin the stolen battery into them and giving them health back.
It's safe to say that surely not every fan of the franchise will welcome this new change, yet it has to be given credit that this change indeed makes Titan vs Titan battles as well as pilot vs Titan battles much more evenly balanced and fair. Especially now that Respawn Entertainment learned how easily exploitable the regenerating Titan shield and the context-sensitive Titan-take-out moves of the pilots were in the first game.
Summed up, it's just fair new mechanics that are less frustrating for the receiving end of the Titans and more rewarding for pilots.
|Some may not like the changes, but they make the game far more balanced.|
Maps & Modes - "Something for Everybody"
Titanfall 2 also boasts a fair share of new modes that serve as very nice changes of pace from the usual Team Deathmatch or Capture the Flag style of play.
Among those, the two modes Bounty Hunt and Coliseum manage to stand out the most. Both of which focus a lot on a high risk-high reward theme.
In Bounty Hunt, to win, you rank up credits by attacking enemy pilots, Titans and A.I. soldiers. You earn points by depositing those credits to one of two banks that appear after an A.I. wave has been defeated. The catch here is that you lose half of all your earned money upon death. Resultingly, rushing to a bank, depositing your cash and making it in and out with your skin intact is incredibly intense and exciting. It creates a big fight for everything and a big chaotic bloodbath each time the banks spawn, making it very intense.
Coliseum on the other hand, each time puts 1v1 player against each other who have to duel it out in a specified number of rounds. To enter though, you have to buy tickets for the Coliseum with earned in-game credits, which the winner of the Coliseum duel can win from his opponent when victorious.
|It's all about the money in Bounty Hunt.|
Looking at the maps, Titanfall 2, much like its predecessor, offers a great pallette of maps that are great for both flexible pilots as well as heavy Titans.
All maps offer great vantage points, large areas of conflict as well as many buildings to perform ambushes. The maps are just greatly designed to highlight each of Titanfall's gameplay mechanics with enemy players being able to get the hit on you from seemingly every angle (whereas you can do so as well of course).
Nevertheless, the maps offer enough differences to avoid feeling copy-pastey. Therefore, some maps favor close quarter combat while other maps like Homestead emphasize big open area battles on large sprawling fields.
The only map that sticks out a bit negatively though is Crashsite, which takes place in long canyon valleys that offer only very limited roaming space for Titans and almost always only lead to monotonous head to head confrontation battles between the two teams with little variety.
|Aside from one exception, all maps in Titanfall 2 are great.|
Customization - "This is my Titan. There are many like it, but this one's mine"
Yet another big new improvement comes in the form of customization options for players' pilots and Titans.
While customization in the original Titanfall was easy to get into but admittedly quite a bit limited, Titanfall 2 makes up for it in spades. While still not overly deep, Titanfall 2 offers plenty of options to make each pilot and Titan truely feel like your own, from a respectable variety of varied (and really creatively designed) weapons and gear, over loads of different colorization options for your armor, to different unlockable perks that replace the previously introduced Burncards from the last game, Titanfall 2's customization options are really easy to get into and most of all are fun to unlock. This is mostly due to the fact that the game does a great job of giving you the feel of constantly moving forward and progressing while playing multiplayer, since you seemingly always unlock something that keeps you motivated (here's looking at you, Battlefield 1).
Also, with the addition of you being able to earn credits while completing certain challenges during matches, you can now also bypass entire level requirements for certain weapons by straightup buying them with your earned credits - a great option for every player who already exactly knows what he wants right away.
|Customization thankfully now also has gotten much needed love.|
Visually, Titanfall 2 surely doesn't exactly push any new boundaries for the current console generation, yet it also isn't an ugly game by any means- just an all around solid one.
Utilizing an engine that looks really similar to that of the Call of Duty franchise along with steady 60fps, you can clearly tell that many of Respawn Entertainment's developers previously worked on the COD franchise before. However, Titanfall 2 of course also looks like it sure enough made many improvemnts on the visual front compared to its predecessor. Most notably those come into full shine when playing the game's great singleplayer campaign where especially the numerous set-piece moments, like for example a big shootout battle on huge moving ships, shows off the game from its best visual side.
Titanfall 2's great sound design and soundtrack perfectly accompany its generally superb presentation.
From the powerful sound of each gunshot to the convincing sense of weight present in every Titan's step, you really couldn't ask for more.
What turns out very surprising though is the game's very memorable score soundtrack. Whereas the first game only had some servicable yet somewhat quite forgettable tracks, Titanfall 2's epic intro theme alone feels like some big composer like Hans Zimmer could've actually be involved in the making of it (so big respect to the actual composer Stephen Barton).
|Especially during the campaign's set-pieces, the visuals truely shine.|
All in all, it would be no exaggeration if it was stated that Titanfall 2 might just be the best FPS of this entire year and one of the best video game sequels in recent memory.
Taking to heart the suggestions and wishes of fans and even exceeding their expecations with a fairly short yet surprisingly strong and consistently entertaining singleplayer campaign and improved mechanics in its multiplayer, Titanfall 2's improvements in every aspect make its predecessor honestly feel pretty much just irrelevant or already "outdated" in comparison. It's such a good sequel that once you play it, you will very unlikely go back to playing the first game again.
While there are admittedly still some minor elements in Titanfall 2 left that would demand further examination and improvements by the developers, considering how much value in content, quality game design and love for balanced play in multiplayer the game offers, Titanfall 2 is easily one (if not THE) best FPS games that came out of this console generation. With even its promised DLC apparently being planned to be completely free to everyone when it releases, the only big question that remains, is why EA decided to release Titanfall 2 in such a crowded time when Battlefield 1's and Call of Duty's popularity unfairly take much of the gaming audience's attention away from this great shooter.
Here's hoping that Titanfall 2's community and developers will keep supporting this great franchise further and secure the game's longevity to grant us another potential Titanfall 3 in the near future.
Final Verdict: 9 out of 10