Review: Titanfall 2 (Xbox One)
It’s not every year we get three massive shooters out on store shelves in the span of just a couple of weeks. The guys over at EA slotted the release for Titanfall 2 right between Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Some have said it was possibly the worst time to release the title but EA had an ace up its sleeve, and that ace was that TitanFall 2 is bloody brilliant.
A perfect blend of platforming and shooting
For the first time in the Titanfall series we have the addition of a single player campaign, something most fans agreed was lacking with the first outing. The story sees you playing as Jack Cooper, who is pretty much a fledgling in the Militia who has big dreams of one day becoming a pilot. Early into the game you get access to a Vanguard-class Atlas Titan called BT-7274.
BT, as Jack calls him, is basically the Ford Mustang of all Titans, he turns just as many heads as he does blowing them off of enemy IMC soldiers. The IMC is led by Blisk who is a former street racer from Boksburg – not really, but you would think he was when you hear him speak. Blisk and his crew of Apex Predators are trying to drive the Militia back in an ongoing battle of space tug of war and you are thrust into the middle of it all, playing a crucial role in the fate of The Frontier. The best thing about the single player isn’t the story, which is very solid, but the gameplay that puts Titanfall 2 into a whole new category of shooters, as there is more platforming than there is shooting. Imagine Portal 2 except with more guns and bad guys to kill and of course massive Titan battles. I like to think of Titanfall 2 as a hybrid shooter with a good mix between platforming and destroying things, something I haven’t seen executed this well in a shooter before.
The campaign is very solid and an absolute thrill ride even if it is on the short side. Respawn kept the story simple but the gameplay and map design is on the opposite side of the spectrum with each level feeling fresh and more challenging than the last. I must tip my hat to them because wall-running and futuristic combat is something that has been done to death in video games lately, but somehow Titanfall 2 feels new. Also, you truly do feel a relationship form between yourself and BT which is hard enough to do with two human characters in a game let alone a robot, so Respawn certainly hit the mark in terms of the narrative.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire
There was a multiplayer open beta for Titanfall 2’s multiplayer a few weeks ago and to everyone’s surprise Attrition mode, one of the best modes from the first game, was not available. You will be happy to hear that the devs did include this mode after the community outcry so it’s back and better than ever. Other modes where you will spend most of your time are Amped Hardpoint, which is basically a point capture mode with the ability to fortify a captured point making it take longer for your enemy to capture it back, and then there is Bounty Hunter that is my favourite mode after Attrition. In Bounty Hunter you earn cash through killing other players and midway through a game you will get a small window of time to bank that cash at a drop-off point. The first team to reach $5000 wins and every penny counts. The games I played in had matches decided by only a few dollars apart.
Other classics return like Free-for-all and Capture the flag and there is also a cage match called The Coliseum that sees you go one-on-one against other players in a gladiator style match-up. The other modes are fun but I can see Attrition, Bounty Hunter and Amped Hardpoint having the longest legs in terms of player community, because they are just a marsh pit of gun fire and explosions that will leave you feeling like you just watched Metallica live for the first time – sweaty, excited and a strangely aroused.
Titanfall 2 is a massive step up from the original game and although there are currently no dedicated servers the option is not off the table as the game is not bound to using Azure servers like the first game did. Most of the online games I played were fine with only mild lag here and there, but certainly not game-breaking. I loved absolutely every second with Titanfall 2, especially the single player campaign that had me fall to my death from a miss-timed jump more times than I could count, but it’s that punishing gameplay that kept me coming back for more. Respawn had their work cut out for them this year to compete with the barrage of amazing shooters released in 2016 but somehow they have managed to couple fluid controls, a solid frame rate and some of the most interesting gameplay seen in a shooter to date to give you an experience that you truly can’t have in any other game.
Respawn are on the right track with the series and Titanfall 2 can truly be called a Titan in the FPS genre that many other shooters could learn a thing or two from. The timing of the release will leave you with some tough decisions to make in terms of which shooter to pick up, but one thing is certain and that is that Titanfall 2 deserves to be in your console or PC. If your credit card is already melted at the edges and you are on a beans and toast diet then you better be on your best behavior so that Santa drops this one in your stocking, if not you’re missing on a drop made in heaven.