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The first Titanfall was a success for Respawn on Xbox One and PC. It also ushered a new era for first-person shooters making mobility not only fun but also accessible. Pilots can wallrun and double jump in the multiplayer maps taking down opposing pilots or AI bots. Robot-sized titans were icing on the cake to the formula. The lack of a proper single player campaign and depth in the progression system however were the original’s flaws. Respawn now has the game that addresses those issues. Stand by for Titanfall 2.
The single player campaign is the most surprising piece of the Titanfall 2 package. You play as rifleman Jack Cooper and take over pilot duties for the titan BT-7274 after his original pilot was KIA. Throughout the campaign, Cooper’s relationship with BT improves and pivotal for the militia’s survival. After escaping an IMC-controlled planet, the story goes on a cliched route where the IMC has an “End of the world” weapon and wants to destroy the militia’s home planet. Cooper and BT along with the rest of the militia has to prevent that from happening. While the story gets predictable at times, the campaign’s gameplay goes on many twists and turns I didn’t expect.
How does mobility and titans the first Titanfall made famous factor into the sequel’s campaign? The answer is actually a lot. Respawn did an amazing job not sticking to typical FPS campaign tropes. There’s no long vehicular segments or a gauntlet of enemies to take out by a turret. Instead we got intelligently designed platforming sections and puzzles, big titan vs. titan battles and gameplay mechanics I can’t spoil here. Respawn’s new ideas for Titanfall 2’s campaign are short and sweet not overstaying their welcome. There were definitely moments where you’re definitely a badass mowing down the opposition better than the majority of recent FPS campaigns. The length to beat it is around six hours on Regular. There’s also collectibles to find if you miss some during your first playthrough along with multiple difficulties to play on.
While there are six new titans to control in Titanfall 2’s multiplayer, the campaign’s solution for handling those are to treat them as loadouts for BT. They are easy to find and switch around quickly. The titans this time stand out from each other by look, playstyle and their cores. Cores are basically super moves when charged up. Ion is your all-around titan with an auto-fire rifle and a laser core. Scorch is a bulky titan that likes to pound the ground with fire. Northstar can snipe with it’s plasma railgun and hover around firing missiles. Ronin is a hit and run style titan due to it’s low health, but the most satisfying to use because it has a freaking sword. Tone uses the 40mm cannon and a particle wall for defense. Lastly, Legion has a minigun and also use it a shield to compensate for it’s lack of mobility.
The multiplayer is still the main event, but Respawn made some changes fans have been quite divisive about after the tech test happened. I wasn’t a fan of the new modes when I played the tech test. They warmed up to me now. Bounty Hunt has teams completing bounties defeating fodder enemies and titans to cash in their bonuses. The opposing team goes after the same bounties, so you have to take them out as well to collect their bonuses. By the end of a wave, the bank opens up for players to cash in their bounties. Amped Hardpoint is a different twist on domination-like modes seen in other shooters. While players can capture hardpoints normally, staying at one for a bit amps it up to score more points. Attrition, Last Titan Standing, Capture the Flag and Pilots vs. Pilots make their return from the original as well.
One of the big changes in the multiplayer gameplay is the inclusion of batteries for titans. Titans roll out without shields this time compared to the first game. Overshields can be gained by pilots finding batteries scattered throughout a map and putting into yours or a teammate’s titan. Rodeoing opposing titans yanks out their battery if they have one still inside dealing damage. Another time lets the pilot throws a grenade inside instead of shooting it yourself. I do like this change because it does encourage a little teamwork to keep titans alive during matches, especially LTS games.
Loadouts also went through changes as well in Titanfall 2’s multiplayer. Tactical abilities decide your pilot’s look and playstyle. From the new grappling hook, stim for more speed, cloaking, a pulse blade that scans for enemies within a small area and more, there’s plenty of options for players to mess around with besides the weapons. I do love the new arsenal Respawn include here such as incinerary ninja stars, gravity stars and more energy-based guns. Guns and titans can be leveled up for more mods like faster reloading, extra ammo and nuclear ejecting your titans. Besides those, skins for them are also unlocked by also completing certain challenges. There’s also boosts to use ranging from amped weapons, tick bombs to sentry turrets for either opposing pilots or titans.
Instead of an ordinary experience-based level progression system, Titanfall 2’s approach is merits. Merits are gained by completing matches, winning them, extracting during the epilogue after defeat and leveling up weapons, titans, and factions. At certain times during the day, there is a happy hour where one match gets you an additional five merits. Regenerating is also back from the last time where pilots can start over unlocking everything all over again, but also gain more skins. However, weapons or abilities that are bought with credits can be used right away. Weapons and titans also get the regenerating treatment as well once they reached their max level. Good thing there’s more to regenerate this time around for more replay value.
Titanfall 2 looks great and runs fine on both consoles and PC. The fast action stays consistent at 60 frames per second and plus the movement simply looks amazing in action. It’s always satisfying to pull off a moment to moment sequence utilizing wall running and sliding while shooting at the same time. Sure, it doesn’t look as good as EA’s other big shooter out this holiday season, Battlefield 1, because it doesn’t use the Frostbite engine. Respawn used the same graphics engine from the original but more improved here. The soundtrack is also fine as well as the voice acting for the campaign. There are dialogue options between Cooper and BT, but it’s more for humor than actual choices deciding what happens next.
From a stellar campaign that is arguably one of the better ones in the genre and improved multiplayer despite some divisive changes, Respawn has another home run with Titanfall 2. The feel of shooting along with the mobility options remains unmatched to other shooters that tried to replicate it. The campaign goes into places I didn’t expect to the point it’s mind blowing. For once, it’s one worth playing out of the gate for a FPS like it than just instantly hopping on multiplayer. The network system is also an clever idea to party up players and I hope other shooters implement that in the future. It’s a shame that it was launched between two popular shooter franchises affecting the player counts significantly. If you had to buy just one of them this holiday season, Titanfall 2 is the best one to get.