Titanfall 2 Review
As a gamer who eats up nearly any FPS I am slightly sad to admit I never played Titanfall. I just felt there was no place for mechs in an FPS especially in multiplayer and it seemed like gameplay would be lopsided. Tack on the fact there was no single player campaign and that was basically the nail in the coffin for me to avoid it. That being said, after seeing some of the faster and aggressive gameplay for Titanfall 2 and knowing there was going to be a campaign I was pretty amped up for giving it a shot. After about an hour of playing the campaign I was hooked and knew Titanfall 2 was going to be something special, erasing all my previous judgments about mechs in games.
Titanfall 2's story is as simple as it gets. There is a civil war for planet resources between the Militia and the heavily militarized Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC). IMC has developed a weapon called the 'Fold Weapon' which has a power source called Ark. You play as Jack Cooper who is a rifleman in the Militia training to be a Titan pilot when your training is cut short and you are sent to battle the IMC on the planet Typhon to prevent IMC going mobile with the weapon. After being attacked and nearly wiped out by an IMC Titan group called the Apex Predetators, you quickly inherit a Titan of your own called BT. Each pilot and their Titan are bound to each other through the pilot's helmet. Throughout the game you will enhance this bond and learn that your Titan isn't just a hunk of metal, but actually has a personality. For me the heart of the game is building the relationship with your Titan. Even when you exit the Titan he will follow you around or guide you to the next objective and never leaves your side. I can't even remember the last game that had me so attached to the main characters. Cooper and BT both have their own personalities that are so likable especially when Cooper makes an attempt at being humorous. BT of course cannot interpret the humor however always has what comes off as a witty response and always makes me chuckle. In the end trust goes both ways; Cooper and BT work and survive as one.
Being attached to the main characters isn't the only thing that has me hooked to the game. Most games tend to give you new abilities and weapons on the fly with no preface. I tend to think it is just to break up the monotony. Titanfall 2 does it in such a way that is seamless and effortless. Each level you will be given guns that fit the situation and enemy type. The same goes for your Titan load out - though you are never locked into anything and still have a choice to switch things up if you want. For me when given such weapons and Titan load outs they are so appropriate that I don't feel like I need to switch. For instance, I am not a fan of laser or energy weapons, but when I picked one up I noticed it didn't do incredibly more damage to the robotic enemies than my rifle. However, the sense of power felt much more satisfying when killing them than if I were to use my rifle. The same can be said for the Titan load out. As you gain more load outs you can swap between them, but the preferred load out for the level makes the most sense. To top it off, at the end of nearly each level you will encounter one of the Apex Predators. These enemies have their own unique Titan abilities, but your new load out should be enough to take them down. To me this is a test to see if I have mastered such load outs. Again you can choose which one you want, but to me the experience was meant to be what they started you off with for that level and makes it so much more gratifying when victorious.
What tends to top off the experience are the environments and graphics. The scaling is huge yet linear, which is fine with me. For the explorers you may feel somewhat handcuffed, though - there isn't really a need to explore except to collect pilot helmets which are basically pointless, minus a trophy of some sort. Every moment I had I took a step back and looked around to soak it all in. The detail is the same up close as it is far away. Even inside a building everything was huge yet you felt so tiny. Even when you would hop into your Titan the environments felt huge and never claustrophobic. Progress throughout each level had you in and out of your Titan depending on the situation, but each situation felt unique and I never felt completely disconnected from my Titan. I am not saying that Titanfall 2 had any groundbreaking features, but the presentation was flawless and felt like a fresh take on things we have seen before.
Obviously I had much love for the campaign, however it doesn't last forever and to me doesn't have much replay value. Depending on your skill level and difficulty setting I would say it can be completed in six hours. The multiplayer on the other hand will provide way more entertainment. As with every FPS these days there is a leveling system for nearly every aspect of the game. Your Pilot and Titan all start at level 1 with base weapons and load outs. While playing the game you will eventually unlock new weapons, scopes, and skins for them both. There are minor abilities that can be unlocked for each weapon, but not really affecting the damage output, handling, or range like other FPS. Instead of changing the dynamic of the weapon the abilities are more tactical. I like this because you are letting the weapon and skill do the talking rather than allowing players to potentially create an unstoppable powerhouse. The same goes for the Titans as well. Most unlockables are ability related and do not provide more damage, but allow your special weapon to have a boosted charge at the start or give you an additional use for a certain ability. Again, it doesn't really give a damage output advantage, but a tactical advantage in hairy situations. To me there isn't a lot to unlock nor is it difficult. It just takes a little bit of elbow grease to grind them out, but of course every unlockable unlocked is a good feeling no matter if it is useful or not. Over time you will naturally unlock everything, but if there is something you want to unlock early you can use the merit system that is essentially currency to buy an unlockable ahead of time. I haven't had a requirement to use this, but I can see the appeal in wanting to access something earlier rather than later. Don't get mad and think "oh, it's an in-game currency pay to win" type game. These are merits you earn while playing and cannot be purchased.
There are plenty of modes to choose from ranging from 1-on-1 to free for all and control point based. Nothing new or spectacular, but the gameplay is a lot of fun. I tend to lean towards any objective-based mode and played hard point the most. This allows for Pilots and Titans to be used. Getting your Titan doesn't seem to take long and each person should at least be able to call on theirs once per match. The fear I had was that the Titans would rule the map and whoever had the most Titans would win the match. That was not always the case. The Titans are very powerful, but are not invincible. Pilots have secondary weapons from lasers to grenade launchers to assist in bringing them down. For me it was way more satisfying bringing a Titan down as a Pilot than Titan versus Titan. The other thing Pilots can do is climb up on enemy Titan's and rip out a power source and also damaging them by tossing a grenade in the chassis. Though getting in close quarters can be dangerous the thrill of riding on the back of a Titan taking it down is such a blast. Pilots can even take the power sources ripped from enemy Titan's and give it to friendlies to extend their assault in their own Titan. I love that you can contribute to all aspects of the fight even if you do not have your own Titan to work with. Whenever I was able to call on to a Titan and use it I did feel like there were balancing issues with some of the classes. I am in a huge walking tank and if I shoot anywhere near an enemy I expect them to die, but aiming and shooting the large weaponry seemed to be ineffective for me. Also Titan on Titan battle felt lopsided depending on the load out and something I would be taken down so fast I didn't understand what had happened. Once I unlocked more load outs I did find a couple of them that seemed to work better, but I still felt stronger on foot with my Pilot than in a Titan. Sometimes I would go an entire match, be in first place, and not once hop into a Titan.
Some may they might think there isn't much to bite into, but for me it isn't necessarily unlocking things but the experiences in battle. Granted some matches are better than others, but the majority I played were fast-paced and very action-packed. There is always a highlight reel moment even if you aren't directly involved. Even if a match is leaning towards a blowout the best part is the matches only last at most 10 minutes. Once complete the next match is already in the queue meaning little to no downtime which I really like. Sometimes this can be annoying, especially if I am trying to check out what I unlocked or wanting to change a load out, but you just need to get into the habit of completely backing out of matchmaking.
What Titanfall 2 boils down to is the kind of experience that you are looking for. I already had somewhat of a salty opinion from what I had seen of the first game although I also had no idea what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised and was blown away within the first hour of playing. Each day I went to work I couldn't wait to come home and play more. Even after completing the campaign I didn't think I would enjoy the multiplayer, but each match is like a new experience. The combination of pilot and titan battles are of epic proportion and fast-paced. On the short end of the stick the unlockables, especially skins, aren't important to me, but I do see the appeal. Even if I did like unlockables I would say there is a shortage and provide no significant advantage. Now there is supposed to be free content coming and no season pass to buy into. That is making a huge statement and in a good way compared to other FPS games that want every cent you got before shelling out any additional content. However there is no release date for such content so you may be waiting a while. In the end I have a feeling that because Titanfall 2 released between Battlefield 1 and COD it might slip through the cracks. So I am here now campaigning for you to take a chance on Titanfall 2 especially since it wasn't available on PS4 to begin with. The single-player alone is worth it, some of the best gaming experiences I have had in years.
Final Rating: 90% - Titanfall 2 is the best gaming experience I have had in years.