Titanfall 2 Review
I'm going to start by looking at Titanfall 2's single player campaign. Yes, I know the first one was multiplayer focused to the point where its 'campaign' was a series of multiplayer matches tied together by short voice overs, but things are different in Titanfall 2. Titanfall 2 features a full-fledged single player campaign, and it's a completely different experience from the multiplayer mode.
You might expect a mech-focused game such as Titanfall 2 to plop you into a Titan for the entire campaign, but that's not at all the case. You play as Jack Cooper who is a mere rifleman at the start of the story, a soldier who isn't even allowed to pilot a Titan. However, a pilot takes notice of you and sees something special in you, and begins to provide you pilot training on the side. Before you can complete that training, though, you are sent into combat on a planetary invasion as a part of Operation Broadsword. Unfortunately the mission quickly turns into a disaster and the surviving forces find themselves stranded on a hostile planet. You find that your pilot friend has been mortally wounded, but before he dies he transfers control of his Titan, BT-7274, to you.
So is this the point at which you spend the rest of the campaign tearing through enemies in the seat of a Titan? Not quite. The game takes a completely different approach to single player gameplay than it does to multiplayer, making the campaign a mixture of first-person shooting, puzzle-platforming, and, yes, Titan battles. The FPS aspects of the game pits you against enemy soldiers and robots, as well as the local fauna, but it's probably the weakest aspect of the campaign. The enemy AI is pretty straightforward and struggles to present a challenge, which the game makes up for by sending enemies at you from side passages and behind, or swarming you with exploding seeker bots. You're given a cloaking ability, but it doesn't last long enough to let you effectively play the game with a stealth approach.
That being said, the campaign does have a number of things going in its favor. The first is that the puzzle-platforming aspect of the game is challenging and fun, even though it leans heavily on the game's wall-running mechanic. The second is that the game takes some chances with level design and for the most part they really pay off. I don't want to reveal them to you because that would take some of the fun out of the campaign for you. Suffice it to say that there are some interesting twists to the gameplay awaiting those who stick with the campaign long enough.
And then there are the Titan battles. Sure, the campaign went through some lengths to avoid being simply a collection of single player Titan battles, but the Titan battles are some of the most exciting parts of the campaign. Some of these take the form of boss fights in which you square off against an enemy commander at the controls of a powerful Titan that turn into slugfest battles of attrition. Towards the end of the campaign you'll be taking part in large scale battles in which armies of Titans face-off against each other in an endless flurry of weapon salvos.
As you make your way through the game you'll find loadouts for your Titans that will let you eventually transform BT into any of the six Titans available in the multiplayer game. This opens up your strategic options while manning your Titan, giving you the power to adjust your loadout to meet the current threat. There was a one-on-one mech battle at one point in the campaign that was giving me fits at first while using the loadout that I came into the battle with. After a few failures I switched to the new loadout and was able to take out the enemy mech on my next try.
In spite of what I considered to be lackluster FPS play, overall I had fun with the campaign. It's slow-starting so you'll have to stick with it, but if you do you'll be rewarded on its back end.
Titanfall 2 wouldn't be a Titanfall game without the Titans, so let's start our look at the multiplayer game with them. There are six Titans in all, but before you have access to them you'll need to level up in multiplayer matches to unlock them. Each Titan comes equipped with a unique primary weapon, and four special abilities. Ordinance provides a secondary weapon, Tactical is a catchall for special moves, traps, and such, Defensive provides a defensive countermeasure, and Core is a powerful super weapon that can be unleashed once it is fully charged. Each Titan fulfills a role on the battlefield, so it's best to pick one that fits your play style. Scorch's flame-focused weapon set makes it an effective anti-personnel Titan, Northstar's speed and ability to fly make it a good scout Titan, the heavily armed Legion can standoff against any Titan while the Ronan is good when you want to keep your Titan-on-Titan battles up close and personal. Tone is a great multipurpose Titan, and lastly Ion brings a devastating Core to the battlefield with its high-powered Laser Core weapon.
Game modes include Amped Hardpoint, a capture and hold game mode in which you can "amp" a hardpoint by holding it longer, which will force the other team to hold it twice as long to capture it, first removing the "amp" and then capturing the point. Bounty Hunt is an interesting mode in which in addition to the two player teams, waves of AI-controlled soldiers enter the battle. Players earn bounties for taking out the AI soldiers and the occasional high value AI Titan that enters the battle. If you take out an enemy player, you'll claim half of the bounty that that player has earned. Between rounds 'bank' points open up and players must reach a bank and deposit their bounties for them to count towards their team scores. This was my favorite mode in the game - the combat can be chaotic with essentially three armies on the field and the battle's character changes completely as players try to get to the banks and prevent enemies from doing so as well. Rounding things out are Pilot vs. Pilot which is a team deathmatch mode in which there are no Titans, and the longtime multiplayer standard, Capture the Flag.
You might think that a game featuring Titans wouldn't be as much fun when you're on foot waiting for your next Titan to become available, but that's not the case here. Boosted jumps, wall running, and, if you have it equipped, a grappling hook give pilots, players on foot in Titanfall 2's parlance, impressive mobility and many options for crossing the map. While the Titans are battling it out, pilots are also facing off against each other and completing objectives for their team. Pilots are also armed with anti-Titan weapons, and while none of these will take out a Titan in one shot, a mobile pilot who can rapidly change firing positions can chip away at a Titan until it falls. Pilots can also jump onto the back of a Titan, pulling out its power cells until it can no longer function.
The multiplayer gameplay in Titanfall 2 is certainly enjoyable, but for a major game release focused on mutliplayer it feels short on modes and maps. There's a good progression system in place and players will certainly push through to unlock all of the Titans and their advanced loadout options, but once they reach that point the lack of variety may start to take its toll.
Overall, I had fun with my time with Titanfall 2. The single player campaign is a huge improvement over that in the original game, and although it starts slowly it does eventually come around and provide for some enjoyable gameplay. The multiplayer gameplay is a lot of fun, both as a pilot and at the controls of a Titan, but a lack of modes may ultimately hurt the game's longevity.
Author's Note: I spent extensive time with both the PC and Xbox One versions of Titanfall 2, and there are not enough differences in the versions to warrant separate reviews.
Final Rating: 87% - Titanfall 2 once again delivers a fun multiplayer game, but this time adds a full campaign as well.