The first Titanfall might have been one of the most hyped up titles this generation but regardless of its failure to have the industry-wide impact that many imagined it would, similar to Call of Duty Modern Warfare, what it represented was a very fresh take on the genre, mixing the fast run and gun gameplay of the latter game series with more depth by way of the inclusion of mechs as well as a superb focus on essentials such as player movement, gameplay balance and map design. Titanfall wasn’t without its flaws however and the complainants made sure to make their voices heard. The question is, did Respawn listen? The answer? Absolutely.
The biggest complaint levied against the first game was its lack of a discernible single player story mode. The Campaign was essentially a narrative told through multiplayer games. Aside from some really nice visual spectacles that took place in the sky, it didn’t come remotely close to scratching the itch many players had to experience a dedicated story mode. Personally, I have no problems with a multiplayer only title being exactly that; multiplayer only. However, I do recognise potential for great story telling where there is one and in my written review, the lack of single player was cited as a missed opportunity. This belief is more than confirmed because Titanfall 2 delivers a single player experience that feels fresh, fun and engaging- something which many do not expect in today’s first person shooters.
Titanfall 2 delivers a single player experience that feels fresh, fun and engaging
So how does it do that? By keeping things simple. Make no mistake; Titanfall 2’s story won’t win it any awards in the originality stakes but Respawn have carefully trimmed away all the cholesterol from it and made the premise simple; you are a soldier, your mech is your mate- save your peeps. That’s it.
you will feel more empathy for your mechanical pal BT-7274 than you will for most gaming characters you come across this year
Developers think that in order to justify some variety in the shooty bits in their games they need to come up with some elaborate bullshit story but Respawn kept it simple but relate-able. Chances are, you will feel more empathy for your mechanical pal BT-7274 than you will for most gaming characters you come across this year. The fact that I remember BT’s name says it all (although its likeness to the famous telephone/ISP probably has a hand in that too).
Its not just the simplicity and effectiveness in the narrative that makes the single player campaign successful. Its also the gameplay design and set-pieces that follow that accentuate the unique player movement and mech gameplay that is part and parcel of the Titanfall formula. Wall-running and jet-packing antics are put to good use by way of some really fun and intuitive platforming sections and the Mech gameplay is suitably meaty and thanks to some thinking outside the box, lends itself to some great setpieces. Respawn hammer home the stark contrast between being a pilot and mech but also why good synergy between man and machine results in such a deadly combo.
You get to try all the mech variations once you unlock them as you progress in the story which you can then change on the fly to play in the manner in which you want. The on-foot sections are even better, with one particular level really blowing me away with its platforming/time-bending gameplay. The Source Engine may be old but whatever it lacks in raw visual fidelity, it makes up for in great flexibility. The game’s story mode isn’t long at all; you will complete this in 6 or so hours but it is extremely satisfying and a perfect length in my opinion. The quality of Titanfall 2’s campaign has surprised a lot of people and I’m sure other developers are taking note, *cough 343 cough*.
This is the heart of what Titanfall is all about. The first game laid out an excellent foundation for the future and Titanfall 2 is the meat to its predecessor’s bones. There are now several Titan variations each with their own weapons and play-styles. In the first game you could pick a shell and then swap out the weapons as you wanted but in Titanfall 2, these weapons and abilities are locked in. This may seem like a step back but in reality, it makes the Titans far more distinctive and unique; especially considering the variations in their abilities and weapons. They can also be customised in terms of cosmetics with different paint jobs to make them more unique but to be honest, the liveries are lacking any real original thought and appear to be variants of different colours and camouflage patterns.
For instance, Scorch is a heavy fire based Titan who has a great close quarter weapon that releases liquid flame. His special ability is releasing flammable gas that can tactically be placed in areas and ignited when shot at to deal damage or block off areas. The Ronin titan is a smaller titan that has very little health but can dot around the place with its shotgun, phase shift through areas, use its sword to do some crazy close quarter damage and generally be a pain in the ass. The other Titans are just as distinctive and are a joy to command. Respawn have built upon the premise of the previous game really well here.
Pilot combat is just as satisfying if not more so than titan gameplay. Fast and smooth like a lubed up sewing machine working its way through the finest silk, everything just flows so well on foot. The manner in which your player moves plays a big part in this and the wall-running, sliding, jet-packing antics are nigh on sexual and are the first thing I think of that make me yearn to play the game. Some pilot abilities serve to enhance this feeling even more for example, Stim ability gives you a tetanus shot of speed like you’re about to go super sonic and you just start whizzing around the map like a crack addict who just snorted a gram of Columbia’s finest. The new grappling hook ability is also brilliant, letting you swing around maps and objects with ease. The system is extremely versatile and its all conducive to some well placed gameplay.
The weapons in the game are your usual staple of smg’s, rifles, snipers and shotguns but unlike the first game, you do not have access to three weapons (primary, secondary and an anti-titan weapon) but just two and you have to choose whether your secondary is a pistol or an anti-titan weapon. I’m not so sure about this mechanic though because the gameplay balance in the first game regarding this was just fine and with some relatively short clip sizes on primary weapons coupled with the time to kill enemies; sometimes you will face death simply because you didn’t have enough bullets and because you didn’t have a pistol equipped to switch to. Overall, the weapons do their job and are satisfying to use.
Perhaps the weakest part of Titanfall 2 are the maps or more specifically, the lack of them. The game is screaming for more maps and whilst all future DLC is free, it desperately needs new maps to keep the game fresh, particularly in light of the severe dwindling numbers of online players. The map design however doesn’t feel as exemplary as the first game.
The game needs more maps and better ones at that.
There are some maps that really aren’t as much fun to play as others or aren’t memorable at all. However, when you compare them to the balatant copy and paste attempt by the devs who made Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and recent Call of Duty games, the maps in Titanfall 2 (and Titanfall 1) completely completely outclass those of their competitors. Everything has been carefully designed with either verticality, wall-running, jet-packing in mind and the variety is there in a way that maintains balance but also makes engagements unique. The game however needs more maps and better ones at that.
Respawn did precisely what it should have with Titanfall 2. They built a great foundation with the first game and took heed of the community response and criticisms and delivered an excellent sequel that is begging to be played. Its such a shame that the game’s popularity in terms of player numbers has suffered so much mostly because it was launched alongside two FPS heavyweights, with the game almost being left to die on release by having it being spit-roasted by Call of Duty and Battlefield 1. If you are a fan of first person shooters then go buy this game and tell everyone you know to do the same. It really deserves all the success it can muster. It isn’t without its shortcomings but considering what Respawn have achieved here, these can easily be forgiven because what we are left with is an instant classic.