Titanfall was an outstanding release in 2014 – but it was lean on content. The foundation was top-shelf and was a perfect gateway FPS. Its blend of platforming, parkour, and shooting allowed it to be more than just a frantic shooter. You had to use strategy to traverse the world as a pilot, and then the addition of titans to the mix changed things even more. You could choose to keep playing the game like a really fast-paced FPS if you wanted and just have your titan parked or follow you to rack up more kills, or hop in and do more damage.
You felt a great sense of power being in a titan – but didn’t really have a connection to the titan itself. Sure, each loadout varied and they all had pros and cons with performance versus armor and such – but they just seemed like things built to help you. Titanfall 2 sets out to make you care about not only the pilots in the world, but the titans who allow them to survive against impossible odds. There were glimpses of a greater tale in the original – but nothing was spelled out.
The original game’s lack of a true story hurt it – but Titanfall 2 rights that wrong immediately. The campaign begins with Titan-pilots being viewed as the cream of the crop while a montage shows just what a Pilot must do to succeed. We see the world through rifleman Jack Cooper’s eyes, and realize that Titanfall was more than just about hopping into a large Titan and wreaking havoc – but about a bond between a pilot and a titan being strong and forged on trust. The INC also goes from being vague bad guys from the original game to outright villains who pillage the land and destroy it for their own needs.
Your first mission sees most of your team either killed or seemingly killed. Your mentor dies on the battlefield – but grants you his helmet and access to his titan to continue on the battle. You know you need to carry on his legacy, but need to overcome your own self-doubt. His Titan BT wants to help you out, but a quick separation means you have to go it alone and battle the hordes without assistance. From there, you learn more about the Frontier and how the IMC has destroyed the world. It’s a fairly engrossing story at times and blends in far more platforming elements than one might expect from a shooting game.
You definitely have to make use of every trick in the book to survive, and death will teach you many valuable lessons. You’ll have to traverse tricky environments and even solve a few puzzles along the way. Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of them – so this skill isn’t put to much use through the adventure. The storyline is reasonably gripping at times, but the bond between the titan and pilot doesn’t really reach its full potential since the storyline bits are so brief.
The meat and potatoes of any FPS is going to be multiplayer, and Titanfall 2 follows up on the greatness of the original wonderfully. Every mode that wound up being in that is here, with a few new additions. Bounty hunt is probably the most noteworthy and combines team deathmatch and a risk/reward system to provide addictive back and forth action.
Here, you’ll need to kill enemies to gain points and survive – but doing so in certain areas nets you a big cash bonus. However, dying cuts your bonus in half so you’ll need to try and survive more than ever before. Depositing your bonus in the bank is a must – but incredibly tough since enemies tend to camp around them. Compounding matters is that you only have a small window with which to deposit your loot. Not doing so means you’ll retain all of your core XP gains, but won’t see anything out of a well-fought game if you die before banking.
Attrition remains an absolute blast and blends titan and pilot combat with even faster-paced action than before. Titan vs. Pilot gameplay has changed up a bit too with more weapons being worthwhile against titans than before, and rodeoing the back of a titan has been changed as well. You now grab a battery to prevent that titan from having a shield – so you can’t just shoot away at them and can instead take that battery to either your titan to power its shields or the shields of another titan on your team. New classes of titan like the fire-based Scorch and sword-swinging Ronin change things up. The former is slow, but super-powerful while the latter is lean and speedy – but has far less armor. However, doing well with Ronin can net you a titan kill swiftly with a few swings of his sword.
The old west duel-style mode called Coliseum is a personal favorite. It’s a premium mode requiring an in-game ticket to enter, but it’s well worth it. Here, you’ve got to be fast on the draw and have a high rate of accuracy to win this best-of-three round battle. These are short and sweet, and only give you a few shots before you’re done. Some of the newer, more confined maps make Pilot vs. Pilot battles tougher since you have no room to really plan a strategy – an enemy could be right around every corner. However, this makes things even more exciting and adds to the drama of a close game.
Visually, Titanfall 2 takes what worked before and makes it even better. The impressive texture work for the titans is far better now – and seemingly aided by things not having to be dialed down to also work on the Xbox 360. Environmental textures look fantastic, and no long appear to be a smeary mess like they were before. This breathes a bit more life into the world, which helps since you now have characters within that world to care about.
No matter how much chaos goes on, things never slow down – and that remains impressive. You can have a screen full of titans, pilots all around and while you may not live very long – you can’t blame a death on slowdown. Online play is also silky-smooth and doesn’t have any issues with lag. Anyone who wanted a bit more flash out of the original game will find it here, and the overall look is outstanding.
Musically, Titanfall 2 doesn’t really do anything wrong – but nothing in its soundtrack will stick with you after the fact. The voice acting is strong and the full campaign relies on the acting being at least reasonably good. Everyone plays their parts well, and the iconic “prepare for titanfall” remains a battlecry that echoes throughout every fight and feels like an accomplishment in of itself because once the titan lands, you know it’s time to destroy a great many things or die trying. With solid headphones on or a quality home theater setup, you’ll be in for a treat by being able to hear where enemies are coming from – and with the HUD only showing you so many enemies at once, this little edge can give you a huge statistical advantage in combat if used properly.
Titanfall 2 fixes the content-lean issues that plagued the original game while delivering an even more action-packed experience. The addition of a full campaign allows players to finally invest themselves in the Frontier vs. IMC war while new game modes make multiplayer more fun than before. It’s a tougher game with a bit more strategic thinking required than the first, but remains a top-shelf shooter that is a must buy for any fan of the genre.
Reviewed By: Jeremy Peeples
Publisher: Electronic Arts
This review is based on a digital copy of Titanfall 2 for the Xbox One provided by Electronic Arts.