There was no lack of excitement or fanfare when Titanfall released in 2014. But its shallow, undeveloped world and lack of multiplayer progression quickly had players turning elsewhere for their FPS multiplayer fix.
Thankfully, the developers at Respawn Entertainment took heed of what criticisms were hurled at the first game in the series. The result is a series that can now stand proudly alongside peers like Call of Duty and Battlefield, which have dominated the genre for a very long time.
Titanfall 2 is a vastly-improved game from its predecessor. It has a tighter story, a protagonist who’s easy to care about, and core mechanics that positively dazzle.
The largest addition to Titanfall 2 is a single-player campaign, which the original was completely bereft of for some reason. In truth, Titanfall lacked any sort of cohesive story. Anything to flesh out the clash between the Frontier Militia and the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation would have been appreciated. However, Respawn went above and beyond the call of duty (literally) this time. Titanfall 2’s campaign is easily the equal to those of its peers. It even transcends them in some ways, especially when it comes to emotional moments.
Players take on the role of Frontier Militia Rifleman 3rd Class Jack Cooper. He takes part in an attack on the IMC world of Typhon. Your fleet is quickly overwhelmed due to bad intel. After an intense firefight, you’re rescued by a Titan pilot who sedates you so your injuries can heal.
When you awaken, you find the pilot badly wounded. In his dying actions, he transfers command of the Vanguard-class Titan BT-7274 to you. His mission to regroup with a Militia Special Operations force becomes your mission. You complement each other in important ways. That’s a theme that carries on throughout the game.
The somewhat symbiotic relationship between BT-7274 and Jack is a major theme of the campaign. Segments switch between Jack out of the cockpit accomplishing tasks in areas BT can’t fit and Jack in the cockpit working as a single devastating unit with BT.
True, they have to work together, but their relationship is an endearing one that’ll put a smile on your face. The harrowing feeling of having to leave your Titan behind adds to the nervous pace of the campaign. You find yourself frantically trying to accomplish tasks so you can once again tower above your enemy from the relative safety of BT’s cockpit.
The campaign also features segments centering around the maneuverability of the Pilot suit, which can double-jump and wall-run. As the story progresses, you’ll find yourself having to traverse more and more complex environments. Not only do these break up the combat, they also get you used to the kind of speed and precision you need to be competitive in multiplayer. When a single-player campaign can “train” you in ways that will be useful outside of its prescribed mode, that’s always a useful tidbit when it comes to shooters.
Multiplayer in Titanfall 2 has also been significantly revamped. Although gameplay itself is similar to the original Titanfall, the level progression is much deeper and more rewarding. It’s now a lot more similar to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Each rank-up allows access to new weaponry, and using a certain weapon unlocks upgrades for that specific weapon.
I didn’t notice a huge balance issue concerning weapons, which is unusual. Typically, in the early days of an FPS multiplayer, there was one gun or perk just a little bit better than every other one. So you ended up getting entire matches of players using the exact same loadout. That’s not the case in Titanfall 2.
The Titan versus Pilot combat also feels appropriately scaled, leaving these relics of game design in the past where they belong. There’s also strength in numbers. One Titan is better than just one Pilot while out in the wild. But multiple Pilots working together and utilizing their superior maneuverability can bring a Titan down easily.
For anyone who was disappointed in the original Titanfall not living up to its potential, Titanfall 2 makes up for its shortcomings in every way. The nuanced relationship of Pilot and Titan give Titanfall 2 a unique narrative and feel all its own. This might just be the beginning of a new challenger to the thrones of the Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises.
With the amazingly responsive and fast-based gameplay, along with Respawn Entertainment’s commitment to offer free DLC throughout its lifespan in lieu of the now standard season pass system, Titanfall 2 is the breakout hit that the original was meant to be.