REVIEW / Titanfall 2 (PS4)

 

Back in 2014, Respawn Entertainment, who had risen from the mass exodus of Infinity Ward developers, launched their brand new FPS IP, Titanfall. While the original Titanfall garnered a lot of praise with its fresh take on the genre and fun moment to moment gameplay, there were several drawbacks that bogged the game down. These included a non-existent story, a lack of multiplayer modes and variety, and a complete lack of a campaign mode. With Titanfall 2, Respawn Entertainment set their focus to fixing those issues, all while still providing the intense action that put the IP on the map.

 

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The campaign of Titanfall 2 is absolutely beautiful.

 

The biggest improvement that Respawn added to the Titanfall series is the inclusion of a campaign, which I feel comfortable in saying is the best FPS campaign that I have ever played. In the story, you play as Rifleman Jack Cooper who has dreams of becoming a Titan pilot. After a botched mission, Cooper lands himself a field promotion that sees him become the pilot of the delightfully charismatic Titan, BT-7274. The unlikely pair build an undeniably charming relationship as they fight their way through beautifully crafted battlefields and ultimately help their militia protect their home planet from utter destruction.

 

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Titans are dependent on the neural links of their pilots.

 

The campaign itself is very structured in the way it places the missions and objectives in order to give you the largest variety possible in gameplay mechanics and enemy types. Cooper will be in control of several special abilities such as a cloaking device and even a time travel device (it sounds crazy, but that’s what makes it great). BT also has some steady progress as he gains new upgrades in order to control different functioning weapons, shields, and ultimate attacks.

 

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Just like that, Jack Cooper gets a promotion.

 

The campaign paces itself very well and is not afraid to take a few risks. For example, the time travel mechanic that I mentioned comes into play in the middle of the game and, upon its introduction, you would believe that it will play a significant role throughout the rest of the story. This is because the time travel mechanic adds a whole new layer to how you traverse terrain or engage enemies. However, the game strips the power away from you just as fast as it gives it to you, leaving you to wonder what is coming up next. All in all I can say that, without giving out spoilers, Titanfall 2’s campaign mode will have you begging for more even after the credits roll.

 

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As you can see, things get pretty hectic.

 

It is worth noting that the levels of the campaign look absolutely beautiful. Titanfall 2 has a gorgeous cinematic feel to it and everything plays out on a much grander scale than I was anticipating going in to the game. Even the way the story plays out in the campaign lets you know that Titanfall 2 is just a small piece in a much bigger grand scheme. However, this is something that really irks me. The campaign is put together so well and feels so tightly designed and then it just ends after only a short while and it is very evident that Respawn is setting up a sequel already. I would have liked to see more in the campaign, but I am grateful that they included one at all and it shows that a potential 3rd game will have a great foundation to build upon.

 

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BT is one of the more charming robots I’ve seen in a video game.

 

When playing Titanfall 2, it is clear that Respawn has built a game with one key theme in mind: style. In Titanfall 2, you can utilize a variety of traversal methods such as slides, double jumps, and wall runs to effortlessly glide through maps. Cooper is in control of a gigantic, tightly controlling arsenal including standard rifles and pistols, as well as some more off the wall weapons like exploding ninja throwing stars and mini rocket launchers. To cap off the on-foot arsenal, at the press of a button you can enter your gigantic mech suit to unleash a myriad of high powered weaponry – like rail guns and giant katanas – effectively turning the tide of a battle.

 

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The view from your Titan’s cockpit.

 

While the Titans can feel like powerhouses compared to the tiny pilots, the game does a great job of maintain balance between the Titans and the on-foot pilots. Pilots have heavy weapons that are able to do solid damage against Titans as well as the ability to jump on a Titan’s back and whittle their health bar down. At no point in Titanfall 2 did I feel at a severe disadvantage due to being outside of my Titan. The game really gives you all of the weapons you need to succeed, regardless of the situation.

 

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It was actually hard to grab this screenshot.

 

That balance between Pilots and Titans plays a big factor in making the multiplayer portion of the game absolutely excellent. Titanfall 2 provides the ability to customize the loadout of your pilot and the Titan you are able to call. While playing multiplayer, you have access to abilities that you don’t get to see in the campaign. These include things like a grappling hook, a decoy, the ability to hang off walls, a nuclear core for your titan to self-destruct, or the ability to hover when aiming in midair. You can structure your character in a variety of ways to suit your play style and the mode you prefer. You can have a heavy weapons Pilot to take down Titans while on foot, or you could have a stealthy sniper to camp out over control points. This customization partnered with the added abilities go a long way in establishing a more unique identity for each player controlled Pilot/Titan and can make for some interesting clashes on the battlefields.

 

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Titan fights are incredible to watch.

 

Titanfall 2 offers several multiplayer modes including classics like capture the flag, free for all, and the domination-like amped hardpoint. Titanfall 2 also offers its own spin on team deathmatch with modes like Bounty Hunt, where you need to earn and store cash to win. Each of the multiplayer modes will have restrictions on the use of Titans or the spawning of AI controlled grunts and it is up to you to build classes to succeed in the game mode you’re going into.

 

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So many things to run across and shoot

 

One of my favorite things about the multiplayer matches is actually Respawn’s take on how a multiplayer skirmish should end. At the end of every match, there is an epilogue stage where the losing team has an evac ship come in and there’s a quick 30 second battle for bonus points.  The main goal is for the losers to get away on their ship and if they all board and fly off, they get to salvage some points from the loss. Conversely, if the winners kill all of the losing side or destroy their evac ship then they gain some bonus points on top of the win. In the epilogue there are no respawns for either side, so if you get shot down you get no points at all. This epilogue idea is an extremely fun way to salvage some enjoyment even out of a loss.

 

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Your screen isn’t freezing, this level is all a simulation.

 

Titanfall 2 also introduces a very interesting gameplay mode called the Coliseum. What makes the Coliseum special is that it is a 1v1 arena mode where 2 pilots battle in a best of 3 winner-take-all style tournament for things called Advocate Gifts. Advocate Gifts can be anything from a weapon skin to a banner for your gamertag. In order to get into the Coliseum you need a Coliseum ticket, which you get from special codes given out through product tie-ins with Mountain Dew and Doritos, or you can pay for them using the in-game currency you earn for performing well in games. I’d say about 2 or 3 good matches will earn you enough to buy a Coliseum ticket, so it’s not too bad of a trade off. So far, Coliseum seems to be Titanfall 2’s answer to the loot crate system found in games like Overwatch or CS: GO.

 

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Don’t sleep now! There’s more Titanfall 2 to play!

 

What Titanfall 2 provides is simply amazing and well worth the price of admission. You get one of THE best campaign modes in a shooter that I have ever seen, a very diverse and competitive multiplayer mode with a steady progression system, and on top of all of that Respawn has announced that all of the DLC will be completely free. Really, the only fault I can assign the game is that the campaign cuts itself short in order to set up a sequel. With this taken into account, I can still say there is no doubt in my mind that Titanfall 2 is the must-own title in the multiplayer market this Fall.

 

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