It’s not very often a video game sequel surpass the original in nearly every category. While Titanfall 2 isn’t as groundbreaking as its predecessor at first glance, it easily improves upon all aspects and is one of the most impressive first-person shooters to release this generation.
Respawn Entertainment is back again, now following up on its 2014 efforts when Titanfall brought a new level of advanced movement and a rejuvenated focus back on high-speed action to the genre. Titanfall 2 is a refinement in all aspects, but pushes players to hone their reflexes even further.
One thing many shooters today fall victim to is poor gameplay balancing. More often than not, firefights are pre-determine based on who shot first. Weapon metas become formed as whole teams gravitate to either snipers only or shotguns, even at long ranges. Then, spawn systems end up broken, adding to the frustration of constantly dying. While Titanfall 2 isn’t perfect when it comes to balancing, it sure is damn near close.
There is a large range of weapons to choose from, and each classes have their own situational roles. However, at the end of the day, no one classes feels like the end-all-be-all choice. It’s true that assault rifles will mostly likely be the meta in the game, but other categories like the shotguns, snipers, LMGs, and SMGs all work well and suit a range of players’ play styles. The big difference here is that the game eliminates the idea that everyone has to snipe or everyone has to use shotguns because they’re one-hit-kills. They do, in fact, cause heavy damage, and many times it is a one hit-kill-scenario, but it isn’t an annoyance because you don’t have to counter with the same weapon class, like in so many other titles. Time-to-kill has a perfect balance — firefights don’t last an eternity, nor do players die instantly. I find you often have time to fight back and/or escape from the line of fire, especially thanks to the flow of combat and map design.
Player mobility in Titanfall 2 is unmatched by any other title out there, taking the best from parkour games like Mirror’s Edge. Call of Duty has, over the years, added all these crazy boost jumping, wall-running, and other cool techniques that the original Titanfall introduced earlier, however, like Mirrors Edge, maps are designed to suit the pilot’s on-foot navigation. There are no surfaces that a pilot can’t use to their advantage.
This is what separates Respawn’s shooter from the more recent Call of Duty games. Map flow feels organic, and not forced, as you’re not going to see random ramps or walls placed in designated spots because they want you to specifically use that mechanic at that given moment. Maps are still large enough for a Titan to roam, yet cramped enough for a pilot to find shelter. It’s freedom of movement in the best form possible. Movement also isn’t hindered by ‘slowdowns,’ meaning that, if you really tried, you could wall-run and speed-run through an entire map with nearly zero stops. This makes Titanfall 2 perhaps one of the most fast-paced shooters around. Generally, it just “feels good”.
Of course, Respawn Entertainment was founded by the original Infinity Ward Studio that made the beloved Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series, so the Call of Duty roots are still very much seen here in. A COD veteran would be able to tell right away that the gunplay feels strikingly familiar, yet different at the same time. That’s because Titanfall 2 still keeps the casual-friendly atmosphere so that anyone can pick-up-and-play, but it also caters to those who are looking for a deep and skill-based shooter.
Anyone can be a grunt fighting on a battlefield, but to be able to master piloting a Titan is a different story.
Piloting a Titan is probably one of the most satisfying things I have ever done in a video game. Unlike running around and gunning down everything in your path as a Pilot, navigating a Titan feels “clunky,” but in a good, powerful way. In total there are six different Titans, each with their own unique play-style. If you’re someone who enjoys gun blazing, holding a sniper position, close-range CQC, or an all-rounded strategy, there is a Titan for you. It’s also good to keep in mind that each Titan has their counter-Titan. While it may seem like one Titan is over-powered compared to you, it’s likely because that Titan is a good counter to yours. That said, it’s hard to ignore that Tone is basically the meta in the Last Titan Standing game mode and we hope to see some sort of adjustment in the future. Northstar could also use a little boost in effectiveness. Otherwise, the majority of online matches, any Titan can be taken out with the right set-up.
Titans are devastating machines, but their movements are quiet limited, giving grounded Pilots a fighting chance. Titans can cover a wide area of the battlefield, but they lack the speed and mobility that a Pilot has, which can make them vulnerable some attacks. They do have defenses against Pilots, but targeting them can be tricky due to their speed and size. It works out because even if you lose your titan in battle, I find you’ll be able to recoup quickly by taking out other Titans as a Pilot on foot.
Like in the first game, the Rodeo system is back. However, it has been re-worked and is one of the few faults about the title that the original did better. Back then, when a Pilot jumped on-top of an opposing Titan, they were able to apply damage by shooting their gun into the Titan, making Pilots more lethal. Because of this system, Titans also had a shield that would naturally regenerate. Now, the rodeo is a scripted animation where you either rip out a battery to be used in a friendly Titan or as an overshield, or throw a grenade inside. It’s perhaps not as fun that you have no control over the actions, so Titans feel safer and no longer need to respond to the threat, other than chasing that pilot down as they escape.
Without auto-regenerating shields, the game does encourage more teamwork as batteries need to be transported by other Pilots, but I still preferred the classic system.
Titanfall 2 comes packed with several different game-modes. They are: Attrition (TDM), Amped Hardpoint Domination, Pilot vs. Pilot, Free-for-All, Bounty Hunter, Capture the Flag, Skirmish, Last Titan Standing, Coliseum, Private Matches, and Mixtapes (randomly picked game modes). All them are enjoyable to play, though the lack of computer-controlled grunts in some of the modes like Capture the Flag lead to a more empty-feeling match. Every mode also supports Titans aside, from Pilot vs. Pilot.
Interestingly, the new Coliseum mode is a 1v1, Pilot vs. Pilot game type that pits combatants in a circular, empty arena in a ‘pure match of skill’. The only problem is that it literally becomes a who-can-hit-who-first scenario. I find I often lose a round one second after it had begun because certain players have learned where to shoot as soon as the timer ends. It can be fun at times, and it’s a great way to earn banners and patches, but it feel like it could be improved upon more with perhaps different map designs rather, than an empty circular space.
The original Titanfall died out quickly after DLC lead to a split community. Respawn Entertainment took notice to this and resolved when they announced that all DLC related to map packs and game modes would be free, effectively extending the life of the title. Already, one month into Titanfall 2, we already have a brand-new map and a great amount of new DLC that is free for all users. There are also a huge amount of decent shaders and icons that players can unlock, along with a regeneration option, which is basically Prestige-ing.
Titanfall 2 will face another struggle, however. By the time you have read this, both Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare will have also launched, and the fear is that the player count in Titanfall 2 won’t be anywhere near it could be thanks to other distractions. As a fan of all three franchises, I feel Titanfall, right now, is the stronger of the three. It’s only one true fault is its release date. Already, in multiple play sessions, I have met the same players, even with having to wait before entering another match.
4.5 / 5
Titanfall 2 is in for a real test of endurance in the coming months, but I have full faith in Respawn Entertainment. Creating, by far, one the best multiplayer experiences yet on this generation, there’s no doubt that Titanfall 2 will continue to evolve and thrive. It’s fast, fun, and addicting, and if you were someone on the fence or someone who even thought about purchasing it or even looked into it, I cannot stress how highly recommend this title. As a big fan of multiplayer-centric games, very few titles have really made me want to go back and play them day in and day out.
This review was based on the PlayStation 4 version of Titanfall 2, provided courtesy of Electronic Arts.