When Titanfall was announced back in 2011, it was supposed to be the next great Xbox-exclusive shooter. Developed by Respawn Entertainment, the new company formed by ex-Infinity Ward (Call of Duty) developers, everything was on the line for the new franchise — and for the new Xbox One console — and the end results were decidedly mixed. Critics enjoyed it for what it was, but fans were turned off by the lack of a campaign, and the repetitiveness of what turned out to just be a multiplayer online shooter.
Now, two years after that first game underwhelmed gamers, EA and Respawn are back with a different approach, adding a much needed story/campaign and ending the exclusivity with Microsoft, bringing the franchise to PS4, Titanfall 2 not only fixes the mistakes made with the first game, they excel in almost every way en route to creating the best shooter of the year, and one of the best games of 2016.
Titanfall 2 continues the story of a war between corporate interests and planetary expansion, protected by militias. The IMC continues to attack settlements with mercenary groups, and the Frontier Militia, coming off a major win at the Battle of Demeter, continue to stand in their way. Rifleman Jack Cooper hopes to one day become a pilot, and his first steps to that career goal are interrupted when a mission goes awry and his trainer, a pilot named Lastimosa, is killed. Cooper recovers Lastimosa’s titan, BT 7274, and together, this new dynamic duo uncover a plot by the IMC to cause massive amounts of destruction, and Cooper and BeeTee are all that stands in their way.
The campaign in Titanfall 2 is not only a solid story, it’s an emotional, action-packed adventure that rivals some of the best games on the market today. Make no mistake, this is not a tacked on, barebones affair, meant to offer a distraction from the online multiplayer battles that the first game was known for. The story has more in common with, say, Nintendo’s Metroid Prime, than an annual Call of Duty release. Players are tasked with exploring the ins and outs of the landscape, executing cool wall runs, double jumps, and yes, engaging in gunfights with enemy soldiers, Titans, and alien beasts alike. In one level midway through the campaign, the player gets a tool that allows for dimensional time bending (don’t worry, it’s explained), and bouncing between the past and present with an L1/LB button press, while running and jumping and shooting was the coolest thing I’ve done in a game all year.
The campaign is fully voiced acted and developed, and the story packs an emotional wallop as we see the relationship develop between Cooper and BeeTee. There are options for conversation trees that pop up seamlessly during levels, so the player can dictate how the relationship goes. After a few hours, I was deeply invested in the story and these characters, and the pacing and level designs were spot on all throughout. I’ve not had this much fun playing a FPS campaign in years, and that says a lot. I’ve never wanted so badly to play through a story campaign as I did here, and am now well into my second play through, enjoying the gorgeous, well thought out level designs, and the epic battles with the merc leaders and their respective Titans. In a franchise built on the back of online multiplayer, the story campaign is the best reason to own Titanfall 2, and I don’t say that lightly.
Speaking of, Titanfall 2 also packs a solid multiplayer experience. New additions to the game modes, including the Bounty mode, where players collect cash from kills and have to deliver it to a bank before they die, and Pilot vs. Pilots, which features no Titans, refresh the online multiplayer portion of the game. New Titans — there are eight different mechs now — and better, more in-depth customizations also greet players who venture to dip their toes into online battles. The card burn system from Titanfall has been removed, and so far, it’s only slightly missed. The new Titans, and their weapons loadouts — including the Ronin, which has a sword! — means much more variety on the battlefield. Even pilots get new perks (zip-lines!) and weapons, making the online multiplayer mode fresh, especially for those of us who spent hundreds of hours doing nothing but online battles in the first game.
The visuals in Titanfall 2 are gorgeous. Respawn has created a fully functional game world here. There is abundant green and colorful life living side by side with the sterilized cold steel of technology, and then there’s a fiery, destructive war going on all around it. The maps are well designed, in both the campaign and in multiplayer, with multiple ways to traverse the battlefield. The wall running mechanic works exceptionally well this time around, with only a few minor mishaps due primarily to player error.
The music is bombastic and epic, and works to set an audible precedence for the carnage of war going on all around.
Titanfall 2 has done so much good that it’s hard to find something bad here. I cannot stress enough how great the solo campaign is, and the multiplayer — which is the foundation that this franchise was built from — is as solid as ever. Many players may have felt underwhelmed by the first game, but I implore you to come back and check out where this series is going. Respawn nailed this game, and we, as gamers, finally have the birth of a new and exciting franchise, one that I hope goes on and on for a few many years to come.
Titanfall 2 is available now for the Xbox One and Playstation 4. This review is based off a Xbox One version of the game purchased at retail.
TheHDRoom may be paid a small commission for any services or products ordered through select links on this page.