Posted on 15 Nov 2016 by Kyle Johnson

Titanfall 2

The Defence

Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Action, Shooter
Platform: Consoles, PC
Review copy: Yes
Release date: 28 Oct 2016

The Prosecution

Minimum
Recommended
Ultra
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i3 3.3 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA: Nvidia GeForce 660
AMD Radeon HD 7850
RAM: 8 GB
HDD: 45 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: Yes
FPS Lock: 120+
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i5 3.3 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA: Nvidia GeForce 1060
AMD Radeon RX 480
RAM: 16 GB
HDD: 45 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: Yes
FPS Lock: 120+
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i7 4.0 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA: Nvidia GeForce 1080
AMD equivalent
RAM: 16 GB
HDD: 45 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: Yes
FPS Lock: 120+

The Case

Born out of the Activision/Infinity Ward legal fiasco from several years ago, Respawn Entertainment has returned with another installment in their infantry/mech shooter series, Titanfall. Now with a few years under the belt of development time and lessons learned from the previous installment. So does Titanfall 2 wallrun and boost-jump its way to victory, or does it crash n’ burn in a fiery explosion?

The Trial

It not only flies, it soars, and does so gracefully. Now complete with a full-fledged campaign and no season pass/paid DLC to make of, Titanfall 2 is easily one of the best shooters this year, both in style and in execution. For those not in the know, Titanfall is about running around with a jetpack strapped to your hind quarters, killing AI soldiers and robots until you earn a larger robot to shoot things more efficiently. There’s a bit more to it than that, but this basic feedback loop is implemented so well to the point where it permeates both the single-player and the multiplayer portions of Titanfall 2.

Almost immediately in the single-player, we are introduced and welcomed by the movement mechanics. A time-trial tutorial reminiscent of Call of Duty 4’s training sequence almost immediately transitions into the rather cinematic opening. Here, we play as unknown grunt Jack Cooper, someone who aspires to be a pilot, and after invasion landings go horribly awry, Cooper suits up and begins engaging with the versatile Titan BT-7274.

Throughout the campaign, we’re treated to stealth sequences, platforming challenges, wall-run puzzles, boss fights, and more. The levels are varied, and each provide opportunities to interact and engage with the mechanics in a new way. One level in particular, “Effect and Cause,” makes use of some time-travel voodoo that makes for interesting shooting, puzzle-solving, and all-around platforming. A couple of levels previously, you’re attempting to scale a simulation dome that has been rotated 90 degrees. Later in the game, you’re dodging entire armies in an attempt to repair a satellite dish, and you’re jumping from airship to airship, shooting grunts and robots along the way.

I think I'm lost...is that...no...it can't be...anything but that!! NoOoOoOo Man's Sky?!

The story itself is engaging, and certainly doesn’t overstay its welcome. Levels are broken up into a number of sections, but I likely spent at least eight hours running through the nine campaign missions. Brief dialogue interactions between BT and Cooper build a relationship that the two may have been forced into, but enjoy all the same. BT has a dry sense of wit, and Cooper conveys a feeling of being overwhelmed, and the two rely on each other for it. The final chapters of the story made me take pause, as I too had been attempting a connection with the main duo, something I was surprised to feel.

Multiple times I had to pause the game and just soak in the purely radical feeling the single-player imparted, which is unique for a game these days. With its challenging boss fights, different titan load-outs, and emotional moments scattered throughout the campaign, Respawn has offered a surprising and worth addition to the Titanfall series. Sure, the character development could have used some work, and there were some serious sequel hooks at the end of the game, but it didn’t take away from the overwhelming sense of “cool” that I felt.

This elation, this joy I got from the single-player unsurprisingly carries over into the multiplayer as well. The campaign and the multiplayer share no levels, so every experience is a new one, and the levels are designed to set up rapid movement from one end of the map to another, while still allowing for the large, stomping Titans to take part as well. Almost all of the maps are well-balanced, and the various game modes have been built to accommodate the AI partners in specific modes, making for a dynamic, engaging experience.

Welcome to Nuketown! Population: ScRaGGz.

Speaking of the AI, reintroducing the bots into specific multiplayer modes provides players that might not be as skilled as other Pilots to still contribute to the team. Attrition, a version of Team Deathmatch, sees you racking up less points for killing bots, but still a way to make up that difference. Bounty Hunt, the other major mode, sees you killing more bots as a way to earn “cash,” which is then deposited in spots to earn points for your team. It’s unique, and with the size and speed of the maps, there’s always a way to contribute to your team.

Another major change from the first Titanfall is the variety of customization options that both players and titans have. The arsenal has been vastly expanded over the previous entry, now with six different weapon classes, seven pilot abilities, more throwables, and the ability to apply camouflage to both the pilot and the weapon. Titans are perhaps more drastically modified: now, instead of having a base Titan that you can modify at will, there are six different titans, each with further upgrades and abilities, all of which I detailed here.

Not only that, but you are now able to modify your load-outs and their attachments in the middle of games, seemingly a first for competitive FPS games. Feel like someone is getting the drop on you with a certain SMG? Equip it on the fly and test it out for yourself. Titanfall 2 seems to have adopted a mantra of “more freedom is better,” and the game is much more fun thanks to it.

There goes Bill again, always looking for trouble...I swear, he'll be the death of me one day!

There is also a sense of meta-progression as well. Stepping away from the loot crate system found in Call of Duty, Battlefield 1, and Overwatch, instead, Titanfall sees you lining up with a faction. Winning four matches earns you a random gift from that faction, which can be emblems, banners, weapon or Titan skins. These drops are also guaranteed to be something new, taking out the frustration from earning a skin that you’ve already got four of. While these gifts may depend on winning games, again, there’s always ways to contribute something to your team.

Weapons and Titans in both multi- and single-player have distinctive sounds, and look adequately futuristic too. A major complaint I had with Black Ops 3 was that there seemed to be a cocktail of competing visual styles, and the game ultimately looks worse off for it. Not only does Titanfall have the best movement of any of the recent Call of Duty games (including Infinite Warfare), but a consistent aesthetic and sound design that do much to add to this. There’s the crack of a successful hit, the powerful bass of Titan-fired weapons, the gentle thrust of your jetpack, it all blends well and sounds futuristic.

Bugs and crashes were minimal, though I was experiencing difficulties connecting to servers initially, and will still run up against a DirectX crash that is not entirely rare. Otherwise, even with Titanfall 2 nearly maxed out on aging hardware, framerate was consistent, and there were no noticeable dips to speak of.

The Verdict

Altogether, Titanfall 2 represents the most complete and full-fledged Titanfall yet. Respawn has come leaps and bounds since the initial iteration, and while fans of the original may find some faults with this sequel, the high skill ceiling and excellent flow of gameplay in both single-player and multiplayer mean that any such complaints would be pushed away by even a brief session with the game. Though not without flaws, with a story that carries a surprising amount of emotional gravitas, competitive modes that are impossible to put down and all future content coming free to all players, Titanfall 2 has cemented itself as the shooter to buy this fall season.

Case Review

  • Be Like Water: The ebb and flow of movement is outstanding, bar none.

  • Robots Can Love, Too: BT/Jack dynamic makes for emotional moments.

  • Your War, Your Way: Players not overburdened with customization choices, just enough variety.

  • The Future Will Be Bright: Makes use of a varied color palette, in both single and multiplayer.

  • Ghost in The Machine: Some lingering bugs and issues.

  • The Future is Out There: Some unresolved plot elements linger.

5 Score: 5/5
A superb addition to the genre, not worth missing.

Evidence

  • Controls: Basic options here, rebinding controls, various stick and button layouts for controller, sensitivity settings go to 1/1000000.
  • Audio: Sliders for team voip, battle callouts, master volume; audio occlusion and stereo options as well.
  • Graphics: Ability to disable various HUD popups in multiplayer, FOV slider up to 90, advanced shadow, lighting and reflection options, no supersampling but 16:10, and 4:3 ratios supported.
4.5 Score: 4.5/5

I was hooked when the first Titanfall launched in 2014, it was almost everything my ADHD thrived on; it was chaotic, blazingly fast, simple drop in/drop out gameplay, fight as a team or go “solo”, yet still contributing to the overall score, oh, and the gigantic mechs were kinda cool too. The biggest beef I had with the first game was the severely lacking “campaign”. Thankfully Respawn listened to the fans and incorporated a full-fledged single player campaign experience. The story mode comes in at a decent length, around 6+ hours, the lore itself isn’t anything special really, borrowing a little bit from Half-Life 2 and Call of Duty games, but adding more than enough of itself to keep it fresh.

The bond between Jack and BT is the crutch of the campaign, from the one liners to the quick quips back and forth to the little moments of brotherly bonding between an AI and a man. I grew to care quite a bit about each character, that’s saying something. Visually appealing for the most part, a lot of pretty locales, cool weapon designs, landscapes and interiors all scattered about. Similar to the first game, Titanfall 2 outdoes itself in the audio department. It’s one of those games you just have to play in surround sound to fully enjoy, especially when laying waste upon the land inside a Titan, there isn’t much better. For the most part, the game ran exceptionally well, considering my aging PC, besides a handful of Direct X CTD errors throughout my 25ish hours of playtime, keeping a steady 60+ framerate wasn’t much of a problem.

I personally had to customize a few keys before being comfortable scaling walls and dashing around the fields in my Über-mech. It didn’t take long mastering the controls and zip lining across the map popping off head shots left and right with the greatest of ease. Multiplayer, once again offers some of the best online frag fests around, customizing your load-out, jumping into a round of Attrition and growing the team score, and your kill count in the process never gets dull. The updated customization brings new levels of strategy to each round, being able to swap kits during a match was one of the better choices in a long list of great ones. It’s really difficult to NOT get sucked into this fantastic online experience while the clock melts away, especially with a few friends and dominating the scoreboards. Is Titanfall 2 perfect? No, but not many games are, it is however one of the best multiplayer games I’ve played all year. That in itself is something special, considering I’m not one for FPS multiplayer games.

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