Respawn Entertainment delivers on its promise for a memorable campaign and entertaining multiplayer with Titanfall 2, a polished title which shows the bond between man and metal.
When Titanfall 2 was first announced, Respawn Entertainment mentioned that the studio had taken feedback from the first game and was directly responding to it for the sequel. This meant that Titanfall 2 would feature a full single-player campaign, while at the same time expanding on the fluid pilot movement system and the gigantic, visceral titan fights that became a staple feature of the original. As we soon discovered, Respawn Entertainment delivered on both of those ambitious goals, and the end result is one of the year's most surprisingly satisfying hits.
Throughout the game's nine chapter campaign, players will don the boots of Jack Cooper, a relatively stereotypical action hero: he dreams of becoming a coveted Titan pilot in the Militia, the top of the proverbial food chain when it comes to military classes. Pilots utilize special field gear which allows them to wallrun, double jump, and grapple their way around the battlefield, with the significant added bonus being that they can mentally link with their own gigantic titan – the immense metallic mechs that dominate the battlefield. As Cooper and the Militia rebels fight back against the IMC forces that seek to control the Frontier planets, Respawn Entertainment begins to explore the surprisingly deep bond that forms between Cooper and his Vanguard class titan, BT-7274.
Players will explore plenty of innovative level designs as they navigate their way through a series of increasingly precarious situations for the campaign, ranging from fighting their way through an awe-inspiring production facility without vertical limits to jumping between periods of time in the middle of combat. While the campaign may not last as long as many gamers will hope, Respawn Entertainment gives each chapter its own unique feel, introducing new platforming and combat elements to keep things from growing stale. Time rifts, natural predators, puzzles, wave survival segments, and one-on-one Titan boss fights will come at the player aplenty, and by the end of the final chapter Respawn Entertainment will have proven its mettle at developing a single-player experience with plenty of meat on its bones. This is a memorable campaign that tries plenty of new action mechanics, and most of them seem to deliver.
While the studio did a phenomenal job making the campaign a fun and memorable experience, the character development as a whole is a mixed bag. Cooper's Titan, BT-7274, is easily the most memorable protagonist of the game and really comes to life through some quirky dialogue and emotional moments as the title progresses, but the rest of the cast fail to produce any noteworthy performances. Despite this, by the time the credits get rolling, it's not hard to imagine most gamers will have been touched by the bond that forms between the two main characters, and that's what Respawn Entertainment set out to do from the start. The intent of this campaign was to prove that a sequel to Titanfall could provide an adrenaline-filled, memorable experience from start to finish, and establish a plot capable of being expanded upon. Mission accomplished.
The original Titanfall set the bar high in terms of multiplayer, and here Titanfall 2 doesn't dare disappoint. Whether gamers are in a classic war of attrition or are busy capturing hardpoints across a variety of maps, Respawn Entertainment has struck a fine balance between fast-paced multiplayer, parkour-inspired pilot navigation, progressive unlocks, and a visceral combat experience. It's hard not to feel like an utter champion when one takes on two Titans and lives to tell about it, and completing a tactical evacuation after one's team has lost the battle brings a feeling of intense satisfaction. This was the bread and butter of the original game, and players looking to find replay value in the game's numerous multiplayer modes will find it in spades.
Of course, that isn't to say that the multiplayer mechanics from the first game have gone largely unchanged, and the process of evolution is evident in the changes Respawn has made. New pilot boosts awarded to players for performing well allows pilots to trigger tactical perks in an effort to change the tide of battle, and ultimately replaces the imbalanced burn cards from the original game. Players will also find an all new 'rodeo' mechanic that allows daring pilots to piggyback onto an enemy titan and attempt to steal part of its battery. Because of this vulnerability, squads must always watch eachother's backs, and the gameplay is more balanced and entertaining as a whole thanks to these changes.
Unlike other recent Triple-A titles, multiplayer progression is a satisfying and relatively painless experience in Titanfall 2. Players rank up their respective weapons and titans by scoring kills with each of them, and they gain additional 'merit' points by performing well on the battlefield. Leveling up unlocks a few customization options and improvements for each pilot, titan, and their respective arsenals. None of these skin unlocks go into ridiculous cosmetic territory, though in the end, it's hard to make one's character stand out too much – a fitting problem that most of the game's main cast has, too.
In the end, Titanfall 2 has succeeded in surpassing the original title in every way. It delivers an emotional, action-packed single player experience that will leave fans new and old feeling satisfied, and the fluid combat mechanic both in and out of one's titan packs plenty of punches and doesn't hold back when it comes to the visceral brutality of pilot warfare. There's a fine balance between fluid movement and packing a satisfying punch, and Titanfall 2 has struck a fine chord here – the end result is that Titanfall 2 has far exceeded its expectations and delivered one of the best gaming experiences of the year, and likely deserves much more fanfare than it will get.
Titanfall 2 is available now on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Game Rant was provided with a digital code of Titanfall 2 via Origin on PC for review purposes.