In the wake of a gaming colossus like Battlefield 1, other titles released in the same month cower in its shadow. Now we look back on it, there really wasn’t much of a marketing push for Titanfall 2. Being offered hoodies and mugs as extras with my purchase of the game seemed out of sync with its sneaky arrival. Sadly, Titanfall 2 deserved more attention in the lead up to its release. Instead, all we got were a couple of hype trailers on Facebook and a persistent Beta a few months back. It’s not like people who even loved the Beta would shell out all over again after buying Battlefield 1. Is it?
EA’s Continuing Corporate Strategy Is Revealed In Titanfall 2
EA’s other hugely successful shooter franchise just got there first. And they’ll be damned if the less popular kid in the park suddenly got more attention. In this case, it was easy to see that EA were keen on maximizing profits onBattlefield 1 by getting it out first. Titanfall 2 was a far less lucrative and, in turn, more expendable franchise. That said, this super fun game is performing worse on sales than its predecessor, despite the praise it has received so far. That’s enough of the corporate conjecture, however. Let’s get on with the review.
The Back Of The Box Promises A “Captivating Campaign”. Well, Is It?
This iteration of Titanfall is Respawn’s first attempt at creating a campaign for the franchise. Fans who found themselves far enough down the rabbit hole, taking with them an Xbox One, may have delved into what few scraps of lore were available from the multiplayer-only original. However, for normal people with normal life schedules, little could be understood about Titanfall’s universe. In short – what the bloody hell was going on?
Titanfall 2 had a great opportunity to untangle this pre-made ball of yarn. In this opportunity, Respawn had the chance to create their own distinctive sci-fi book of lore. Did they achieve it? It certainly feels like they tried. Especially in the live action intro. However, the narrow vision of the story and the style of its narrative could only ever serve to strangle any breath of life afforded to the franchise.
Ok, perhaps that’s a little harsh. The campaign in Titanfall 2 is a perfectly acceptable story experience. Yet the telling of it through the sole perspective of Cooper seems unnecessarily stifling for a franchise that is obviously trying hard to be “epic” in scope. I felt strongly that our foray into a Titanfall story would have been better off with a bit more um… cinematic-ness. Let’s pull the camera out of Cooper’s skull now and then and see what else is going on.
BT Is Titanfall 2’s Leading Star
Titanfall 2’s story is aided massively by the presence of a lumbering humourless robot. Ironically, this lack of humour makes BT (no, not British Telecomms) quite a likable eighty tonne killing machine. Joking around with him in dialogue options is a must. Just to see how his cold robot mind deigns to reply. These opportunities are few and far between. However, when they do pop up, they’re certain to make you laugh. Or at least giggle, depending on how dead inside you are. So many shooters focus on grit and seriousness. It was nice to see a little personality squeeze its way in for once. As Cooper gives BT a thumbs up, you can see how he tries to figure out that movement in his hand as he replicates it awkwardly. It reminded me of Arnold in Terminator 2 trying to smile.
The Campaign Delivers All That Was Promised
The campaign for Titanfall 2, while lacking in the writing department is still fun to play. All the crazy stuff we’ve seen in multiplayer footage is here. You’ll get your share of wallrunning and double-jumping. Many of the expansive open areas will quickly insist that you learn how to leverage to movement system as best you can. It’s just as well its smooth as butter, super easy and user friendly. We’ve seen sliding kills attempted before on Black Ops 3 or Crysis. However, this time around, they’re not a technicality to get lucky with. They’re an essential flanking tool to make you feel like a pro instantly. The devs have also mixed up the gameplay with some segments allowing players to control time or use a hacking tool to activate robots to fight for you. Sounds extreme. But in the moment, it just works.
Let Metallic Battle Royale Commence!
These wide open areas will set the stage for some real steel crunching battles. In your Titan or on foot, the odds are usually stacked against you. That’s fine as you have BT on your side. Each of the different Titan types’ abilities seen in the multiplayer become available throughout the campaign. This allows players to figure out the best combat that will later suit them online. Meaning there’s quite a chunky amount of variety to controlling BT. However, these massive open areas in which to do battle seem to have demanded a graphical compromise.
To the untrained eye, Titanfall 2’s graphics are spectacular. Distance shots are vibrant, varied colour palettes and the local wildlife seems pretty detailed. The more inquisitive gamer will eventually start to notice soft and muddy textures on a good 60% of the world design. As any decent game developer would, Respawn has done a commendable job at hiding this from the average gamer. Where it really fell down in its mission to fool the human eye, however, was the character models.
There’s little point going into depth on this area as there’s very little to say. Other than the fact that the character models in Titanfall 2 are abysmal. They’d be acceptable on early last generation releases. The result is a game that doesn’t feel settled on tone. Is it going for a comic book in motion approach? Like Dishonored? Or more of a realistic Christopher Nolan feel like COD? Titanfall 2 is somewhere in the middle, trying to figure out if it wants to be Glam Rock or Grunge.
Multiplayer Is More Addictive Than Cigarettes
Where Respawn has seriously excelled is where it has the most experience. Of course, multiplayer. I’ll say it straight so there’s no confusion here. Titanfall 2’s multiplayer is crazy fun and on equal levels addictive. It is basically succeeding in the style of sci-fi multiplayer action where COD is failing. If you’ve grit your teeth and waved goodbye to COD, Titanfall 2 is a damn good place to get back into things.
The success of Titanfall 2’s multiplayer offering will be its wonderful level of accessibility to gamers of varying skill. For some reason, I’ve always been a dab hand at shooters that involve lots of jumping… I do alright as you can see in the video review. However, even if you’re not a harbinger of death like me, you can still get rewards. Every player gets a Titan at least once in a match. They’re on a timer that can be shortened by how much of a badass you’re being.
While customisation is more shallow than we’ve come to expect from modern shooters, the game expects you to work damned hard to unlock them. Scratching my head, I looked hard for any “pay to win” nonsense and none cropped up. It seems EA have smartly noticed the widespread hate for such things. As such, owners of Titanfall 2 can look forward to a completely free roll out of DLC over time. This gets a massive thumbs up!
Respawn Needs You! So Buy The Game, Get The Word Out!
Alongside, the post Battlefield 1 sales scenario, many people may cotton onto Titanfall 2 too late. By then, the comparatively few (that being tens of thousands) people who did buy closer to release day may have bogged off, blamming away somewhere else. All of this is of course, a hypothesis. One that I hope to never see as I am a genuine fan of the smart design choices and mechanics Respawn have come up with here.
So, for the good of a franchise that more than deserves a sequel… talk about Titanfall 2. Spread the word and help to get it noticed. Let’s hope together that this game will not be a great entry of October that undeservedly slipped by unnoticed.