Welcome back readers! Garrett here with my official opinion on Respawn’s newest game, Titanfall 2. Now, a few articles back, I discussed their pre-Alpha tech test they had out and what I thought about it. You could probably tell from the way I worded things, but the hype train was real. But now, it’s time to see how the final product stacks up.
Make no mistake, there are minor spoilers ahead. I will try not to give too much away, but if you want a pure experience in the single player, scroll right past to the end.
Gameplay and Mechanics
I know a lot of folks have complained about the recent Call of Duty games being done in a futuristic, sci-fi setting. I am in that boat as well, but a lot of that has come from this big change of having augmented abilities. The biggest one I can think of is the 3-D maneuvering, or having insane parkour abilities like wall running or jumping larger distances assisted with jet packs, grappling hooks, etc. That’s never really worked for me in the Call of Duty series, but I enjoy it here.
Titanfall has always made it a fantastically smooth control scheme to execute these abilities. Other titles made it feel clunky, almost as if it was tacked on as an additional feature, rather than part of the core foundation of the gameplay. It felt very easy for me to start wall running, and getting decently good at combos was intuitive which gave me a completely different view of the maps and areas. This is very much evident in the puzzle solving elements in the Single Player Campaign (more on that later), but equally translates your skills to the multiplayer. Polar opposite to this are the Titans, which feel heavy and cumbersome compared to the really fast moving Pilot controls. This is a great dichotomy, since it can mix up the pacing throughout the game.
On that note, the Titans. 8 all new Titans are in the game. I’ll lay them all out:
- Vanguard Class – BT-7274 in the Single Player, all around Titan with its base loadout focusing on anti-infantry and light armored Titans, but can pick up and use all other Titans kits and abilities (as you progress through the single player).
- Brute – Not available to play as, save for picking up the loadout as BT, but is a lightweight, flight capable Titan that strictly uses free-fire rockets as its armament.
- Tone – My personal favorite, but a medium Titan whose specialty is tracking missiles using its 40mm semi-auto cannon for its lock on.
- Northstar – Another lightweight Titan that uses a high damage plasma sniper rifle as its primary weapon.
- Ronin – A lightweight Titan that specializes in speed and close combat with its shotgun and large sword.
- Scorch – A heavyweight Titan with an emphasis on fire damage and area denial.
- Legion – A heavyweight Titan sporting a mini-gun and pours volumes of fire, with a special ability to auto target enemies.
- Ion – A medium Titan that uses laser weapons, including a super powerful Death Star looking laser as its Core ability.
The variety of the Titans is certainly good, but you cannot sub and swap out different parts to get a custom Titan. What they are is what they are, save for some passive abilities, but the damage models are all fixed to each one. Even still, I found that it works out better that way because it means everyone can pick up a pre-set kit that is optimized and balanced and go to town. Like I mentioned earlier, Tone is my favorite to use, since the semi-auto cannon will blast away squishy stuff and the missiles can be great to use behind cover once you achieve a lock on.
Lastly, I know this might have been brought up from my earlier article on the Titanfall 2 Tech Test, but the overall pace of the game has slowed down. Not by much, but certainly noticeable by players coming over from the first Titanfall. I think this works out better, since it can give the Pilots a better picture before making a move (instead of relying on memorizing the different maps’ terrain), and allows Titans to compete better in objective modes.
Overall, I believe Titanfall 2 took everything that worked in the first one and made it more accessible to a bigger audience. The learning curve is not as steep to get into the game, but there is enough depth and complexity to differentiate skill levels and allow players to learn how to use Titans to their strengths.
Single Player Campaign
For me, the biggest draw for a video game is a good single player. One that doesn’t allow me to get bored or want to put the controller down until it is complete. In addition, it should want you to replay it multiple times to “collect it all,” discover hidden secrets, or complete all the challenges. Titanfall 2 reminded me a lot of older FPS titles, balancing action, varying the pace, and building up over time to the big finale.
It should not be new information that the core group of developers at Respawn Entertainment were originally from Infinity Ward, and worked on one of the biggest successes in the FPS genre, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and its sequel, Modern Warfare 2. They were let go from Infinity Ward for one reason or another (it is not important at this point), and afterwards decided to reform together to create Respawn Entertainment. This next bit should not come to anyone’s surprise then:
Titanfall 2 reminded me a lot of why I loved Modern Warfare 1’s single player.
I could almost go piece by piece as to why I strongly feel this way, but here are some parallels to COD:MW1 :
- Younger, less experienced soldier gets bumped up to an elite group
- Slow, steady progression of difficulty
- After large bouts of action, a calming pause to explore a derelict area in the past (with a constant “on your toes” feeling as you progress)
- Large, powerful weapon that must be stopped
- “All hands on deck” force grouped to stop the bad guys
- Fast paced, time crunching action at the end
- Character sacrificed, but secretly not dead
Regardless, I went with regular difficulty my first time through and was able to beat the single player in 7 hours. Better than some releases lately, but still a little bit short for my liking and certainly not out of the realm for a Call of Duty regular. It was definitely good, but it wasn’t fantastic enough to warrant me grabbing someone in the store who is on the fence about it and constantly shaking them screaming, “YOU MUST ABSOLUTELY PLAY THIS GAME, YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT.” I would probably just casually say “If you like older Call of Duty games, you will love Titanfall 2.”
Now, as far as replay value, there is a little bit. Obviously you have the master difficulty, akin to COD’s veteran mode, and you can bounce around the areas to find all of the Pilot’s Helmets. Beyond that, PSN Trophies or Xbox Achievements are all you have left. Speaking of which, Titanfall 2 only has 3, really easy to get multiplayer trophies. If it was me though, I wouldn’t have any at all. I can understand having them so it forces folks to play the multiplayer, but once the servers go down in 10-ish years, people won’t be able to platinum the game and that bothers the semi-completionist in me.
Unfortunately, it is not like Wolfenstein: The New Order where you have multiple ways of playing the levels by either taking a “stealth” approach to sneak by and silently take out everyone, or bust out all of the loud stuff and force your way in with a battering ram of lead. Any attempts at stealth I tried simply got me one good kill, then I was back to facing the A.I. that knew where I was instantly. One thing I do have to praise though is the puzzle elements in this game that utilize both the Titan and Pilot’s characteristics. They didn’t feel tacked on or forced like they did in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 or Advanced Warfare. In fact, it felt like Rise of the Tomb Raider, where the environment was giving me hints to how I should traverse, which I certainly liked.
So far the only frustrating part is I am currently stuck on one of the bosses at Master difficulty. Spoilers, you are on top of a large ship, with sloped sides, and the boss can fly and hover. Save for some drag panels that pop up and close once in awhile, there is little cover to protect me from the frequent rocket barrages and sniper fire. At least the other bosses gave me a fighting chance with my weakened health to play hit and run. That is part of strategy though, so I’ll keep grinding at it!
Overall, the single player is much appreciated. The added depth to the world, showcasing the faction and character relations, and beautiful “not dull grey” battlefield scenery made this worthwhile to run through. It isn’t pushing the envelope of the FPS genre, but it certainly isn’t an afterthought like the first Titanfall.
I’m not going to spend a ton of time on this, as I think my whole “feels like older Call of Duty games” mantra still applies here, but I do want to point out a few things.
Firstly, weapon variety is very good. Each one feels completely different to use, even between weapons in the same class. A good and short example, the LMG class has three weapons; the Spitfre, L-STAR, and the Devotion.
The Spitfire is your run of the mill machine gun, very high capacity, good damage, and long reload time. Nothing out of the ordinary (in fact, this is changed from Titanfall 1 as the original Spitfire LMG would have high kick the first few rounds then stop recoiling as you held the trigger. This is not the case with Titanfall 2). Second, the L-STAR is an energy weapon, with a brief cool down period between bursts. The shots have a distinct, slow velocity to them, taking time to get to their target if far enough away. In addition, every time you release the trigger, there is a 1-2 second delay when the weapon vents its extra heat, preventing you from shooting until it cools off. Lastly, the Devotion stars off with a slow rate of fire, progressively increasing it with each subsequent shot (until about bullet 9-10). This means for weaker enemies you aren’t going to burn through too many rounds to put them out, but for larger enemies it means your damage per second bumps up and helps for your time to kill.
Like I said, each weapon plays differently, and this holds true for every weapon category. There is your usual, very typical weapon in each class, but the rest all have some unique traits. The Alternator is an SMG whose two alternate firing barrels generate side to side recoil instead of up and down. The Double Take sniper rifle shoots two rounds with each trigger pull, and the Mastiff shotgun has a longer cycle time when you aim down the sights instead of hip firing (in addition to a horizontal shot spread), just to name a few. I think this a great way to mix up the classes.
Some things from Titanfall 1 are no longer around, but I think what they give you in return makes it a fun, balanced experience if you take you time to play around with the classes and customization that you can. I know some folks will miss the Titan customization, but I think what you get in return (more specialized Titans) is a good trade off.
As far as game modes are concerned. My personal favorite is Bounty Hunt, where players try to gather fictional money by killing each other or A.I. enemies. At the end of each round, you deposit your money to your team’s bank. The first to $5,000 is the winner. The other game modes are standard FPS stables. Capture the Flag, Pilots versus Pilots, and Last Titan Standing are simply small tweaks the usual suspects.
One last thing I do want to mention is: ALL OF THE DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT FOR TITANFALL 2 IS FREE FOR ANYONE. As the game gains age, everyone will be able to get new maps and things without paying a dime. Electronic Arts says the reasoning for this is that they don’t want to divide the player base into two main categories: Ones that pay for the content, and those that won’t. This creates rifts in multiplayer for matchmaking, so by making it all free, there shouldn’t be any issues.
Overall, I think Titanfall 2 is a good FPS/Mech shooter. Everything is balanced out very well, and it is a fun game to play. It isn’t ground breaking by any means, but the experience is what I would expect from the former developers of Call of Duty. Overall, I give it a solid 7.5/10. It is good, but not great, and isn’t a grind but has plenty to do in its content. Currently, it is on sale for $30, and it is a 100% buy at that price. I splurged for the much more expensive collector’s edition (hence the pictures with the 1:1 wearable pilot’s helmet) and I don’t regret it one bit, but if you are on the fence about it for the $60 price, I am still having a great time playing it so I would recommend you give it a chance.
UPDATE: The first patch has been released on Wednesday November 30th, and some big chances have come, along with the first round of DLC. I know I had said earlier that ALL of the DLC is free, but that is apparently not the case. All of the Gameplay related DLC is free, the rest is paid for. I’ll explain.
If the developers have a new map or new game mode as part of their DLC, it is free. This first round was titled “Angel City Regeneration”, and the big part of this is the updated and highly favored map from the first Titanfall. This part is free for all players, regardless of whether or not they sprung for the standard edition or deluxe. The other part to his is that if a new gameplay mode is added, everyone will get it for free as well. This, as stated earlier, is to prevent matchmaking issues between those that would normally buy DLC, and those that would not.
The paid content is in the form of cosmetic changes. Warpaints, weapon/pilot/Titan camos, Nose Arts, and Callsigns and Banners all require money to get. It is all fairly inexpensive to purchase (The camos for all of the Pilots, Weapons, and Titans is $4, and all 20 Banners and Callsigns is $3), but just feels a bit odd to me. Unlike prior editions of Call of Duty where your displayed Banner for Multiplayer is earned by ranking up or completing challenges, there are two additional ways to earn them. One is now to buy some of them, and the other is the Advocate Gift, which is a random cosmetic unlock given as you rank up and advance. There are pages of these things, and it is all hidden so you don’t know what they look like until you unlock them. I think this is nice since you don’t know what you are expecting, but it makes it a grind to unlock all of them.
So, how does this affect my review? Well, it doesn’t. I’d still give the game the same score, but I am happy to see that the developers are looking at helping the game be better. Before this patch, Ion was probably one of the weaker Titans to use since it was just average in every category. With these new changes, Ion has become quite the force to be dealt with in the multiplayer. I’m also glad to see that new content being added isn’t just maps. New Callsigns and other cosmetics are nice to see, even if you have to pay for them.