Titanfall 2 Review | Fifty Percent in Love

Titanfall 2 Review

Before Titanfall even came out it was labeled the "COD Killer." Made by a team consisting of a few former Infinity Ward employees, Titanfall was set to launch during a time when Call of Duty was still trying to find it's own identity in jet-packs and double jumps. Plus, with the might of EA behind Respawn Entertainment, you couldn't help but feel that this was going to be a big deal. From giant statues of Titans to free posters, the marketing push leading to the release of the game was loud. And while the game did review well initially, soon after its launch the hype had gone silent and fans returned to the familiar battlegrounds of Battlefield and Call of Duty. Then in 2016 Respawn revealed a game that was in many ways a polar opposite to its predecessor. Titanfall 2 boasted a single-player campaign, would now release on PlayStation 4 alongside Xbox One and the DLC following launch would be free for everyone. So why did a game that was poised to do everything right fall below sales expectations upon release?

In Titanfall 2 you play as Jack Cooper, a rifleman who's thrust into the rank of Pilot as he comes into contact with a Titan named BT-7274.  The story of Titanfall 2 isn’t surprising but its execution is what makes it special. At the forefront of the game is the relationship between Jack and BT. While the characters are well written overall, one of the most effective ways Respawn brings the Pilot, and consequently the player, closer to BT is with dialogue options. No, these are not giant dialogue trees like the ones found in Mass Effect that have an impact on the end of the game. These simple dialogue options equate to the difference between saying "Uhh..yeah sure" to "Hell yeah let's do this." This allows the player to not only inject their own excitement or hesitation into the moment but also get a response to that emotion from BT. Then there is the level design which is damn near perfect, with enough scale to create spectacle, yet focused enough to make sure you don’t get lost. There's no better example of this than the factory which has so many literal moving parts that not only establish a sense of setting for the world of Titanfall but also guide you towards the next mission objective. A few of the missions even add a curveball mechanic that occasionally turns the game into a puzzle platformer.

If you’re a trophy hunter or want more of a challenge, then after the initial gauntlet you can turn the game up to Master difficulty. This buffs the game’s 6-hour campaign up by a few hours as enemies and bosses are much more brutal. The game as a whole isn’t impossible by any means but certain bosses will momentarily convince you that it is. Personally speaking, most of the bosses weren't too hard even on this high difficulty. I managed to beat the final boss on my second try. But then there was Richter. It took me well over an hour to beat Richter and if it wasn't for the fact that I had Psych playing in the background I might not have made it through with my controller intact. It may seem like Master difficulty might ruin the campaign experience but for me, it was quite the opposite. The increased challenge that I faced when I was on foot made me that much more eager to reunite with BT. And, in my eyes, finally defeating Richter after over an hour of getting beat up was a win for the both of us. For anyone attempting to finish the game on this difficulty, without using the glitch, my one piece of advice is to stop, breathe, and change your course. So many times I found myself in a loop of deaths because I was driven by blind rage to do the same thing over and over again when all I needed was to flank a different way. And make sure you use your cloak ability.

Titanfall 2 Review

It is at this time that I’d like to interject with some unbiased (by which I mean most definitely biased but must be said) facts. After finding myself intoxicated with Titanfall 2’s campaign I did what I do whenever I want to have an opinion validated: I went to the internet and read and watched other people’s opinions (much like what you’re doing right now). During this time I came across numerous gamers that took the time out of their Titanfall 2 praise to throw in a few jabs at Call of Duty. It makes perfect sense to compare Titanfall and Call of Duty due to their similarities but most of what I saw were mean-spirited and abrasive comments that often came out of the left field. What I found funny about this is that Titanfall 2 follows the first-person shooter campaign formula that was popularized by Call of Duty to a T. Both games have giant set pieces with a plot that, while predictable, is delivered well with a new mechanic introduced in every other mission to add variety but never brought up again. That's not just a coincidence because Jesse Stern, the writer of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2, wrote Titanfall 2 with Steve Fukuda, who did additional writing for COD4 and MW2. And, say what you will about Infinite Warfare, but the campaign for that game, while not flawless, is undeniably one of its best features. Now, while I'm sure that, much like doing drugs, it must feel really cool to make fun of Call of Duty, I still think that the idea that you have to put down something else in order to enjoy what you have is oddly kindergarten. With that said, let's continue.

Gameplay in Titanfall 2 is as fluid and fast as the first with responsive and snappy gun mechanics. In Multiplayer the time-to-drop is so fast that the game almost seems to encourage you to not spend too much time on a single encounter. This breakneck speed of gameplay is somewhat slowed down on Master difficulty. (By the way, do you know that I played this game on Master difficulty?) Sure there is still ample room for parkour, but I certainly wasn't wallrunning into levels when enemies could two-shot me. I didn't realize how drastic the change of pace was until I played my first Multiplayer match where I went crazy with the grappling hook and spent more time pretending I was Spider-Man than actually playing the objective. Speaking of grappling hooks, in Multiplayer there are several different tactical load-outs to equip, such as cloak, stim, grapple, and more, but in single-player, you're only allowed to use the cloak. During some of my longer death streaks, I would have liked the freedom to choose if I wanted to go invisible and stealth kill some enemies, boost my health and fight on or swing away from my problems entirely. This is a small nitpick but to be honest I don't have many other problems with the game.

It should be no surprise by now that the sound design in Titanfall 2 is top-notch. The guns themselves may be grey generic models, but they sound punchy. Sounds of Titans moving and Pilots double jumping are clean and immersive. However, the real reason I'm bringing up sound is Stephen Barton's score for the game. All the pieces in the soundtrack are great but BT-7274 is fantastic. It may not be as iconic (yet) as the Halo theme but the bombastic composition of the Titanfall 2 theme manages to perfectly capture the spectacle that its campaign is built upon.

Titanfall 2 Review

Three years later the Multiplayer community is still active in Titanfall 2. It never took me more than a minute to get into a lobby and, unlike joining mid-game in Call of Duty, where there was a high chance that you'll be on the losing side of the battle, the matches were fair. Having not played the first game I wasn’t sure how Titans fit into Multiplayer and, to my surprise, they worked quite well. Unlike a scorestreak in other first-person shooters, where you call it in to rack up some more kills, calling in a Titan is a much more tactical decision. In every Multiplayer match, there are two different battles, one between the Titans and the other between the Pilots, and both sides are balanced against each other. Titans can certainly take out Pilots with ease, but Pilots can also do considerable damage to Titans by rodeoing onto them. This means, much like the symbiotic relationship between an Oxpecker and a Rhino, the Titans protect the Pilots and vice versa. And teamwork is necessary to win the match. I also want to mention that I love the way matches conclude in Titanfall 2. Instead of a simple countdown timer or score-limit-reached screen that stops the game immediately, Titanfall 2 kicks into a hide-and-kill post-game where one side has to get to the escape ship alive and the other has to kill them. It’s clear that a lot of time went into Titanfall 2’s multiplayer and it’s one of the reasons that I wish I'd jumped onto the game sooner so I could play when the game had an even bigger player count.

For the trophy hunters, finishing the campaign on Master difficulty will pop most of the trophies in the game. After that, you can get most of the other miscellaneous ones by jumping onto the campaign on easy and following a collectible guide. But no conversation about trophies in Titanfall 2 can end without mention of the "Becomes the Master" trophy. This trophy sucks. In order to get the trophy, and the Platinum, you need to place Top 3 on the gauntlet scoreboard, which means you have to complete it in under 33.60 seconds. This took me hours of non-stop gauntlet runs and, again, the only reason why my controller still remains intact is because of Psych (what a great show). Some basic tips for the Gauntlet are to grab the rocket launcher and automatic shotgun, enter the first room from the right side and switch the left to make it easier to slide into the second area and jump as often as possible because the longer you stay wallrunning, the slower you get. After many close calls, my final time was 33.30 seconds and the mixture of awe and disbelief literally left me speechless. It's okay though, because, after all that struggling, I got the bronze trophy.

I hear all the time that Titanfall 2 is an underrated game. But the fact of the matter is that it's not. I have not heard a single person who's played the game say something negative about it. I mean, hell, I've worked on this review for the past few days and even I couldn't find a broken mechanic to rant about. However, Titanfall 2 is underplayed. The game was released in a dead zone, presumably in a tactic to dry out the market before that year's Call of DutyBattlefield 1 released on October 21, 2016, and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare released two weeks later on November 4. The week between both games, on October 28, was when Titanfall 2 launched. Despite its overwhelmingly positive reviews, Titanfall couldn't survive when going up against titans (no-pun-intended) of the FPS genre. There are rumors regarding EA's reasoning behind this release schedule and one can only speculate how Titanfall 2 would have performed if it was released a few months later, but I won't add to this already lengthy review by discussing theories. Due to deep discounts on Steam, and a vocal player base, Titanfall 2 has seen a resurgence in popularity. And in two weeks, during the first weekend of May, gamers are planning a mass return to the game, trying to surge the player count to new heights. But with Apex Legends stepping into its fifth season, and it becoming official that Respawn's Jedi: Fallen Order is the first of a new franchise, it'll be a while before fans will need to prepare for titan fall once more.

Titanfall 2 | 9 | Excellent

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