Hello everyone, and welcome to Late to the Party, a series in which I discuss video games that I’ve finally gotten around to playing. As much as I enjoy games, it’s rare for me to experience them right when they are first released. Normally it takes me anywhere from a few months to a few years to get around to playing to a game, and because of this I’ve got a considerable gaming backlog that grows every year. From time to time I’m able to chip away at that backlog and whenever I do so I like to write about it in this series. Today I’m going to tell you about Titanfall 2, a futuristic first-person shooter in which you pilot giant robots.
If you haven’t already done so, I would highly recommend you read yesterday’s post on my history with Titanfall and a summary of both the lore of the Titanfall universe and the first game’s storyline. A link to it can be found here. Today’s post will be focused purely on Titanfall 2’s singleplayer campaign and will contain a few spoilers, so consider yourself warned.
Titanfall 2 picks up several years after the events of the original Titanfall and things are starting to look good for the Militia with roughly 25% of the Frontier having been liberated from the grip of the mustache-twirling IMC baddies. You are an enlisted rifleman named Jack Cooper who is secretly being trained by a famed Titan pilot that sees Jack’s potential to one day become a pilot himself. Unfortunately Jack’s entire squad and his mentor are soon killed on the planet Typhon after an IMC ambush and a run-in with the IMC-contracted Apex Predator mercenaries. With his dying breath, Jack’s mentor transfers command of his sentient Vanguard-class Titan, BT-7274, or “BT” for short, to Jack and tasks both of them with completing his original mission of meeting up with Major Anderson at an IMC laboratory quite a distance away from their current position. Since BT can’t fly they will have to foot it all the way there, killing hundreds of IMC grunts and destroying billions of dollars of hardware along the way, but on the plus side their long-distance journey of destruction gives Jack and BT time to bond and have moments of comic relief. They also inevitably run into Apex Predator mercenaries, who get hardly any character development but are strict adherents of the Bad Guy Code, which requires them to face Jack and BT one at a time, normally at the end of story chapters. When Jack and BT finally get to the IMC lab they find Major Anderson dead and discover that the evil IMC has spent the last few years developing a superweapon that can destroy entire planets but doesn’t require the construction of a space station the size of a small moon. After reuniting with the Militia, Jack and BT join an all-out assault on the IMC superweapon to save the day and become the heroes they were always meant to be.
If that all sounds like a run-of-the-mill action game storyline, that’s because it is, but Titanfall 2 is a game that’s more concerned with letting you wall run, double jump, and pilot a Titan than it is in telling you a compelling tale. Having already played games with similar mechanics like Call of Duty: Black Ops 3—which was released over a year after the original Titanfall—I knew roughly what to expect from Titanfall 2, but I gotta say, Titanfall 2 does this sort of fast, frenetic first-person shooter gameplay better than just about any other game I’ve played. Everything you do feels good, whether on foot or in your Titan. Excellent level design steadily introduces new challenges and opportunities for you to flex your pilot skills, and the game even has a few clever gimmicks to throw into the mix at certain points. When you jump into BT, Titanfall 2 becomes more like a traditional shooter, but the thrill of piloting a giant robot and doing battle in it never gets old, partly because piloting a giant robot is inherently awesome and partly because of BT’s unique ability to acquire the loadouts of other Titan classes. Each of the additional Titan loadouts you gain during the singleplayer campaign have their own distinct weapons and playstyle, and these loadouts can be changed on the fly, allowing you to adapt to each situation you encounter. Titanfall 2’s gameplay and design are not entirely perfect—some sections of the campaign are more fun than others, most of the boss fights against the Apex Predator mercenaries aren’t overly challenging on Normal difficulty, and BT does an annoyingly poor job of defending itself if you leave it alone in battle—but they’re still very good overall and make for a tight, enjoyable campaign that will probably take most players about 4 to 5 hours to complete.
Personally, my playthrough lasted about 6.5 hours, but that’s just cause I’m the type of player who stops a lot to take in the scenery. Visually, Titanfall 2’s graphics are about on par with, or maybe slightly below what I remember from the last two Call of Duty games I played—Advanced Warfare and Black Ops 3—with the game looking its best in its outdoor environments and keeping a silky smooth framerate during my entire time playing it. One notable flaw, however, is in that the models and animations of character faces are rather stiff, even by the standards of when Titanfall 2 was released in late-2016. This isn’t a big problem in the grand scheme of things since most of the time you’ll be too busy shooting or pinballing across an area to notice, but I do hope that Titanfall 3 (if it ever happens) makes some improvements in this department.
As much as I was disappointed that the original Titanfall lacked a singleplayer campaign, I’m glad developer Respawn listened to the feedback on that game and gave us a proper singleplayer campaign in Titanfall 2, even if it’s a modest one. The Titanfall universe has a lot of cool things going for it and the old phrase “better late than never” definitely applies in this situation. I’m thinking I will give Titanfall 2’s singleplayer campaign a 7.5 out of 10. The gameplay, design, and visuals are good, aside from some issues, but its average quality story and short length prevent me from scoring it higher. To its credit, however, playing Titanfall 2’s singleplayer campaign has gotten me slightly curious to give Titanfall 2’s multiplayer a go, and if that happens I’ll be sure to have a future writing piece dedicated to it.