Titanfall 2 certainly provides a unique experience in the FPS genre. You don’t find many shooters that require you to be strategic, yet aggressive, at the same time. While many FPS games ask you to run around and shoot the hell out of everything that moves, Titanfall 2 asks you to do that, while navigating quickly around environments and do it as quickly as possible while still managing to look cool while doing it. Throw in a multiplayer that utilizes all the fun mechanics established and you have a game that is quite a blast to play.
I’ll say it now that I have never played the first Titanfall game. Not because I wasn’t interested, but because I don’t have access to an Xbox One. It looked like a blast despite to complete lack of a campaign to flesh out the world outside of the snippets the multiplayer gave players. Having not played the first one didn’t detract from the experience of playing Titanfall 2 as the game does a solid job of bringing you into the world and introducing you to what it’s like to be a Pilot of a Titan. The story is…well I’ll start off by saying that if the first game had a campaign this is what the story should have been. You play as a soldier in a resistance and shortly after getting blown out of the sky while heading to a planet you end up becoming a pilot of a titan after the previous pilot dies while saving you and with his dying breath gives you the biggest field promotion ever. As for the rest of the story, it’s a mess while at the same time being simplistic. The narrative throws you into the world without giving you any real understanding of what is going on in the universe that it has established. Half the time you’re not even sure who the antagonist is. Most of the characters come off as generic, the “villains” being no exception. The story tries to build an emotional relationship between you and the Titan, and it almost does a good job except there are long bits where you are not even with your Titan and barely communicate with it when away. There is supposed to be an emotional payoff towards the end, but it doesn’t feel earned. Had the first two thirds of this story been the story of the first game then there definitely could have been a more emotional attachment with your Titan. Overall the story boils down to, kill everything; save the universe.
The gameplay is where Titanfall 2 shines. Having to move around quickly while picking off enemies feels awkward at first, but once you get the hang of the controls you’ll start to feel like a true badass as you run along walls, and slide around corners picking off nameless henchmen. The game has one of the best tutorials that acts as part of the story, but also allows the player however much time they want to acclimate themselves with having to move around fast while taking out enemies. Everything feels fluid; at no point do the controls not work well. You have a variety of weapons; most of which work well, though some feel redundant and nothing truly stands out as an original weapon. You’re given an ability to cloak yourself for a short time, however you’re never given any other abilities to play with other than a short stint with time manipulation. In short, the game is fast and fun.
Controlling a Titan feels just as you would imagine; a bit on the slow side. You have the ability to dash in order to dodge attacks, but thankfully your Titan has other means of defending itself from attacks, especially during sections where you have to engage multiple enemy Titans. Throughout the game you discover different loadouts; each one provides different skills and weapons for the Titan, some more effective than others. The plus side, you can easily switch to a different loadout on the fly at any point during the game which allows for some experimenting during different scenarios. All boss fights are Titan fights, unfortunately they amount to little more than shooting matches, requiring no strategy or technique other than dodge and shoot until you can unload your special attack on them.
Design wise the game fires on nearly all cylinders. The game looks beautiful with some great looking scenery throughout the game. Levels give you some freedom in how you want to maneuver, but for the most part you are guided to where you need to go next. Enemy encounters vary; sometimes you’ll face a small number in each part of the level and other times the game just throws a bunch at you from all sides making those encounters feel very one-sided. It doesn’t help that when the game respawns you after dying it tends to place you in front of whatever just killed you giving you little time to adjust and change your strategy. There are some great set pieces that are epic without being over the top. The game also runs smoothly throughout with almost no dip in frame rate which is great, especially when situations get intense and you find yourself jumping around.
The multiplayer works well with all the gameplay elements and can be fun. There is a variety of game modes which may or may not utilize the ability to call in a Titan. Combating enemy Titans doesn’t feel one-sided; the game gives you effective enough weapons and skills to take them down as a team or in your own Titan. All of the loadouts you were able to play with in the campaign are available as well; you just have to level grind to unlock them all. Same goes for weapons and skills though there are a lot more skills in multiplayer than you were given in single player and you are given plenty of custom loadouts to experiment with in order to fill all your needs. Outside of weapons and skills however there is not much in the way of customizing your pilot so prepare to see a lot of other players that look the same. The only problem I found is that matchmaking doesn’t do that great of a job of matching you with other players of similar level or skill so there are quite a few times of being dominated in a match by the other team.
Overall, Titanfall 2 is a fun experience with unique gameplay that’s fast and fun and will leave you feeling like a badass once you get the hang of the controls. However the story leaves much to be desired and the multiplayer is fun, but odds are at this point you are already engaged in other multiplayer games that are more addicting. Titanfall 2 is a rental, but definitely worth a playthrough. If the multiplayer is what does it for you than either buy it used or wait for the price to go down.
This review is based on a retail copy of the PS4 version.