I remember the first time I saw Gundam Wing. Giant, fantastical future robots with guns, swords, and awesome designs; it was my first mecha anime. And then there was G Gundam, where the robots became even more fantastical and had what could be considered superpowers. These mechs were different from other robots I’d seen like the Transformers, massive, elegant, and with their own personalities. Their pilots were the best of the best. And Titanfall 2 feels like an Americanized version of these concepts.
The first Titanfall had the barest thread of a single-player campaign. Mostly it served to give some semblance of a story by acting as a wrap-around to various multiplayer matches. When Titanfall 2 was announced, its developers Respawn Entertainment announced they were adding a real single-player game this time around. Most single-player first person shooter campaign amount to a shooting gallery where you march forward through various corridors waiting for enemies to spawn until you come up against the big bad at the end. The campaign in Titanfall 2 goes beyond that to make something truly fantastic.
The game opens with a cinematic about Pilots, the Titan operators, who are known for their combat prowess and their superior ability to control a battlefield. Over the course of the campaign, the game shows you exactly why that is. From there, you are dropped into the shoes of Jack Cooper, a rifleman in the Frontier Militia. In the middle of a virtual reality training exercise, you are interrupted and forced to head into the battlefield. Unfortunately, your mentor is killed but before he dies, he transfers control of his Titan BT-7274, shortened to just BT, to you.
BT is a very stoic and by-the-books partner but the interactions between BT and Cooper are wonderful. When BT talks to Cooper you are given two options to respond, some of them sarcastic, that BT responds with a seriousness that lends itself well to comedy. I found myself chuckling at various points at their interactions and it felt good to witness the growth of their bond.
Platforming is a big deal this time around. Your character is equipped with a Jump Kit, a jet pack worn around the waist, that helps with wall running, double jumps, boosting, and safely falling from high distances. This lends itself to quieter moments in the campaign where there are no enemies around and your goal is to figure out how to get from point A to point B. If you can’t figure it out, the game gives you an optional Ghost Runner that will show you where to go. But even having that Ghost Runner, you still have to time your jumps when running over gaps while jumping wall to wall, so the feature does not hold your hand all the way.
The platforming isn’t limited to isolated segments of the game; it also comes in handy in firefights against large swaths of enemies. One of the tools you’re given is the skill to turn invisible for several seconds. The act of using this power while running along a wall, dropping behind a group a group of enemies and meleeing them to death, feels great. You can disembark from your Titan, turn invisible, double jump on top of an opposing Titan and remove its batteries, escape back to your Titan, run up to the other Titan and punch it until it explodes.
And that’s not to forget the gunplay. The selection of weapons ranges from standard assault rifles to a double-barrelled sniper rifle or a pistol with a shotgun burst. Your thrown weapons include a frag grenade, the electrifying arc grenade, and a thermite grenade that’s a ninja star that sets the floor on fire and catches anything it comes in contact with on fire. There are heavy weapons such as rocket launchers that can be used against small enemies but are designed for taking down Titans. There’s a lot of variety, and the game doesn’t look you in to specific weapons for specific occasions.
Your Titan has eight different loadouts to choose from on the fly, each unlocked along the campaign path, from the standard Vanguard chassis with its 40mm Tracker cannon to the Ronin chassis equipped with a shotgun and a mech sized katana. Using the assorted Titan chassis gives you a good idea of what their use will be like in the multiplayer.
The multiplayer gives you a varied amount of modes to play around in depending on how you want to play. Are you player who likes to be a part of a team and isn’t particularly good against other players? Try out Bounty Hunt mode, where you shoot enemy A.I. in designated areas to accrue cash to win the match. Are you a more serious player? Check out Amped Hardpoint, a King Of The Hill-esque mode where you must capture three different spots. Even if you don’t feel confident in your shooter abilities, you can ride on top of a teammate Titans or jump on top of enemy Titans to take their batteries. If you don’t like Titan gameplay, you can choose Pilots vs. Pilots. Outside of playing the game modes, there are plenty of unlocks with new Titan chassis, new weapons, weapon addons, camo skins for guns, Titans, and Pilots. There’s a great melange of activities to keep you entertained for quite some time.
Titanfall 2 is a constant delight. There were many points in the game where I audibly exclaimed how cool and awesome something was. I am hyped to play more of it and I definitely want to play through the campaign again. With a glut of first person shooters being released this season, Titanfall 2 stands out as something that should be played with its fantastic campaign and enjoyable multiplayer.