Game review: Titanfall 2 aims to keep players engaged

Addressing the flaws of its predecessor, Titanfall 2 enthrals with a solid buddy story and topsy-turvy scenarios that test a player’s skill

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 November, 2016, 11:04am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 November, 2016, 11:03am

Titanfall 2

Respawn Entertainment

3.5 stars

Respawn Entertainment had an unusual problem with Titanfall. By all accounts, the studio made a fantastic first-person shooter that moved the genre forward. Its quick-twitch movements and asymmetrical warfare between giant robots called “titans” and agile pilots were a revelation.

But despite rave reviews, the game never caught on in the same way as Call of Duty, the franchise that many of the developers worked on. Players checked it out but didn’t stick around. With Titanfall 2 (for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC), the team aims to fix that. The developers looked at the flaws in the original and made a sequel that not only impresses players, but also holds their attention.

The improvement starts with a single-player campaign. It puts the gamer in the shoes of Jack Cooper, a rifleman for the Frontier Militia. As part of a military operation, he lands on the planet Typhon to try to stop the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation from activating a secret weapon.

Unfortunately, the initial wave of Frontier Militia’s troops was routed. Cooper’s mentor, a titan pilot named Captain Tai Lastimosa, falls in battle, but before he dies Lastimosa promotes the rifleman and gives him control of his titan, BT-7274. Cooper must cooperate with his machine ally and complete the mission.

The premise makes for a solid buddy story as the newbie pilot and humourless robot try to find common ground while fighting a mercenary team and IMC troops. The plot serves nicely as a tutorial to teach players the basics. Wall running and sliding can be combined, allowing experts to fly around the levels.

The difficulty ramps up quickly as Titanfall 2 introduces topsy-turvy scenarios that test a player’s skill. Cooper will find himself climbing makeshift walls in a war factory, and having to jump from building to building to get a part needed to fix a platoon’s communications. The stages exploit the platforming potential of the Titanfall 2 gameplay.

Meanwhile, BT will pick up load-outs that introduce the different titans in the multiplayer game version. This marks a departure from the original. Instead of high customisation on three titan frames, players work within six robot classes, each with its own specialised style of fighting. Ronin, who uses a sword and shotgun, is sturdily built for close-quarters combat, while Northstar is less sturdy but more useful in long-range fights, thanks to its sniper rifle.

One titan isn’t necessarily better than another, but they approach battles in different ways. Respawn compares the concept to that of Street Fighter II. It said the mech combat borrows ideas such as zoning and making reads on an opponent from the fighting-game genre.

That focus on creating combat situations that are easy to grasp drove a lot of the design decisions. Players can instantly tell which titan they’re fighting by either sight or sound. Even pilots have distinct looks, so it’s easy to distinguish between those with a cloaking ability from those with health or speed boosts.

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All this makes combat less daunting and allows players to focus on the gunplay in the game’s 11 multiplayer options, which range from standard free-for-all to strategic battles such as Bounty Hunt.

Together, the new modes and titans give matches a diverse feel and offer the kind of depth fans crave. Just deciding about pairing a pilot loadout with a titan will keep players intrigued as they test fresh combinations on the game’s nine maps.

Even with this degree of depth, however, Titanfall 2 remains accessible, unlike the games that paralyse players with customisation options. The sequel doesn’t overwhelm fans with an armoury full of guns either, and one network option even allows them to jump into rooms with like-minded players, so it’s easier to become part of a community.

While Respawn moves the genre forward with Titanfall 2, the sequel does have room for improvement. Though the maps are effective, they feel static and cold in contrast to the dynamic warfare in Battlefield 1.