Arts & CultureVideo Games

Review: ‘Titanfall 2’ surprises with a robust campaign and deep multiplayer

In 2014, Respawn Entertainment’s sci-fi shooter Titanfall made waves for its unique blend of quality action and robot-dependent game mechanics. By giving players the ability to fight with gigantic weaponized mechs, the developer successfully created a new breed of multiplayer gaming; however, the game was inherently limited as a multiplayer-only affair. As exciting as the experience was, it lost its luster fairly quickly.

Perhaps that explains why the hype for the sequel seemed relatively subdued. With major franchises like Battlefield adding to the busy November calendar, it looked like Titanfall 2 would fail to compete and fall under the radar. Instead, the final product is so good that it should be impossible for gamers to ignore. Respawn’s sequel is a triumph, thanks to a newly added single-player campaign, fleshed out story, and a continuation of the multiplayer action that made the first game a success.

The campaign itself follows Jack Cooper, a lowly rifleman in the rebellious Militia fighting against the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC). Cooper dreams of piloting a Titan, sentient robotic suits of armor that stand several stories tall. But right before he completes his training (which basically amounts to a glorified tutorial), his unit is attacked, leaving him stranded on a distant planet with only a Titan named BT for company. In order to survive, the player must navigate Cooper and BT through swaths of IMC soldiers.

If this sounds like standard shooter fare, it is. Luckily, Respwan has fashioned a story worth exploring, with amusing banter between Cooper and his robotic companion that keeps the player invested:

BT: “Cooper, this weapon is an advanced design, and may give us a tactical advantage.”

Cooper: “I think someone’s in love.”

BT: “A human’s concept of love requires admiration, attraction, devotion and respect. Conclusion: I am 50 percent in love.”

While the plot is surprisingly functional, it is the gameplay that makes Titanfall 2 really shine. Each of the campaign’s chapters features unique game mechanics that significantly change the experience. In one level, players must navigate through a firefight on a gigantic assembly line. In another, time travel allows Cooper to traverse across seemingly broken passageways. The creativity on display in these environments is remarkable.

Even so, the campaign sometimes feels like an extended tutorial, used to gradually introduce the player to multiplayer concepts. While this is far from uncommon in the shooter genre, the campaign’s short length (which hovers around six hours) is also fairly disappointing. As intense as the action was, it’s rarely overwhelming, and many players will leave wanting more.

Luckily, Titanfall 2’s multiplayer suite more than makes up for its single-player shortcomings. Like most shooters, it includes standards like Capture the Flag and Team Deathmatch game modes. It also includes an option called Mixtape, which allows players to jump into a match with a random mode. Each type allows for exhilarating action and a decent amount of strategy.

Kills and particularly noteworthy performances on the battlefield earn points, which can be used to change characters and weaponry. The upgrade system is incredibly robust and is hefty enough to keep dedicated players involved for months. Titanfall 2‘s map design is also impressive. Discovering every nook and cranny in these labyrinths is a joy, even while dodging incoming gunfire.

All of this adds up to a game that has every right compete with other blockbuster holiday titles. By doubling down on its vision from the first Titanfall, Respawn Entertainment crafted an entertaining and remarkably deep package worth of any gamer’s time. Like the Titans themselves, this game deserves to walk among giants.

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Dana Alston

Dana Alston

Dana Alston is an Associate Arts & Culture Editor from San Jose, CA. He writes about film, music, and television. Paul Thomas Anderson is his one true god.

You can follow his meme-endorsed social media ramblings @AlstonDalston on Twitter or Letterboxd, or shoot him some eloquent hate mail at [email protected]