Big Robots, Big Guns
Over the past several years, developers of first person shooters have struggled to discover what the genre needed to make a change for the better. We’ve seen agility and movement speed increased with abilities to slide, double-jump, wall run, peek around corners now featured in almost every FPS that enters the market. I can say with confidence that Titanfall 2 is the closest any of these games have come to reaching that new high.
While I haven’t played all the military FPS that have been released this past year I can easily say that Titanfall 2 has the greatest value proposition of any of these games in recent memory; there’s a campaign that blows all the others out of the water, and all the future maps will be given to owners of the game for free. Between the stellar campaign to the near-perfectly paced multiplayer, Titanfall 2 has very little working against it in the grand scheme of things. At this moment, it’s hard to recommend any other military-style FPS other than Titanfall 2. The entire package is not equal to the sum of its parts, however, as the game is on the guilty end of the micro transaction spectrum, and the progression system just isn’t as satisfying as in, say, Call of Duty, Battlefield, or even games like The Division.
There’s tons to do!
The campaign is near perfect with some of the most unique and engaging level design seen in a FPS campaign in years and the relationship between your Pilot and his Titan is a nice touch to bring the backdrop of the unfolding chaotic shootouts and parkour sequences. The boss fights are just challenging enough and levels/environments never overstay their welcome. There’s always another groovy surprise right around the corner for 6 hours [or so] of gameplay. All of these things make the campaign a welcomed new addition to the franchise, something that the developer, Respawn, can no longer sell the series without. Titanfall has been noticed for its campaign, but the multiplayer is where the game really shines and is at its greatest.
The multiplayer in Titanfall 2 is simple really – there’s a handful of modes ranging from classic-type hardpoint and capture the flag modes to the legacy mode, Attrition. Attrition is Titanfall 2’s take on classic team deathmatch with some NPCs fighting for each side sprinkled around the map. Since lobby sizes are commonly less than 10 players each matches can be intense with last minute reversals and plenty of neck-to-neck action.
Top-Tier Mutiplayer, with a twist
Unlike what are now considered traditional “killstreak” abilities and power-ups that commonly ruin these games for the less-trained, Titanfall 2 grants every player a Titan drop and a boost ability which recharges on its own, or more quickly depending on points acquired in mid-match. This makes the playing field more level and enjoyable for everyone. Rarely will you see a team being carried by one player only who has spent a significantly more amount of time playing the game than you. This means you can pick it back up after a week or two off and be just as satisfied with the multiplayer experience as you were before.
This is a huge plus for those who enjoy this type of multiplayer, but lack the time and persistence to play these games on a competitive level. Don’t get me wrong – there’s plenty of nuance in all of Titanfall 2’s multiplayer. Skill is needed to learn which builds/equipment works best for you and more advanced techniques like successfully mantling a Titan, grabbing its battery, and not dying via electric smoke (it’s deadly.) Throwing yourself into the fray and being able to successfully run-jump-wall run-jump across bottlenecks of intense firefights are moments just as satisfying as getting kills and scoring points. It seems like no matter what you’re doing in Titanfall 2’s multiplayer you’ll be having a blast.
The biggest downside to the multiplayer, and the game in general, is that the progression system is lackluster at best. The leveling system is unlike other mainstream progression systems. In Titanfall 2, you rank up by accomplishing goals like getting a certain amount of kills with a certain weapon, Titan, ability, etc. Player performance is also weighted into the system, but it’s less of a factor than simply racking up minor achievements tied to a particular weapon or ability. Winning also helps, of course. The end result is a very slow progression curve with rewards that feel, well, lame. Sure, as you level up you’ll get more guns, skins, and “colosseum tickets” for intense one-on-one tournament type matches [I have yet to use one of my two tickets acquired], but I never really wanted any of it. The gun I started out with is the best one I have used, and you’ll unlock those much wanted attachments very quickly if you maintain your custom slot for a short time. Progression faults aside, the multiplayer in Titanfall 2 is stellar, and like the campaign, has some of the best “holy shit” moments of any shooter to date. If you have not called in a Titan only to have it land on an enemy Titan and win a match – you have not lived.
You don’t need to look much further
Titanfall 2 is a glorious package. For the full price of the game [I got it for $40 during the PSN Christmas sale] you’ll get the amazing campaign, every multiplayer mode, and all the maps that are to be released in the future. There are micro transaction offerings that feel like they demerit the game and the currency you earn at the slowest pace possible is reflective of free-to-play garbage, but it’s easy to overlook considering there’s no season pass. Those two things almost cancel each other out, but there should be no place for micro transactions in full price games like this, period.
The final package is so great, and the gameplay so electric and finely tuned, that it feels unjust to shake the shame stick at Respawn Entertainment. Titanfall 2 is such an accomplishment in its best parts that all the less-desirable features melt away and are easy to ignore. Currently, I don’t think there’s a better shooter you could be playing right now.