Death of the Critic

Titanfall 2 - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich


It is not often that a shooter manages to get almost everything right. Every year we see so many games try and so many of them fail. The original Titanfall was a great game, that simply didn't last long enough to be fantastic. What was there was excellent, but there simply wasn't enough stuff packed in the box to leave many gamers, including me, satisfied. With
Titanfall 2, we finally have what the first game promised to us and teased us with, and it is the best shooter of the year. It has a fun, if slightly ridiculous (in the best way) campaign, and a fantastic multiplayer mode that I've already dumped way too many hours into, that I can see myself playing for a long time. It is the most complete package on the market right now, and all signs point to its strength going forward.

When I say that the campaign is ridiculous, I truly mean it. It goes to places that you never really expect out of a AAA shooter, and there are points that literally had me wondering what the hell I was doing. It is a different take on the bombastic single player stories of games like
Call of Duty or Battlefield, and you can clearly feel Respawn's hand at work here. It's an action packed, 4-5 hour long campaign, that takes you across the world inside of your own personal titan BT-7274. He's essentially a mechanized version of Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy, complete with lack of knowledge of idioms, and a dry sense of humor. He is charming in his own strange way, and while he isn't my favorite robot companion of the year, he is awesome, with some excellent pieces of characterization that makes him feel more like a character than a giant death robot.

The story won't go anywhere that will surprise you, and you can see the individual beats coming from miles away, but the story feels more like an excuse for your character, Jack Cooper, to run, jump, climb, and slide through the really well designed levels. Each one feels unique and genuinely fun to play, and there are a few set pieces here that will be hard to forget. There are moments that will have you actually laughing, and moments that will leave you to pick your jaw up off the floor. It is cool to be a guy with a giant mech and a jetpack, and Titanfall 2 really nails the feeling of being that badass pilot that they show you in the opening cinematic.

The campaign serves to introduce you to the basics of movement and gives you a good handle on the different titan loadouts. Each level gives you opportunities to chain together wall runs, slides, and mantles to tear through your enemies in a way that you can't replicate when you are just walking around. BT is more advanced than a normal titan, so he can kind of do whatever he wants. It is a great excuse to let you quickly jump between different titan types, giving you access to all the different weapons and abilities without having to choose a loadout at the start of the mission and be stuck with it for the rest of the time. It is a decision made purely out of fun, letting you swing broadswords and launch rockets with reckless abandon, tearing through enemy titans like they were made of paper mache. This gives birth to some interesting combos, letting you change between close and long range titans, dashing in with a close range kit, before switching to a heavy gun for more DPS, firing out flame walls to block people in, and finishing off the stragglers with your giant sword.

It is one of the most effective campaigns as multiplayer tutorials that I've seen in awhile. You come in with a modicum of skill, but you quickly learn that there is a long way to go until you are at the top. The gauntlet in the training course is a constant reminder. You just have to finish it in two minutes to start the game. The top time on the leaderboard is under 30 seconds. There is a very definitive skill curve that is satisfying to try to slowly climb as you play the game. Learning to chain together your movements and skills until you feel like you are flowing through the game like a wave, rising and falling from walls to trees to buildings to the ground and back, like a coked-up Roadrunner with an assault rifle.

It has a feeling that no other game has truly nailed. Successful movement feels good in a way that few games capture, so quick and fluid that you feel powerful. When you make a mistake and screech to a halt, it jars you and lets you know what you did wrong. It makes
Infinite Warfare and Black Ops 3 feel sluggish by comparison, and it is a masterclass in movement mechanics that a lot of shooters could take notes on.

This has its downsides as well. An excellent player can easily dominate a lobby in ways that are hard to see in many games. If someone masters the movement and uses the right weapons, the can carry the entire match by themselves. It is frustrating to be on the other side of it, when the other team has titans called in in the first 30 seconds of the match, but when you do it to the other team, it is so satisfying.

The content in the multiplayer is not perfect, but it is slowly improving. There are weapons that are simply better than the others, and a few skills that need fixing (like allowing an opposing player to destroy the A-Wall by shooting its base like was intended). As you play you will encounter the same classes over and over. Lots of cloaks. Lots of sentries. Lots of submachine guns and Hemloks. A few of the loadouts are simply outclassed by anything you put them up against, and while they can be fun to play with, they quickly get frustrating when you start losing gunfights that you feel like you should have won. Some of the maps are great, and some are not. It feels like some of the maps simply weren't made for your giant robots, and the first team that calls them in will invariably win. Spawn trapping can be easy to do, and frustrating to encounter in match after match.

This makes multiplayer a into somewhat of a hit or miss experience. When the game works, it works in a way that nothing else can match. You have moments that are so amazing that they feel like they almost have to be scripted, when everything comes together, and you see titans falling from the sky as you leap between buildings and duel other pilots. And in close matches they give you enough paths to getting your own titans and boosts that you always have an inkling that you might be able to turn a match around. But there are also those matches where the enemy team just tries to spawn trap you. Or camp in windows behind unbreakable walls that also make their guns do more damage. When people play
Titanfall 2 like it’s Call of Duty, the game isn’t fun for either side.

Titanfall 2 is one of the most complete shooters of the year, and it only promises to stay strong going forward. Cosmetic-only microtransactions, free DLC, amazing multiplayer, and possibly the most ridiculous shooter campaign of the year come together to make a game that is satisfying in almost every way. It is already an excellent game, and I look forward to seeing where it ends up.


Review written for the Xbox One version of the game. Your experience may vary on different platforms.

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Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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