Let’s get this out of the way up front: You should play “Titanfall 2.”
If you even remotely enjoy video games (especially of the first-person shooter variety), it’s a game you should play: It’s available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, and it costs $60. Allow me to stress how few qualifications I have for that recommendation. Play “Titanfall 2,” preferably sooner than later. Today.
That out of the way, allow me to explain.
“Titanfall 2” is a strong mix of innovative, fresh ideas with a strong design pedigree. Like so much of the world’s best art, “Titanfall 2” feels like a cohesive product of intentional design — an expression of mission from the folks behind it, and a hand-crafted universe to explore for the people playing it.
Here’s “Titanfall 2” in short:
- It’s a first-person shooter, with a focus on movement.
- To that end, you can double-jump and wall run. “Titanfall 2” is all about moving fast.
- There’s a lengthy, excellent single-player campaign, and a robust, excellent multiplayer section.
- You control a person named Jack Cooper, and a robot named BT.
- Sometimes Jack gets inside the robot — his “Titan” — and operates it, sorta like that movie “Pacific Rim.”
That’s pretty much all you need to know.
There’s a cobbled-together story about humanity colonizing other planets, and a war between colonizers and a company that’s using the colonies for profit. Whatever.
It’s clear that the story is far from the point; it’s just a means of propelling your character from one exciting gameplay sequence to another. In this way, “Titanfall 2’s” campaign feels like a disjointed string of events. That sounds like a criticism, but it’s not intended as such — the game puts a premium on your time. It says, “Don’t worry about this generic guy you’re playing as. Leap from wall to wall while solving puzzles and fighting off murderous robots! And please enjoy!”
The single-player campaign in “Titanfall 2” almost seems like a trick.
In every way, it’s framed as a generic, boring, even antiquated shooter campaign. In reality, it’s far from that — the single-player campaign of “Titanfall 2” is well-paced and smart. It’s a breath of fresh air in a genre full of self-serious, by-the-numbers, throwaway single-player campaigns. Just like “DOOM” took its franchise roots and modernised them, “Titanfall 2” takes experimental first-person shooters of the late ’90s/early ’00s and modernizes them.
I’d love to tell you specifics about why much of the campaign is so incredible, but ruining any of that surprise would be a tremendous disservice. I cannot recommend enough that you persevere in the game’s single-player campaign. It starts slow, but you must persevere. It’s worth it, I assure you.
So, how about that multiplayer?
How about another up-front statement? The multiplayer in “Titanfall 2” is likely to be this year’s best of any multiplayer shooter.
As of this writing, “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare” has yet to launch. It could be incredible! That caveat aside, in a year packed with so many genuinely excellent shooting games — whether you’re talking about “DOOM” or “Battlefield 1” or “Gears of War 4” — “Titanfall 2” stands out.
There are several main modes:
- “Amped Hardpoint” has two teams vying for control of several “hardpoints” (areas on a map) that must be taken and held. The longer your team holds the points, the more points you’ll earn — first team to 400 wins. By staying at a hardpoint, you can “amp” it, thus earning points at double the speed. Thus, there’s an ongoing struggle between whether to stay and “amp” a held point, or to clear one being held by the enemy team. It’s my favourite mode, but that could just be because I play a lot of “Battlefield” and it’s similar to Conquest in that series.
- “Attrition” is a mode that’s returning from the first “Titanfall,” which has two teams competing in a massive deathmatch. In a twist on the classic team deathmatch multiplayer mode, “Titanfall” adds computer-controller characters into the fray. Suddenly, instead of just fighting against the other team, you’re also fighting against squads of enemy characters and hulking titans.
- “Bounty Hunt” is another new mode, which takes Attrition and adds another wrinkle: you earn money from kills, and that money must be “banked” in between waves of enemies. Of course, if you’re killed by an enemy before depositing your stash, they will take half. Looks like you should have gotten that pre-nup after all.
There are other modes (Capture the Flag and what have you), but the three above are what distinguishes “Titanfall 2” from other shooters.
Not only is the second-t0-second gameplay fun — running along a wall, hopping to another, shooting a grappling hook and swinging to yet another wall, double jumping onto a titan, and ripping out one of its energy packs — but the game modes are as well. Like the gameplay itself, the multiplayer modes encourage a breakneck pace. And you’ll respawn just as quickly as you’re taken down.
There’s tremendous reward to plumb from the movement alone. Mastering the art of undeterred movement is just as crucial as knowing how to shoot, what weapon to use, and how to counter the enemy.
Good news, everyone!
It’s hard to imagine who “Titanfall 2” isn’t for (other than young children, of course — it’s violent, albeit in a cartoon way).
It’s a first-person shooter, but it does things with movement that few action-adventure games accomplish. It’s innovative, but it also shines at the basics: shooting, cover, and weapon selection are all top-notch. Not a campaign kinda player? There’s a ridiculous amount of multiplayer for you, and it’s really good. Not into playing online? No problem: The single-player campaign is good enough alone to recommend playing “Titanfall 2.”
To be completely, all the way clear, “Titanfall 2” is the kind of game that changes the genre. You can already see the affects of the first “Titanfall” on the long-running “Call of Duty” franchise (double-jumping and wall-running are now a standard).
With “Titanfall 2,” another line is being drawn in the sand. How the “Halos” and “Call of Dutys” of the world respond is anyone’s guess. While we wait to find out, I’ll be playing “Titanfall 2.”
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