Wot I Think: Titanfall 2

The Titans are the worst thing about Titanfall 2 [official site]. In the campaign, your robot buddy BT provides occasionally amusing commentary and support, but the game really sings when you’re free of him and permitted to engage in the kind of wall-jumping, face-kicking heroics that are usually the domain of cutscenes rather than actual play. Multiplayer is where Titans shine, acting as both a cathartic death-dealing reward in some circumstances, and a welcome change of pace in others, but they’re still the worst thing about the game.

They’re great though. It’s just that everything else is so much better.

In multiplayer, Titans feel like an actual godsend at times, screaming down from the heavens as they do like avenging angels. They’re improved since the first game, as is everything else, more flexible and yet more focused at the same time. The varied loadouts allow players to use their bots as support, kamikaze murderbot, tricksy sniper or teleporting melee beast, and the timing of drops (the titular Titanfalls) ensures that the arrival of a bot on the battlefield usually feels like a game-changing event rather than an interruption to the flow of the superb infantry combat.

If you’d rather not have super-weapons invading your game though – and because pilots are so mobile no-foot, Titans feel like weapons rather than vehicles to me – there is a Titanless pilot vs pilot mode, along with the returning Attrition team deathmatch and variants, and the all-new Bounty Hunter, which introduces waves of AI enemies into the field. As in Attrition, you can rack up points by taking out the AI, but here they’re an independent force rather than auxiliaries to one of the player-led teams, and you’ll need to cash in your winnings between waves. Die without reaching a deposit point and you lose a chunk of what you’ve earned from your kills.

There are few changes to the actual rules of play. Burn Cards, the one-shot items activated for a single round, are out, and I don’t miss them a bit. It’s good to know that when a Titan unleashes a seemingly endless barrage of missiles, that’s because the pilot inside it has been playing well in the here and now rather than bringing in an advantage earned in a different battle entirely. The longer a pilot and Titan survive, the closer they get to unleashing total devastation, and Respawn encourage smart teamwork by allowing those without their own robots to retrieve batteries from fallen enemy Titans or set locations on the battlefield. These can then be delivered to an allied Titan.

Titans support infantry and infantry support Titans. The relationship feels much more symbiotic and healthy, and, importantly, Titans don’t feel like an end-goal, leaving those who don’t manage to call one feeling left out of the fight. The greatest hero in any match isn’t the person piloting a Ronin and darting around the battlefield taking out enemies with grace and precision; the hero is the person who sees that pilot preparing to eject after taking heavy damage, then sprints and leaps across the battlefield to jump onto an enemy Titan rodeo-style, rip out their battery, and return it to the Ronin, bringing it back into action before it is abandoned.

What was a good multiplayer game has become a great multiplayer game. The skill ceiling is high but the structure of Titan and infantry teamplay, and the rules of the various modes, ensure everyone has something to do. As well as being a good thing as a general practice, the abandonment of a season pass model seems appropriate because Titanfall 2 feels like a beautifully updated version of a classic FPS in which you become better by learning the game and linking together gunplay, traversal and the nifty gadgets that can aid both. There are things to unlock as you play but they’re dished out generously so after a few hours play, you’re not going to be at an enormous disadvantage, or left without options when it comes to your loadout.

And then there’s the campaign. I’ve already gone into some detail about how brilliant it is so I won’t repeat myself, but I do want to say something more about quite why it works so well.

First of all, the few hours that the campaign lasts will probably always be my favourite part of Titanfall 2. I’ve sprinted beneath an enemy Titan in Attrition multiplayer, sliding between its legs just as it unleashes a stream of flames that destroy everything in its line of sight. I’ve grappled and boosted my way across warzones, pirouetting in mid-air above exploding Titans to pick off a pilot on a distant rooftop. The campaign begins with a cutscene that shows a pilot in action, the voiceover speaking of his skills and efficiency, awestruck. You can become that character in the cutscene – it’s not an exaggerated version of the skillset you’re given, it’s an honest portrayal. Far more slick than anything I can pull off when facing human opponents, sure, but that’s on me, not on the game.

The campaign brings the thumping brilliance of the gunplay and the elegance of the traversal system to a series of beautifully crafted levels. They’re inventive, both visually and mechanically, and to spoil the best of them would be unjust. It’s so tempting to spoil them though because I don’t think anyone was expecting this kind of creativity from Titanfall 2’s singleplayer. What could have been a pleasant side dish or drab afterthought is instead playing with ideas that other games would use as the main salvo of their marketing campaign.

It never abandons the superb fundamentals of combat and movement that make the multiplayer such a pleasure to play, but it embellishes it and creates areas of such convincingly impressive scale that I want to revisit them just to look at them on my TV rather than my monitor. Titanfall 2 deserves to be on the biggest screen possible.

I’ve had one technical hitch, with grenades and other thrown projectiles lagging in front of me for a second when I lob them. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t actually affect their trajectory but it makes it difficult to know how long I’ve been cooking them for before throwing, and trying to aim at a moving target is next to impossible when it happens. But its only happening maybe one time in ten, more often in the campaign than in multiplayer oddly, as if there’s some server communication slowing things down that is only obvious at those particular moments.

If one of my favourite studios had released Titanfall 2 back in the day (I mentioned Monolith in my previous article), I’d be recommending people go back and savour it, and learn its lessons, at every opportunity. As it is, wedged between Battlefield and Call of Duty in the release schedule, and likely reliant on strong initial sales due to the promise of free maps and modes, Titanfall 2 risks becoming precisely the kind of game that people will need to be reminded about ten years down the line.

Don’t take this as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even if, in the long-term, sales are relatively poor, there will almost certainly be enough devoted players to keep the online portion of the game alive. If you’re even mildly interested in buying a new multiplayer FPS, you won’t go wrong with this, and if you enjoy smart level design, the singleplayer is vital, though the pricetag is hard to justify given the short running time. None of those ideas I’m refusing to describe so as not to spoil them are going to add replay value either, unless, like me, you’re likely to replay just to show people the spectacle of it all.

Whether there’s more Titanfall in the future or not will almost certainly depend on the commercial success of this second game in the series. It’s superb but that’s no guarantee of success, and I wouldn’t even like to guess how EA will measure success in this case. Respawn’s next release is probably going to be their third-person Star Wars game, announced in February. Though I’d like to see the studio fleshing out the world of its own IP, there’s very little in what is great about the singleplayer campaign that relies on the specifics of Titanfall’s backstory and setting. The Titans are swell, even if they are the worst thing about the game, but there’s military machinery enough in Star Wars, and plenty of opportunities for odd couple buddy-banter.

The highlights of Titanfalls 2’s design would work in Star Wars or just about anywhere else, and on this evidence, a sci-fi action game couldn’t be in better hands.

Titanfall 2 is out now for Windows via Origin for £50.

From this site

52 Comments

  1. Freud says:

    Both Titanfall 2 and Battlerite seems to have drawn the appropriate lessons from how bad monetization can hurt a game. Hopefully it’s a trend in a healthier direction that will prevail.

  2. Sakkura says:

    I’m not sure I agree that pilots are very mobile no-foot. ;)

  3. crazyd says:

    This game really deserves to be a huge hit. It’s so damned absurdly fun. And it gets more fun the better you get with the movement system. Chaining wall runs and slide hops with bursts of stim is so much fun. This game is jam packed with systems that could be the defining mechanic in full games.

    • Vandelay says:

      Looks like it may not have hit the ground running, unfortunately. Sales are apparently worse than the original game link to eurogamer.net .

      Now, that is only physical copies, so hopefully the surge in digital sales since the original means most people are downloading it, but it is not a great start. Of course, it sounds like it is going to be the one that deserves to do best out of the big 3 shooters, but inevitably it will likely be the third in the sales and EA will either ditch it or decide to strip it of everything that makes it interesting in the third game.

      Which is a real shame. The FPS genre really needs a kick up the backside and has needed it for about 5+ years. I wasn’t going to buy another brand new game after getting Civ 6 and having not played it much beyond the first weekend (not due to lack of wanting to, just so little time to really sink into it since then,) but hearing how great Titanfall 2 is and hearing how lacking the sales have been I am very tempted to put my money into supporting Good Games.

      • Mezmorki says:

        I can’t help but wonder whether or not sales on PC are impacted by EA games not being on Steam. The center of gravity for PC games feels like it’s on Steam and I know that I end up seeing and thinking a lot less about EA games because I’m not in the habit of firing up Origins – whereas Steam is pretty much always running, including on my phone.

        • Premium User Badge

          DelrueOfDetroit says:

          Origin didn’t seem to affect Battlefield One all that much. Granted that’s a long running and well loved series compared to Titanfall’s “Hey that was pretty good.”

          Black Friday and EA’s winter sale are still coming up. A 20% discount could really move a lot of copies. I’m thinking of picking it up myself if it gets a decent price drop.

          • myhandleonrps says:

            I didn’t even know it was coming out anytime soon until I signed up for EA Access to get Battlefield 1 early and I saw a broken release countdown timer on the top of the app (“oh boy, 0 days 0 hours and 0 minutes until it launches in two weeks!”). The next thing I saw was that Titanfall 2 wouldn’t qualify for any discounts and wouldn’t have a trial. So yeah, I passed it off as a doomed release long before it even came out.

        • unsanity says:

          An FPS that requires a high level of dexterity and precision not being released on the premier PC platform, that has it’s own multiplayer backend support, is a decision that rivals the Black Knight’s decision to stop King Arthur by bleeding all over him.

          Sorry Monty Python guys, EA beat your joke by not even trying.

      • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

        You do wonder and hope if it will become a sleeper hit. The ingredients are there: relatively low level of hype, great reviews, no DLC bullshit. Hopefully sales will pick up and make a point, but I know that’s not really how the industry works nowadays…

  4. Fnord73 says:

    Someone should exterminate their marketing department with fire. If they had waited three weeks they could have caught the BF1 rebound wave.

    • vahnn says:

      This is how I feel. So many people are going to be bored with BF1 pretty quickly. I’ve been completely ignoring CoD this year, but I imagine it will be like every other CoD I’ve purchased: Trying to recapture the wonder of CoD2 and Modern Warfare, and getting exactly that more-of-the-same, then realizing that’s exactly why I hate. It’s old and boring and we’ve done it dozens of times now.

      TF2 could have brought a lot of the people leaving those games and cleaning the bitter aftertaste with some fresh gameplay.

      • yusefsmith says:

        Vidya games remain on the shelf for more than three weeks without spoiling.

        • that_guy_strife says:

          Except when people get bored of BF 1, TF 2 will be off the frontpages. Shame, too, as TF 2 looks like a way better game than either BF 1 or CoD-whatever-it-is-this-year.

          • Unclepauly says:

            Better than BF1? Is you crazy?

          • Flatley says:

            Call of Duty: Infinite Call of Duty: Infinite

          • Premium User Badge

            DelrueOfDetroit says:

            Are you Call of Duty: Infinite and you went through the door that goes into Call of Duty: Infinite’s mind?

        • MisterFurious says:

          Yeah, but the attention span of the average gamer is about three days. If a game isn’t great from day one, people forget about it and move on to the next thing to come along.

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        I’ve just finished playing CoD and CoD2, and honestly, I felt the first one was the better game. CoD2 seemed to be the beginning of all the things I dislike about modern CoD (mainly the ‘infinite spawning enemies until you cross the invisible line’, and ‘wait for the NPC to open the door for you’, but regenerating health is a bit weird).
        Is CoD2 regarded as the better one then?

        • vahnn says:

          I don’t know, I guess I was referring to multiplayer. I never played the campaigns for any of the CoD games, except for CoD3 on PS2, and I hated it.

  5. Premium User Badge

    AutonomyLost says:

    I’m loving this game. Thanks for the full WIT, Adam. Glad you enjoyed it so much.

  6. FurryLippedSquid says:

    There’s every chance this will be a word of mouth, drip-feed of a game, creating the eventual sales they needed rather than an immediate meteor strike. I’m entirely sure they didn’t expect stellar sales in such an odd choice of a sales window.

  7. Faults says:

    It really is a wonderful game. I’m doing terribly at the multiplayer, but it’s one of those rare games where even if you suck at it, it’s still fantastic fun. I (almost unbelievably) do not regret dropping £50 on it at all.

  8. Flatley says:

    Well I can say that two weeks ago this game wasn’t even on my radar, but I finally decided today that I’d pick it up after all, thanks primarily to RPS but assisted by all the other great reviews this is getting. “Analysts” are predicting that it will sell “only” 6 million copies; might as well make that 6 million and one.

  9. Raoul Duke says:

    Titans don’t feel like an end-goal, leaving those who don’t manage to call one feeling left out of the fight

    I don’t get it – in the first game, I would typically have half a dozen titan…falls per MP game. Is that no longer the case?

    And it sounds like the titan vs human power imbalance is significantly reduced, which is a shame.

    Still, exciting to read such a positive reaction. I thought the original was a good game murdered by terrible commercial decisions, so hopefully this one gets it all right.

    • crazyd says:

      No, you must be just misremembering. There’s no way you got that many Titanfalls in a round in the original, matches are pretty short (10 to 15 minutes). You might see 3, or maybe 4, but even that means you are losing your Titan an awful lot.

      Titans are still really powerful against pilots. Pilots have a chance to fight back, but they really need to catch a Titan unawares or be very mobile. I one shot pilots all the time.

  10. Person of Interest says:

    The August beta tests on consoles received a lot of negative player feedback, and judging from the breadth of the criticism, I didn’t expect the Titanfall team’s last-minute tweaks to make a big difference, so I wrote off the game in my mind.

    I wish the beta tests were available on PC. Instead I must wait for a free weekend. But pre-release open betas seem like good advertising, whereas free weekends soon after a game’s launch are considered a “sign of trouble”…

  11. Henas says:

    Such a shame it’s dead on PC in the Oceania region (only 1000 players at peak times). I really did enjoy the first one until the DLC segregation occurred.

    EA should have backed BF1 to not be a flop and put TF2 in a different release window.

    • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

      Oh, what, hang on, is this TF2 now? Where’s the abbreviation police when you need them, surely that’s Team Fortress 2 forever? Wish developers would think about this before naming games, it only takes a Google search

  12. UncleLou says:

    They should sell the campaign separately, at a reasonable price. My days of paying too much for single-player content are over.*

    Selling the single-player separately would also make people realize there is single-player content at all. Outside from a few “hardcore” readers of gaming websites, it is seen purely as a mp shooter, whereas even BF1 is bought for its campaign(!)

    *I’ll happily pay full price for games where single-player is the focus, don’t get me wrong. But I won’t pay 60 EUR for a mp game with a bolted-on single-player game, even if it’s good.

  13. N'Al says:

    Any comparison/ contrast to be made of this game’s campaign to 2016’s other better-than-expected SP campaign – Doom?

    • Vandelay says:

      Have a read of the article specifically about the SP campaign. Not huge amounts of comparison, although Adam does say it isn’t quite as good, but not far off.

      • N'Al says:

        I did read that one, yeah, unfortunately not much more in it than what you said.

        Who knows, maybe there’s not much to it than: both FPS, both sci-fi, both surprisingly good. Just wondering, is all.

      • Adam Smith says:

        It’s a very different kind of campaign – DOOM figures out its rhythm early on and sticks with it, adding new beats along the way. Titanfall has a great flow but interrupts it with fresh ideas that change things up on a regular basis.

        I prefer DOOM, partly because it’s a longer, meatier thing and I’ve been happy to replay it at higher difficulty, but they’re not directly comparable in a lot of ways. Ideally, they’d both exist. And they do!

    • Menthalion says:

      I like it way more than Doom, even though it’s campaign is shorter. Doom is very formulaic and repetitive, with it’s constant backtracking for keys and clearing areas in arena fights being the only actions you perform to get on with the ‘story’.

      In Titanfall 2 I was really living the story, which is such a big difference. There’s new gameplay and story mechanics in every chapter, not just one or two new mobs and weapons to perform the very same tasks with.

      A shame it’s a bit short, but I couldn’t be bothered with Doom after some time, and will remember the Titanfall ending for quite some time.

  14. polecat says:

    This sounds great! One thing – glowing review, shouldn’t it have an RPS Recommended badge?

  15. Robomonk says:

    I would have love it if they made this into an open world game with optional co-op multiplayer. Imagine roaming blasted lands, ruins, forested zones, desert regions, etc – you and your mech buddy are hired for various jobs, like protecting travellers, miners and farmers. You’re like a ronin. Sometimes, you can find parts to fix or upgrade your mech and your suit.

    Eventually, in the story you might need to band together with other characters and their mechs to take down powerful warlords. I don’t care how derivative or unrealistic that is : D

  16. shadow9d9 says:

    Small player counts with no private servers means no community. Just tons of running around like headless chickens. Not interested in that for a multiplayer team fps. TF1 died quickly for a reason.

  17. MyrddinE says:

    One of the few games that EA has released that make me regret boycotting them. Ahh well.

  18. Anvilfolk says:

    Yeah, I avoid EA, but I have decided to use my purchases to reward positive behaviour. In this instance? A really good game, a great (though short) campaign, and no DLC madness? Went for it. Finished the campaign in one sitting, going to bed later than I should’ve, and can’t wait to get home today to play some more MP.

    The SP campaign really is rather good. It gets a little unfocused at times, with too many ships and names that are essentially meaningless (or I might just not remember anything from TF1’s campaign?), though it managed to give you a sense of awe and scale at times. The mechanics Adam refuses to talk about deserve full games based around them – they really are that good.

    The four or so matches that I played in MP were fast, furious, tactical, skill-based, and FUN.

    If you have the monetary privilege to do so, I’d recommend rewarding this positive step by buying the game and playing it. I plan on letting EA know exactly why they got this purchase. Also, buy it because I want MP to stay alive for as long as possible! ;)

  19. vahnn says:

    Why isn’t there an RPS network in TF2?!

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>