Have You Played… Titanfall 2?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

Titanfall 2 [official site] changes little of the parkour-and-mechs formula from the first game, but it employs that formula within a singleplayer mode for the first time. It’s a brilliant level design showcase.

Pet theory: Valve were a game studio once ruled by level designers, now they’re a game studio ruled by system designers. That’s why they used to make first-person shooters and now they make card games. If you’re a level designer and you want to be involved in defining the player’s experience in a game, you go to Arkane and work on Dishonored or Prey, or, I think maybe you go to Respawn and work on whatever they’re doing after Titanfall 2.

Titanfall 2 has little story to speak of: there’s war, you’re in it, and you’re promoted at short notice to one of the super-soldiers with their own mech. Yours is called BT, and there’s some minor but winning buddy-movie stuff over the five hours it’ll take you to complete.

But it’s how often it changes things up through the level design that makes it memorable. Clamber across cliffs and into enormous crashed spaceships; double-jump across a battlefield that’s being constructed around you in a factory; wall-run along platforms suspended in frozen time; navigate a sci-fi laboratory across two timelines simultaneously, and more. It’s not particularly beautiful, but it’s never predictable. It introduces an idea, develops it a little, then throws it aside after half an hour so it can do something new. That’s great.

I’d comment on the multiplayer but I tried queuing in matchmaking and it never put me in a game.

32 Comments

  1. crazyd says:

    I’d comment on the multiplayer but I tried queuing in matchmaking and it never put me in a game.

    Unless there’s some serious connection issues on your end, I just can’t believe that. I’m still able to get games in under a minute, just about any time of the day.

    When we consider that you accidentally included details from Titanfall 2 multiplayer in your “Have you played…” for the original Titanfall yesterday, it makes this sound even less likely.

    • Bull0 says:

      It’s a big conspiracy to keep EA down! RPS are in the pocket of Big Pharma! Show us your birth certificate Graham!

    • aldo_14 says:

      Or he saw a video of TF2 and got it mixed up in his memory?

      FWIW I don’t have too many issues getting a game (although I only play Frontier Defence mode), but it does still entail 3+ minute waits most night. Not sure how much of that is because I normally squeeze in sessions about 11pm-1am, rather than player shortages.

    • emotionengine says:

      Regarding your second point, there are plausible explanations for that, as aldo_14 mentioned above. Adam also mentions the battery thing in his original WIT on this very site.

      But you’re right about about the first point. Claiming to have tried queuing for multiplayer but “never being put in a game” – while presumably an accurate description of the author’s personal experience – is incredibly misleading and also an unfortunate claim to make, coming from one of the writers of a site as well frequented and respected as RPS. I could regale you with anecdotal accounts of how I never have or had any trouble finding a game in over 400 hours of playing in the nine months since I’ve had it, but don’t take it from me, take it from the devs themselves who attest that player counts are higher now than they have ever been in the game’s lifecycle: link to ea.com

      “Since the release of Monarch’s Reign in May, we’ve seen our playerbase increase every month. Currently we have over a million players across all platforms each month playing multiplayer, and we’re expecting August to be our biggest month of 2017.

      – The average time spent per player is currently the highest it’s been in the last 6 months.

      – Since the launch of Frontier Defense and Titanfall 2 being added to the Vault for EA access members and the release of Ultimate Edition, we’ve seen average daily active users increase by nearly 50% in the last month.”

      Alice, bless her, also mentioned this fact in her news post in July when the devs first broke the news. (Do you read Alice’s posts, Graham? You’re missing out if you don’t, she’s boss.)

      It is unfortunate that these highly anecdotal and unsubstantiated “the multiplayer is dead, no one is playing” statements are thrown around so easily in places like reddit and yer random gaming rant forums, but seeing such inaccuracies casually thrown in here on this most venerable of PC-gaming havens is most disheartening, as the myth is regurgitated and the issue of low player counts can become a de facto self-fulfilling prophecy.

      I am sorry to say that there is no excuse for such lack of care and diligence. (Remember, this site went the extra mile of updating the recent Absolver review with an account of the online play experience a week after release, which I found most helpful and exemplary). You owe it to this wonderful game, to your faithful readers, and most of all to yourself to be more diligent.

      EDIT: I failed at html

      • emotionengine says:

        The meat of my rant above is directed at the author of the article (Graham Smith) and not the OP of the comment I originally replied to (crazyd) but I hope context makes it clear who I am addressing when switching “you’s”.

        Also, while I’m here, this insightful analysis/commentary because relevant/awesome:

        link to youtu.be

      • Premium User Badge

        Graham Smith says:

        Please reign in your horses. I wrote, “I tried queuing in matchmaking and it never put me in a game.” I didn’t speculate as to why. I made no comment about the population count. I didn’t call the multiplayer dead. This post poses no threat to your obviously beloved game or its multiplayer, despite my experience obviously being different from yours, or from the marketing put out by the developers.

        • emotionengine says:

          Fair enough, I appreciate the reply. But I hope you see how your statement, coming from your position, without a qualifier or further elaboration, can be easily construed to imply that it is representative of the (current) online experience at large. Especially in the context of the debate around whether the game has “failed” due to less than expected sales perfomance/lack of players. I feel it would have helped if you had at least added a few words to elaborate, e.g. “… when I tried matchmaking (a few times?) at launch/a few months ago/something something, etc.”

    • Premium User Badge

      Graham Smith says:

      Do you mean the dedicated servers thing? I meant TF1 had no user run dedicated servers, is all.

      I have no connection problems.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Godwhacker says:

    It was pretty good! The dialogue and story were bobbins- the main character seemed like a going on holiday on his own for the first time rather than any sort of soldier- but the level design was fun. Couldn’t get into the multiplayer though, it’s been ages since I’ve played any of the Call of Dutys and I couldn’t be arsed to spend two weeks playing it to get my reactions up to speed again.

    • Kollega says:

      The dialogue and story are most definitely NOT bobbins. After ten years of bland, samey military shooters where everyone communicates exclusively in variations of “Oscar Mike” and “cleared hot”, Cooper and BT are shockingly human and relatable. Even though one of them is a big war robot rather than a human.

      In fact… I am going to say something EXTRA HERETICAL here: Cooper and BT are, to me, more relatable and more believable than the cast of Half-Life 2. Yes, even Alyx. Part of it may be that Cooper and BT are together for most of the game, and actually talk to eachother… but honestly, they’re still some of the best shooter characters since HL2.

      And, side note: it might be that Cooper doesn’t talk like “any sort of soldier” because in-story the Frontier Militia is… well, a guerrilla force that’s more than a little lax on “proper” military standards. Have you seen Barker and his perpetually-present flask of moonshine, for one? :P

      • LordMidas says:

        Yes, Kollega. I logged in especially to praise your prose. The story was great making friends with you mega mech and save planets from being destroyed. Awesome stuff.

        I’m on my 3rd playthrough (Master) and it’s a wonderful blast.

  3. KillahMate says:

    Playing it right now, as a matter of fact, since it’s recently been added to Origin Access so I can play and finish the singleplayer for €4. Might play the Battlefield 1 campaign afterwards, supposedly it’s not bad. Good value for money, that.

    Titanfall 2 has nice pacing and good movement (somewhat bland guns so far though), but the thing that truly impressed me is the Adaptive Resolution setting in the graphics options. It really works. My PC is exactly the lowest recommended configuration, and the game runs with whichever graphics settings I like and modifies the resolution smoothly to match. Also the game picks up on all the custom settings my GeForce is capable of, so I also turned on Adaptive Sync and now I’ve got a practically brand new game running on my ancient PC at a smooth near-to-60fps constantly, with all the settings at mid-to-high and my GPU simply doing its best at all times. All games should have this.

    • Ghostwise says:

      All games should have this.

      *Especially* Windows Solitaire.

      • KillahMate says:

        Well, yes – I submit that Solitaire should indeed be running at 60fps or more at all times. If it takes adaptive rendering to do it, jolly good.

    • Chromatose says:

      Yeah, adaptive resolution is something I wish all games would do.
      Being able to play Titanfall 2 at 4k / constant 60fps with everything maxed out on my 1070 was pretty great.

      Of course, for the most part it’s not *actually* 4k, but it’s practically indistinguishable. I really hope Destiny 2 ends up shipping with adaptive resolution, given that they have it implemented on PS4, and already have a resolution scale slider in the game.

    • Ent says:

      BF1’s Campaign? Well the prologue and the first level are great, but the rest of them are rubbish, no level design at all. It almost feels like they throw you into a mp map and that’s it.

  4. SaintAn says:

    I got it recently and it’s not very good. Not sure why so many people were saying it was. The only part that has actually been any good was the time jump stuff. Weird how Bungie could create a large awesome epic campaign along with their incredible multiplayer, but others can’t even all this time later even when they’re backed by one of the biggest gaming corporations.

    • BeardyHat says:

      I also didn’t really care for it. The only level I thought was really neat was the early one with the assembly line; other than that, I got frustrated at how fast everything moved and how I was obligated to do wall jumping and all the “cool moves.”

      I appreciate that some people liked it, but it just wasn’t for me. I’ve had immensely more fun with DUSK, but maybe that’s just because I’m getting old.

      • KillahMate says:

        how I was obligated to do wall jumping and all the “cool moves”

        Well, yeah – that’s how movement in the game works. It’s like saying you didn’t like that you felt obligated to jump in Super Mario. Presumably you’re not a fan of that kind of movement in FPSs, but we can’t fault the game for emphasizing its core mechanic.

  5. JakeOfRavenclaw says:

    It’s a little too slight for its own good, unfortunately. Villains who seem like they’re going to be significant show up and get killed off half an hour later, and the overarching story barely exists. Still, the pacing of what is there is near perfect. The bit with the smart pistol at the end in particular is a glorious moment of catharsis, and the assembly line level and the huge titan vs titan battle were great setpieces. Just wish there had been a bit more to it.

  6. Oakreef says:

    Wonderful game. Scratched itches that hadn’t been satisfied since Half-Life 2 and Crysis. As soon as I finished it I restarted it again the next day on a higher difficultly.

  7. Oasx says:

    It was a good game, it just needed a lot more titan gameplay. Something like 90% of the game happens outside of the titan, and while it is definitely fun, the same old walljump levels get very old after a while

  8. devonair says:

    I loved the campaign in this game, but GREATLY preferred the multiplayer in Titanfall 1 (granted, that’s all there really was in the first game). The changes that were made to the different Titan classes and Titan-specific abilities felt overly cartoonish, and I can’t believe they STILL didn’t add splitscreen mulitplayer — meaning my wife never even bothered to pick up the controller on this version. …Granted, it didn’t help that her favorite FPS, Black Ops 2, showed up on the backwards compatibility list around the same time. =P

    • Spuzzell says:

      Don’t pick up a controller in an FPS.

      If you pick up a controller in an FPS… you’re gonna have a bad time.

      (I’m very much looking forward to Fractured but Whole)

  9. icarussc says:

    I bought this game on RPS’ recommendation and totally loved the singleplayer. I have the world’s lousiest internet connection, so MP was a no-go for me from the start, and I have to say my very biggest disappointment was no bot support! If it had bots, I’d still be playing. Why are bots not standard in all MP shooters?

    • AutonomyLost says:

      I agree; I think the option for MP bots would complement this game perfectly.

  10. racccoon says:

    no..

  11. liquidsoap89 says:

    jumping between timelines was incredibly cool, even though it felt like the most contrived idea ever.

    I never even tried playing multiplayer, that’s just not my jam.

  12. dozurdogbite says:

    no

  13. Premium User Badge

    The Almighty Moo says:

    I did, I really like it despite never having played the first and it still gets a lot of lay time with my friends and I becuase powering up your buddies while perched precariously on their titans with a battery and then dropping in your own to back them up is one of the best feelings in multiplayer gaming and I love it.

  14. AutonomyLost says:

    I’m in the middle of the campaign… still… at the moment. It’s fun but I only play like a mission a week.