What do you get when you take an all-time great single-player campaign, and an excellent multiplayer mode but then release your first-person shooter in between the behemoth IPs that are Call of Duty and Battlefield? Sadly, the answer is an absolute gem of a game, one of the best of the generation, that is almost entirely overlooked by the public. Titanfall 2 is one of the better shooters ever made, and with solid post-launch support, it is still great 5 years after its 2016 launch. Here is our review of Titanfall 2.
The original Titanfall released for Xbox and PC back in 2013 and was lauded for its fast-paced mix of on-foot pilot-based combat and its innovative Mech call-ins that completely changed things up. The main issue with the game was the lack of any single-player content. There was a surprisingly OK story built into the MP modes, but it was always a 2 team competitive match with audio that played out as you fought. Titanfall 2 remedies this with a long, meaty, and incredible campaign. It may start with a bit of a flat intro where it attempts to build up the legend of “the pilot”. He is pretty much a really fast, good at aiming human who wears a cool helmet and gets to pilot a Titan. Once the story gets going properly though, it’s damned good. I will admit that the villains sound like they’re directly out of a C-tier action movie, but the dynamic between bland hero man Jack Cooper and friendly Titan BT is the heart of the game.
The layout of the campaign gives me heavy Half-life 2 vibes in the sense that each level feels like a hand-crafted piece full of sites and mechanics that are only found within each one separately. This is a futuristic space war and the technology on hand for colonization of distant planets feels well thought out. One incredible level takes place in a factory where pre-fabricated living spaces are being made through an automated system. You’ll ride through gigantic slabs that are bare on one side but full of grass, homes, and other pieces of civilization on the other. Perhaps the most iconic, and I’ll try not to spoil it, is a level that focuses on a wrist-mounted device that lets you travel between two distinct points of time at will and it is one of the better levels in a first-person campaign of all-time.
Tools of Destruction
In both SP and MP you will play firstly as a Pilot. Equipped with jump jets and a super cool helmet you’ll be wall-running and double-jumping in no time. The game promotes frenetic combat and adding in a slide that keeps your momentum going as you use the various tools (including an excellent grappling hook) makes the game even faster than its predecessor once you get the hang of it. There is a wide variety of weaponry that is a mix of ballistic and energy-based. A key to the competitive MP is the anti-titan weaponry which focuses on heavy hitters to help you deal at least a little damage while stuck on foot.
In the campaign, there is a perfect mix of ground and Titan-based combat, and MP operates on a timer-based system where successfully killing enemies or capturing objectives reduces the cooldown of when you can call your titan out. The most talented players can use the new battery system to repair their Titan, and if a match is lopsided enough I’ve called in a titan 30 seconds into a fight and never lost them the entire round. The servers are holding up well with roughly 1,000 people online most of the times I’ve checked in on the game lately.
There are also several throwable weapons such as basic frag and electric smoke grenades, electric and flame-throwing stars, and my favorite is a satchel charge that you detonate remotely. This is paired with a suite of abilities you trigger with your Left Bumper including the aforementioned grappling hook, cloaking ability, holographic decoy, and more. The gameplay is just incredibly satisfying, though I do find that the back paddles on the elite controller are necessary as things move quickly and you need to be able to aim while doing anything.
If there is one issue with the game for me it is that the PvP is always so intense that I routinely felt exhausted after playing for a few hours. It never slows down, and the matchmaking was so fair at launch that every game was a sweaty fight right to the end. Thankfully, the other modes are very much not that, though they can be quite tough on higher difficulties.
Post Launch Support and Titan Variety
One of my favorite additions post-launch has been the return of the Frontier Defense Mode from the first game. This is an up to 4 player co-op PvE mode which is set up like a tower defense type of game. You have a thing you must keep from getting hit, and there will be hundreds of AI opponents throughout the multiple rounds of engagement, and they come in a wide variety of types. From annoying tiny flying drones to all the various Titan configurations, there is enough to keep you entertained as you progress through the per Titan leveling unlock system.
There are 8 types of Titans in Titanfall, and I’ll list them here: Tone, Northstar, Monarch, Scorch, Ronin, Ion, Legion, and the campaign only Vanguard. Each has their own main weapon, abilities, and ultimate which are all cooldown based. This is quite a different system from the first game, but I’m one of the few that seemed to like it. There is a wide variety of cosmetics in the game for the PvP and Frontier Defense modes and I never felt pressured into paying for it. The unlock system was fair and varied enough for me personally.
If you have Game Pass Ultimate then you have this game. It runs flawlessly on Xbox Series consoles and the campaign is awesome. Things get even better if you have a few friends interested as well because Frontier Defense is something that I still play often to this day. Going back through the campaign for this review has reminded me of just how much I love this game, and I hope it inspires at least a few of you to finally give it a go, and with Game Pass Ultimate offering it up at no extra cost…. Why not?