Peering out the tiny window that my drop pod provides me, I hurtle through the planet Typhon’s atmosphere, the comms are going crazy with chatter. There’s so many things going on all at once around me and I haven’t even hit the planet yet, but I try to remember how much faith Captain Lastimosa had in me during our training session. He’s really seemed to have taken me under his wing lately and I’m not really sure why, there are far more qualified guys to me all around, and yet he still seems to think that I’ll be a pilot like him any day now. My drop pod is attempting to stabilize as I get closer to the planet, almost time to get into some real action, finally. I’ll be able to prove to everyone that I can take charge when I need to and that the IMC will rue the day that they messed with my unit. Drop pod doesn’t really seem to be slowing down that much though, I don’t think I should hit the ground going this fast.
Update; definitely wasn’t supposed to hit the ground going that fast, I can’t quite tell which end of my pod is up and which is down, and I’m not quite sure what’s going on outside. I also kind of want to puke, I feel like a fish that got pick out of water and then slammed on the ground, but I better get out of this pod now, I’m a sitting duck. I clamber out of the pod and let everything adjust, bullets whiz by my head going in all directions, drop ships are zipping overhead, and the whole jungle feels like it’s on fire. I barely make it ten steps before seeing another rifleman get mashed into paté by an incoming drop pod and all I can really think is “Well, at least I ain’t that guy.” I don’t know where the hell our backup is or where Captain Lastimosa is, but one thing is for sure, this ain’t a training pod anymore.
The opening moments of Titanfall 2‘s campaign shows us exactly what was missing from the first title, some real narrative. I mean, yes, we knew that we were missing the single-player campaign, but I know that for me, personally, I didn’t really expect much out of the one that we got in the sequel. I saw the trailers and thought “Yeah, okay, you’re the pilot, your titan is your buddy, and you fight a bunch of other titans and after a few hours, never play the campaign again.” Boy, was I mildly right but also kind of wrong at the same time, I think I was just a bit too cynical about it at first, because, you know it’s EA. The campaign from the first Titanfall was more or less a slap-dash attempt to throw in another mode in the game and was frankly a huge disappointment. It was just multiplayer matches with some extra dialogue and one kinda cool cutscene after the last mission, and that was pretty much it, it was underwhelming at best. Now that we’ve got Titanfall 2, and a real single-player campaign, is it really good enough to make up for the last game?
If you couldn’t tell by the first two paragraphs, I really liked the campaign and all of the awesome set pieces and action that it had to offer. The planet Typhon is a gorgeous place, albeit pretty dangerous for Jack Cooper and his new best buddy, BT-7274, more commonly known as BT. From the very first mission of the game you’re connected to BT and have to help each other every step of the way. You’ve gotta go scrounge for Titan batteries for him to power him back up after he got his big, shiny ass handed to him by the Apex Predators, a group of mercenary pilots helping the IMC. After getting him one battery, he powers back on, but still can’t actually go anywhere, and needs one more battery to do anything more than talk to you through your helmet.
The goofy little quips that you can choose to share with BT just tickle me every time I hear one of the, I don’t know what archetype to put them into, but it’s adorable. One moment, they’re back-to-back cutting down waves of enemy Titans, Spectres, Reapers, and IMC soldiers, and saving each other’s skins (or metal plates, in BT’s case). Then, the next moment, you’re given some dialogue choices to share with BT and some of them are actually pretty funny, they break up the action really well. I won’t spoil any of them, as it kind of ruins it to hear them ahead of time, but they were some of my favorite parts of the campaign, and BT actually has some really good, memorable quotes in the game, props to his voice actor.
The main, overarching story above Jack and BT is kind of just space-war mumbo jumbo stuff, bad guys have a super weapon that could destroy a planet, you’re the only one that really knows about it, you have to stop them. It’s just enough to hold the game together and make it cohesive enough to drive you through from chapter to chapter. I also really expected the characters to be really boring and transparent and for the action to be the forefront of the game, but actually, the characters are kind of likable. The main characters, Jack and BT are, as I said before, just adorable together, and even Captain Lastimosa who (spoilers) doesn’t live past the first real mission is established decently until then. All of the mercenaries that you face off against over the course of the campaign are established usually a little bit into their respective levels, they kind of remind me of the robot masters from the Megaman games. In the way that you fight them and then usually shortly after unlock the same abilities as them, and the fact that they’re all pretty fun to fight. Most of the regular titans are just kind of cannon fodder that are only difficult because you usually have to fight two or three at the same time. The boss titans are fun because they challenge your ability to control BT and use all of his abilities to their fullest, and they’ve got their own little quips they throw at your here and there.
The action sequences and cutscenes themselves are also great, never breaking from the first-person view, watching BT duke it out with other titans and other enemies is awesome. The world in the campaigns just feels so alive, especially when you’re in the busier levels where it’s more than just you and BT. When Militia forces are fighting alongside you, you can see them duking it out with the IMC in close-quarters combat, titans beating the crap out of each other, AI helping each other, it’s awesome to be around. It’s like being in a Michael Bay movie where he did the special effects, but someone who’s actually competent did everything else. With some story elements very much breaking up the plot just when you though it might get a little stale, it’s refreshing, even though it’s roughly 5 hours long.
The gameplay translates well into the single-player mode because the level design is extremely well-done, every level tests your abilities to function while on the move, especially later. You’ll need to be able to perform functions while flying through the air and sliding and wall running, unfortunately there’s no grappling hook in the campaign though (c’mon, we all wanted it). It would have been fun to use at a few points, although probably never needed, but the cloaking ability that you do have is also never really needed, to be honest. It does help when you need to recover health or get behind and enemy, but you could go through pretty much the whole game without ever touching your ability, save for one level-specific ability that you get. Titanfall is still the kind of high-speed first-person shooters, and it’s easy to see how Call of Duty has drawn from some of its elements such as the double-jump, wall running, and other abilities.
The multiplayer, of course, is where the game shines, but also where it still has some things to learn. The burn card system is gonzo, and in its place is a more traditional killstreak system, once you’ve killed enough enemies, you get some kind of additional assistance. This ranges from Tick bombs to sentry turrets, to amping all of your weapons for a short time, and of course, when that same meter fills up, you get your titan. I’ll just say the part about the multiplayer that I don’t like as much as last time, you are weaker now, you can’t take as much damage, and neither can your titan. If the titans in the first game were made out of titanium, then the titans in this game are made out of really wet plywood, but they’re still strapped with the same cannons and missile launchers as before, plus even more guns and attachments. The time to kill is much shorter now, and while I have gotten used to it, it’s a bit jarring going from the first game to this one. That, and the way that rodeos work now is better and worse, if that makes sense. With the new battery system, you can rip out an enemy titan’s battery and stick in in a friendly one or your own to bring back some of its shields. You can’t just hop on them and shoot into their exposed core anymore, which is a bummer because that was always so much fun to do and made you feel more badass as a pilot. I don’t think this change will turn anyone away, but personally I thought that the old rodeo system suited the game’s action-oriented gameplay more.
Now, rather than having titan classes like you did before, you can unlock the 6 new titans and minority tweak each of them in different ways to fit your play style. You won’t be able to change their guns or their abilities, but you can give them an extra dash or a nuclear ejection, or a faster charging core, small stuff like that. This is a welcome change from the frankly bland 3 titans that we got in the first game, because now there’s a clear difference between every titan and they’re all fun to play as. Some titans, like the Scorch, take a bit more skill to do well with, needing to employ the use of all of the skills it has together to take enemies down. Other titans, however, like the Legion or Ion are more just about laying down to bullets into your enemy and keeping the heat on them, just kind of hoping that they blow up before you do. The Tone seems to be a little bit overpowered right now, with a pretty big magazine in the 40mm cannon and only needing three hits to be able to unleash a missile barrage, it can take on multiple titans at once with ease. With future updates and free DLC, different things will almost certainly be nerfed or adjusted to even the playing field (because every match is like 8 Tones, 2 Legions, a Ronin, and one of the other three titans).
The game, of course, has all sorts of new weapons and abilities for people to choose from, but something that’s kind of sad is two of the weapon classes. Nobody really wants to snipe in this game, and the heavy primary weapons like the Cold War go pretty much untouched, like I seriously haven’t seen a single person use one of them, ever. I didn’t even use them in the campaign because they… well, they suck, they really suck, they’re slow, and by the time you’ve fired, whatever you were aiming at is long gone. I almost wish we had just gotten more shotguns or assault rifles or something, because they’re just collecting dust on the menu, no one is going to use them.
What I like the most about Titanfall 2 is that there’s enough combinations of guns, ordnance, abilities, and titans to accommodate everyone that plays. I have a class that’s comfortable for every map, small or big, and it feels rewarding to finally come up with a class the flows nicely together against enemy players. The game feels rewarding, and although it doesn’t have as much in terms of customization that, say, Infinite Warfare has, cosmetically, it’s still good. Titanfall 2 deserves people’s attention, because in a sea of Call of Duty’s and Battlefields, Titanfall feels like a breath of fresh air, like Respawn really, really cares about the people that play their games. They took a lot of criticism during the open beta for the game, and they fixed pretty much all of the problems, to my knowledge, and fixed the DLC woes of the first game. Rather than creating a rift between people that don’t have DLC and people that do have it, they’re just taking the Halo 5 approach and making all of it free, which I guess makes it less DLC and more just updates. I highly suggest Titanfall 2 to anyone that’s trying to still figure out which of the fall shooters to buy, Respawn totally deserves your money, they’re doing a good thing with Titanfall and I want to see more of it in the future.
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