Titanfall is one of those classic examples of a game which sort of made it. You know the ones. The kind driven by hype culture, pushed forwards by advertising, and did prove to be genuinely good in the end, but lacked the kind of staying power to become a true classic.
By comparison, Respawn seems to have seriously sat down and examined their previous creation to produce Titanfall 2. It’s the same kind of beast as the previous game, but there’s a determined effort to flesh out the qualities which were found lacking in the previous title. The most obvious of these is a vastly better single player campaign, which offers greater insight into the world as a whole, and the gigantic mechs in this war. Having been forced to take control of one thanks to the death of its pilot, the inexperienced Cooper finds himself joined with BT, an emotionally blind titan who is obtuse to his sarcasm and quips.
Oddly, while certainly burying itself in clichés and suffering from some staggeringly poor dialogue at times, the campaign proves to be surprisingly engaging. Predictable as it might be, the characters themselves prove to be well rounded, likable and with a definitive character arc and it offers vastly better insight into this universe than prior lore. Plus you have the added fun of scenery-chewing villains worthy of an 80s action movie.
Another key component which was definitely improved were the map designs and progression options. While the core gameplay itself remains unchanged from its processor, maps now range from alien cities to destroyed metropolises, with a multitude of game modes which make far better use of the titans. Bounty Hunt remains one stand-out example, which turns into a “smash and grab” affair where you hoard money taken from downed foes. It’s enough to get your hooked again, and with far more functional and cosmetic character customisation options, there is much more of a sense that you’re working towards something.
This is ultimately the same game as before with a few choice alterations, but that was really what Titanfall needed, building upon the strong backbone of its predecessor to offer a greater experience. With multiplayer providing the kind of chaotic and manic fun of past Halo games, and the campaign proving to be a fun, adventurous outing even if it does stick to tried-and-true storytelling ideas more often than it should. If you’re looking for something wholly new or revolutionary, you’re not going to find it here. If you’re after a ludicrously fun FPS, you’ll find few better options this year.
TITANFALL 2 / DEVELOPER: RESPAWN ENTERTAINMENT / PUBLISHER: ELECTRONIC ARTS / PLATFORMS: MICROSOFT WINDOWS, XBOX ONE, PLAYSTATION 4 / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW