Respawn Entertainment was first founded in 2010 by Jason West and Vince Zampella, two key developers in the Call of Duty franchise. They were responsible for games such as the Call of Duty Modern Warfare (2007) and its sequel Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 (2009), both of which received critical acclaim and were played for years after their initial release. After leaving Infinity Ward the two began to work on their next title, Titanfall.
Titanfall (2014) was Respawn Entertainment’s first game and for what it was it was considered innovative and exhilarating. Titanfall (2016) was an Xbox One launch title that received generally favorable reviews. One of criticisms of the game was that there was no single-player campaign, and that enemy A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) were too unintelligent, and that there was a lack of private lobbies and multiplayer modes.
Two years later, we are now given Titanfall 2 (2016), and after having a long running reputation of listening to community feedback, the former Infinity Ward founders Jason West and Vince Zampella have once again achieved greatness.
Titanfall has always been known for multiplayer action and the smooth transition from being a foot soldier to being a beast on the battlefield while being inside a robotic exoskeleton known as a Titan. After much polish and careful thought, Titanfall 2 feels more balanced than its predecessor, more smoother and even more monumental in scale.
As I said before, Titanfall has always been known for being multiplayer, that is the main attraction here. The first Titanfall (2014) did actually have a story, but in order to see the events that followed you would have to join a mission in progress with other players, so it was not considered a “campaign” which was one of the main critiques of the game.
Fortunately, Respawn Entertainment listened to community feedback and made a change. The story takes place in a fictional system of planets known as “The Frontier”. In a war between the IMC (Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation) and the Frontier Militia, you play as Jack Cooper, a Frontier Militia rifleman that is abandoned on an alien planet and is tasked with surviving IMC forces and the creatures that inhabit the enigmatic world. But before his mentor succumbs to his wounds by the hands of the IMC, Cooper is asked to take care of Lastimosa’s titan BT-7274 (BT for short). It is now up to them both to survive behind enemy lines, and flee from the IMC.
This is your basic first person shooter with basic maneuvering abilities such as sprinting, walking, and crouching, but despite the basic mechanics, Titanfall was designed to add more to the player’s abilities in combat and maneuverability. This is where Titanfall 2 (2016) truly shines, in fact, this is what it’s predecessor Titanfall (2014) was praised for. The concept of having two enemy teams using the environment to traverse in and around an opponent was something that made Titanfall (2014) such a unique experience. Each player (or pilot), must use proper timing and strategy to win. But Titanfall s nothing without its superb traversal mechanics, Titanfall’s idea for the “double jump” and “wall running” mechanics have only been polished, not changed since the release of the first game. Their idea for the “double jump” having only one boost, is meant to create balance between players, as is shown when the player “double jumps”, he or she must strategically time when to use it to get in order to their destination. The “wall running” mechanic also is perfectly balanced, because when you begin to wall run, the player will slow down, not continue to go the same speed. A new addition to the franchise is the sliding mechanic that gives the player the chance to slide for a short period of time depending on how fast the player was sprinting or in some cases how steep the environment is. Timing these three mechanics can create intelligent flanking strategies and can often lead to an escape route in a firefight.
Titanfall 2 (2016) balances out the amount of weapons a player can carry while playing, in the first game you were allowed to carry three weapons in total, an “anti-titan” weapon mainly used for dealing heavy damage to enemy titans, a primary weapon used for grunts and other enemy pilots, and a side arm also used for pilots and grunts. What was interesting about the first Titanfall (2014) was that both your primary and secondary weapons could be used to do damage to an enemy titan. The original mechanic was that the player would jump on top of the titan and pull out a part of its armor and would shoot this vulnerable part while holding onto the enemy players titan. There would be a damage meter showing the shield, and titan health meter. This has now been changed, now in Titanfall 2 (2016) you do hold on to the enemy titan, but instead of pulling off a piece of his armor, the player pulls out its battery core which deals significant damage to the titans health. Afterwards, you are now in possession of a battery core that you can use to restore some health to your teammates titans and can even restore some of your own titans health. The battery core serves as the “shield” mechanic from the first game, in Titanfall 2 (2016) there is no automatic shield meter in your HUD (Heads Up Display). It is only your titan’s health, the battery core gives you a shield meter once you enter your titan, or when you give it to teammates titan.
In the first Titanfall, a pilot and titan were equally matched but now in Titanfall 2 (2016), enemy titans are in fact more difficult to deal damage to on foot. The weapon loadouts have been altered, with the player only being allowed to have two weapons instead of three. Each weapon has a certain amount of empty bars below when it is equipped, this shows how many kills the player must achieve in order to level up that specific weapon. The enemy pilot is often the most sought out target, one enemy pilot counts for one bar, and once you have filled all empty bars your weapon levels up. Each time your weapon level increases, more bars are added. This is not an obnoxiously long-running mechanic that takes the player forever, in fact, it was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game. Each weapon has its leveling system, each time you level up you receive a “camo” or “perk” that you can use to further develop your loadout to your preference. Attachments for the player’s weapon can also be unlocked, most are very similar to Titanfall’s (2014) sights and scopes, the only sight changed are the iron sights in which most have a reflective glow that makes it easier to aim with. The other attachments have been polished and given unique styles, rather than being completely scrapped altogether. Throwables such as “frag grenades” and “satchel charges” make a return along with the signature “arc grenade” that is meant to stun enemies and titans. Three new additions to the franchise are the “electric smoke grenade”, “firestar” which is an incendiary shuriken that when properly used can deal significant damage to a pilot or titan. One iconic throwable in the game is known as the “gravity star”, a shuriken that pulls in surrounding enemies and projectiles before exploding. The “execution” feature has been improved and has expanded into multiple animations that eliminate the player in a cinematic way. There is a currency within the game that allows the player to unlock weapons, camos, throwables, or abilities for both titans and pilots early rather than ranking up until you have received that particular purchase or unlock by achieving the rank required. There are a total of 50 ranks the player can achieve, 50 being the highest and once the player has achieved the highest rank he or she is given the ability to start over.
One improved gameplay element to the title, are the “Tactical Abilities”. These abilities vary from a pulse blade that when thrown sends sonar signals revealing enemy positions for you or your teammates., to a grappling hook that helps you traverse the environment more efficiently and even engage the opposing team. The grappling hook by far is the most entertaining and has proven to be the most useful out of the bunch, all these abilities can help you engage an enemy pilot even help the player maneuver around or onto an enemy titan.
“Boost” are a new addition to the multiplayer aspect of the game, they give the player the chance to unlock a key combat or traversal boost, depending on which you choose. These “boosts” vary from sentry turrets designed to target pilots or titans only, a hologram projectile that mimics the player’s movements that is intended to throw off enemy players. These “boosts” are unlocked through time, through the “Titan Meter” which fills up through playing the game and engaging against enemy players or titans. Once a certain has been reached in the meter, you unlock the boost that you chose.
The titans in the game are not class based, each has a certain name and set of skills and abilities that makes each titan vary from the other. There are a total of six titan classes that have distinctive statistics such as speed and health. Learning each titan and knowing when to use them is key when trying to achieve victory for your team. Titans may be bigger and stronger than pilots, but they are vulnerable. The enemy players have the option to pick “anti-titan” weapons in order to deal significant damage to the player’s titan. When the player’s titan has dealt too much damage it becomes a “doomed” titan, in which the health bar goes down increasingly faster depending on how much damage you take after your original health meter disappears. You can either go out fighting, or eject in the air, and there are some occasions where two opposing players will eject at the same time, and when this happens it is possible to have a few seconds of aerial combat before landing When learning the titans, you may struggle but once you get a feel for how each titan works, you tend to pick your “go to” loadout when in a multiplayer session.
There are a plethora of modes within Titanfall 2 (2016), each with different objectives which give’s the game a lot of value. Luckily, Respawn Entertainment has announced that every map pack, new mode, or additional weapon will be free of charge.
Single Player Gameplay:
After receiving much criticism about how the Titanfall (2014) lacked a proper single player campaign. Respawn Entertainment decided to take the risk of trying there own version of a campaign.
Most abilities from multiplayer transfer over to single player. You do not unlock new weapons through ranking up, you tend to find most weapons and throwables in the environment. Your titan, BT can also find new titan weapons that give it the same class set of perks found in other titans in multiplayer. Some titan weapons are only found in the campaign such as the “Quad Cannon”, and rapid firing “XO-16 Chaingun”.
Combat in the campaign is very similar to multiplayer, you engage and traverse throughout each open environment. Locations vary, but unfortunately most “tactical abilities” used in order to maneuver around the environment in multiplayer do not appear. The only ability is the stealth cloak, an invisible cloak that is supposed to be a “stealth element” within the campaign, but it does not often prove useful. There is an ammo count for each weapon, and it can be refilled by finding ammo caches or by taking ammo off of fallen enemies that have the same weapon. Throwables are very hard to refill, most of the time you will be switching one out for the other. You tend to engage with IMC soldiers and titans, there are even boss battles with signature characters each with their own unique titan that the player must engage with. These are the boss battles of the game, and depending on the difficulty, can be a joy ride or a real challenge.
Puzzle sections also are a newcomer to the franchise and require the player to think fast and use the games traversal mechanics in order to survive. BT also helps with these sections, in fact, some of the most memorable parts of the campaign involve the protagonist Jack Cooper and his interactions with BT. Throughout the game, the player is able to choose a line of dialogue by pressing up or down on the D-Pad (Directional Pad) when the dialogue icon appears, it will show two lines of dialogue that the player can choose from and once the players choice is made, Jack Cooper speaks that line you chose. The narrative is excellently written and you tend like BT after awhile, the growing bond between the titan and pilot is at first ambiguous but after awhile they begin to become friendly allies.
- The traversal and maneuverability mechanics have been greatly improved, and have even been given new features such as sliding that makes everything so much more cinematic and smoother.
- Titan battles are a thrill in both the multiplayer and single player parts of the game. They are some of the most strategic large scale battles in any game.
- There is no steep learning curve, it is relatively easy to learn in just a few short hours.
- Everything is smooth, polished, and beautiful.
- All new weapons, titans, environments, and traversal mechanics are great new additions to the Titanfall franchise.
- BT is by far the most interesting character within the story.
- Puzzle sections are well designed and offer a good challenge
- Core elements of the game remain very similar to its predecessor Titanfall (2014) with very little change.
- Sound design is excellent.
- All animations are smooth and cinematic.
- Art design is amazing, all pilot and titan designs are unique and intriguing. Almost everything about the Titanfall universe is original and interesting.
- Single-player campaign set pieces are excellent, near the end of the story the final set piece is a chase sequence, and it is quite possibly one of the best chase sequences in any game.
- Quick, easy to join multiplayer sessions.
- Plenty of multiplayer modes that will keep you busy for a long time.
- Customization is even more enjoyable than its predecessor, Titanfall (2014).
- Leveling system is enjoyable and not a burden.
- All multiplayer maps are well designed and balanced.
- Every weapon, titan, or pilot ability is well balanced, nothing is overpowered.
- Very little frame rate issues, the game has excellent performance on all platforms considering the scale of each battle, and amount of detail within the game.
- Jack Cooper is a forgettable protagonist, there are some occasions where his interactions with BT are great but those occasions are far and few in between.
- Soundtrack does not stand out, in any way.
- Campaign is relatively short.
- Very little story within the campaign.
Final Score: 9.3/10
Respawn Entertainment has exceeded expectations by a milestone and has created an excellent game with memorable set pieces and a well-balanced multiplayer with some of the best cinematic moments in any game. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is forgettable and the campaign is relatively short and has very little story which is disappointing, but this is still a great game to try out.
Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC
October 28, 2016