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Titanfall 2 review

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Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Impressive, inventive solo campaign
  • Superb combat and movement mechanics
  • BT is an ET for the Modern Warfare generation
  • Excellent multiplayer improves on the original

Cons

  • Some ideas shuffled away before their time
  • Visuals are strong, but not the best you’ll see this year

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Key Features

  • Release date: October 28
  • Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
  • Genre: Shooter
  • Developer: Respawn Entertainment
  • Manufacturer: Electronic Arts
  • Review Price: £39.99

Available on Xbox One, PC, PS4 (reviewed on PS4, Xbox One and PC)

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I’ll admit it, I went in expecting Titanfall 2 to have a tacked-on single player campaign that awkwardly shoehorned the game's mechanics into a solo setting. I forgot about Respawn’s heritage. This is a campaign created by some of the brains that bought us the definitive CoD instalment – Modern Warfare – not to mention Call of Duty, Call of Duty 2 and Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. It sees those minds unleashed on a full campaign for the first time since Modern Warfare 2, and I get the sense that they’ve given it their all.

In fact, the big surprise is how rich and diverse the campaign is. You’d think Respawn had enough to get on with using just the building blocks of Titanfall: the super-mobile pilots, the hulking Titans, the war between corporate armies vs revolutionaries. Yet Titanfall 2 pulls in influences from Halo, Half Life 2 and Portal while hurling jungle planets, space dinosaurs, planet-destroying weaponry and time-travel into the mix. The end-result is an exceptional sci-fi shooter, out-classing Halo 5, Killzone 4: Shadow Fall and both Call of Duty: Black Ops III and Advanced Warfare when it comes to the single-player experience.

Related: Best Xbox One games 2016

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It makes the most of what made Titanfall special; it’s much-imitated, never-bettered movement mechanics and the colossal mechs that give the game its name. I’d defy you to name another FPS where jetpack-jumps, mantling, slides and wall-runs are handled so smoothly or with such high-speed grace, and the campaign is smart enough to focus its level design around these very mechanics, making you feel like the galaxy’s biggest badass.

From the first level you’ll find yourself hopping from clifftop to clifftop, racing across a vertical rock-face, using your sheer speed and vertical mobility to even the odds against large groups of enemies. By an hour or two in you’ll be tackling the kind of first-person platforming challenges you’d expect to see in a Mirror’s Edge or Portal, pulling off glorious chains of fluid jumps and runs to get you from one side of a vast manufacturing plant to another. It’s truly exhilarating stuff.

Titanfall 2

Not that the combat comes second-best. You can still sense Modern Warfare’s DNA in the power and weighty handling of Titanfall 2’s guns, while the AI on Hard mode hits a brilliant balance between being smart enough to give you a challenge, but not so smart that you can’t bring three guys down by wall-running past them and smacking them in the back with auto-shotgun fire in one lovely Matrix-like spin. I love the weapons, too, with assault rifles and beefy automatic shotguns backed up by electrically-charged SMGs, slow but potent sniper rifles, furious LMGs and magnetic grenade launchers and lightning-bolt rocket launchers. Just when I thought the Softball – a sticky-grenade launcher – might be hard to top, along came the two-shot; an elegant double-barrelled sniper rifle. Somehow, Respawn has built a lot of weapons that seem to cover the same spaces, yet imbued each one with its own personality.

As for the Titans, well, Respawn has played a blinder here, making your big Mech not just another weapon but your partner in a sci-fi buddy movie – a Brobot Bromance, if you will. It opens with you as a courageous militia rifleman being given Titan training, under the radar, by a legendary pilot. Don’t get too attached to your mentor, though. Within minutes he’s wasted, but not before passing over the neural link to his own Titan so that you can complete his final mission.

Related: Best PS4 games 2016

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At first, BT-7274 seems like a chunk of cold metal, all orders and protocols, no heart. Yet as you go on he and his new pilot develop a real bond – we even get semi-interactive conversations where you can opt for one of two responses by tapping up or down on the D-pad. You get separated and try to hook up, he’ll rescue you, you’ll rescue him and he’ll develop a rather charming (if a little scary) way of getting you from A to B. While I might have started the game feeling cynical about BT, I ended up feeling, well, about as touched as you can expect to be about a relationship between a soldier and a piece of futuristic military hardware. Respawn has managed to find a place where Steel Batallion and The Iron Giant meet.

When you’re not in BT-7274’s cockpit he’s usually providing guidance on where to go and what to do, while in some sections he can come to your assistance with the full force of his heavy weapons. And when you’re piloting, you have access to the kinds of weapons and moves you might remember from the original Titanfall, down to the ever-lovable vortex shield (sucks in incoming shells then spits them back out) and the four-way thrust manoeuvres.

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And while BT’s chassis can’t be modified, he can be customised on-the-fly with different loadouts, which you’ll collect at key points in the campaign. Once you can switch between Scorch, with its grenade launcher, thermal shield and wall of fire, to Ronin with a huge energy sword, stealth attacks and shotgun, you’ll be laughing. It’s hard to think of another sci-fi FPS beyond Halo that has this sense of scale.

For most shooters this would be enough, but Respawn’s enthusiasm for cramming ideas into Titanfall 2 goes further. A little later on I get a time-travel gadget, enabling you to switch between past and future settings of a level, each having their own dangers. This isn’t just brilliant for confusing and outflanking enemies, but also opens up some ingenious little platform-puzzles, where you’ll be switching periods with split-second timing to survive.

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Get through that, and Titanfall 2 introduces the Arc Tool; a device which can activate certain mechanisms to start or stop turbines or change the direction of a platform. You can even use it to create your own robot army. There are some fantastic set-piece battles too, both inside and outside of your Mech, with one that seems to update the fury of CoD2’s Omaha beach landing and another that has you leaping between assault-craft and battlecruisers while thousands of feet up in the air. This is spectacular, pulse-pounding stuff.

I could pick faults. There’s an argument that ideas are introduced to Titanfall 2 then abandoned too quickly, as if Respawn is saying ‘we’re done with that level and those mechanics, on to the next.’ The boss battles, against a bunch of sub-Metal Gear Solid mercenary weirdos, aren’t consistently great or challenging, with some taking ages to deal with, others going down without a struggle on the very first go. The visuals are mostly fantastic, despite being based on the ageing Source engine, with some gorgeous texture work and the kind of lighting you’d normally see in architectural renders. However, the close-ups and facial animation systems are relics from an earlier era. For a game that’s so powerful and cinematic for most of its running time, that’s a minor disappointment.

Related: Best PC games 2016

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On multiplayer, of course, Respawn is on safe ground. Personally, I didn’t think there was much wrong with the original’s modes or gameplay, and Titanfall 2 effectively gives us all the same good stuff, but tighter, more nuanced, more accessible and more refined.

There are, of course, new maps and new modes. The maps do a great job of covering the range of scales and game types, always balancing the needs of Pilots (safe interiors, fast-routes, good wall-running and rooftop-bouncing opportunities) with those of Titans (large spaces, Titan-sized cover, options for blasting sneaky Pilots cowering away inside). While there’s still a lot of slightly generic, future-industrial scenery, there’s also a wider variety of landscapes covered, too, from sci-fi towns under construction to canyons and remote research stations. It’s a whole lot easier to tell them apart.

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Mode-wise, the new Bounty Hunt mode is an obvious winner, augmenting the usual team-based action with the need to earn bounties by killing CPU-controlled troops and titans, then bank your earnings at the nearest deposit-point. It has a nice way of keeping the action focused in specific areas, and encouraging players to switch out of team-deathmatch behaviours in order to chase new targets, then back in to pick off easy kills or prevent the enemy deposits.

Amped Hardpoint actually improves on standard Hardpoint by making sticking around and guarding your hardpoints a more sensible, tactical choice. When spending extra time at a captured hardpoint ‘amps’ it for extra credits, you’re less inclined to run off and chase the next one. This in turn encourages conflict and makes for a tighter, tenser match. And while Pilots vs Pilots has its detractors, I actually found it a lot of fun, putting the focus firmly on your movement and run-and-gun skills, like a kind of CoD on steroids.

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Titanfall 2 also refines the dynamic between Titans and pilots. As a pilot you can still try to rodeo enemy Titans or take potshots at them with specialist weaponry, but there are new ways to help allied Titans, collecting batteries from the battlefield and ferrying them to your Mech-blessed friends. If the original sometimes left Titan-less pilots feeling they’d pre-ordered a gun for a gunfight but it had yet to be delivered, Titanfall 2 gives them more ways to make a difference.

Perhaps the biggest change, though, is the ditching of Titanfall’s rather generic Titan chassis and loadouts for a more distinctive set of Titan types, clearly steered towards different styles of play. Play the campaign, and you’ll already know that Scorch is a brute at close-quarters, that Ion is a little slow, but deadly, and that Northstar makes a formidable recon/sniper choice. You’ll also know what you’re up against when you see one storming towards you from the other side of the map. This simplifies the game a little, but you’ll still find a huge range of customisation options for your Titan – and an even greater range for your pilot. At times the range of weapons, perks and grenades can be bewildering, with more and more coming online as you level up. With time, you'll come to appreciate the depth of all Titanfall 2's options, and how they support almost any style of play.

Related: Battlefield 1 review

Titanfall 2

Some players might be disappointed that the old system of Burn Cards – collectible used-once perks you could play on your Pilot or Titan – has disappeared, but many of us found it confusing or simply forgot to use our Burn Cards once in battle. To make up, Titanfall 2 adds a new supercharged 'Boost' for each Titan, giving you what's basically an amped-up special attack provided you can survive long enough/score enough to fill the meter. It's just another example of how Titanfall 2 feels superficially very close to the original, but improves on it in ways that matter.

Verdict

Titanfall 2’s campaign is one of the best surprises of the autumn 2016 season; smart, superbly-paced and packed with action, it tramples over the likes of Halo 5 and Killzone: Shadow Fall, making this the new sci-fi shooter for CoD: Infinite Warfare to beat. And while it’s the speed and action that sucks you in, you’ll remember it for its invention and unexpected heart. Put that together with the multiplayer, which refines what was already great in Titanfall, and you have an essential, all-action FPS which proves Respawn’s greatest work might not be in the past.

Overall Score

9

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Kulti Vator

August 18, 2016, 8:35 am

The original TitanFall game proved that shooters can be fun, frantic and original again.

Hardpoint mode remains an absolute gem and hopefully, TitanFall2's new modes will flesh the gameplay out even more, without turning the game into a grind-fest.
Looking forward to this weekend's technical preview (shame the preview is console-only though).

dave69uk .

August 18, 2016, 9:19 am

I loved the first Titanfall - it deserved far more praise than it got for being great fun to play. It's a shame they are scaling the AI back for the multiplay, as I have ended rounds in the top 3 before just killing bots as the enemy pilots were good players and tough to kill.

Kulti Vator

August 18, 2016, 9:34 am

A lot of players didn't work out that it was often possible to win a round of HardPoint just by capturing and defending the 3 'nodes' - kills were entirely optional. All down to strategy and learning the fastest ways across each map - and clever use of mines to booby trap key locations.

'Attrition' mode was a different animal and the AI players offered a nice way to ease into the game, especially when up against god-like online players fully-loaded with the best weapons & perks.

dave69uk .

August 18, 2016, 9:41 am

I seemed to always play 'Attrition' mode (normally on random) but 'Hardpoint' was fun as well. I would have liked the Titans to be a bit tougher as you could literally call in a titan, climb in and eject all in the space of 10 seconds but I guess that just adds to the game.
Titan punching a Pilot in mid air and electrifying your titan while a pilot was sat on top wreaking it was all very satisfying little elements to the game.
Looking forward to T2 although all this talk has got me interested in playing the original again.

Kulti Vator

August 18, 2016, 9:55 am

Lot's of "rock paper scissors" elements to the Titans - the weedier Titans were often able to dash out of the way of trouble, whilst the beefier ones could dish-out and soak up more punishment.
Liked how you could get the Titan to switch between follow/guard mode to help you achieve your aims (e.g. assist in holding down one hardpoint whilst you're attacking another).
Definitely going to check out the T2 technical preview this weekend - and will probably revisit T1 over the coming weeks as well.

RichP

August 20, 2016, 10:56 pm

Well, from what I've played of the tech-test so far - the original game is far superior. What a shame.

donnell richins

August 22, 2016, 7:37 am

=_= , you have not played titanfall 2 as yet, why do you ppl keep saying the original is better? Besides... how long did you even play the beta for. This is not the game , but rather a network and game engine technical test.

Crippled by UK State goons

October 28, 2016, 6:27 am

Does anyone know if they changed the Re-mapping nerf Titanfall had with the Numberpad?
(Whereby, if you re-mapped the keyboard in the original, they misnamed all the keypresses [where `KP1` became `END` & `KP9` became `PgUp` etc... etc])?

luke bailey

October 28, 2016, 4:57 pm

This is literally the worst game I have EVER played. This fucking loser gives it a 9 out of 10...? Gee I wonder why, BECAUSE THATS WHAT HE GETS PAID FOR. I only read one sentance and it stated that you can vary your titan customisation heaps..... YOU CANT ALTER IT AT ALL YOU PATHETIC FUCKING LOSER. Did you even play the fucking game you stupid disgusting moron??? This is the complete opposite of what they should have done and yet suprise suprise in our satanic world full of losers that a game could end up soooooooo shitty. From the bad lame font, to the basic graphics, titans you cant alter, death records being the second most important stat to a gamer and you will never see it because it doesnt exist now, nor do normal stats. It tells you to go to the dropship but they completley missed putting a location on it so 10 players are running around randomly not knowing where to go. It says there are millions of members but I keep getting stuck with the same 20 ppl..... 20 ppl isnt millions EA and RESPAWN..You cant unlock things by yourself either now, you have to get smashed over and over to get enough points to buy things to not get smashed. You die way too fast, if this game had lag....BAM entire game ruined because you would never get a kill. I could go on and on but ill I want to do is forget about EA, RESPAWN and TITANFALL forever, you fucking suck. Hundreds of staff, millions of dollars and 4 years and you make the game WORSE.....!!!??? HOW IS THAT EVEN HUMANLY POSSIBLE? IS THERE EVEN ONE OF YOU LOSERS WITH A BRAIN AND VOICE? Thanks for being useless pussies, you not only wasted your time but also tens of thousands of fans. Enjoy burning in hell.

aunty

November 6, 2016, 8:16 pm

Calm yourself down Luke - you'll live longer. Did you know that ranting and raving on the internet means fuck all - other than the make you come across as a self-entitled, raving bellend with no friends (which I suspect, is actually quite an accurate description of your life).

luke bailey

November 6, 2016, 9:29 pm

Oh and I thought this was a webpage to help people make a decision on the games before they go and waste their time and money on them..... Sorry for trying to help you Mr random person who goes online to talk shit about people but has no actual input but calls me the troll without friends when he walks around spending his time looking for random people to abuse...So why don't you go slit your fucking throat and piss the blood down the drain you pathetic loser jerk.

luke bailey

November 6, 2016, 9:31 pm

said the guy with hundreds of comments, no recommends, no friends, no point made in the conversation you think you are apart of..and who goes around abusing people...Do you have any input about Titan fall poofter or are you here to be a troll exactly as you said I was, sympathetic baby.

Senzu daddy (Eternity)

November 7, 2016, 11:28 am

Had no lag and i own players as an low level.
Hmm playing Hunt is a Blast to me and its something that shine out BF and CoD old schools formula.
Basicly chill man i know that deep in Your Heart You want them to make the game better.

Patrick James Bayham

November 8, 2016, 12:14 am

Take your meds weirdo.

Jack Jenkins

November 14, 2016, 8:59 pm

I liked the original Titanfall...and I LOVE Titanfall2!! Beautiful graphics, fast-paced gameplay takes it to a whole new level. I'm playing it on the PC non-stop. Dare I say it's better than Battlefield 1???

Turbosloth

November 26, 2016, 10:28 am

Keep hearing it has too few players. EA screwed up and released it at a very poor time. Plus 12 game modes? Too many game modes and not enough players, doesn't really seem like it's worth buying, even if it's on sale.

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