Review: Titanfall 2

This review is based on the Xbox One version of Titanfall 2.

One of the downsides of modern video games is missing out on great games due to an overwhelming flood of options: from a continual release of AAA titles to a tidal way of free-to-play & affordably priced mobile options, there are more quality options to choose from than ever before. Titanfall 2 suffered a particularly challenging release as part of an aggressive fall 2016 publishing strategy by Electronic Arts to challenge the dominant Call of Duty franchise by releasing both the Respawn developed shooter & Battlefield 1 closely together, resulting in an adverse impact on the futuristic shooter’s sales.

Fortunately, Titanfall 2 has a completely revamped story mode paired with a compelling multiplayer experience that still holds up over a year after release. Respawn has replaced the original concept of campaign as quick intro/outro voiceover on multiplayer maps with a full narrative paired with story mode specific levels & sequences comparable to Call of Duty or Battlefield. As pilot by necessity Jack Cooper, the sprawling levels are explored with sentient Titan BT-7274 as the upstart militia battles the assembled armies, level boss mercenaries & treacherous terrain to prevent annihilation. There is a massive game changing event that happens midway through the campaign which completely changes the perception of combat as well as exploration, a big risk by Respawn that upheaves the established design of the Titanfall series but successfully grabs the player’s attention with its creativity.

The multiplayer is a mixed bag, objectively good but subjectively strange compared to the innovative approach of the original game. Titanfall 2 abandons all of the titan frames from the original game for new classes that are restricted in their weapon choices, movement options & chargeable core abilities. The new designs are interesting, but the dramatic changes feel like a deliberate choice to mirror similar class structures in other modern shooters. Burn cards are gone & the presence of AI controlled units are dramatically reduced, focusing the combat more on pilot & titan matchups rather than the ongoing, changing areas of battle that the original game introduced. The silky smooth controls, fast reaction times & low latency servers carry over but the online experience overall is a slower, more deliberate version of the breakneck pace that made the original game unique.

My delayed start time with the game also afforded an opportunity to try it out with the Xbox One X, hardware that Titanfall 2 takes full advantage of with a resolution & texture upgrade that improves the visual fidelity to near high end PC quality. Load times were already quite fast online, but the campaign loads a lot faster & the multiplayer menus are slightly more responsive on Microsoft’s newest console.

There are newer & trendier options that have emerged since the release of Titanfall 2, but the sequel to Respawn’s debut title is not to be missed. It makes a concerted effort to build upon the unique but admittedly barebones structure of the previous game with a lot of attention to adding features & narrative. Some of the uniqueness of the experimental original game is lost in transition but the meaningful additions to narrative, weapons & titans form a worthy addition to the crowded first person shooter genre.

 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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