Game Complete: Titanfall 2

2017 has started wonderfully – thanks for asking!

Upon wrapping up a NYE gig, getting four hours’ sleep and waking up to a wife and toddler free house, Titanfall 2 beckoned once more. By mid-morning the refreshingly brief campaign mode I’d been picking at since Christmas was complete, and I have to say that its one of those tastes that improves the more you have. Perhaps it was the long night at the tavern that brought this metaphor to mind, but I assure you I was working and not drinking cheap wine so who knows.

Despite missing the franchise’s first iteration from way back in 2014, I was confident that Titanfall 2 would be a winner as giant battle robots are right up my alley. I’d also been hankering for another good first person shooter (FPS) since quitting Destiny a couple of months ago and tearing my way through Doom in December, so there couldn’t have been a more timely Christmas gift. Like Destiny, Titanfall‘s tight gunplay is inherently satisfying, especially when successfully combined with the light-speed movement mechanics that set it apart from the FPS pack. Were this just another super soldier action fest I wouldn’t have been so keen, but as I mentioned before: GIANT BATTLE ROBOTS!

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Perhaps courtesy of the Mechwarrior series I played on the SNES nearly 20 years ago, the story levels that incorporated more mech combat were my favourites. The clear leader to my mind was Trial By Fire, in which you and your big buddy ‘BT’ help break through lines of enemy Titans as the story’s resolution approaches. A lot has been said about the campaign’s fifth stage, Effect And Cause, and its creatively layered use of time travel. I agree that this stage makes for a real showstopper, but it doesn’t involve much giant battle robot action and therefore earns itself a commendable second place.

If I had one bone to pick with Respawn regarding Titanfall 2‘s story mode it would be why the creativity demonstrated in spades throughout this campaign does not extend to the protagonist himself who – like most FPS heroes out there – is a white male with an equally vanilla name. As a white male around the age of 30 I can say that it would be a nice change to play as some other ethnicity or gender in a first person shooter setting. I’m aware that the Battlefield series has broken this mould in a number of their titles, but the opportunity to customise your character RPG-style would be a welcome development even if it only extended as far as aesthetics. Maybe I’d still create a wise-cracking white guy but at least there’d be some choice in the matter. Aside from this little gripe the pleasantly succinct campaign is top notch and prepares you well for the game’s real drawcard…

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Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Given that the original Titanfall shipped as a multiplayer only game, it won’t come as a surprise to anyone that its sequel’s PvP (Player-versus-Player) modes are extremely polished. The shifts between pilot and titan combat in each game ensure that the overall experience feels diverse and offers something for everyone. There are pages and pages of unlockable aesthetic items for titans and weapons alike as well as daily bonuses courtesy of Happy Hour that further encourage you to get stuck in. What I appreciate the most about the Attrition (team death match) game type that I’ve spent the most time in so far is that there are ways for everyone to contribute regardless of how good or bad your gun skill and map knowledge are. It was a pleasant surprise in my very first match to find that I sat in the middle of my team’s leaderboard thanks to the assists and minion kills I’d accumulated whilst meandering through the arena. There may have been one or two Titan kills in there as well, but it is really Respawn’s clever design choices that allow noobs like me to feel like we’re of some value to our team and will hopefully prevent new players dipping a toe in and never returning. This in turn should help sustain a strong player base, keeping PvP lobbies full and matchmaking times short into the future.

The final comment I’d like to make is that any game that can squeeze a Matrix reference into their achievement trophy system gets bonus marks…

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Should you buy/rent/borrow/steal this game on PS4?

Yes, and then you should send me a friend request so our GIANT BATTLE ROBOTS can have fun destroying each other.

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