It’s not every decade I decide to play an FPS game.
But having mechs be front and center is probably one of the few ways to get me to do it.
I’ve had an interest in Titanfall ever since the 1st game’ TV spot commercial that had some really nice music playing and selling me a shooter with mechs is probably the only way to do it unless you’ve got some cool armor designs with some gas-mask helmets. However, due to not being part of the next-gen wave during the early days of the PS4 and Xbox 1, I didn’t get the chance to get into the series. I was in a similar situation during Titanfall 2’s release but did manage to see the entirety of its campaign mode be played by my friends and suffice it to say, it was a pretty engaging campaign mode even from a spectator’s perspective. Seeing the multiplayer only furthered my interest with a variety of weapons, pilot abilities, titans, and the evacuation objective at the end.
Despite it’s simple premise, Titanfall 2’s single player campaign is lauded for making great use of its brevity by providing the player with a constantly changing locale that makes use of the level of mobility at their disposal involving wall-running and jump-packs. Jack Cooper, a rifleman is given a field promotion to a Pilot after his superior, Lastimosa, is killed after a mission goes wrong. Cooper is given Lastimosa’s titan, BT, and the two make their way across the planet to regroup with militia forces to take down the IMC who have most recently hired a mercenary outfit of pilots, the Apex Predators, who serve as the bosses of each level. The single-player puts a lot of emphasis on the different types of playstyles a titan can use and BT’s status as a Vanguard class titan allows him to swap between different titan builds, with around 3-4 classes being unique to single-player while all the multiplayer titan sets are available as well. Pilot tacticals however don’t get as much time to shine since Cooper is only equipped with a way better version of Cloak while grappling hooks, A-walls, Phase, Stims, pulse knives, and Holo-pilots are underrepresented. Either way though, the single-player still does a fantastic job of selling both the Pilot and Titan gameplay since instead of the abilities listed above, Cooper does get some fun segments, especially with the time-warp gadget and the unlimited smart pistol segment. BT is made for the player to be invested in their titans and it’s hard not to like the interactions between the two as they help each other out. Even small flavor text during the mission loading screens detailing BT’s attempts to resist capture add that much more to his character.
Respawn Entertainment apparently knows what makes for a memorable game as just like Metal Gear Rising, being short doesn’t mean you can’t make each experience a great one. Memorable bosses can go a long way and while the personalities are not as memetically exploitable, they still help to make the experience memorable. Viper and Blisk are exceptionally memorable, one for being bar-none the toughest fight in the game and the other for being in charge, yet playing up to his code til the very end. The Apex Legends people have Blisk to thank for the in-universe reason as to why it exists in the first place but unless I get to be a Pilot, I ain’t touching that game.
While I’m no good at Multiplayer, the easy leveling and interesting sets of abilities and weapons keep the fighting fresh and I’ve slowly improved but that’s probably because this game works off hitscan. Either way, Pilot gameplay is pretty exciting since it’s incredibly mobile and you’re always constantly moving around walljumping everywhere. From the list of loadouts, the Grappling Hook is easily one of the most versatile ones, allowing for extreme levels of mobility across the map and over obstacles. It also has the effect of basically reeling yourself or an enemy pilot toward each other if you grapple them offensively. The cloak is one of the simpler ones that’s more effective against titans than pilots but having the drop on someone is all it takes to come out of an encounter with a kill in the bag. The pulse knife trades away mobility with foresight as you send out a pulse to discern enemy locations. It also functions as a one-hit kill projectile but despite that, the animation for throwing it is remarkably slower so you might just end up eating some bullets for your trouble, but you’ll feel like a badass for landing a kill with it. Stims are incredibly fun steroids that give the pilot a health and speed boost that’s insanely fun to use since the speed boost is dramatically high. Using it in conjunction with shotguns is incredibly entertaining getting up in people’s faces. A-Wall is probably the least effective since it takes around a full second for the wall to deploy and requires you to be stationary in a highly mobile environment where you could potentially get flanked if you’re not careful. Still, it’s fun to hole-up in a choke point and watch pilots fruitlessly try and fight back while you pop them in the head. The Phase ability is another durable ability that phases you out of reality for a couple seconds, allowing you precious time to reload or reposition. Lastly is the Holo-Pilot that I’m only now just starting to get the use of to disorient opponents with its constant usage instead of saving them.
I could talk about the weapons but I’ll just go with my favorites. I particularly enjoyed the Hemlock and G2, I’m awful at aiming so the hemlock’s controlled burst fire helped me feel ever so slightly better at aiming than pray and spraying with something fully automatic. The G2 felt like the next step to up my accuracy, it definitely feels like each shot packs a punch too. The L-Star also alleviates my terrible accuracy since it technically has unlimited ammo but works off a cooldown system instead which forces for an incredibly long reload if you go over. Both shotguns in the EVA-8 and the Mastiff are terrific amounts of fun to instantly delete enemies up close and since the name of the game is speed, blindsiding people or turning a corner with them are hilarious. The EPG is an utterly hilarious grenade launcher that instantly kills pilots if you land a direct hit and can even damage titans pretty nicely. Special mention goes to all the pistols except the regular Wingman, because I’ve had a blast with the Mozambique, Wingman Elite, and the two default pistols you start out with, they were surprisingly versatile.
Lastly for titans, I played 6 out of the 7 because Monarchs disgusted me with having the only titan capable of self-sustai which beats the purpose of titan combat in my eyes. I gravitated towards Ronins the first time through and while their flimsy armor had some match-ups tough, the hit and run tactics and speed was tough to move away from. The Scorch was another titan I started early with after my friends showed off how it could just Charging Star into enemies with Thermal Shield and get some good area denial with firewalls and gas traps. Ions took a while to get used since it took me a long time to figure out how the splitter rifle worked and I underestimated the trip wires a ton but after dying to their explosions, after thinking I was safe, as a pilot, I started using them more. The Precision Laser is also hilarious to use since gibbing pilots with it never gets old. Legion was really simple to get into but his lack of reliable defensive options due to wind-up and low mobility. Tone was and still is regarded to be an incredibly powerful titan due to inherent radar, shields, and tracking rockets where just getting three volleys off means you’ve gotten your core already. I felt pretty off playing something so easy so it wasn’t until a lot later that I came back to play Tone just to collect banners. Last but not least is Northstar who I did not find appealing in the slightest until I actually tried it out. While the flimsiness is a downside, the Northstar’s plasma railgun is the most satisfying weapon to land where titan base weapons are involved. Just chunking an entire block of health off an enemy titan from across the map is a feeling so indescribable that you just need to try it out.
So while I was writing this, Steam released Titanfall 2 on their platform but apparently it has something needing Origin. Whichever the case, I hope more people can enjoy this game even if many gripes are had with the online balancing of submachine guns and the general nature of hit-scan weapons.