Mech games in the West, are nowadays largely a part of the past, with games like Mechwarrior, Earthsiege, Heavy Gear, but over the recent years, there has been a small resurgence in this genre. It’s not often that a sequel overshadows the original game, but Titanfall 2 is one shining exception.
Developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts in 2016, its development began shortly after the completion of the first game. While the original game was multiplayer-only, it was also a bit of an experiment with a new IP, which isn’t something you see often, nowadays with the frequent remakes and remasters.
The biggest addition to the series is that Titanfall 2 added a single-player campaign that greatly explained the in-game universe. The first Titanfall also had a story, but most of the people didn’t pay that much attention to it, and it was told between loading screens (which is certainly an interesting choice).
The plot follows Jack Cooper, a rifleman in the Frontier Militia which is locked in a conflict with IMC (Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation). He’s aspiring to be a Titan pilot and is under the mentorship of Captain Tai Lastimosa, who is giving him a crash course to prepare him for his next role. But, before he can finish his training, the two of them are sent to an IMC-held planet, Typhon. The Militia finds themselves ambushed, and mercenary group “Apex Predators” manages to wound Captain Lastimosa, and disable his Titan, BT-7274. His last order is to transfer the command of BT over to Cooper. After repairing BT, Cooper learns that he also inherited Lastimosa’s mission, which is vital for the operation.
The campaign is action-packed and to the point. During the game, BT will also serve to explain parts of the story, and also provide advice and give further objectives. The levels are large, and there are multiple paths that you can choose to go through. At any time you can exit BT, and proceed on foot. In case that you find yourself stuck, a hologram can be activated to show you the most optimal route (when you’re on foot).
While you’re on foot, you can use cloak to sneak around, jump-kit (which is just a double jump), wall run and you also have a large arsenal of weapons at your disposal. There are several types of weapons to choose from, but you only have two slots, primary and secondary and the special weapon is usually plot-related, but won’t take any spots.
During the game, you will also talk to BT, and choose one of two dialog choices, sometimes to an unexpected, but welcome comedic effect. Taking into account that this isn’t an RPG, the game manages to create a bond between BT and Cooper really well, also without using any cinematic cutscenes. Since the single-player campaign is relatively short (around 6 hours), the game does a great job of explaining the universe, but the highlight of the game is BT’s character.
Piloting the Titan is easy and quick to learn. It isn’t different from the on-foot gameplay, but since you’re inside a mech, you will naturally move a bit slower. During the campaign, you will only pilot one mech BT, whose loadouts can be changed to best suit your playstyle. You will pick up other weapon loadouts as the game progresses, usually before a big fight. The Titan arsenal offers, the 40mm Cannon, Shotgun, Automatic Chaingun, Laser Rifle, Grenade Launcher, and a Titan Sword. Selecting different loadouts, you will also get different abilities for your Titan, and you can catch enemy projectiles, mark multiple targets for missiles, place traps, and so on.
When your Titan is damaged, you can repair it by picking up batteries scattered around the map, by simply walking over them.
Since the story in the original Titanfall went unnoticed by most players, Respawn could have made a sort of a recap video explaining the plot of the first game. In the begging Captain Lastimosa will explain a good chunk of the plot, but it feels like you’re dropped in the middle of an ongoing story. The opening cinematic explains the role of the pilot and its Titan, but the overall conflict is covered in a couple of sentences, which does the first game little justice. The addition of an encyclopedia of sorts would have helped explain the plot and overall universe much better.
The biggest highlight of the single-player campaign is the “Effect and Cause” level. In it you gain the ability to seamlessly travel through time, to progress through the level. This level actually has two maps, one for the present and one for the past, which are perfectly aligned, and managed to create something new, but not changing the overall gameplay. For example, the platform in front of you is destroyed, but by jumping and traveling to the past, you can safely land on it, to progress further. “Effect and Cause” is also the pivotal level in the plot, as it explains the game’s motivation and explains a bit of the universe backstory.
Multiplayer is the other big part of the game, and it’s back in full force. There are several modes to choose from variations of domination style modes, but the classics such as Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and Last Man Standing are all present. In multiplayer you can choose from seven types of Titans to pilot, replacing the original three from the first game. Six were introduced at the launch of the game, and the seventh Titan “Monarch”, was a part of the Monarch’s Reign DLC. Each match you start on foot, and as you kill enemies, grunts, and take objectives, the Titan meter fills which allows you to call in your Titan. The option to perform a “rodeo”, by hopping onto an enemy Titan makes a return, but you now steal enemies Titan battery dealing damage and can give it to a friendly Titan. You can also disembark at any time, and you can choose to put your Titan under follow or guard mode. Lastly, you also have the option of ejecting (and detonate it, if a right perk is selected), if the situation gets dire.
While you’re on foot, you will also be equipped with an Anti-Titan weapon of your choosing, giving you a fighting chance. Whether you win or lose, you will earn “merit” points, which will unlock more customization options, weapons, abilities, perks, etc.
As of this writing, the game has a decent active player base.
Titanfall 2 had a decent launch, considering it was launched in the same month as Battlefield 1, and Activision’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Since its release on Steam in June 2020, Titanfall 2 saw a resurgence in its player base. Overall, Titanfall 2 offers a good action-packed single-player campaign and excellent multiplayer modes. More time could have been spent on the single-player story, and its universe deeply explored.
The game received a spin-off game, a free-to-play battle royal Apex Legends, taking place in the same universe, with several returning characters, released in February 2019. Due to its huge success, Respawn decided to focus more on Apex Legends, and development has halted on a possible Titanfall sequel.
However, due to its positive reception by both the audience and critics, there is still hope for a new Titanfall game in the future.