If you sat me down and told me that I’d be walking away from Titanfall 2 missing my new giant robot buddy, I’d have called you crazy, and yet here I am, wishing there was some way I could spend more time with BT-7274.
The next installment of Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall builds on the gameplay experience that made the first game feel so unique among a sea of shooters on the market. Like the original, Titanfall 2 channels fast-paced action and movement throughout its campaign while working to bring a greater sense of understanding to the giant robotic warriors everyone loves to fight in.
Unlike the original, Titanfall 2 features an entire single-player campaign centered on the conflict between the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation and the Frontier Militia who are fighting over a sector made up of the deepest reaches of explored space. Because these worlds are largely untouched, the IMC have begun to harvest them for natural resources to power the cities back home by force, and that’s why the Militia are fighting to stop them.
In Titanfall 2, you’ll take on the role of Jack Cooper, a grunt in the Militia who joined to take a stand against the IMC, following an attack on his community. Since first enlisting, Cooper has been working his way up to the status of pilot through hours of practice with his mentor, but never had the opportunity to complete his training by the books. After an attack on an IMC facility, things take a turn for the worse and Cooper finds himself behind enemy lines with his mentor’s Titan BT-7274.
When they first start working together, it’s obvious they aren’t very connected when it comes to communication and combat. Continuously, you’ll be instructed on the proper use of the equipment at your disposal by BT-7274, and can respond with witty one liners in small bits of dialogue. But, as you work your way through the campaign, you’ll slowly start to see a relationship develop that, quite frankly, sits right up there with Tango and Cash.
From a narrative standpoint, it’s a shame Cooper and BT are the only characters who stuck out. Titanfall 2 presents an average war story along with a handful of intriguing cast members, but none of them get the attention they deserve. Take Sarah Briggs, leader of the Militia’s elite combat unit called the Marauder Corps. Throughout the first few acts of the campaign, she’s talked up as one of the best fighters and most respected individuals the Militia has at their disposal. But, instead of showing that to the player, Respawn opted to just tell us, and that didn’t sit well with me when I saw her and the others talking like buds during the credits.
Like with Titanfall, Titanfall 2 focuses heavily on the traversal system Respawn Entertainment designed — one filled with wall running, double jumping and controlled fast-paced movement. Back in 2014, this movement system was limited to what strategies worked against other players, but this time around things are a little different. Respawn didn’t just improve the responsiveness of wall running and jumping; they built the entire campaign to support it around every corner.
The result is a series of engagements that make you feel like the badass warrior described by Cooper in the opening lines of the campaign. You aren’t running around shooting enemies or sitting behind cover popping off shots at snipers in the distance. You’re actively circling around them and hitting them where it hurts.
Usually this plays out like a scene from John Wick, where you’ll be executing an enemy to take their weapon and then running around eliminating their squad mates one-by-one while chaining wall runs. It’s exhilarating, refreshing and truly embraces the sort of combat Titanfall was made for in a way multiplayer can’t capture.
Most of your time in Titanfall 2’s campaign will be spent with your boots on the ground, but there’s a decent portion that will also take place inside your Titan. Like those present in multiplayer, BT-7274 has a few different loadouts that you get access to, each with a unique core ability and set of weapons to help you navigate the battlefield. These, unfortunately, serve little purpose outside the various boss encounters where specific abilities help you with the fight in question, but that doesn’t detract from the Titan combat overall. I’m sure the idea was to let players use the Titan weapons they preferred, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Naturally, the story is complemented by a multiplayer experience as well. But, when it comes down to it, the campaign is what makes Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall project such a strong contender the second time around. While it does have a few narrative shortcomings and a generic war story, it’s excellent level design combined with the relationship between Cooper and BT make for one hell of a ride. It’s a ride I’ll happily be taking again if Respawn continues to tell Cooper’s story.
Photos via Nicholas Bashore