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Titanfall 2 review: Prepare for more mech-dropping, wall-running action

Hayden Dingman | Oct. 31, 2016
It's raining mechs, hallelujah

I’m having a decent time, regardless. I do appreciate how much Respawn bolstered the customization/load-out part of the game, as that was one of my main criticisms in the first. Titans now come in six varieties, including one that wields a sword and one that spews fire. Pilots have a similarly broad range of weapons, each with some sort of stupid gimmick to differentiate them. (The one that made me laugh hardest is a gun with horizontal recoil.) You can also change the color or pattern of just about everything, which adds to the “It’s mine” factor.

Oh, and instead of grenades you can equip flame-spewing shuriken. It’s absurd and amazing.

But at its core it’s Titanfall, for better and worse. The AI grunts in the default Attrition and Bounty Hunt modes are still dumb cannon fodder, there are too many modes with too few players, and the maps are lovely but feel sort of interchangeable after playing through them (except for the meat grinder that is Crash Site).

Titanfall 2

My biggest complaint is that the 12-person cap on most modes returns, making larger areas feel awkwardly empty. Like last time, I have to imagine the low player count is due to consoles, and again like last time I’m left wishing the PC version ramped to a more chaotic 16- or 20-player load. I firmly believe it would be more interesting, especially given how gigantic the maps are (to allow for Titan-on-Titan fights) and how much time you spend running back to the action as a lowly Pilot.

Singleplayer

Enough about multiplayer. The biggest addition to Titanfall 2 is, as I mentioned earlier, an honest-to-goodness singleplayer campaign, drawing on Respawn’s ex-Infinity Ward DNA to create something that feels remarkably like mecha-Call of Duty. World-ending stakes, big explosions, no-time-to-chat as you blast your way through a bunch of linear environments.

To its credit, they’re pretty creative environments. Over the course of six or so hours, Titanfall 2’s campaign explores every permeation of its core mechanics: shooter, mech-shooter, and platformer, all combined and re-combined in various ways.

Titanfall 2

And this experimentation leads to Titanfall 2’s most memorable moments. There’s a level where you reposition bits of scenery with huge cranes, creating paths for your pilot to run between enemy-infested platforms. Another has you navigating a massive factory, engaging in shootouts while trying to avoid being crushed by the assembly lines. A third has you scrambling across the hull of a spaceship trying to take out its thumping gun batteries.

These sprawling vistas are a treat because they remind you that you’re playing Titanfall. Your pilot’s mobility is begging to be used, and ironically it’s these levels—which often rely on your wall-running skills more than your guns, like a bizarre homage to Mirror’s Edge—that best take advantage of the series’s unique strengths.

 

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