With the next-gen on the horizon, we’re looking back on the last seven years to choose our Games of the Generation. Next up: one man and his robot.
You don’t need me to reel off the infamous release story of Titanfall 2, how it was sent out while sandwiched between arguably the two biggest FPS franchises in the world. Rather than lamenting what could have been, let’s celebrate what we did get instead: one of the best, most exhilarating FPS games of all time.
I think I may have been one of only a handful of people who played the original Titanfall for longer than its launch week. While there was no denying the tightness of its combat or the glory of jumping in the titular Titans, it didn’t have the lasting power of many of its peers and was somewhat forgotten about. A shame, but what a fine rush of adrenaline it was while it lasted.
So when Titanfall 2 was announced, this time with a full campaign and available on more platforms, I was hoping that it would build upon all of the good stuff and cut away some of the bad stuff. I was also hopeful that the campaign would provide a good introduction to the multiplayer, a fun little onboarding exercise that would provide simple fun for a few hours.
I didn’t expect it tell one of my favourite video game stories ever, that’s for sure.
From the second Jack made contact with BT-7274, the best robot friend in all of gaming, to the finale that I still don’t like to talk about because my eyes suddenly moisten, I was enraptured by Titanfall 2’s story. There’s nothing about the overall narrative that’s particularly new (space baddies need bullets in them, and again), yet the relationship between Jack and BT is as good a core as Joel and Ellie’s relationship in The Last of Us. I love the pair so much that I’ve even written basically fanfic about how to set up a third game.
The campaign was also an example of 2016 being a good year for timey-wimey stuff, Dishonored 2’s A Crack in the Slab trying something similar slightly later in the year. Effect and Cause is a level so good that it has its own Wikipedia page and has been praised over and over again here on this site. Away from the time displacement, there was something very special about Jack being quarterbacked across chasms by BT, fighting atop airships, and using a gun that feels lifted right out of Metroid. If the Titanfall 2 campaign was intended to be an apology for the first game missing one, apology very much accepted — most FPS franchises couldn’t come up with a campaign this good over three, four, or even five games.
This is all without discussing the multiplayer, the meat and potatoes of any modern FPS. These days, you better really love Attrition if you want to play Titanfall 2 online, but the game came packed with exciting, flourishing modes at launch. Titan-only fights, Pilot-only fights, Capture the Flag, a spin on Domination — it’s all here. It even had a sort of battle royale in Last Titan Standing, though Respawn would later fully embrace battle royale with the now huge Apex Legends.
Speaking of Apex, as good as that game is, it lags far behind Titanfall 2 in terms of movement, which I still feel is unmatched all these years later. Along with id Software, Respawn know how to make first-person action truly work no matter whether you’re using a keyboard and controller — you feel like a greased up Chow Yun-fat riding down a waterslide even when nudging sticks left and right. Grappling across roofs, sliding, wall-running (Call of Duty tried and failed to emulate Titanfall’s wall-running like nine times), all towards the ultimate goal of strapping into your Titan and unleashing hell.
Despite all the signs pointing to the contrary with Respawn working on everything apart from a sequel and EA printing money elsewhere, I feel like we will get Titanfall 3 at some point. After all, we need to find out what protocol 4 is.
Titanfall 2 is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, usually for the same price as a sandwich. Buy it.
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