Howdy friends, this is Zach, with another Single Player episode as I attempt to promote the value of a game that you should sink some of your hard earned dollars into. Today I am your virtual sherpa to what I see is the best multiplayer shooter of 2016 and 17, even though we are in 2018.
And that, my friends is the robot buddy-cop first person shooter TITAN FALL 2.
Even though the 4th quarter of 2016 was overflowing with FPS choices, and I will get back to that point later on. TitanFall 2 is empirically a game you should be playing. Respawn Entertainment, has been continuously releasing new modes, Titans, maps, and balancing patches over the course of the games life. And they have been doing it without asking for a single extra nickel.
Oh, did I just say that all the DLC has been free? As in beer? Yeah that’s right! FREE. No loot boxes, pay to win, blah blah, content locking expansions, etc.. Free.
And yet even with all this commitment from the studio, TitanFall 2 hasn’t been able to grow an audience equal to the first title’s.
When the first Titanfall came out, there wasn’t anything even close on the market. It had the pedigree that came from the Call of Duty series of solid gun handling and arcade like speed. Thanks to a brilliant team of passionate ex-Infinityward employees. But making a future space shooter wasn’t enough. What they added was piloting a Robot. A robot who could help smash and blast your way through the enemy team. That was the revelation. And they made it look easy. But I’m not here to talk about history.
TitanFall 2, picks up where TitanFall 1 left off, and then proceeds to kick the ball further downfield by adding a superb single player campaign. Something that many people said was missing from the original. Along with this a more refined class based system for the Titans. Plus, a few new pilot abilities, weapons, and progressions that upped the challenge in multiplayer.
They took that already delicious future combat sandwich and added more meat.
With all the accolades and praise coming out for the sequel, I am perplexed by the lack of adoption. The gameplay experience is something that is fun and addicting. If you like nimble, yet sharp gunplay, combined with some of most intuitive, albeit dizzying movement mechanics, look no further.
TitanFall 2 does something that none of the other shooters on the market seem to be able to capture or accomplish.
They set up the players for blockbuster heroic moments.
Something that Mark Brown at Game Maker’s Toolkit would describe as a positive feedback loop. Regardless of you or your team’s actual status as winning or losing, individual player moments feel like major accomplishments. Whether it’s goal denials in capture the flag, multi-kill sprees that slow the opposing team’s progress in Attrition, or narrowly escaping fire to deposit cash into the team bank during Bounty Hunt, TitanFall has an ebb and flow that builds in a cinematic way.
There are so many little examples of this sort of thing that a whole episode on all the aspects of these moments could be easily produced. And this loop makes the draw of aggressive play styles feel rewarding.
The value of these big spectacle moments can be felt as either a lone-wolf player or a team member. Combining the strength of the Titan’s skills or timing an attack on a defender will happen many times in a single match. Last-ditch efforts can snowball into a victory. And this sense of being able to turn the tables is the foundation of the risk and reward of playing TitanFall’s multiplayer.
Now I want to take a second to acknowledge the fact that while TitanFall borrows many simple mechanics from MOBAs. Think Defense of the Ancients and League of Legends. It doesn’t dwell on being a hybrid in the strictest sense. Yes there are powers on cool-down that are earned from kills and other actions. And these are for both the Pilots and the Titans.
I heard you liked cool-downs, so I put some cool-downs on your cool-downs.
Yes, there are small hordes of enemies that are at different levels of artificial intelligence and offensive power. But they aren’t anything to trifle with. They add a fuller feeling than the 6v6 rooms would be otherwise.
The multiplayer game play isn’t a horde-mode, combined with defense on laned choke points. Unless you are playing Frontier Defense. You don’t gather teammates and push behind a single tank as the clock runs down.
TitanFall truly operates as a first person shooter, with some MOBA mechanics to add layers to every match.
Level design is spectacular in both multi-player and the single player campaign.
For multiplayer, each of the starting maps has several vertical slices that pilots, and sometimes your metal sidekicks can roam around.
Part of learning these maps includes maximizing your routes to reduce travel time. Speed in each level area is critical to success and stagnation is punished swiftly.
A quick note on the single player experience. The 6-10 hour campaign (depending on your difficulty level and shooter skills), contains levels and chapters on par with the likes of Half-Life 2, and Portal. Without spoiling anything, the future planets, and massive industrial complexes contain truly memorable mechanics that are both challenging and exciting.
Visual puzzle solving in shooter isn’t something you see everyday. And in games that are strictly about puzzle solving you have time to reflect on your object. TitanFall asks you to take the new tools and then run as fast as you can. Never looking back. And it works. So well that they could have made a whole game with just that mechanic and I would have been thrilled to play it.
On the topic of the new movement options introduced in TitanFall 2. The introduction of the grapple hook has to be one of the greatest mobility augments in a video game. Pairing this tool with malleable gravity and momentum rules, the Pilot Jump Pack transforms you into a WIRE FU futuristic Jon Woo shoot em up superbeast.
So what could deflate the success of a title with such a wide range of fun and value?
Two words, Electronic Arts.
Titan Fall 2’s launch was suffocated by EA’s ridiculous plan to release it within a week of Battlefield 1. Another “AAA” shooter, whom, insert personal speculation, until now has been the real in house favorite. This coupled with Overwatche’s late year traction, seems to have bogged down the potential adoption to a shadow of what it could be.
I see this as a terrible tragedy. An opportunity to build on a solid rock and expand out further with a community that is genuinely fun to play with. Not to mention, rewarding a company, that listens carefully and reacts with quick amicable solutions.
TitanFall 2 is my hero shooter of the last two years. Everytime I hop onto a match on PSN I am reminded of why I like it so much. Everything else right now pales by comparison.
TitanFall 2 is a solid 2 out of 3 stars making it more than worthy of your money and time to play.
Thank you for listening to this week’s episode about a shooter I love, and you can find me playing on the weekends. Feel free to drop me a comment and let me know how you like the show and what you would like to hear about in the future.
Until then, this is Zach, keep playing.
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Illustartion – Evan McIntyre
Audio Consulting – Josh Hunt
Music – dark cat – Maple Adventure
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