Titanfall 2 (PC - Origin / PlayStation 4)

Titanfall 2 brought back a long-lost feeling of what I'll call "multiplayer addiction." Something I last felt when playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for the first time back in the day during my freshman year of college. Yes I played the first Titanfall well after its heyday on the Xbox One but aside from thinking that it was fun I never intended to keep up with playing it consistently. I can't get enough of its sequel however, and playing together with friends on Origin or the PlayStation Network almost on a nightly basis since owning it has turned it into a flagship go-to title for me.

There is a complete story mode attached to Titanfall 2's robust multiplayer suite and I'm happy to say that I enjoyed it - I even want to play through again on the hardest difficulty like back in the day with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. You play as Militia rifleman Jack Cooper who wants to be a pilot one day (Titan pilot, not an airplane). That day comes sooner than later after an ambush forces your company into battle and your captain, Lastimosa through a series of unfortunate events is pressed to grant you complete control of his Vanguard Titan, BT-7274.

Jack Cooper and BT-7274 are great characters. I frequently thought of Baymax from Disney's Big Hero Six when they would communicate back and forth, with Cooper jokingly poking fun and BT not "getting it" and responding as if everything is meant literally. Most other characters, especially the bad guys are pretty generic savage people, but the shock of being up against heartless murderers in video games has worn pretty thin over the years. As far as I could tell the entire narrative is communicated in-engine and organically throughout the game - and it's told quite well. There is a bit of a "voices in the head" syndrome, having Cooper's earpiece sometimes communicating more to the player than the characters present in the scene.

A very early screenshot from the beginning of the game.

According to my Origin dashboard I've sunk 13 hours into Titanfall 2 so far, (with a little over 10 in the PlayStation 4 version) but I see that reaching well over the combined 100-hour mark in the future. The story mode will run you back about six hours with an additional two hours if you're looking for extras and a completionist rating of around 13 hours to get everything there is to collect on the hardest difficulty. The cooperative multiplayer modes have entertained people for an average of 29 hours, while the competitive multiplayer comes in around 25 hours - though your mileage will likely vary depending on how much (or I suppose how little) fun you're having.

It should go without saying that this game looks pretty darn good no matter where or how you're playing it. My one and only gripe with the visuals as a whole would be how the levels in multiplayer are so hit or miss when it comes to the quality of the aesthetic. Some stages are so detailed it's crazy while others simply seem full of large platforms to jump around or maneuver through with a Titan. The problem exists in the story mode too, but I've spent much more time online and notice it much more there especially since I became so familiar with them. One of the greatest things in Titanfall 2's visual arsenal is softening. There's a certain softness to the scenery that allows it all to bend in nicely together on-screen.

The sound design is fine. Guns have punch to them, and everything is assigned a unique sound effect from running and jumping to lumbering around as a titan and launching missiles at your opponent. I never once noticed any music or voice-over work, though your team will have NPC's barking out stuff online about the current status of the game (stuff like "we're losing this fight," or "we're barely in the lead."), and the voice-over work for the campaign is pretty good, with BT and Cooper stealing the show yet again in that regard.

From a little later on in the campaign, trying to keep it relatively spoiler-free with the screens.

Respawn Entertainment put a lot of love into making sure Titanfall 2 runs well on mostly everything. On consoles dynamic resolution is a tool used to ensure a solid gameplay experience over all else. The PlayStation 4 starts at 1080p and will drop as far down as 720p, averaging around 1000p. Xbox One starts at 1080p as well, but frequently reaches a low around 480p, averaging at about an 810p resolution. Both consoles target and achieve 60fps due to the dynamic resolution tool. Obviously if you have a PC - that's the way to go. My EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SC paired with an AMD FX-8370 plays on the high settings preset at a constant 1080p and 60fps. On PlayStation 4 you won't notice the resolution changing unless you snap a screenshot when it's at its worst (when a trophy pops for instance).

One small PC gripe is that there's no in-game setting for borderless fullscreen mode. You can set it in Origin's launch options or through GeDoSaTo, but the performance drops off a bit if you don't manually set the process higher up in your computer's control panel every time. Also, there's no party chat that we could find in-game, instead we were either forced to not talk at all or communicate with everyone in the current game. Since we play with a group larger than two, Origin's one-on-one voice chat wasn't cutting it for us either. To solve these problems we started using Curse which has worked phenomenally for us (not a sponsor, not an advertisement). Luckily, the PlayStation Network parties usually cooperated well enough with everyone for a good audio mix.

The fun in Titanfall comes from the juxtaposition of how fast and agile the pilots are thanks to their exoskeleton jump-kits compared to the building-sized titans' extremely heavy artillery. You can take out a titan as a pilot with anti-titan weaponry and gadgets, but not without a lot of accuracy, speed, and patience. On the flip-side, a titan can trample over as many pilots that remain in its path. There's a definite advantage until both side have a titan or a few down and rampaging through the match. That's not to say more titans earlier wins the match, because a few good pilots can turn the tides to give the advantage with the use of anti-titan weaponry.

It's such a sweet treat when you finally nail someone with an execution.

Pilots have loadouts that are completely customizable, like any Call of Duty title from the last 10 years. Choose a main weapon, anti-titan artillery, a lethal, and a tactical and a few passive abilities that activate when appropriate. Guns are the standard assault rifle, sniper, sub machine gun, large machine gun, shotgun, or a few that look very good (a missile launcher) but require a ton of skill to use. I found that the basic assault rifle can be used well into the early level 20's until I wanted to test the waters with some other loadouts.

Titans don't have loadouts per-say, but you do choose one of several variants (smaller and weaker but faster, or bigger and stronger but slower), and make the choice about what kind of upgrades you want to give it. Everything has a check and a balance in Titanfall 2, so even dropping that shiny new titan directly from space seems like it'd make you an unstoppable force of nature (it can, but keep reading), if there's someone or something gunning for you it'll probably be curtains for your robot buddy in a matter of minutes.

What I most like about the freedom of creating a class and titan was the ability to learn with it. I started out terrible at the game, so I chose a tactical ability that outlined enemies (real players and NPC's) within a fairly wide radius so that I could at least understand where the opposition might come from. I also chose to have my titan detonate with a nuclear explosion after entering critical health so I could at least take out whatever got me assuming it was close enough. After I got more comfortable I moved on to some more advanced tactics like a one-way shield that made my bullets more powerful and a ninja star that spews fire.

One of the current classes I'm using - it'll likely change within a day.

Getting together online with friends is easy enough and queuing up for matches is done really well. You choose which kinds of games you want and head into the process which usually takes only a few seconds. From the most popular mode Attrition, or Bounty Hunt - unique to Titanfall 2, to more traditional games like Capture the Flag, or Pilot vs. Pilot (team death-match) there's something for everyone. A Free-for-All mode is available if you don't have an active party, and you can set up custom private matches, though I haven't dug into that particular feature yet. There's another feature called "Happy Hour," where you essentially pick up a ton of experience once per day and that helps if you have a consistent time that you play.

Players level up online 50 times and can prestige 10 times. Everything levels up individually too and the big draw to increasing in level for anything is unlocking new weapons or attachments for your favorite weapons. Titans also climb the ranks so-to-speak. Most everything can be unlocked a-la carte for credits, meaning you get to keep it throughout prestige levels, and one of the biggest draws of completing challenges and using particular things in your loadout are the skins and customization options unlocked for them. Mostly they're generic camouflage designs but as you go further down the rabbit hole they become much more unique.

I wholeheartedly recommend Titanfall 2. If you can pick it up on sale for around $25 then it's a slam dunk. The story mode is pretty fun though I barreled through it pretty quickly. The real meat is in the online modes and playing with friends, and I could see anyone getting addicted pretty quick. As if my recommendation wasn't enough - all the DLC is offered completely free of charge. That's right, no Season Pass, no Online Pass, no micro-transactions, and no fee to play online (on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 do charge for online services). Go for it, join our network ("TLL" - or "The Level Lounge" - Happy Hour is at 10pm).

No micro-transactions, no season pass - but there are a few exclusive offers out there.

Let's Review:
  • Interesting campaign mode
  • Awesome online modes
  • Attrition is super fun with friends
  • Online suite of tools for customization
  • Encourages learning through gameplay
Titanfall 2 gets a 10 out of 10.

Titanfall 2 - Titanfall Wiki (labels)
How long is Titanfall 2? - HowLongToBeat (gameplay length)
Face-Off: Titanfall 2 - Digital Foundry (performance)

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