Xbox gave us the code, so thanks to them!
Titan Buddy Hi-Jinks!
What kept me from enjoying Titanfall beyond the frenetic multi-player, which for me didn't last long at all since I'm more a single player, co-op kind of guy, was the lack of any kind of campaign. Sure, TF had a hybrid take on meshing multi-player and single player but it didn't quite gel for me after a while. So when I heard that Titanfall 2 had a campaign, I was curious as to how it might all shake down.
The best way to describe the campaign is: Titan Buddy Hi-Jinks.
You play as rifleman Jack Cooper, a generic kind of guy who's trying to become a Pilot and get his own war-mech, a Titan. Pilots and Titans are neuro-linked and a hefty bond forms between both man and machine on the battlefield and off. Very early on, Jack gets his own Titan in the form of BT-7274 and must fulfil the role of Pilot to help stave off mercenaries and bad guys galore.
I'm trying to be lite on story spoilers, only throwing in what you might have read on a box cover, or seen elsewhere.
It's a pretty decent story, with some interesting set-piece design and it teaches you all the cool stuff you'll need to know when battling in the multiplayer - which we'll talk about later. There's quite a lot of puzzle based wall-running in the campaign, which pitches it in the platformer space as well as the shooter space.
There are moments where you can pick from a couple of responses to BT, these build the camaraderie between man and machine. It doesn't have any bearing on the story, but from a character point of view it's a nice touch and helps create a bigger picture.
It's a damn good looking game, runs smooth and has some great sound, music, dialogue and design. It's slick in terms of the animations, especially when you embark a Titan. Mission design will test your platforming skills in places.
One thing that sets the Pilot out above all the rest of the grunts around them, the Pilot has an incredible level of agility, can wallrun like a boss, double-jump to extend that wallrun and boost-slide around guns blazing. Pilots can also cloak at will, and while it doesn't last very long, it's good enough to let you get the drop on some enemies for a brutal stealth takedown. It's just a pity that some of the level/mission design doesn't let you take full advantage of the Pilot's wallrun.
The controls are spot on when you're on foot, you quickly get used to the faster pace of the campaign and I was shooting bad guys whilst wall-running in no time at all. Though I have to admit, the stealth side of the Pilot appealed and allowed me to zip from one bad guy, hit and run, then fade to ambush another group of enemies with a well placed grenade or brutal blast from one of the many weapons in the game.
The usual suspects are there: assault, smgs, launchers, sniper rifles, shotguns and so on.
Pilots are deadly out of the Titan, and even deadlier when they're behind the Titan's massive weapons.
Prep for Titanfall
BT is a versatile machine, sardonic in terms of humour and capable in terms of combat. He can fight autonomously when Jack's out and about, and when paired with Cooper he's a lethal walking tank. Loadouts (when you collect them) can be switched on the fly and allow you to experiment with different weapon setups, finding the one that works best against the enemy Titans.
Especially the bosses, quite a few of them require a different tactic and there's at least one who I found to be a right pain. It took several Titan loadouts until I found the one that helped me deep six the guy.
The Titan controls are just like the Pilot controls in terms of polish, they're solid, responsive and allow you to manage groups of enemy foot soldiers as well as groups of Titans. BT's agility even as the base model allows him to boost dodge and get out of tricky situations.
All the time you're charging up your Core. Once you get 100% you can trigger a powerful Core attack that can decimate Titans, soldiers and lay waste to swathes of combatants depending on what the currently equipped Titan loadout is.
Is it enough?
In the eternal question: Did Titanfall 2 need a campaign? - I think so, it was good enough (took me 8 hours to finish) to keep me entertained and interesting enough to keep me coming back. A few moments really stood out for me, including one section that I won't spoil, but has to be one of my favourite sections in a game to-date.
So yeah, it's a solid campaign with some twists and turns, fun.
Shooting other people in their Titanfaces!
Respawn are on the ball, they're working on balances as the game continues to gather momentum. I'm not going to do a deep-dive at the moment, but it's been fun so far, and if you're familiar with Titanfall then you're going to find a lot here to love, with some rebalancing needed on the Titans themselves, some of them need toughening up so they feel a lot more like the walking tanks they should be.
Pilot setup is typical, so we'll leave that and head to the kinds of modes that you can play. Now bear in mind that Respawn have said that TF 2's new maps and new modes will be free when they eventually roll out, this is what you get in the base package. Recently as well Respawn have added an option so that you can play solo on the multiplayer maps to get the feel of them.
The modes then!
Amped Hardpoint: Capture and hold a hardpoint, earn points. Amped versions give you 2x the points.
Bounty Hunt: Kill bad guys to earn points, earn more points by banking bonus points at certain locations around the map.
Pilots Vs. Pilots: Pilots Vs. Pilots mode, kill enemy Pilots. No Titans.
Capture the Flag: Nick the enemy flag, return it to your base to score. Protect your flag from the enemy.
Attrition: A mode with AI soldiers on the map. Three teams battle it out, two player controlled teams and one AI controlled team. FUN eh?
Skirmish: Smaller scale conflicts, perfect for quick games.
Last Titan Standing: Everyone gets a Titan, the last Titan on the battlefield is the winner.
Free for All: No teams, everyone tries to murder everyone else.
Private Match: A private match between friends.
Ground War: A mixed game mode.
Variety Pack: A pre-chosen variety of mixed modes that are drawn from a pre-chosen selection.
Coliseum: Pilots VS. Pilots, requires entry tickets to play.
Mixtape: A variety of maps, varying player counts and so on for these modes:Bounty Hunt, Last Titan Standing, Pilots Vs. Pilots, Attrition, Amped Hardpoint and Capture the Flag.
Titanfall 2 is shooty fun, with a solid multiplayer suite and a decent campaign. It's got good legs and I'll certainly be dropping into the game to see how things progress over time. I'd like to see a few co-op PvE modes (like Horde) appear as part of an update.