Titanfall 2 - Surprise of the Year

18 Nov 2016

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When booting up Titanfall 2 a few weeks ago, I expected more of the same balls to the wall, mech-filled action that the 2014 debut brought to the Xbox One and PC, with a tacked on single-player that screamed the bombastic nature of Call of Duty. With the founding fathers of the point and shoot campaign running Respawn Entertainment, it was expected that they would dip into their wheelhouse and deliver a polished, albeit, familiar take on what now appears to the be industry standard for 5 hours and done mind numbing campaign.

Instead, I was greeted with a campaign that was reminiscent of Half-Life 2, a campaign that was daring, that tried new and exciting things. A campaign that didn't give a flying fuck about cohesion, pomp or circumstance. Titanfall 2's campaign is anything BUT the expected. It has been the biggest surprise of the year for me personally.

It's the little things that make it so memorable. The way that the narrative crates a symbiotic relationship between the player and their Titan, with moments where you would swear that inside this hunk of metal that is capable of killing thousands of people, sits a loveable Baymax or Wall-E. The Titan becomes a central character, someone I care about. Someone I rely on. Someone who will protect me from harm. It's more than just a thing to be used. The Titan becomes part of my success, part of my being in this world. This is actually probably the most unexpected thing I found within Titanfall 2, just how well they humanised this hulking collection of metal and guns.

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Oh, and TIME TRAVEL. Yeah. Wasn't expecting that.

That's what Titantfall 2 does. It surprises and delights you by throwing in some crazy mechanic, only to take it away from you at the end of the current stage. It's a collection of levels, each trying something new, whether it's leaping from gunship to gunship, or upsidedown time travelling parkour throughout a factory to learn more about the war effort of this gorgeous world. Nothing overstays its welcome. The time travel area left me wanting more of that, but gave me enough to crave it and remember it fondly. It masterfully allows you to play in its world, but on its own terms.

All of this is wrapped up in an over the top action movie aesthetic, with a collection of "baddies" that wouldn't look out of place in a Schwarzenegger blockbuster. These boss fights are frenetic, and a practical way to train yourself up for the gruelling battles ahead on the multiplayer front.

Speaking of which - I've barely touched the multiplayer. Not because I haven't wanted to mind you, life has just reared its ugly head and pushed gaming to the background for a few weeks. However, what little I have played shows that Respawn have listened to their community, making smart decisions and increasing the value of the unlockables. The new Network system for building your own community of gamers to tackle the online servers is a game changer - a technology that I expect will become the norm in future Battlefield and Call of Duty releases going forward. Overall however, Titanfall 2's multiplayer offering is indeed more of the same, amped up, reworked and tweaked to perfection. If you want a bigger, badder and better mech vs. pilot shooter, you definitely will be happy with what is on offer.

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However, it's this campaign that will stick out in my mind. A bold step forward, in an age when first-person shooters rarely take a leap from the norm. I want a Titanfall 3, and I want it to be just as bat shit crazy as this more than competent sequel was.

Titanfall 2 was sent to Pixels for Breakfast by EA Australia for the purpose of content creation. No money was offered for this article, or any of our steams