Titanfall 2 and the unexpected joy of play
Holy effin’ shiz, Titanfall 2 is good.
Ahem. No, that doesn’t do it justice. Titanfall 2 is fucking amazing. The speed, the freedom, the movement. It’s slick and smooth and gorgeous. Respawn has taken the foundations laid in the first title and polished them up to 11. There’s not one specific thing about Titanfall 2 that makes it so great. It’s the sum of its parts.
It’s not 100% sunshine and rainbows though as it definitely doesn’t put it’s best foot forward. The first hour is incredibly weak and only when you finally get past the tutorial and sections in which your abilities are neutered does Titanfall 2 start to shine.
Yeah, I get it. The first mission is supposed to show players the contrast in speed, movement and death-dealing between pilots and the grunts, but it’s a real slog. Especially coming off the back of the original. Before Cooper gets his Jump and Boost packs, he’s basically Johnny McEveryman in every military/sci-fi FPS ever released. Once you’ve progressed enough into the level (and shot some weird lizard birds right in their dumb faces) it’s like a weight’s been lifted. Cooper is faster and lighter. He can turn on a dime and every inch of the environment becomes a playground.
I literally wasted 45-minutes running, jumping, climbing and exploring before I even rebooted BT. Part of me is tempted to say it was a mistake, because BT and Cooper’s repartee might be my current favourite thing ever, but I won’t because it was stupidly fun. More fun than it rightfully should have been, but that’s the thing about Titanfall 2. There’s so much more to it than meets the eye. What looks like the latest FPS to be farted out of the AAA production line and into the hands of obnoxious dude bros is actually a spectacular example of what can be accomplished with some creative freedom.
Going back to the original Titanfall, all the bones were there and I get the distinct impression that Respawn had bigger plans, but didn’t have time on their side. With the benefit of Titanfall’s release, bucket loads of data and a clear direction moving forward, the dev has absolutely nailed the sequel. It’s obvious they had a good time doing it too. Titanfall 2 has heart. It’s really funny and even though Cooper and BT’s situation is grim, I couldn’t help but smile. The banter between the two is a real highlight and BT’s unintentional hilarity makes him a strong contender for best new videogame character this year.
Taking a step back and taking in everything it has to offer, I realised why Titanfall 2 was such a joy. It was as if someone had finally made a playable version of an Arnie movie from the late 1980’s. Respawn had tapped into the inner child of people who grew up watching big men kill other big men and then crack wise about it. It feels genuine too. Not some cash-grab, hollow and soulless attempt to make something the youth would describe as ‘fully sick.’ Titanfall 2 feels like a game Respawn made for itself and we’ve all just been lucky enough to get to play too.
I’ve only started scratching the surface of what Titanfall 2 has to offer, but so far I’ve been well and truly blown away. If the campaign can maintain the momentum I’ve seen thus far, it’s an absolute winner. And it goes without saying that the multiplayer will be recklessly good.
Titanfall 2 is being played on PS4 with a promotional copy as provided by the publisher.