Titanfall is a futuristic, multiplayer shooter about hyper-gymnastic soldiers who can perform cool parkour stunts, running along walls and leaping between buildings like well-armed squirrels. They’ve also got giant mechs: armoured walking tanks that they frequently use to pummel one another to death.
While this sequel’s colourful and vibrant sci-fi setting feels fresh against the dull backdrop of so many slate-grey shooters, it’s Titanfall 2’s incredible pace and relentless invention that catapults the series to new heights.
This is most apparent in the all-new single player mode, which delivers one of the boldest and most creative offline campaigns in years.
The series of story-led chapters follows the life of Jack Cooper – whose name sticks out like a bland thumb on a spectacular and exploding hand – and builds superbly designed levels and feats of wonder around him. The action is fast paced, taking all of what made Titanfall great – the fluidity of movement and the ability to effortlessly scale tall buildings – and works it into a campaign that hops freely from one great idea to the next.
The core ideas are identical to the previous game: you play as a Pilot, a super-soldier with incredible reflexes and superhuman agility, capable of running along walls and hopping from spot to spot using your jetpack.
This gives you an advantage above the regular infantrymen, something the game fetishises in its introductory cutscene wherein Jack lays out his ambitions of becoming one. Handily for him, and for the player, it takes him roughly five minutes to achieve this goal. Jack nabs the the suit of his recently killed captain and inherits a Pilot’s not-so-secret weapon: an enormous artificial-intelligence powered Titan friend, with its own unique weapons and abilities, capable of aiding you in battle.
It’s this interplay between the intense speed of the Pilot, armed with a varied arsenal of weapons and zooming about with a satisfying snappiness, and the larger, slower pace of a Titan, that makes Titanfall 2 such a wonderful shooter.
The game only improves online. It takes the barebones structure of the original game and improves on them in almost every way. Pilots and Titans are now more varied, each with their own customisable upgrades to earn and unlock as you rank up, while maps and modes are also entirely fresh. Everything from Attrition (the game’s verison of Team Deathmatch) to the new Bounty Hunt mode (which adds cash rewards to the killing and ups the tension), feels fraught and intense.
And that’s where Titanfall 2 excels. It simply feels incredible, whether you’re sliding underneath cover, hopping across half-ruined buildings or wall-running straight into the cockpit of your big metal pet. It’s rare that shooters feel so accomplished, well crafted and inventive, but Titanfall 2 makes the whole thing look easy.