Titanfall 2

Jeff returns to the land of Titans, wallrunning, hacking and proves this ain't his first rodeo.

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Giant Bomb Review

209 Comments

Titanfall 2 Review

5
  • PS4
  • XONE
  • PC

Titanfall 2 goes for feel above all else, and it feels fantastic.

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Titanfall 2 lets you play as a human-sized robot, which can call down giant, AI-powered robotic mech suits, which you can then get into and pilot. The little robot climbs into the bigger robot, and then you boost around and blow up your enemies... some of whom are also robots. Your loadout options include ninja stars that catch on fire when they hit, burning pilots to death and blinding the giant titan suits, should your aim be true. It features a limited-use colosseum mode that looks like the developers just wanted to include a one-on-one Rocket Arena-like option. Titanfall 2 might not fix every issue you had with the previous game (and depending on your tastes, it might introduce one or two new ones), but it's a bigger, bolder game that takes a few chances and comes out better and more distinctive for it. On top of all that, it simply feels great.

Let's talk about that feel a bit more, because it's a big part of what separates Titanfall 2 from other games of its ilk. I'm talking about the sort of feel that makes every weapon in the game fun to handle. The aiming is really sharp (with a handful of analog stick options that can help you dial it in the way you like it). There's a satisfying, crunchy little noise that plays every time you hit your target. It provides a rewarding bit of feedback when you land shots. Those gunshots, even though you're dealing with futuristic weaponry, are still recognizable as the sound of damage being induced. The short burst of a shotgun blast thwips more than it booms, but the weapons still sound effective, rather than weak or quiet.

That all lines up with the game's movement. Double jumping gives you just the right amount of air control to let you correct your mistakes mid-flight, but without making the jumps overly floaty or sluggish. Wallruns, knee slides, and jumping out of a slide are all things that make you move more quickly than your typical run speed, which might make you harder to hit, sure, but it also makes the act of traversal an active component of the game, rather than something you do to get back to the action. New abilities, like a grappling hook, and old ones like a speed boosting stim, give further depth to your movement. Chaining those wallruns together and finding quicker ways to get from one end of a multiplayer map to the other almost becomes a little game unto itself, but once you spend enough time with those abilities, parts of it start to become second nature. It feels... great.

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It's also different than the previous game in some meaningful ways. In multiplayer, titans no longer drop with a shield, so any damage they take goes directly to the hull. Now there's a large mechanic around securing batteries by either finding them on the map or stealing them by jumping onto an enemy titan. Delivering a battery to a friendly titan charges up its shield, helping it live longer. It creates opportunities for teamwork that especially shine in the Last Titan Standing mode, where keeping those big suits alive is, obviously, the key to victory. These changes make titans less resilient if you're a careless player, but you can get a lot out of one titan if you're playing carefully and feeding it batteries whenever appropriate. There are also more titans in the game to choose from, giving you access to different weapon loadouts and bonus core abilities that are usually quite devastating.

The on-foot loadouts for pilots are nicely expanded, too, with a bevy of guns that potentially fit different playstyles, but considering the map size (relatively large, though not "Battlefield large"), it's hard to find a great reason to use weapons built for shorter ranges, like SMGs and shotguns. When I'm firing on a guy that's running across a rooftop halfway across the map. I need something that's going to not have a ton of recoil so I can be relatively accurate without having to actually get tight enough to be a good sniper. So assault rifles and a smattering of LMGs seem to win the day here, as far as I'm concerned. They seem to offer the most versatility, covering short and medium range quite well. Beyond that, you'll unlock more things for the guns and titans you use as you use them more frequently and effectively, from improved reload times to camo patterns.

There's a good variety to the included modes in Titanfall 2, even though the co-op-focused Frontier Defense mode or some other, similar cooperative experience didn't make the transition over from the previous game. It's got a smattering of objective-based modes and a handful that simply focus on being good at shooting down enemies. The catch is that most of these modes don't have any AI combatants in them. That might seem like a weird thing to miss, but having some fodder in the maps gives you something to do as you're running back to the conflict after a respawn. Considering the maps are large enough to contain a full set of on-foot pilots and titans at the same time, sometimes you find yourself running a little longer than you'd like just to see another player. So that lack of AI--the game's Attrition mode still has them in place--ends up making those maps occasionally feel empty and a bit lifeless.

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There are a lot of other smart little things in Titanfall 2's multiplayer, from in-game "networks" that let you easily group up with other like-minded players to factions that change your match announcer to credits that let you permanently unlock items that stay open even after you hit the max level and "regenerate" back to level 1. But overall, the key thing, again, is that it really feels great. Even running back to the action after respawning can be fun, if you're adept at all your movement options. It's fun to play... except for Capture the Flag, but I guess I haven't liked CTF in any game since Quake II, so maybe that's no surprise.

The campaign, while relatively slight by comparison, is surprisingly engaging and helpful. It changes things up from level to level, working in the satisfying wall runs and platforming where appropriate to create sections that play more like little jumping challenges than your standard first-person shooter maps. The story is simple and, overall, parts of the game are a little disjointed, but it manages to pull together some decent characters, good voiceover performances, and fun little boss fights that actually help you get more comfortable with piloting a titan. The campaign also goes places, packing in some moments that manage to seem ridiculous as a part of this larger story while also feeling really great from a gameplay perspective. When the game does finally drop you into a large scenario full of titans on both sides of the conflict, it takes on the vibe of a pretty good action movie. It does a good job of making you seem smart when you're finding collectibles and tough when you're crushing your opposition. It's not super long, but it also doesn't dwell on any one type of gameplay for too long, either. It strikes a better balance than you might expect from a first-person shooter campaign, even if it sometimes comes across more like a bunch of disparate parts that were strung together with a story about a man and his giant robot suit hung around the edges.

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Ultimately, different people want different things out of their console-style competitive shooters these days, and the market has split between this type of faster shooter and the larger scale and more deliberate style of a Battlefield game. If you're forever on the Battlefield side of things, this type of high-speed action might not be up your alley at all. For my part, Titanfall 2 improves greatly upon the first game and stands up there alongside some of my favorite games in the Call of Duty franchise.

Editor's note: Portions of this game were first played at an off-site event put on by the game's publisher and then replayed on the same damn TV and internet connection I use to review everything else.

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+

209 Comments

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GearDraxon

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Great to hear - loved the first one, and hope this one gets a stronger, longer-lasting audience.

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adamfedoruk

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Well guess I have to get this now too!

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RomanBlaines

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Holy crap. I just got BF1 but.... 5 stars???????

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thedavinator

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Edited By thedavinator

This makes me happy, Jeff. I was waiting for your complete thoughts on this game.

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chilibean_3

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Edited By chilibean_3

Man, the multiplayer demo was such a colossal bummer that I'm surprised to see this kind of review. Then again, I wonder if Jeff like this one so much because it plays more like a standard Call of Duty game?

As someone who adored the first game and will still gush about it I remain skeptical.

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Jondamnit

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Already earmarked all day Sunday to play through.

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Y2Ken

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Thanks, Jeff! I didn't really ever have much interest in the first game - it looked great, but just not something that appealed to me at the time. But with this release it's probably the one of the three "Big Shooters" that is leaping out at me the most. Really enjoyed the beta and I'm definitely tempted to jump on board with the final game. I don't know quite what's changed, whether it's something about their design or simply something in my own brain, but I might have to give this a go myself.

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someramguy

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The phrase "Greatest Editor's Note of All Time" is thrown around a lot these days, but...

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JRock3x8

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hearing Jeff talk about this on the podcast convinced me not to play this.

this sounds exactly like the type of game that made me sick to my stomach with Call of Duty MW 1-3 years back. Too fast, too much, too high of a learning curve, not fun unless you're going to play it night and day and day and night at fully caffeinated levels at all time.

And I hate that. But I very much appreciate his assessment of the game.

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hassun

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I was very disappointed in Titanfall 1 but I felt that with a few tweaks and changes it could be great. Very much looking forward to playing this!

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JacDG

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Hmm, did not enjoy the beta all that much even though I was top of the scoreboard every match I played.

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chilibean_3

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Did they fix the grappling hook? That thing was garbage in the demo. Or at least didn't work they way one would expect it to.

Eh, either way it seems like this games can't be played the same way as it's predecessor.

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chocolatebear

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So the SP is short, huh? Not real big on MP anymore, but TF looks stylistically pleasing.

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JosueF

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Anyone have an idea how long the campaign is? I doubt it's worth paying full price just for the single player, but I'll earmark it for when it's on sale.

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huelarl

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Do we know whether there will be maps as DLC this time around? I loved the first game and played it long after it was proclaimed "dead" (it wasn't, not on PC anyways), but community-splitting DLC is just not something I can get behind anymore.

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Turul

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I was pretty disappointed with the Beta.

this may have changed my mind.

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pause422

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they made big changes to the game since the tech test, so a lot of things that people say they didn't like in that, aren't the case anymore. Go look up recent updated information if you need to be fully informed. I hated stuff in the test as well, and feel they changed/fixed everything I had an issue with, to be quite honest.

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greenbergMD

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So when are we going to see a quick look? I am stoked for this game!

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ripelivejam

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ow my wallet

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MooseyMcMan

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Excited to play this game!

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plumb1e

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BF1 or this,which is the best online shooter?

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BetaBand

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Thanks Jeff

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coma1138

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Edited By coma1138

The beta was incredibly disappointing, but fuck it. Will still give it a shot.

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SierraWhiskey

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Edited By SierraWhiskey

@huelarl As far as i can remember, Respawn have said any post launch maps and modes will be available to all, so no splitting of the userbase.

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IndoorRB

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Edited By IndoorRB

Oh man.

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colourful_hippie

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So excited to play. Gonna preload now that I just got my code.

Loving that editor's note lmao

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Solh0und

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So Titanfall 2 goes above and beyond the first in many ways.

Glad I chose to digitally pre-order this. 1 more night!

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Subjugation

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Edited By Subjugation

Battlefield opted not to take the futuristic setting even though I hoped against hope that they would. At least Titanfall came out to fill the void and thankfully it seems that it is a pretty good game. Now about that BF 2143 DICE ...

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huelarl

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@sierrawhiskey: That's good to hear, thank you! In that case I'll gladly give this thing a go.

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Mister_V

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Sounds encouraging. I was not a fan when I first played the beta but ended up really liking it.

Also i'll be playing both this and BF1. no need to pick sides. They are both great!

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DIAMONDZ

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@huelarl: All dlc maps are free for everyone with the first being Angel City in Dec.

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MikeLemmer

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This change from Cynical Jeff to Excited Jeff scares me.

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oopprraahh

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dang. can't wait to play it

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Fear_the_Booboo

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Finally a FPS that is as good as Syndicate!

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mems1224

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Now if only they'd get rid of those hideous and jarring third person animations

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DaveKap

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Fuck, I thought I'd be able to skip over this one while the deluge of gaming picks up. I'm too busy with the new Division patch, BF1, Civ 6, Dragon Quest Builders, Tomorrow Children (just went free for all with a massive content update,) and dabblings in My Summer Car with the possibility of World of Final Fantasy.

Can games please stop releasing for a while?

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MisterCrow

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Edited By MisterCrow

I loved the shit out of Titanfall on PC but considering getting this on PS4 just for the comfort that is playing on a big TV from a couch. I feel like you really need a mouse for all the crazy movement stuff. If it feels fine on PS4 though I'd totally go that way. Anyone play both of the previous game and have opinions one way or the other?

I'm fine playing on console and losing some of the twitch speed as long as I don't feel hamstrung by the controls.

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BoZZ0

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Really good review Jeff!

I loved The first Titanfall, so I need to play this 5 stars ? O man I'm so ready!

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iowcatalyst

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Can't wait to get this, been holding out on buying games to wait for this one. Loved the first game but I got in on it too late and there were only about 1000 players online at any one time, still could get into games no problem though as long as you played attrition.

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justinhall

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Jeff's excitement on the podcast and here put me over the edge. I'm far past my prime and can't keep up with online multiplayer FPS anymore, but the fun factor that nudged me into Overwatch sounds delightful and got me to place an order today. Thx Jeff!

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onkel

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Edited By onkel

That helmet is giving me serious Republic Commando vibes. I liked that game.

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Casepb

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Well then.... I'm glad I pre-ordered this for $46.

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M3cha

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Edited By M3cha

I really miss Titanfall. I loved the gameplay, especially having the grunts in Attrition. This review was surprisingly positive, although Jeff hinted at being very into Titanfall 2 these past couple weeks.

If I got Titanfall 2, I would probably just stick to Attrition. Can't afford it now - I hope it still has a player base after Christmas. The first game died off quickly on PC.

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wizpig64

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Holy crap. I just got BF1 but.... 5 stars???????

what did he mean by this?

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Cheetoman

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I would pick this up on release day, but literally no point when I have no time. Life sucks

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Dryker

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Game of the Year discussions are going to be brutal. Can't wait!

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MonkeyKing1969

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Nice to see some good games showing up at this time of year. Jeff loves his sci-fi, and I appreciate that.

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Gaff

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@wizpig64 said:
@romanblaines said:

Holy crap. I just got BF1 but.... 5 stars???????

what did he mean by this?

He probably meant that he just got Battlefield 1, but seeing this 5 star review made him question that purchase, since he doesn't have that much time to spend on a multiplayer first-person shooter.

Back to the review:

Editor's note: Portions of this game were first played at an off-site event put on by the game's publisher and then replayed on the same damn TV and internet connection I use to review everything else.

I love this Editor's note.