“It is good to see you too, Pilot.” –BT-7274
Titanfall 2 is Respawn Entertainment’s sequel to its predecessor, differing chiefly in that it features a full-fledged single-player campaign. The first game presented the story of the conflict between the IMC and Militia by means of transmissions and dialogues during the prelude to some multiplayer matches; these snippets suggested that there was much that could be explored in the world of Titanfall. Thus, Titanfall 2 makes use of this fantastic setting to craft a story that does not stray far from the beaten path: after the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC) discovers an area rich in resources and dub it the Frontier, they begin exploiting these assets with little regard for the damage they cause to worlds and their populations. A section of the IMC splinter off and become the Frontier Militia, who strive to protect their people, worlds and gain independence from the IMC. Amidst the conflict is rifleman Jack Cooper, training off the books under Captain Tai Lastimosa’s supervision with the aspirations of becoming a pilot himself someday. When a mission to the surface of IMC-held Typhon leads to Captain Lastimosa’s death, he transfers control of his Titan, BT-7274 (hitherto BT for brevity), to Cooper in his final moments, taking on the responsibility of finishing Captain Lastimosa’s mission to meet up with Major Anderson. Along the way, Cooper forms a closer link with BT and defeats Kane, an Apex Predator mercenary hired by the IMC to further their plans. With its story, Titanfall 2 treads on well-worn territory, although the real star of the show becomes apparent when Cooper is neurally linked with BT. Far more than an ordinary combat machine, BT possesses a powerful AI that enables him to be a companion of sorts for Cooper as he undertakes a mission that he has only received informal training for.
BT adds a new level of dimensionality to Titanfall 2, but as I’m only two missions into the game as of now, I can only say that the interactions between Cooper and BT right now is a friendly one even as I push further into the mission: to find Major Anderson. I am certain that there will be more to discuss about this dynamic upcoming, but in the time I have spent in Titanfall 2 already, the first thing that comes to mind is how well-designed the gameplay mechanics are. Moving around is incredibly fluid and, as a Pilot, Cooper has no trouble navigating the sheer walls and ledges in the environments. The smooth motions makes it very easy to become accustomed to parkouring through maps by taking advantages of features in the terrain. The gunplay also handles well: kills are incredibly visceral, and the weapons sound powerful. By the end of the first mission, after Cooper locates a pair of batteries to power up BT, there is an opportunity to glimpse what Titan combat is like. The default Expedition loadout for BT has proven to be my favourite so far amongst the choices available (just the Tone right now) – its 20 mm X0-16 automatic AP rifle has a high rate of fire and accuracy, while its ordinance is fantastic for locking onto multiple opponents. The vortex shield and electric smoke also make a return; the former allows BT to “catch” incoming fire and redirect it for damage, while the latter is a defensive utility for bugging out and dissuading enemies from pursuing, as the smoke can kill pilots and drain a Titan’s shields. It’s surprisingly versatile, and I find myself using the Expedition loadout far more than the Tone loadout, which features the powerful Tracker 40 mm cannon and lock-on rockets, plus a particle shield. While I’m loving the 40 mm cannon, the other aspects are a bit more tricky to use. It is with the Expedition loadout that I took with me into my duel against Kane, and after a short battle, I finished my first boss of Titanfall 2.
Screenshots and Commentary
- After a botched landing results in Captain Lastimosa being defeated by several IMC Titans, Cooper himself is nearly eaten by Typhon’s wildlife until Lastimosa intervenes, transferring his equipment to Cooper and entrusting him with BT. The first mission in Titanfall 2 involves securing two Titan batteries for BT. These batteries, large green cylinders, are said to provide power for Titans, although given that Titans can access the nuclear ejection ability, it is likely that batteries are used in conjunction with a reactor of some sort to power the Titans.
- While players have a chance to become familiar with the different parkour and wall-running abilities in the tutorial, the first mission is where these abilities are first put to the test. Some of the abilities, such as double jumping by means of a jump kit, are locked initially. The cliffs of Typhon’s first area are a fantastic place to begin practising; in narrower passages, where it’s possible to wall-run on one side, then hop over to another. Pilots will lose momentum as they continue wall-running, making the timing of a wall-run critical to avoiding falling to a deep chasm.
- I’m running Titanfall 2 on the second highest settings available, since I personally cannot tell the difference between maximum settings and the tier below it: the game looks fantastic all around, whether it be the lighting effects or details in the environment. Here, I’m equipped with the R-201 Carbine, the standard all-around performing assault rifle of Titanfall 2 that replaces Titanfall‘s R-101C. With a good rate of fire, moderate damage and low recoil, it’s suited for a variety of situations, bringing to mind how I stuck with the R-101C predominantly during my Titanfall trial back during 2014.
- Wide open spaces in the maps means that it’s useful to carry a good long-range weapon, and the Longbow-DMR fulfills this role early on in Titanfall 2. One thing that is unique about Titanfall 2 is that killing enemies will cause their helmets to pop off: when I first saw this, I thought their heads were popping off owing to the sheer firepower of the weapon. This may not be the case, but the Longbow remains an excellent all-around long-range weapon with its relatively high rate of fire and fast bullet travel time.
- The presence of lush vegetation on Typhon suggests that it’s got a tropical or subtropical climate, evoking memories of Taiwan. When I visited back during 2014, it was in December, and the weather was still markedly more pleasant than the weather back home. While our route around the island did not take us through the Huatong Valley (we took the coastal highway before transitioning to a train from Hualien to Yilan), we did travel through some regions of Taiwan’s interior en route to the Monster Village (妖怪村) and the Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), where there are steep mountains rising up from the foggy valley.
- All told, Cooper is required to pick up two Titan batteries from the interior of the MCS James McCallan, crashed from the operation as a result of heavy fire. The relatively pristine nature of its interior (excluding structural damage sustained during the crash) is a reminder that the vessel only crashed a few hours earlier, but the absence of personnel on board suggest that most of them were able to escape. While getting acclimatised to the jump kit, the IMC forces announce that players have the chance to surrender themselves and be spared death; BT remarks that it’s likely a lie.
- This brings to mind the announcement that Admiral Salen Kotch has for Reyes and his forces: “surrender for immediate execution”. Kotch pulls no punches and outright tells the heroes their expected fate, whereas the IMC present a bald-faced lie. Back in the days of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, ultranationalist forces can be heard telling Captain Price and his men to surrender. Price merely responds: “ignore that load of bollocks. Their counterattack is imminent”. Back in Titanfall 2, I come across an IMC outpost and hammer it from afar with the Longbow. Stealth is also an option: pilots are equipped with a cloak that, while too short-lived to accommodate the sort of sneaking around available in Crysis, is immensely useful for getting out of a pinch.
- In the IMC outpost, I find the Spitfire LMG, a fully automatic light machine gun great for delivering a large amount of hot lead downrange. Unlike its Titanfall counterpart, whose accuracy would improve as it was fired, the Titanfall 2 Spitfire can be fired in shorter bursts. I’ve never been big on LMGs that become more accurate as they are fired in multiplayer contexts, since it encourages a waste of ammunition and also exposes a user’s position the longer the weapon is fired. A sharp-eyed reader might notice that the parts of the weapon closest to the camera are blurry. This is a design choice in Titanfall 2, and while it makes the game feel a little more realistic, it also makes the weapons a little less visually impressive.
- After securing two batteries for BT, Cooper is able to board for the first time, just in time for enough of a neural link to be formed for Cooper to use BT’s ordinance package, which by default, fires lock-on missiles at distant opponents. When the initial link is established, players can begin using the X0-16 20mm Automatic rifle. Boarding the titan for the first time was a powerful moment, and as any gamer can predict, players have the chance to take on enemy Titans of their own. The X0-16 makes quick work of the Brutes, common IMC Titans encountered throughout Titanfall 2‘s campaign.
- With my mind continuously drifting towards the vast mountains and remote valleys of Taiwan’s Eastern coast, I present Synapticism, a website whose author travels the more unbeaten paths of Taiwan to explore both the ruins of Taiwan as well as the rural areas away from the major cities. It’s a remarkably well-written website with plenty of good content that presents Taiwan in a completely different perspective than would be obtained from a more traditional tour of Taiwan’s major attractions.
- Titan-on-infantry combat is almost unfair against the IMC grunts: all of a Titan’s weapons seem like overkill, capable of ripping apart infantry very quickly. The Expedition loadout seems best suited for taking on infantry owing to multiple lock-ons offered by the ordinance and the X0-16’s larger magazine capacity. There are anti-Titan weapons for pilots on foot, and usually, it takes a degree of coordination amongst pilots to use these weapons effectively in order to eliminate an enemy Titan.
- So far, I’m enjoying every aspect of Titanfall 2, although the HUD is a little different than what I’m used to: one’s ammunition and equipment is placed near the center of the screen, which is a strange place to situate it considering every other shooter I’ve gone through places these counters at the bottom right-hand side. This makes it a little tricky to keep track of reserve ammunition count, since I need to glance towards the lower center of my screen in order to take a look at what’s happening.
- I can never be sure if it’s pronounced “tohn” (IPA: “təʊn”) or “toh-ne” (利根, romanised “tone”), but I imagine it’s the former, given that the other Titans of Titanfall 2 have English names. Presumably, the Tone loadout is so-called for the fact that a tone is emitted when one acquires a lock-on, and here, I unleash the salvo core, firing a barrage of guided missiles to absolutely overwhelm enemy Titans. The default Expedition loadout confers a burst core, which continuously fires the X0-16 with a high firing rate.
- The cavernous interior of the pump facility brings to mind the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel (known informally as the G-cans) system in Saitama, Tokyo. Construction began in 1992 and concluded in 2006; the tunnel system is intended to redirect water and prevent flooding: the most famous section is a 177 by 78 meter water tank with a height of 25.4 meters. There’s a total of 6.4 kilometers of tunnels linking the five water tanks together, and guided tours of the facility in the Japanese language are provided. My feeble Japanese skills mean I’m unlikely to be qualified to sign up for these tours in the absence of an interpreter, but for the present, I can explore a variant of that in Titanfall 2.
- I find a Kraber-AP Sniper, a 14.5 x 114 mm rifle that fires heavy armour piercing anti-personnel rounds that can neutralise an opponent with one shot. It features a straight-pull bolt but is still relatively slow-firing compared to other weapons, making the Kraber best suited for long range combat, although the heavy rounds have a slower muzzle velocity compared to the Longbow, requiring that one leads their shots at longer ranges. I use it here to pick off IMC soldiers, watching as their helmets pop off on a successful kill, and note that the weapon’s low magazine capacity means that the weapon, though fantastic against other pilots in the multiplayer, is less effective in the campaign than the Longbow as a long-range solution overall.
- The EVA-8 is an automatic shotgun that unsurprisingly excels at close-quarters engagements. I use it in the tight corridors to pick off enemies. Inspection of my HUD also finds that I’m rocking an incendiary grenade, which deals damage over time. The enemies in Titanfall 2‘s campaign are a combination of IMC infantry and robots: the latter are more resilient against projectiles, and may carry the L-STAR particle rifle. Classified as an LMG, this weapon draws energy from a battery pool rather than a magazine and overheats when fired for extended periods.
- The L-STAR can make short work of robots quickly, and causes infantry to explode into chunks of meat when shot owing to the particle rounds’ high energy. Here, I come across a “清明” (Qingming) logo. Possibly being the name of the company that runs this facility, the sign reinforces my sense that Typhon has some elements from Taiwan, although I note that the traditional and simplified characters are the same. By this point, I’ve reached the point where I’ve opened one of the values and are fighting off IMC infantry and ticks, spider-like drones that explode to deal massive damage. Unlike TheRadBrad, I managed to survive the onslaught by moving continuously, and eventually reunite with BT.
- Unlike Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Titanfall 2 is more similar to DOOM in that making use of the map in conjunction with staying in motion is the key to survival. The movement system in Titanfall 2 is far smoother than in Infinite Warfare, mirroring the manoeuvrability afforded by the jump kit. Hidden in levels are “pilot helmets”: similar to Call of Duty‘s intel, these collectibles encourage exploration and are required to unlock a special achievement. They’re often hidden in tough-to-reach locations, requiring a bit of parkour to reach, and while I don’t always find them, I do make an effort to reach the ones that I see.
- The 40mm Tracker cannon is an integral part of the Tone’s loadout: the projectiles it fires contributes to the lock-on missiles’ targeting system. One feature I was initially hesitant about was the fact that the weapon’s tracers appeared to arc in a parabolic manner, but testing the weapon out, the weapon does not experience projectile drop at closer ranges. I look forward to experimenting with the Tone loadout as my main Titan setup during the campaign, since I enjoy using slower-firing, heavier-hitting weapons in general.
- Initially, I was unaccustomed to the Tone loadout and promptly lost a bit of my health against Kane, so I switched back to the more familiar Expedition loadout and hammered his Titan to defeat him. One of the Apex Predators, Kane is somewhat unstable and is fond of calling those he considers beneath him “scrubs”. His dialogue comes across as rather humorous, and the fight is not particularly challenging – besting him allows his radio to be collected, which gives players the ability to intercept Apex Predator communications. With this mission done, I look forwards to pushing through the next stages of the campaign, but for the present, I’ve got several upcoming posts: the Amanchu! OVA releases tomorrow, while the first part of Hai-Furi‘s OVA series comes out Friday. Besides these two OVA reviews, future posts also include whole-series talks for Gabriel Dropout and Nyanko Days, both of which I found to be far more amusing than anticipated.
I am impressed, but not surprised that the campaign of Titanfall 2 has proven to be as enjoyable as it has been so far: I originally picked up Titanfall 2 during an EA Publisher sale for 60 percent off, after seeing an advertisement on Facebook for it. Prior to this, I was wondering if such a sale would occur such that I could try the game out: one of the reasons I became interested in Titanfall 2 was owing to its soundtrack: the rich, soaring sounds of the track “BT-7274”, and the melancholy yet optimistic “Rifleman Cooper” stand as my favourite tracks. The majestic, purposeful presentation of these songs brings to mind a rather unusual image: the heavily forested mountains and foggy valleys of Taiwan’s interior. I suspect this is in part owing to a memory bias, since my iPod continuously gave me Titanfall music while on shuffle, during my vacation to Taiwan two and a half years previously. Still, the songs seem rather fitting, describing the steep peaks and remote roads that cross Taiwan’s eastern edge nicely. Indeed, Typhon seems to feel a little like Taiwan, with its lush vegetation and unforgiving terrain: it’s the perfect backdrop for Cooper’s journeys, and consequently, I am looking forwards to pushing through Titanfall 2 to see what adventures await Cooper and BT. Doubtlessly, regardless of what challenges Cooper faces, BT’s presence will be sufficient to maintain morale and allow Cooper to realise his own ambitions of becoming a pilot Captain Lastimosa would be proud of.