The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: First person shooter

Titanfall 2: Transmitting the news and arrival of the cavalry at the campaign’s ¾ mark

“Trust me.” –BT-7274

It does come across as a pleasant surprise to have played through Titanfall 2‘s sixth mission and coming out as though I just played through the Titanfall equivalent of the Battle of Scarif: BT and Cooper meet up with remaining Militia forces who are pinned down near an IMC Communications Array, and after defeating them, Cooper makes his way across the chasms to obtain a new communications component, making use of an arc tool to activate elements in the environment to make transit of this facility possible. With the new communications part retrieved, Cooper defeats the Apex Predator Richter in a Titan battle, and the Militia forces send a transmission to their main force, which soon arrives on Typhon in order to stop the Ark from being transported to the Fold Weapon. They launch a heavy ground assault to reach the IMC Draconis, which is carrying the Ark, but despite their efforts, the Draconis takes off for the Fold Weapon. Undeterred, Militia forces seize control of IMC vessels in pursuit with the intent of stopping the IMC and saving their world, Harmony, which will be the IMC’s first target should they succeed in reaching the Fold Weapon.

Having made my way through three quarters of Titanfall 2‘s campaign, the game has continued to impress with unique, memorable game mechanics even at this point in its story. Although the time shifting gadget was damaged, Cooper has access to the arc tool, which proves integral in allowing him to traverse the communications facility in order to retrieve a part. The very nature of this facility requires clever use of the arc tool and various cranes to create a suitable path that Cooper can utilise, and it is immensely satisfying to manoeuvre a crane into place to create walls to run along, then hop off and immediately activate a doorway using the arc tool without missing a beat. Like the time shifting device, the arc tool only is presented for one mission. Insofar, every single mission of Titanfall 2‘s campaign has been a thrill, featuring one unique aspect that makes it stand out and remain distinct. As a consequence, the game never feels repetitive, continuously offering something new to mix up the gameplay and advance the narrative further. Once Richter is neutralised, and the transmission is sent, the seventh mission is an all-out Titan assault that never lets up, offering Titan battles on a scale surpassing what was seen in earlier missions, and by this point, Cooper (and by extension, players) have become sufficiently familiar with the different Titan loadouts and abilities to effectively fight their way through an onslaught of IMC forces to reach the Draconis in time.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The distant geological formations bring to mind the Karst landscapes of China, such as those of the Stone Forest and Zhangjiajie National Park. Under a beautiful blue sky and the morning mists, it feels quite peaceful here, but all gaming veterans will remark that the peace won’t last. Visible in the image are also sakura-like blossoms, adding a touch of pink to the landscape. Typhon is definitely a very temperate planet, and while Titanfall 2‘s developers and art team probably won’t mention thus, I imagine that Chinese and Taiwanese geography inspire the geography of Typhon.

  • Nearing the transmission facility, Cooper and BT find it nearly overrun with IMC forces. The Ronin loadout can be found right before BT steps into the noxious fog to engage the IMC. Featuring a shotgun and sword, the Ronin is intended to be a high-speed Titan in the multiplayer, making use of the arc wave to impede enemies and closing the distance to deal damage with both the shotgun and sword. In the campaign, it’s one of the less effectual loadouts, since the Vanguard chassis is a good all-rounder that, while capable of absorbing more damage than the lighter frames, lacks their mobility to make use of these weapons.

  • Once inside the facility, Militia forces lament the lack of an arc tool, essentially a portable power supply that is useful in activating and deactivating constructs. Delving deep into the IMC facility, Cooper eventually manages to find one, and liberates it from one of the robots working with it.

  • The robot becomes saddened that their tool has been commandeered, but won’t otherwise do anything about it. Although essential to the gameplay, one cannot help but feel a little bad for the robot: close inspection of the image shows its emotional state, and its body language, a slouched pose, speaks volumes about how its feeling. Inspection of other robots merrily working on their assignments will find that they wear a smile on their chest-mounted displays.

  • The arc tool has a self-recharging power supply, allowing it to be used indefinitely after a cool-down, stuns robots and can kill organics with prolonged exposure on top of its role in activating power supplies. The tool’s design brings to mind the weapons I’ve seen in Borderlands 2, and according to my Steam library, the last time I played was a shade less than a year ago. I’ve been a bit of a slacker when it comes to finishing games with longer campaigns, and from the sounds of it, I’ve still a ways to go yet with Borderlands 2 before I finish the game.

  • Stunning IMC spectres allow them to be hacked, turning them into allies fighting alongside Cooper. Activating racks of Spectres will likewise provide allies that can help take fire off Cooper. A Reaper appears, but Cooper will find an LG-97 Thunderbolt, an anti-Titan weapon that is functionally identical to that of an unguided rocket launcher in spite of its unusual projectile: the weapon fires a sphere of electrical energy that deals considerable damage to whatever it impacts and can even arc to nearby targets. Once the Reaper is dealt with, the other enemies can be mopped up.

  • One of the more interesting weapon optics in Titanfall 2 is the IR sight that highlights enemies in red. The wide open spaces of this mission initially might suggest a good long range weapon, but as most confrontations occur in close quarters, having a good automatic weapon becomes more practical than a longer range weapon.

  • The open holographic sights affixed to my rifle here brings to mind the sights in Halo 5‘s Battle Rifle. Back in 2014 when the feature was first revealed, aiming down sights was met with resistance from the community, who had felt that one of the defining features of Halo was that there were no emphasis on aiming down sights: save a few weapons that had zoom-in capabilities, Halo‘s arsenal is fired from the hip. These reactions have not been seen since, and players have since acclimatised to the presence of holographic sights in Halo.

  • I personally would love to see Halo 3 and 4 come to PC: years ago, rumours abounded about a possible port, but Microsoft clarifies that Halo would not be ported to PC, citing architectural differences between the Xbox and the PC as reasons why at the time, there were no plans to make the port. This was almost three years ago, and a few days ago, an AMD marketting campaign hinted that Halo 3 might be coming to PC after all. There’s not too much information on whether or not this is authentic, but if it is, I’ll likely give things a spin. After making use of a pair of cranes to move a pair of platforms to form walls to run along, I smile and recall the days of Half Life 2, where environment puzzles were similarly utilised to encourage lateral thinking.

  • By this point in Titanfall 2, parkouring to the transmission dish to retrieve a working component is straightforwards, and it was a simple matter of obtaining the component after moving the dish into the appropriate position. While there are many fetch quests in Titanfall 2, they are done remarkably well and never feel monotonous. Further to this, another design choice that makes the missions fun is the fact that I do not have to backtrack in order to return to where I started.

  • Instead, there’s a series of panels that one must activate in order to get back across by means of wall-running. There are a few platforms in between to give players a short chance to catch their breath, but with three-quarters of Titanfall 2 done, players should for the most part, be comfortable with timing the arc tool and their jumps to return to BT very quickly. Upon arrival, Cooper finds BT fending off a large group of enemies, and embarks BT to disable them.

  • Against the large number of smaller enemies, including Reapers, I switched to the Ion loadout, thinking the splitter rifle’s rounds would be effective against robotic enemies. It’s actually one of the weaker weapons available to a Titan, and has an alternate fire mode that allows it to behave like a shotgun. Once all of the enemies are dealt with, mercenary Richter arrives with his Tone-class Titan.

  • Guides out there suggest the Ronin loadout for defeating Richter: since the Tone is a long range setup, it is unsuited for dealing with the Ronin’s exceptional short range capabilities, and coupled with the Vanguard-class’ increased health, closing the distance isn’t too difficult. Of course, I always tend to wing it when it comes to shooters now, and I ended up using the Ion loadout, dooming Richter’s Titan with the laser core before finishing him off with an execution.

  • At the beginning of the seventh mission, an all-Titan combat mission, I switch back to the Tone loadout and hammer the numerous Titans separating the Militia task force and the Ark. It is pure chaos in this mission, and there are supposed to be three pilot helmets scattered throughout this mission. I did not bother collecting them, but they appear to be located in the calmer areas. The seventh mission marks the first mission that I spent exclusively in a Titan, and it was incredibly fun to decimate enemy Titans and infantry alike.

  • Today is Easter Sunday, and it’s back to work tomorrow. I spent most of the Easter Long Weekend relaxing: on Good Friday, I purchased Battlefield 1: Premium and won my first match on Rupture, a beautiful map overgrown with poppies, and went for a walk nearby. Yesterday, after heading out to lift weights in the morning, I spent most of the afternoon in Battlefield 1, and by the time we sat down to Easter dinner (turkey, stuffing, ham, pineapple and a simple vegetable medley), it was snowing outside. In the aftermath of the Flames’ second loss to the Anaheim Ducks, today was a bit of a quieter day: the sun was shining when I woke up, and I’ve finally submitted my taxes for the year.

  • After a homemade fish-and-chips lunch, I stepped out to do some shopping in preparation for events of the very near future, and returned home to play more Battlefield 1. In one match today, I managed to go 17 and 15 on Fort de Vaux, a close-quarters map that lends itself to the sort of frenzy seen in Battlefield 3 and 4‘s Operation Metro map, as well as Operation Locker of Battlefield 4. I’m working on the assignment to unlock the Ribeyrolles 1918 and have all of the required kills with the Automatico M1918 Factory. The next part, to get twenty headshots with the MP18 Optical, will be substantially trickier. After the events of today, I’m very nearly at rank nine for the assault class, and are a few thousand points from rank seven on the scout class.

  • I’ll be returning in the near future to do a proper talk on Battlefield 1: Premium now that I’ve joined the premium club, but for now, it’s back to Titanfall 2, where I’ve found the Northstar loadout. Equipped with a plasma rail gun that does obscene damage against other Titans, the Northstar is best suited for long range engagements and can quickly destroy Titans from afar. In exchange, it is very unsuited for close quarters engagements, and in the multiplayer, will be ripped apart if one is attempting to engage other Titans at close ranges.

  • The Flight Core boosts the Northstar into the air and allows for a barrage of rockets to be fired at opponents below. While in the air, the rockets fired can deal a total damage exceeding even that of the Tone’s Salvo core, although these rockets are unguided. The different Titan loadouts can be switched out on the fly, making it possible to immediately adapt oneself to any situation. The campaign-only Expedition loadout is the best for anti-personnel combat, while the Tone loadout is generally best against other Titans.

  • Against the Reapers, I decided to try the Scorch loadout: its primary armament is the T-203 Thermite Launcher, which acts as a single-shot grenade launcher effective for area denial. Its projectiles arc substantially in flight, and aiming down sights will provide a small indicator for where the shot will end up. All of its abilities are based around thermite and fire: its defense measures melt incoming ordinance, and its core generates walls of flame. I’ve not made too much use of this in the campaign owing to the fact that this setup is not well-suited for direct attack against other Titans.

  • Commander Sarah Briggs accompanies Cooper on this mission, providing support and is more than capable of dealing with threats. She warns Cooper that the Draconis is about to take off and stresses the importance of reaching it, but regardless of how efficient Cooper is, the Draconis will always take off with the Ark, setting in motion the events of the next mission. I finished Titanfall 2‘s campaign this weekend, and will be aiming to get out a talk on the final missions on short order. With the campaign done, I might give the multiplayer a spin: I will need to learn the ins and outs in order to survive matches against other human players and unlock items, but there is a private mode that allows me to play against AI if I so choose.

The diverse gameplay and missions contributes to why Titanfall 2‘s campaign was considered to be one of the best in 2016, a year already with a number of contenders, including DOOM. Not knowing what each mission entails and walking through each level was a constant thrill, but this sense of unknown was offset by BT: maintaining communications with Cooper and providing the occasional bit of wit, it made the desolate reaches of the missions more manageable. However, by the seventh mission, with the Militia present, it feels fantastic to have numerous allies in my corner to provide covering fire and support as the Militia push towards stopping the IMC. Titanfall 2 continues to be full of surprises well into its campaign; while games can feel as though they are drawn thin if they count on too many mechanics, but this is not the case in Titanfall 2. Seamlessly woven into the narrative, each mechanic serves to keep the game fresh, being dispensed with in order to keep players from growing complacent with any one method. Ultimately, it comes down to Cooper making use of the most in his environment, and perhaps through its campaign, Titanfall 2 is suggesting that to perform in the multi-player, individuals should keep their eyes open for opportunity and advantages in their environments.

Titanfall 2: Puzzles and time travel at the campaign’s halfway point

“I have concluded we should take no further shortcuts.” –BT-7274

After defeating Kane, Cooper and BT make their way further towards Major Anderson’s last known position, electing to take a shortcut that BT has scouted out. However, when they enter a vast subterranean facility, BT is separated from Cooper. Making his way through the manufacturing plant alone, Cooper finds himself taunted by the mercenary Ash, who begrudgingly comes to respect his skill and is genuinely surprised when Cooper survives everything she can throw at him. Blisk orders her to scuttle the facility, and Cooper manages to reunite with BT. Heading off for the exit, they are stopped by Ash: she faces with him in battle with a Ronin-class Titan, and in a short battle, Cooper executes Ash, exploding her into a pulp. They then continue to the IMC research facility, and locate Major Anderson, who is dead as a result of a time travel mishap. Cooper locates a special device for manipulating time, makes his way through the facility and learns of the Fold Weapon, which can destroy entire worlds by means of a time-displacement mechanic. However, the weapon is dependent on the power supply known as the Ark. With this information, Cooper and BT must relay their information to the Militia forces, surmising that the IMC plan to destroy the world of Harmony in their campaign against the Militia. Further into Titanfall 2‘s campaign, the puzzle-platformer mechanic of the game is becoming increasingly prevalent, adding a unique dimension to the game’s storyline: on top of smooth shooting and being able to pilot a mecha, Titanfall 2 adds new mechanics into the game in order to keep things fresh; the game has been full of surprises so far, and no two levels have ever felt derivative or repetitive in any way.

In fact, the inclusion of platforming, a vast underground complex, a female antagonist insulting the player and a mechanism for cleverly mixing up the gameplay means that Titanfall 2 feels a great deal as though elements of Portal 2 made their way into DOOM. The combination of platforming with an incredibly fluid shooting experience never comes across as being forced into the game; level designs and gameplay mechanics are clearly built with these two gameplay components in mind, creating maps that end up being both memorable and rewarding to complete. One of the reasons why Portal 2 was acclaimed was because finishing a puzzle allowed the player to feel they had accomplished something: to port this over into Titanfall 2 without having it overtake the shooter elements means that clever puzzle solving must be completed in conjunction with a sure aim and good reflexes – the sum of these components contributes to the fun factor when playing these missions. In particular, the time shift mechanic of the fifth mission, “Cause and Effect”, is a solid example of how Titanfall 2 innovates without overusing a game mechanic. When Cooper picks up the wrist device and is able to jump between the past and present IMC facility, it opens up the possibilities for novel level design. Moving between the pristine and derelict installation, Cooper encounters different threats and different setups: what was an impassible laser barrier becomes an open path at the press of a button, and a deadly flaming chasm in one time is an ordinary hallway in the other. Strategically flipping between these two time periods allows Cooper to both survive and progress through the facility (I’ve abused time shifting to safely reload before continuing a firefight on more than one occasion). However, besides being an exceptionally ingenious gameplay mechanic, the time shift also is a highly innovative story-telling mechanic; Cooper is immersed in a living flashback that explains the Fold Weapon in a far greater level of detail than data logs or communications could accomplish without disrupting the narrative of Titanfall 2.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In a comment left by one of my readers for the last Titanfall 2 talk, the sentiment was that Titanfall 2‘s campaign felt “unnecessary”, with “horrid” writing. The individual cited Gundam as a better example of the dynamic between man and machine. I do not directly address rants: this is a lesson that dates back to 2012, where shortly after the release of the K-On! Movie, an individual’s exceptionally negative rant about the movie was accepted on the basis of their presence in the anime community. Challenging that landed me in hot water and led some folks to even boycott this blog, so presently, I don’t respond directly to strongly negative opinions.

  • Because I will invariably be asked as to how I would respond to those claims, I will provide an answer here. I would open by asking how Gundam better portrays the pilot and mobile suit dynamic, since I feel that in Gundam, the mobile suits themselves are tools that help pilots fulfil an end, and that it was only in Gundam 00 where pilots became attached to their Gundams. I would similarly then inquire – in what way is the narrative of Titanfall 2 predictable and see if some examples of other works that integrate dynamic time travel as a means of both completing a mission and acting as exposition without a separate flashback.

  • The burst core for the expedition loadout was fun, but by this point in Titanfall 2, I’ve finally grown accustomed to the Tone loadout. The harder-hitting 40mm rounds might be slower to fire than the 20mm X0-16, but by forcing me to pick my shots, I can hit my targets with a much higher accuracy. The ordinance of the Tone can only be fired if three consecutive shots are landed on an enemy Titan: this loadout is much less effective against personnel, but is probably the most versatile against other Titans.

  • After being separated from BT, Cooper must make his way alone through a gargantuan underground complex, where prefabricated housing is being assembled. The manic design of the level brings to mind the caverns of Portal 2 that Chell finds herself in after falling through an opening. In order to cross the large gaps, Cooper must make full use of the jump kit and any advantages in the environment to move over the deep chasms. While Cooper and BT are separated, BT will be in touch with Cooper, so players will never feel too alone while pressing deeper into the complex.

  • Ash is a secondary antagonist in Titanfall 2, whose consciousness was moved into a robot body after she was injured. Working for the Apex Predators, she runs this facility when not working on an assignment. She has a playful but sadistic streak, enjoying the construction of combat simulations not dissimilar to those built by GLaDOS of Portal 2 and pits captured Militia soldiers against IMC technology. Noticing Cooper, she begins with insults, similar to GLaDOS, but later comments on his resilience and decides to let him fight in one of the similations.

  • Here, I’m wielding the G2A5, a battle rifle that is highly versatile. Firing in a semi-automatic pattern, the G2A5 excels medium to long ranges; with low recoil, it hits hard and can be counted upon as a reliable medium range weapon, although its lower rate of fire means that it is wise to pair it with a suitable close quarters weapon, such as an SMG or shotgun. The engravings on the weapon read “Lastimosa Armoury”, and while one might be inclined to think that the weapon is related to Captain Lastimosa, one of the developers of the game is named Ryan Lastimosa, suggesting that it’s a callback to him.

  • Here, I am wielding the EPG-1, an anti-personnel plasma grenade launcher. The weapon projectiles travel slowly but deal massive damage. I’ve always found that the more conventional automatic weapons and battle rifles are more effective than flashier weapons on the virtue that ammunition for them is more common, and there are precious few moments to utilise such weapons. However, my experience in FPS campaigns also mean that there might be opportunities to use more powerful weapons later on, hence my decision to hang onto the EPG-1 here.

  • The electric grenades turned out to be an incredibly fun weapon to field against the IMC grunts present throughout the facility. As it turns out, having just the G2A5 was sufficient as a weapon, and Cooper’s progress leads even Ash to congratulate him; she points the way to a simulation dome. I died on several attempts to get here, but ultimately made it, entering a fake valley in the mountains with some prefabricated structures.

  • After Ash recreates the simulation and I defeated the first wave of Spectres, a Reaper appears. Occupying the mid-point between the smaller Spectres and Stalkers, and the full-sized Titans, Reapers carry powerful weapons that can decimate foot-mobiles and quickly wear down a Titan’s shields. The EPG-1 I’ve been carrying all this time comes out, and I empty the plasma grenades into the Reaper, destroying it. The second Reaper that appears was dealt with in a similar manner, leaving Ash surprised as to how Cooper is still alive.

  • Finally reunited with BT, I move to take on Ash using the Tone loadout. Unlike the fight with Kane, I was quite comfortable with using the Tone loadout’s setup now, pummelling Ash’s Ronin-class with 40mm rounds and lock-on missiles. After crippling her Titan, I made to melee the doomed Titan and ended up executing Ash: BT pulls Ash from the Ronin and squeezes her until she explodes in a bloody spray. Apparently, Ash will criticise Cooper for using the Core ability, so I decided to play honourably and bested her without using my Salvo Core.

  • To make my way though the abandoned IMC facility is to bring back memories of the Test Chambers seen in Portal 2: from the damaged concrete to the growth of vegetation through the inner chambers, the installation has clearly been devoid of human activity for quite some time. Through the missions earlier stages, residual energy causes Cooper to be transported sporadically back through time, revisiting the facility when the IMC had still occupied it. Issues surrounding a possible time paradox arise in this mission, since it is Cooper’s presence that causes the IMC to test-fire their Fold Weapon, bringing him to investigate the facility.

  • Here, I come across an empty lecture hall. I chose to stay back and avoid interrupting, but if Cooper moves forward and is noticed by the lecturer, all subsequent recordings will allude to Cooper’s presence in what is a very clever touch. The combination of abandonment and a theatre-like environment brings to mind the abandoned theaters of Taiwan: as Alexander Synaptic describes, Taiwan had numerous theaters n the 1970s and 1980s, but changing times meant declining audiences, leading to their demise. By the 2000s, these buildings remain unused and crumbling, conferring a sense of melancholy. One can only imagine what it would be like to explore these places with the Titanfall 2 OST as a background accompaniment.

  • The Mastiff is a pump action shotgun that fulfills the role of the ultimate close quarters weapon, firing energy rounds in place of pellets. It’s one of the most powerful weapons at close quarters, and par the course of a shotgun, has high recoil and a slow projectile travel speed. Here, I navigate one of the laboratories in the IMC complex. Using the time travel device effectively is the only way to navigate the facility, as some passages open in one time period are inaccessible in the other. Besides navigation, there is one additional use for the device; it can be used to very quickly extricate oneself from certain danger, and I’ve shifted between time periods to escape damage or execute a reload.

  • The combination of platforming and switching timelines is a refined, unique take on Portal 2‘s puzzle-solving gameplay. It’s been quite some time since I’ve played through Portal 2 in full. This would have been back during the summer of 2012; six days after my MCAT had passed, Valve announced the Perpetual Testing Initiative, where all individuals owning Portal 2 would be given a seventy-five percent off coupon to encourage their friends to participate in co-op test chambers with them. While I never did make use of the co-op mode, being able to play Portal 2‘s top-tier campaign for five dollars was a fantastic experience.

  • Since I built a custom PC and acquired a new screen, I never did go back to play Portal 2, but on the list of things I wish to do as summer rolls around is to experience Portal 2 again. For now, however, my adventure through Titanfall 2 continues: here, I make it into a vast room where some well-timed time-shifting is required for navigation. Highly clever from a gameplay and narrative perspective, the time-shifting mechanic in Titanfall 2 is probably accomplished by designing the level twice and then switching out the assets and effects in world space. I imagine that the unused assets are probably cached and stored in memory so the transition is seamless: dangers escaped from one time period will still be in the same spot when one returns.

  • As Cooper gets closer to the course that Major Anderson takes, he learns of the Fold Weapon’s existence and its dependence on the Ark. I am wielding the D-2 Double Take here, a double-barreled marksman rifle that fires two shots simultaneously and can penetrate multiple targets, although the projectile speed is on the slower end. The Double Take has a unique variable zoom sight, and owing to its design, attaching a different sight will not remove the existing sight from the weapon.

  • A holographic display illustrates how the Fold Weapon works in a visual manner. From the sounds of it, the Fold Weapon works by creating a fold in space-time and can shift objects through this, causing destruction of an unprecedented scale. While exposition suggests this weapon was found, built by precursors akin to Halo‘s Forerunners, that it can be moved through time as well as space may also imply that the weapon was developed in the future and was transported back into the past. There’s all sorts of potential paradoxes that arise in Titanfall 2 with time shifting, and since my background is not in relativity or quantum mechanics, I do not have the authority to make any concrete claims on how realistic Titanfall 2 is. However, I can comment that I am watching Interstellar now; back in 2014, I wished to see the movie but circumstances precluding my seeing it prevailed.

  • Almost out of the facility here, I high-tail it back to the exit in order to link up with the Militia forces and transmit the information to them for further action. By this point in time, we’re now more than six months since Your Name released, and news of the BDs are still nonexistent. I did some investigating and it seems that the delay in its release stems from its immense success in theatres. Home releases usually happen when ticket sales decline, and apparently, the companies are aiming for the film to top Spirited Away. Any home release could challenge ticket sales, so the distributors are holding out until things settle a little; more conservative estimates put Your Name as coming out in June or later.

  • With this being said, I will still review and write about Your Name in spite of the fact that its wide dissemination and discussion renders ineffectual the purpose of a review. For the time being, I will focus on the present and focus on completing Titanfall 2, as well as handling priorities such as work and taxes. Back in Titanfall 2, it turns out I can use the time shifting device inside BT and ended up having a ball of a time blowing away enemy Titans. By this point in the game, the Tone loadout is my absolute favourite, surpassing the default Expedition loadout for its versatility. There’s also the fact that the 40 mm cannon sounds incredibly satisfying to fire.

  • The mission “Cause and Effect” ends with a malfunction in the time-shifting device, freezing time absolutely. To achieve this effect is actually not as challenging as one might think: it’s a matter of placing 3D assets in space and giving them collision physics, but otherwise, they won’t be affected by the physics engine. When the flow of time resumes, the device breaks down and is rendered unusable, meaning that time travel will not be seen anywhere else in Titanfall 2. It’s a clever way of keeping mechanics fresh in a game, by ensuring that no single element dominates. Having reached the halfway mark of Titanfall 2 and with Gabriel Dropout in the books, I turn my attention next to Yuki Yuna is a Hero: Washio Sumi Chapter‘s first part. I will also be dropping by at the third episode mark for Saekano and at least one other anime in the future, as well as a brief talk about the Eddie Detachment DLC for Valkyria Chronicles.

At the halfway point, Titanfall 2 demonstrates why it is considered to be one of the most entertaining shooters of 2016: 2016 turned out to be a fantastic year for first person shooters, and the innovations seen in Titanfall 2‘s campaign make it capable of delivering new surprises in every level. This is especially important in campaigns – repetition diminishes the sense of urgency and accomplishment, turning missions into a long exercise in patience. In Titanfall 2, players want to push further to explore the dynamic between BT and Cooper, but also to learn of Major Anderson’s mission and its significance. Of course, Titanfall 2 reinforces the fact that players should continue to adapt and think in an open-minded fashion to complete the game: by the end of “Cause and Effect”, the device Cooper has found malfunctions shortly after he learns of the Fold Weapon. There is no more opportunity to explore the rest of Typhon in two distinct time periods, and so, Cooper must fall back on his training in order to survive. With an exceptionally powerful arsenal and the jump kit at Cooper’s disposal, however, players do not feel like they are losing an ability, and instead, are left to anticipate whatever challenges await them in the Titanfall 2‘s remaining missions.

Titanfall 2: First impressions of the campaign

“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 WarfareTitanfall 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.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare- At the halfway point

“The Internet is for haters. Everyone wants to knock somebody down, but it’s cool.” —Andy Cohen

After repelling the SDF fleet and forcing them into a temporary retreat, Commander Reyes sets out on his assignment, starting by re-capturing the lunar port to ensure Earth is not cut off from supplies. Subsequently, side missions become available, where Reyes and the Retribution can carry out strikes against the SDF forces to steal or recover weapons, eliminate targets of value or else damage SDF assets. All of this leads up to Infinite Warfare‘s halfway point, a mission set in Titan, the largest of Saturn’s moons, in order to destroy a refuelling facility and cripple the SDF’s fuel supply. Combining both infantry combat and aerial dog fights with the Jackals, Infinite Warfare continues to be an entertaining game that presents an opportunity to travel around the different locations of the Solar System in order to defeat a militant faction: whether it be the grey, rolling hills on the moon, the yellow, muggy and hostile surface of Titan, the desolation of Uranus and Neptune or the familiar Earth, Infinite Warfare vividly portrays these settings to give the sense that the player is exploring and fighting in environments that have hitherto remain unexplored, creating a series of worlds that keeps each mission in the campaign novel and free of repetition.

One of the elements I’m enjoying most about Infinite Warfare are the weapons’ versatility and customisations available within the campaign: prior to each mission, players can fine tune their loadout very specifically, outfitting their weapons with the optics and attachments to best fit their play-style. There is also a recommended loadout for folks who simply want to get into the missions without worrying too much about whether or not a particular set of weapons will work. For instance, in Operation Burn Water, the mission to Titan, the recommended loadout is the EBR-800 with suppressor and foregrip, with the suppressed Kendall 44 as a secondary weapon. Given that much of this mission begins as a stealth mission, it makes sense to have suppressed weapons. However, as things progress, the mission invariably goes loud. Thus, I swapped out the Kendall 44 for the Erad, a submachine gun that can alternatively be used as a shotgun. The future setting of Infinite Warfare means that weapons designers have more creative freedom, resulting in remarkably versatile weapons that allow me to play through the campaign without worrying about whether or not I’m carrying the right weapons for the task at hand: in fact, weapons that can transition between two firing modes, like the Erad and EBR-800, are sufficiently adaptable so that I can stick with one weapon and carry a powerful secondary weapon, such as the P-LAW laser weapon or the Spartan shoulder-fired rocket launcher to deal with heavier opposition. Not affecting the game’s difficulty in any way, this ability merely changes how one feels about dealing with the different levels.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The mission on the lunar port is known as Operation Port Armour, featuring some nifty combat sequences afforded by the fact that the large windows throughout the concourse can be shot out, sending SDF soldiers to their doom. Immediately, the SDF’s actions are made known when some of Reyes’ squad mates mention that the SDF do not take prisoners – they are later seen shooting civilians openly.

  • Reminiscent of both the Principality of Zeon (Mobile Suit Gundam and all Universal Century stories) and Vers Empire (Aldnoah.Zero), the SDF is determinedly presented as an evil antagonist whose entire existence is to wipe out SATO and the UNSA. Snippets of text found throughout Infinite Warfare, and from the death screens note that the SDF is a militaristic entity wholly dedicated to victory, possessing a Social Darwinist ideology and believing that they are the rightful controllers of humanity. With their ideology ruled by ruthlessness and strength, Girls und Panzer‘s Shiho Nishizumi looks like an absolute moderate by comparison, and one “Daigensui” would be likely count the SDF’s beliefs as appropriate.

  • Naturally, anyone with a sense of empathy and compassion would immediately see the SDF as the antagonists, a threat to be dealt with and as such, find them an easy opponent to rally against in Infinite Warfare. A simple, black-and-white approach to determining the factions allows Infinite Warfare to focus on its gameplay and core thematic element of sacrifice. Back on the lunar terminal, I continue pushing through, lighting up SDF forces along the way. I pick up a shield and F-SpAr torch along the way, but being blown out into the vacuum forces me to relinquish these assets.

  • With most of the port cleared out, it’s time to go find a Coast Guard Jackal and engage enemy forces outside. By this point in Infinite Warfare, I’ve learned that energy weapons are slightly more effective against robots than organic targets, as well as that the TTK (time to kill) is a bit higher here than it is in earlier Call of Duty titles: it takes at least a fifth of a magazine to down opponents with body shots.

  • While ostensibly lighter-armoured and more lightly armed compared to the SATO Jackals, I manage just fine with a Coast Guard Jackal here, engaging the SDF Skelters and other vessels alike without much difficulty. Defeating the SDF here returns control of the port over to the UNSA, and Reyes’ team takes off to continue pushing back remaining SDF forces in the area.

  • The first Infinite Warfare trailer depicted the space combat of Operation Port Armour, coupled with the part of the mission involving the infiltration of an SDF destroyer. One YouTube, this video holds the infamy of being one of the most disliked videos of all time, having over 3.5 million dislikes. A part of me wanted to try Infinite Warfare and find good things to say about it just so I could stick it to the folks who hate Call of Duty. Despite being the third consecutive instalment in the main franchise to be set in the future, Infinite Warfare has the most solid storyline and interesting maps.

  • While Infinite Warfare is superior to Ghosts and Advanced Warfare for the most part, Advanced Warfare has a more innovative HUD: weapon and utility counts are projected as AR elements directly onto the weapon in world space, rather than in screen space as with more traditional elements. Infinite Warfare returns to a screen space based HUD that is relatively minimalistic and useful, although like the other Call of Duty titles I’ve gone through, I find myself running out of ammunition and reloading during inopportune moments more frequently than in other shooters owing to the way the game plays.

  • The first of the side missions that I took on was Operation Phoenix, set in an asteriod field near Uranus. The goal is to sneak onboard an SDF cruiser and recover a prototype Jackal fighter armed with laser weapons. With a slower firing rate and higher damage, the laser was developed by SDF teams; the SDF’s emphasis on military means that they are more advanced than SATO forces with respect to equipment, rather like how Zeon was the first to employ mobile suits and Vers had Kataphrakts powered by the Aldnoah system.

  • The second side mission I attempted was Operation Taken Dagger: over Neptune, I participated in the rescue of UNSA engineers and recover a prototype heavy weapon. One of the more entertaining aspects about space combat in Infinite Warfare is the ability to use a grappling hook as a weapon to execute SDF soldiers. This marks the first time since 007: Agent Under Fire where I’ve had access to a grappling hook – the Q-Claw of Agent Under Fire  was remarkably amusing to use in the multiplayer, being able to adhere to any surface and pull a user along quickly to otherwise unreachable places on the map.

  • Stealth is usually the smartest option where available: I snuck around the shadows and used melee takedowns to silently dispatch SDF soldiers, making use of a proximity scan to constantly track where enemy soldiers were. With all of the engineers rescued, the next part of the mission is to recover the prototype P-LAW and make use of it: like all of the heavy weapons, it is an immensely powerful weapon that shreds and is balanced out with its inability to be resupplied from ammunition creates.

  • Operation Safe Harbour involves defending space stations from SDF forces in orbit above the Earth. Beyond the usual engagement of SDF Skelters, there is also a pair of SDF destroyers that need to be eliminated, as well. They possess heavy armour and are bristling with weapons: my strategy was to stay afar and eliminate the weapons first with the 30 mm cannon, before pounding the ships with the 50 mm cannon. It’s a bit of an arduous process, but sustained fire results in a very rewarding sight as the SDF destroyer explodes in a blinding flash of light.

  • On my HUD, it says that I’ve defeated an enemy ace in combat. The aces and other high-value targets are figures instrumental to the SDF, but fighting them in the chaos means that there’s no stage-piece boss battle – they would fully blend amongst the regular forces were it not for an indicator over their person, and while they might be slightly tougher than an ordinary soldier, they can still be downed pretty quickly, bringing to mind how quickly bosses in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands are taken out.

  • The last of the side missions I took on before moving on to Operation Burn Water was Operation Pure Threat, set in an asteroid thicket above Europa. What initially looks to be a waste of time, when Reyes finds a derelict SDF vessel, turns out to be an ambush, and in the chaos, I bag yet another elite SDF pilot. In something like Gundam and Aldnoah, figures of importance usually pilot more powerful machines, but the reality is that ace pilots are known for their skill rather than the quality of their weapons. As such, in Infinite Warfare, while ace pilots may manoeuvre more skilfully, they aren’t any harder to shoot down than other enemies.

  • The missions to infiltrate SDF vessels and recover high value items brings to mind the sort of challenges surrounding learning about when Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name is coming out as a home release in Japan. I’ve been keeping an eye on developments, but it seems that news of box office figures, merchandise for sale and general gushing about the film is the only information that exists. There is little doubt in my mind that trying to figure out when this movie will be out on BD is about as difficult as infiltrating an SDF destroyer and stealing a weapons prototype: one wonders what the rationale for being this tight-lipped about the release date is.

  • While Your Name will have to wait for the present, there are fortunately things that can be taken care of in the present, and enjoying Infinite Warfare is one of them. Finally starting Operation Burn Water, I am inserted onto the surface of Titan. It’s a very vivid depiction of what the only moon in the solar system to possess a dense atmosphere looks like: while most of the surface is flat, there are mountains exceeding 1000 meters in height in some places. The game also captures the presence of hydrocarbon lakes and precipitation on Titan’s surface very nicely. Being on Titan also brings to mind a line from Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, in which “methane clouds rain sodium hydroxide, a caustic alkali!”. Sodium hydroxide is not a known form of precipitation on Titan; methane clouds would simply rain methane in liquid form.

  • With this in mind, the chemical reaction between sodium hydroxide and sodium acetate can undergo a reaction to form methane and sodium carbonate (NaOH + CH3COONa → CH4 + Na2CO3). As we have the reaction, I could probably calculate the reaction enthalpies and determine what the energy for the reaction is, then decide whether or not it is feasible for exotic conditions to produce sodium hydroxide in aqueous form from methane clouds in an environment that humans can survive in without any sort of protection. However, I do not imagine readers are here to learn about chemistry: it’s time to return the discussion to Infinite Warfare. After playing the stealth game and sneaking through SDF-occupied grounds, I clear a landing zone for friendly forces, which bring an allied C12 tank along with some heavy armour. These monstrosities are “a cooler version of E3N”, bringing vast amounts of firepower with them and can absorb an incredible amount of damage. Small arms will not harm them at all, requiring a rocket launcher or F-SpAr torch to take out. Having one in my corner allows hordes of SDF soldiers to be dispatched with ease.

  • After the Olympus Mons appears, the C12 and heavy weapons are decimated. An air strike is the only option, and Reyes takes to the skies once more, shooting down multiple SDF air elements before landing at a terminal to remove the safeties, allowing pressures to reach dangerous levels. Once the facility is cleared, it’s a simple matter of lighting the fuse and watching a rather impressive explosion from the fuelling tower.

  • The EBR-800 has quickly turned into one of my favourite weapons: it doubles as an assault rifle and can be counted upon in a pinch. Looking through my site’s archive, March has been a busy month, featuring 56 percent more posts than February even though I’ve been about as busy at work this month as I was last month. It’s not often that I have time to sit down and relax, but weekends are the time to do so: the weather’s finally beginning to feel like spring, and after stepping out today for some errands, I also enjoyed fried chicken for dinner. A year ago, I was on the flight home from Laval, and although I fell ill shortly after returning, I recovered just in time for exam season to kick in. These days, I’ve got no exams, although my subconscious plainly thinks I’m still a student; one dream I had recently was that I failed to submit assignments for several consecutive weeks, only to begin wondering why I was concerned before waking up.

  • Despite making it back out, Reyes is shot down and left adrift in orbit around Titan with E3N. It’s hauntingly beautiful up here, and E3N’s presence is a reassuring one, keeping Reyes company until the Tigress picks him up. One aspect I’ve not mentioned too much yet is Sergeant Omar’s gradual warming to E3N – despite considering him a disposable tool early on, Omar comes to trust E3N and cracks jokes with Reyes, being a character I’ve come to respect. The characters in Infinite Warfare share a strong sense of camaraderie, allowing me relate and yearn to see what happens next to them next.

After learning that the side missions reset with the completion of a main mission, I’m likely to go back and finish all of the side missions I’ve unlocked so far, having completed Operation Burn Water, before moving onto the next mission. Unlike previous instalments of Call of Duty except maybe Black Ops III, Infinite Warfare has created a new means of approaching missions and encouraging replay of its campaign. Consequently, while the space shooter setting might be viewed as being derivative or unremarkable, Infinite Warfare‘s campaign has proven to be the strongest of the Call of Duty campaigns since the days of Modern Warfare, offering numerous options for players even if the game ultimately is very linear in nature. These directions also mean that, with the new choices available for players, the game will take a bit longer to complete. Consequently, I’m going to switch over to Titanfall 2 and also go through the Call of Duty Modern Warfare: Remastered campaigns in the near future; owing to upcoming events, I would like to complete these games before said event arrives. With this being said, I am not leaving Infinite Warfare behind: most likely, I will resume once mid-May arrives.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare- Impressions of the campaign after an hour

“This is Admiral Salen Kotch of the Olympus Mons. You are defeated. Death is no disgrace!” -Admiral Salen Kotch

Despite being one of the most maligned installments in the Call of Duty franchise, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (Infinite Warfare from here on out for brevity) managed to pull my curiosity with its setting and premise, where humanity’s efforts to colonise other locales in the solar system eventually results in the formation of a radical military faction known as the Settlement Defense Front (SDF), who mount an assault against the United Nations Space Alliance (UNSA) to break a long-standing stalemate. The game begins with a botched operation to retrieve a weapons prototype, and in the aftermath, the SDF launch a surprise on the UNSA, crippling their fleet during the Fleet Week celebration events through a combination of hijacking the UNSA’s AATIS guns and through the deployment of the Olympus Mons, the SDF’s flagship that is now armed with the F-SpAr weapon. Despite the efforts of Leftenant Nick Reyes, only two UNSA vessels survive — he is subsequently promoted to Commander and given captaincy of the Retribution, with the mission of delaying the SDF long enough for the UNSA to rebuild their fleet. Through the campaign’s first few missions, I’ve seen the unsuccessful mission to retrieve the F-SpAr, watched the SDF attack on Fleet Week celebrations and have flown into space with the Jackal interdiction fighter, capable of operating in both an atmosphere and the vacuum of space. So far, it’s been a fantastic introduction to Infinite Warfare, and all of the negativity out there surrounding Infinite Warfare appears to have been left behind on the surface as I take flight into the void of space and begin the task of regaining the initiative in a fight with the SDF.

The premise of extremist groups forming shortly after human efforts to colonise space has long been explored as a topic in Mobile Suit Gundam, where the EFSF began contending with the Principality of Zeon as political relations between earth and its colonies decayed. In a manner of speaking, Infinite Warfare appears to be what Mobile Suit Gundam would look like had the weapons and concepts been designed in North America as opposed to Japan, featuring fighter craft in place of humanoid mecha but otherwise share the fundamental idea of a totalitarian regime fighting against a weary democratic system, opening with a surprise attack and placing focus around one ship (the Retribution stands in for White Base and the Nahel Argama). However, instead of watching things, Infinite Warfare places players directly into the boots of a pilot set in a world where there are no exceptionally powerful weapons. The absence of a powerful game-changer such as the Gundam means that Infinite Warfare is aiming to tell a different story about war than Mobile Suit Gundam does — while Gundam aims to show the horrors of warfare, it also strives to discuss the possibility and what can lie beyond war, achieved because of an extraordinary weapon that defeats other weapons. Lacking this, Infinite Warfare is perhaps more cautious in its story, and this is where I am headed now in the campaign, to see what happens next to Commander Reyes and the Retribution.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Even though I know it’s well-crafted skybox, reflective materials and a single directional light, in conjunction with some shaders, the view from Europa’s surface is phenomenal; I spend a few moments admiring it before I proceed with the mission. When I first started Infinite Warfare, I was hit immediately with a hiccough in that the game would freeze up, crash and send me back to my desktop. It plainly was not my computer’s specs, so I did some investigation and found that AVG was causing the issue. Adding the entire directory fixes things, and at last, I find myself ready to begin.

  • The question I can expect of some readers would be why in the world I would even consider, much less go through and play a game like Infinite Warfare. Aside from the fact that I am Infinite Zenith, the honest answer is that I’ve been intrigued by the game’s premise, and the campaign seemed to be a fun adventure. Thus, while some folks may express a certain amount of disgust, yes, I did end up buying the game and I’m enjoying it, so I will be doing talks on this game, although not with the same frequency as I did for each of the war stories from Battlefield 1.

  • The weapons in Infinite Warfare are quite foreign to me despite being derived off modern firearms. I’m wielding the NV4 here, the default SATO assault rifle. With low recoil and a slower firing rate, the weapon is a ballistic type, meaning it can punch through walls. The weapon players equip has a variable magnification holographic sight and a suppressor, reflecting on the operation’s covert nature.

  • The secondary weapon players have access to is the FHR-40, a ballistics-based submachine gun resembling the FN P90. With a large magazine and high rate of fire, the weapon is countered with weaker rounds and higher recoil. Moving swiftly through the facility and clearing out any SDF forces, the seventh SCAR team quickly makes its way to where the F-SpAr prototype is. Players control Dan “Wolf” Lyall in this mission.

  • One of the heavy weapons in Infinite Warfare, the F-SpAr torch is a man-portable version of the F-SpAr directed energy weapon and is the only weapon that can damage the C12 bipedal tanks that appear. The beam emitted by the weapon can lock onto enemies and explode organics into a red paste; the weapon’s damage output is immense, but so is its firing rate (it can burn through an entire magazine in seconds). Despite their efforts, Lyall’s team fails their mission and are ultimately executed by Kotch’s men.

  • The Geneva, Switzerland of the future is filled with skyscrapers; beautifully rendered here, the combination of a cityscape with large battleships gives a sense of scale that provides an impressive backdrop. E3N is introduced here, and I immediately take a liking to his personality, which gives the sense of being both reliable and having a witty character that adds much to lighten up the atmosphere in what is otherwise a very serious-feeling game.

  • After the dropship I’m riding is shot down by the AATIS network, Reyes finds himself crashing into a shopping centre where SDF forces have landed; they begin shooting civilians, but before Reyes and Salter can be killed, Reyes is given the Kendall 44 sidearm and takes out two SDF soldiers. I immediately set about finding a primary weapon. The first weapon that I encountered was the Karma-45, which resembles the Kris Vector 45 ACP.

  • While there are skyscrapers all around, Reyes is shot down over the older districts of Geneva, as evidenced by the buildings here. SDF soldiers all around begin massacring civilians, and one aspect of the game that unsettled me was when I accidentally fired upon what appeared to be a civilian crossing my sights, killing them. However, even with this occurrence, the game itself did not end, standing in contrast with shooters that enforce a do-no-harm approach.

  • One feature in Infinite Warfare that I particularly like is the grenade cooking indicator, which shows how long one has before the grenade will go off. Because enemies will try to vacate the blast radius of a grenade, cooking one will give them much less time to react. The feature was added in Call of Duty: Ghosts, which had a few space missions but otherwise looked unremarkable. I ended up passing over this one, and from the sounds of things, Ghosts proved quite unpopular.

  • Here, I am equipped with the Volk, a directed-energy assault rifle that resembles the AK-47 in design. Having a high damage but low accuracy and rate of fire, the weapon is quite commonly found in-game. Insofar, I’m not too sure what the precise difference between energy weapons and ballistic weapons are: I’ve heard that energy weapons can regenerate ammunition in their magazines over time but cannot penetrate surfaces, whereas ballistic weapons are more powerful and can punch through surfaces.

  • Here, I wield the RAW light machine gun, pushing through the burning streets of Geneva en route to the AATIS control station. Owing to the way the weapons work in Infinite Warfare work, it stands to reason that it’s a good idea to have an energy weapon and a ballistic weapon so one can be ready for most situations. In general, I always stick with a good all-around weapon, like an assault rifle, and then pair it with any other weapon with a more specialised role.

  • An SDF gunship makes it difficult to close in on the AATIS control facility, but fortunately, one has access to some friendly close-air support, which will sweep through the area and clear out large numbers of enemies very quickly. With this feature in mind, I pushed up the hill and hid in a downed dropship while awaiting for the support to come back online after taking out ground infantry.

  • Designating the SDF gunship as a target is the only way I can think of for taking it out quickly: other mechanisms are ineffective or will expose one to the elements, since I don’t think there are any MANPADs conveniently hanging around for players to use. Once this threat is neutralised, players enter the facility and regain control of the AATSI guns, learning that there is a spy, Akeel Min Riah, an SDF agent responsible for sabotaging the UNSA. After Riah is apprehended, Reyes and the other SCAR operatives take to the skies.

  • The transition from boots-on-the-ground gameplay to taking control of a spacecraft is remarkably smooth, and if I had to guess, I imagine that the cutscenes incorporate some trickery to give the sense of multi-scale; through my research, I realised that true multi-scale will likely remain unattainable with current generation technology owing to the allocation of resources in order to smoothly transition from one scale to another. Instead, various sleight of hand techniques, such as altering the scale of objects and spaces, are used to convey differences in scale.

  • The first space combat sequence of Infinite Warfare is ferocious and fast-paced. One of the features that proved to be unexpected was how the Jackals handle in flight. Movement is more similar to walking than flying, similar to the Banshees of Halo, and so, I found that it makes more sense to have standard mouse look directions while in flight, rather than the inverted that I prefer for conventional flight controls.

  • The “dog fight mode” mechanic from Ace Combat: Assault Horizon appears in Infinite Warfare, allowing players to lock onto fast-moving enemies and have the autopilot steer so that they may concentrate on shooting. The mechanic was a bit of a contentious point, but it’s straightforwards to shoot down enemy fighters without it: to those folks who dislike it, there’s nothing stopping them from simply not using it. Further to this, it turns out that higher difficulties remove this ability entirely, forcing players to depend on a sure aim to shoot down SDF fighters.

  • While we are on the topic of Ace CombatAce Combat 7: Skies Unknown was recently announced for PC. There’s no concrete release date, but the game is powered by the Unreal Engine and set in Strangereal, making it the first-ever Ace Combat game set in Strangereal to be on PC. The game’s a little more than half finished by this point in time and is likely to come out later this year; I’m excited and might pick it up shortly after launch if the PC version proves to be well-received. Back in Infinite Warfare, I pummel an enemy cruiser here with the 50 mm cannon, eventually turning it into a glowing pile of wreckage.

  • The sudden arrival of the Olympus Mons was a bit of a shock and changes up the tenour dramatically: listening to the radio chatter, a sense of concern is conveyed when Salter and the others note that nothing the SATO forces have is effective against the super-carrier. However, exhibiting the qualities of a capable leader, Reyes orders his forces to concentrate fire on the vessel even as it destroys a SATO vessel in one shot. This action is reminiscent of Théoden King, who rallied his men and ordered them to “reform the line” when the oliphants appeared.

  • These overwhelmingly large beasts instill fear in their enemies through their size, but in giving his orders, Théoden forces his men to rally and regroup before fear kicks in, causing discord. His decision to take them head-on might be questionable from a tactical perspective, as it would maximise casualties, but from a strategic perspective, was probably a better move, since the act would show the Haradrim that their greatest weapon, fear, would not be efficacious here. Returning to Infinite Warfare, the Olympus Mons is the largest and most powerful warship ever built in this universe, with a length of 927 meters. Reyes hands control over to Ethan and things momentarily becomes a rail shooter, where the only goal is to damage the ballistic cannons on the Olympus Mons.

  • The Retribution executes a tactical collision (really a more professional way of saying “we’re ramming it”), forcing the Olympus Mons to retreat. In the aftermath, Reyes returns to the Retribution and learns of the extent of the damage that the SDF has inflicted. He is promoted to commander and tasked with keeping SDF forces at bay while the SATO fleet regroups and rebuilds. Speaking freely, I’m highly excited to push forwards with the campaign after the first set of missions, but the unexpected arrival of the Kiniro Mosaic: Pretty Days OVA will require some minor adjustments to my schedule so I can get a talk out on that soon.

An hour into Infinite Warfare, and I’ve been quite pleased at how smoothly the game handles, both with respect to the boots-on-the-ground aspects and the sequence involving Jackal combat. I’ve got no gripes about the gameplay itself, and note that while I did have a bit of trouble starting the game (the fix was adding the entire Infinite Warfare directory into the exceptions for AVG), once things got started, it has been a solid experience. Gunplay is crisp and responsive, more so than any Call of Duty I’ve previously played, and the set pieces are appropriate. From these experiences insofar, I’m enjoying the campaign and its presentation of an interactive variant of the Mobile Suit Gundam story. There might be no Newtypes or mobile suits, but Infinite Warfare‘s first few missions give an excellent sense of what this game’s campaign is about. I am very excited to experience where things go next, and while I’ve only got a minimal interest in the multiplayer, I can say for sure that this game is not one that is deserving of the negativity and vitriol that would better be directed towards more constructive activities.