Titanfall 2 has set the bar.
It’s award season here at Twinfinite! All week long, our editors and writers will be nominating games that stood out enough in 2016 to be a Game of the Year candidate. And later this week, we’ll reveal our winner! Today, managing editor Ed McGlone tells us why Titanfall 2 is worthy of being Twinfinite’s 2016 Game of the Year.
Before we get into how great Titanfall 2 is and why it should win our Game of the Year, let’s take a trip in time to 2007. Nearly ten years ago, as many first person shooter fans are well aware, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare released, changing the FPS genre forever. It carved out an entire niche for itself and quickly grew into a juggernaut, largely unchallenged certainly in sales, but even in gameplay. Most other FPS games like Battlefield and Halo, for example, opted for a unique style over going head up with Call of Duty. As a result, the franchise created a new popular style of first person shooters and has largely monopolized it for the better part of a decade.
It’s 2016 now, and in terms of sales, that’s still unchanged. Call of Duty is still king. But in terms of gameplay, the historic series has been beat at its own game. Titanfall 2 does Call of Duty better than Call of Duty does itself, ironically in a year where the game that kickstarted the CoD franchise, the aforementioned Modern Warfare, got remastered. Respawn Entertainment is made up of former Infinity Ward leaders, and in their second attempt to create a formidable FPS rival, they have succeeded on all fronts.
FPS campaigns are notorious for being repetitive hallway simulators that are long just for the sake of being long. Even in Black Ops 3, which had a campaign I quite enjoyed, I was ready for it to be over two or three missions before it actually ended.
Titanfall 2 never wears out its welcome. It’s short, but very sweet, and the relationship between BT-7274 and Jack Cooper is one that I’ll remember for years to come. FPS games rarely have time to slow and down and build up a narrative, which is why so many of them are just action movie-like kill fests. Titanfall 2 keeps the action up, without needing to bog the game down with excessive cutscenes that tell players what and who they should care about. Instead, the game’s strong writing, especially the lines written for BT-7274, naturally create an emotional experience for the player without beating you over the head with it. Titanfall 2 lures you into caring about an AI, and even though it was obvious where the story was heading, it didn’t make “Protocol-3” any less depressing.
More importantly though, it’s a blast to play through. After setting the stage through the first two missions, rarely will any two story chapters feel the same. Between time-travel, all out Titan warfare, and even a dash of platforming, Titanfall 2’s campaign never becomes a chore because it constantly evolves into something different. Somewhere along the line, FPS campaigns stopped being exciting and became afterthoughts to the multiplayer modes. Thankfully in 2016, games like Titanfall 2 are making them cool again.
While Titanfall 2 reinvigorate the single-player FPS though, it outclasses the competition in multiplayer too.
I’m not sure how else to put it: Titanfall 2’s multiplayer is just thrilling. Other shooters use tools like cutscenes, big explosions, and hyper-realistic visuals to create memorable experiences. Titanfall 2 instead leans on its own gameplay to take care of that.
The speed and momentum-based movement that the game encourages opens up every map in a way that I’ve never experienced before, creating dramatic moments out of otherwise routine matches. Sliding and wall-running aren’t gimmicks; rather, they are integrated into the game’s DNA and make killing enemies that much more satisfying. There’s no wasted space or surface in Titanfall 2, and if you learn how to use those tools to your advantage, you’ll have a leg up on anyone trying to play traditionally, and feel superhuman in the process.
Even with all this high-tempo action, Titanfall 2 is simultaneously a slow and tactical chess match once Titans enter the map mid-game. Titans need to work together and cover each other’s weaknesses to gain a positional advantage over their enemies and survive. All the while, Pilots, which feel like pesky flies at this point, can still use their superior speed to harass and even bring down the massive mechs.
It’s the combination of these two distinct gameplay styles that makes Titanfall 2 work. It’s easy to create your own cutscene-like experiences in multiplayer when the game allows you to fairly easily do insane things, like nuclear detonating your Titan while ejecting yourself far into the air, hover killing an enemy pilot down below, quickly bringing yourself back to earth by grapple hooking onto the back of enemy Titan, and then removing their final Power Core, which annihilates the mech in spectacular process.
It’s thanks to the successful marriage of Pilot and Titan gameplay that Titanfall 2 is able to outclass its direct competition while also being something fresh and new. It’s hard to compare games across genres. However, if we’re looking at leaders of genre packs, Titanfall 2 is head and shoulders the best total FPS package this year and should be our GOTY for 2016.