They say, ‘All’s fair in love and war’. Except when you’re piloting a robot the size of a house. Then you can mow down your foes pretty much as you please.
Such is the appeal of Titanfall 2, the follow-up to EA’s mech-tastic shooter from 2014. Announced today at E3 2016, this sequel seeks to out-do its predecessor by offering a single-player campaign for the first time, in addition to its much-loved multiplayer mode. And crucially for fans of smashing stuff with fists of metal (AKA everyone), this game is no longer an Xbox One exclusive: it’ll be out on PlayStation, Xbox and PC on 28 October.
Sounds like EA has a winner on its hands, right? Well, I was lucky enough to get my grubby mitts on Titanfall 2’s multiplayer mode to find out for sure.
An orgy of destruction, and everyone’s invited
OK. Time for a confession. Like many people with a Sony console, I hadn’t played the original Titanfall before cracking straight into its successor. But that didn't prove to be a big deal, because what I played of Titanfall 2’s multiplayer was an absolute blast with a relatively smooth learning curve. For a game where you start off playing as a Halo-style trooper and where you (should) end each round at the helm at the helm of a badass mech, that’s saying something.
Sure, I spent my first round of play in the dilapidated industrial surroundings of Boomtown running around like a headless, robot chicken. But it wasn’t long before I was setting my laser cannon to ‘destroy all’ and I'm pretty sure any other PlayStation addicts in the same boat will take to it with no trouble.
Boom! Shake the room
If you’ve ever played Call of Duty: Black Ops III, then Titanfall’s core FPS mechanics of wall-running, jet pack-assisted travel and futuristic weaponry will come as second nature. As will the sci-fi guff used to describe those weapons themselves. New to this universe? All you need to know is that a ‘gravity star’ is a good thing to get your hands on.
As you’d expect, the main thing to grasp with Titanfall 2 is how to take down a mech. Much to my surprise, the solution was not to run straight at it and hope for the best. Considering the explosive amount of bombast in this game, it’s actually quite nuanced. Well, as nuanced as a game starring gargantuan robot tanks can be.
The Boomtown map we inhabited was well-designed for both mech and ground combat, with plenty of cover to hand and rooftops to grapple up and traverse. It’s quite possible to sneak up on an enemy mech, rip out its battery and shove a few grenades down the empty slot. Or you can leap off the ground, use an ally’s own mech as a boost pad and do the same. You’ll feel ridiculously cool when you pull off that latter trick, and it’s not even that difficult.
Meet your match
So how does the multiplayer actually work? I kicked off my taste of Titanfall 2’s multiplayer by jumping out of the back of a hovership, and that was about as relaxing as things got. The mode I played seemed to be a blend of Attrition (Team Deathmatch) and the territorial Hardpoint Domination from the first Titanfall, with points allocated for kills, and for objectives completed. New waves of mechs and enemies appeared along the way, with everything escalating to a cataclysmic endpoint of mech-on-mech action. What that last scenario lacks in sex appeal is more than made up for in monumental levels of destruction.
Not every match ends in a rush back to your evacuation dropship, either. If your points tally vastly outweighs that of your opponents, you’ll have the pleasure of picking them off at the end of the match. Or suffer instantaneous revenge and have to sit twiddling your fingers until no players are left. Not that I'd know anything about that…
Mech this out
All of this would count for nothing if piloting a mech wasn't such great fun. You’ll get a giddy rush of glee every time you’re notified that ‘Titanfall is ready to be deployed’. Mercifully, these great, big hulking machines move with the skill and grace of Lionel Messi. Implausible? Sure, but when you’re sat behind the controls of a mech you’re going to want to destroy as much as possible as quickly as possible.
There are six new titans to play as in Titanfall 2, and several different ways to play. You can blast your way through an enemy with a barrage of automatic fire, set trip wires, shield yourself from another titan and, of course, use that laser canon to obliterate whatever’s in front of you. Honestly, the first time you heat up that red demolition beam is quite the sight.
Having not expected a huge amount out of Titanfall 2 it’s shot to the top of my must-play games for this Christmas. If its single-player mode is as ludicrously over-the-top as the multiplayer I've seen so far, we’re looking at one of the most entertaining shooters of 2016.