With the First Person Shooter (FPS Game) genre undergoing revitalization in 2016, two major franchises released a week apart. Both vied for the attention and approval of gamers around the world. In an industry where futuristic sci-fi games are a dime a dozen, the competition is fierce.
While Activision released yet another annual iteration to their mega franchise Call of Duty, Respawn Entertainment rolled out its second Titanfall game for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC (the debut title was only available before on Microsoft platforms). The Call of Duty franchise has enjoyed much success in sales over the years, with its snappy multiplayer, co-operative zombie adventures, and over-the-top Michael Bay-esque campaigns. For all the series has done though, in 2016, they took to the stars - exploring a gritty way of life set in the backdrop of a war between the Earth and the colonies of Mars…and the nearly unanimous response of the Internet was nothing short of a resounding indifference.
When Titanfall 2 was revealed with a single-player campaign and plenty of meaty improvements to its already robust multiplayer, it turned more than a few eager heads. Titanfall 2 was a game that players could truly sink their teeth into! The game's fast and intense parkour-based combat, coupled with the series' signature Titans, proved to be a show of force. Not only was Titanfall 2 an impeccable FPS, but something much more refreshing than Infinite Warfare. In fact, here are 15 reasons why Titanfall 2 is the better game.
There are actually two ways to play Titanfall 2 while in combat: as a pilot (a nimble foot-soldier of the battlefield), and as a lumbering Titan. As a pilot, Wall-running, jump boosts, and slides contribute the fast-paced and frenetic combat a way that Infinite Warfare can't hold a candle to. Imagine maneuvering around enemies to gain a better vantage point, grappling atop a building, and then using a slight boost to land on an enemy Titan and steal their battery. In the blink of an eye, you'll have neutralized the threat, while gaining an advantage for your team. There is even the option to enable auto-sprint, which greatly enhances general player mobility – a welcome feature that soon becomes second nature as you quickly boost to a nearby wall to get the drop on your foes. As a large Titan, the movement needs to be more calculated, but a welcome omnidirectional boost can quickly move your titan to safety while against overwhelming odds.
With each new level in the campaign (and each newly explored area on the planet Typhon) comes a new set of challenges and enemies. Between hazardous wildlife, foot-soldier mercenaries working for the illustrious IMC, and enemy Titans, the campaign of Titanfall 2 is sure to keep you on your toes. One enemy, in particular, can be quite difficult while forcing the player to stay focused.
The tick's dull orange eyes brighten right before exploding next to you. In this way, when facing off against ticks, foot-soldiers, and even a Titan, the game forces players to adapt —and it’s a rush. In Infinite Warfare, enemies aren’t quite so varied or tactically interesting to deal with as robots, soldiers, and space ships (for the space combat sections) all become glorified bullet-sponges for the player to pass the mission.
Multiplayer maps are intricately woven affairs ranging from tight, maze-like spaces to sprawling open environments with long sight lines and plenty of opportunities to get the drop on opponents. Due to the detail and intricacy of the combat movement, the multiplayer maps of Titanfall 2 never feel confined. Deadends and sections that cut the player off from their main objective or the enemy are few and far between. The game always allows for pilot mobility to come center-stage while also balancing massive areas for the Titans to wage war. This harmony of differing gameplay styles in the map design provides a unique texture for the world. Titanfall takes place in an area that feels lived-in and believable. Every good story can be told in large part due to the way the environment speaks to the player, one thing is abundantly clear: the war between the IMC and Militia has been going on for a long time. Infinite Warfare features little appeal with its tight corridors and poor sight lines reigning supreme.
Unlike the popular Call of Duty series, Titanfall 2 doesn't record deaths — just kills and assists you make. Yes, you can die, and it may happen often, but this is a facet of the game that makes the multiplayer so resoundingly successful. By only tallying the kills and assists, Titanfall 2’s thoughtful approach creates a gentle atmosphere to ease players new to shooters into the fold, while rewarding them for their triumphs at the end of the match. If you die a lot in a multiplayer game, you would be resoundingly aware of that fact and being at the bottom of the list for player deaths can be a crushing blow to morale. By eliminating this painful stat, players can instead relax in focusing on the objective-based nature of the game as opposed to personal dissatisfaction over their fortitude. It makes you feel great playing the game with less stress than Call of Duty.
Titanfall 2’s campaign is the literal definition of short, but sweet. Each level has an endearing and thought-provoking hook that keeps the combat and parkour exhilarating. The first mission is tailor-made to teaching the pilot controls in a basic tutorial followed closely by being stranded on the planet Typhon, searching for batteries to activate your titan, BT. The game quickly escalates to an exhilarating survival sprint through a manufacturing facility acting as a sinister maze, combining parkour with a fun time-travel mechanic. One section has you storming an IMC facility in a Titan as if it were the beaches of Normandy. This game has it all. Levels in Titanfall 2 are so unique that they are difficult to compare to Infinite Warfare, whose hook is either the pseudo on-rails space combat, or ground combat with only one standout mission late in the game.
Nothing gives you a blood rush faster than facing down 2 or more opposing titans in increasingly overwhelming odds. Whether in the multiplayer or the campaign, the scope of the battles respects the player while also making them feel immensely powerful. You are a lone pilot and Titan against an army of mercenaries on a hostile alien world — and there are several points in which you feel like an unstoppable warrior. One standout moment has Cooper and BT aligning a massive satellite dish to open a communication channel to the Militia. Of course, the task itself is meant to sound mundane, but when you end up needing to parkour to different construction points and wall-run on parts to align the dish while fighting increasingly difficult waves of enemies who can also parkour, it becomes quite a spectacle for the senses. This isn’t the only time an epic battlefield occurs, but it definitely gives players a taste of what the latter-half of the game will bring. In fact, it only escalates from there.
Paired with rifleman Jack Cooper (that’s you) after his old pilot died, BT-7274 is the Titan you pilot in the campaign of Titanfall 2. Your Titan in single-player and your ally on the battlefield - BT provides support in combat when you're not piloting him and intense visceral combat with interchangeable load-outs on the fly when you do pilot him. There are several Titan classes to choose from in multiplayer, but in single-player BT will often need to switch between each class. This brings a sense of adventure and power to BT, which is solidified by his personality – making literal jokes based upon Jack’s chosen responses. These moments of affable discourse quickly make BT more amusingly child-like than sarcastic bot E3N (pronounced Ethan) in Infinite Warfare. As a result of this strong connection and extreme circumstances, BT becomes an invaluable partner and friend to Jack.
Titanfall 2 features a suite of responsive controls designed to make every action feel less like playing a game with a controller, but rather the controller becoming a natural and enjoyable extension of the player. With auto sprint engaged, fluid wall-run and pinpoint accuracy on gun handling, this is one of the most finely tuned control schemes on an FPS at the time of its release. Feeling the rush of wind at your face while sprinting through the environment is exhilarating. Every step your Titan takes causes the world to rumble, cutting enemies down like butt. Titanfall 2 is a more intuitive experience than Infinite Warfare, which relies on the basic controls set out by the earliest iterations of the series. In this case, though, an older and familiar layout seems more like a fallback plan to ease fans of Call of Duty multiplayer to the next annual release without ruffling too many feathers.
Titanfall 2's campaign is a wonderful throwback to classic and fun FPS games, while also pushing the genre forward in terms of movement and mechanics. The fun-factor in this one is key as it consistently creates a strong sense of style. The way characters interact with each other sounds like campy dialogue, but the game is self-aware, and it keeps the banter fun. Infinite Warfare is at the opposite end of the spectrum, falling victim to a wave of self-seriousness. The latest Call of Duty's sole moments of levity can be found in a bot with an unfiltered mouth. Titanfall 2’s story of survival and optimism in an inter-galactic war feels urgent, but fun, giving even the occasional stressful moments in the game a relaxed demeanor in the most harrowing of environments. It is solely unique and an inspired thing for a game to not take itself too seriously. As a result, it ends up being wonderfully audacious and something the industry should take note of going forward.
One Titanfal 2's campaign highlights are the boss fight. By themselves, the fights aren’t that difficult, but are presented in a very fun style, boasting of bravado and even a little intimidation. Each boss in the game is built up in the level in with they are featured. Each level's dialogue teases future battles before the ones you are about to face. When finally arriving at their location, each boss greets you with a monologue, while their name appears on-screen full of bravado. It's not unlike WWE Royal Rumble introducing new fighters. It pumps players up for the fight and acts as a wonderful payoff for completing though the level up to that point. What’s more: the encounters always feature some kind of unique gameplay niche (one of the bosses flies) whereas Infinite Warfare...does it even have a single boss battle? Like the majority of Call of Duty games.
If the key element of comparison between space ships and Titans was exploration, then in a theoretical scenario, space ships would win. But this is no theoretical scenario, and Call of Duty has profoundly disappointing use of spaceships. Titans allow for greater combat depth, personality, and control with specific and drastically different customizable load-outs across all game-modes: a feature expanded upon in Titanfall 2. Titan load-outs are an essential part of the game's balance, and serve as a way for players to creatively master the battlefield with their destructive weapons of choice. Meanwhile, the space ships of Infinite Warfare, have a locking mechanism that transforms the already limited-flight crafts into your favourite pseudo on-rails shooter. After locking onto attackers, the ship synchronizes its movements to that of the enemy, making it extraordinarily easy to destroy them with little to no effort or strategy.
From the pilot-operated smart pistol to the ion titan's laser core, the best weapons in a recent sci-fi shooter are found in Titanfall 2. Sure, there are the usual classic assault rifles, shotguns, and pistols, but each weapon has a grounded and used feel to them. Thanks to precision controls, the weight behind each weapon empowers players to advance on their enemies. Anti-titan weaponry packs more of a punch in this iteration too with each charge taking away a significant portion of a titan’s health. It lays the groundwork for some truly impressive skill-based firefights. The weapons built into the titans are more refined this time too with one Titan class even wielding a sword to deliver a decisive blow to its enemies. Now, this isn’t to say that Infinite Warfare does not have unique weapons, but the fact of the matter is that they feel as if the weapons from Advanced Warfare got a new paint job before being reissued for the latest game.
The humour of Titanfall 2 stems from the personality of its presentation, and the interactions Jack Cooper has with BT and other characters in the world. The boss encounters, in particular, can be a little ridiculous in their over-the-top monologues and stereotypes, but the game's humour helps Cooper and BT bond and learn to trust one another. The story is as much about their camaraderie as it is about a giant planet-destroying weapon. The inflections given by BT’s single robotic eye synced with his speech serve strong comedic timing when the moment arises. But then there is Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, a game about a cheery as a graveyard in winter. With the exception of the overused E3N, Infinite Warfare seeks to silence laughter in the world with Earth’s bleak future of civil war with the Mars colonies.
Titanfall 2 has a lighter-hearted tone of a 90s action film, taking itself seriously just enough to become an endearing classic for players. It does this by wearing its humour on its sleeve with the feeling of a fun and playful story. One inspired moment has BT telling Cooper to trust him right before hurtling Cooper to the mission objective on the other side of the map. It is a genuinely gleeful moment accentuated by the bond of two combatants doing their part to save the world. Even the higher-ranking boss battles in the game are full of monologues that feel like they were taken right from an 80s B-movie, which works to the advantage of the game as the over-the-top nature of the story is easier to forgive with the context of a few campy and cliché threads. This fun tone is even consistent in multiplayer. The same cannot be said for Infinite Warfare’s ever-so-sombre tone of loss in the face of overwhelming odds. The campaign is bleak truly one of the darkest stories in the franchise’s history…but then the multiplayer is a jovial spectacle measuring KDA. It seems that those elements clash a little too much for there to be a strong cohesion between the gameplay modes and the game suffers for it.
The world of Titanfall 2 is teeming with life and brimming with the possibility of adventure as it boldly charts out new worlds in a war-torn, yet optimistic science fiction universe. As a result, it truly feels like an alien world that is a marvel to explore and is —at its core— a grand universe to unravel. This feeling of a unique setting carries over in the multiplayer with each location telling of the circumstances it has endured. The lore-based storytelling that unravels in even these sections allows us a glimpse at other interesting worlds beyond that of the campaign, and –best of all– these worlds are fictional, which allows for complete creative freedom in their design. Unfortunately, when hearing that Infinite Warfare would only be set in our solar system, it was a hard pill to swallow. How is it that a game about a war in space concerns itself so little with showcasing new worlds to the point that they simply fall back on recycled notions of the future of our solar system? It ended up feeling like a wasted opportunity not to pursue more alien vistas. If they ever attempt space in the future, the Call of Duty franchise could learn a thing or two from Titanfall 2.