I was late to Titanfall 2, playing the first-person shooter a handful of years after it was released in October 2016. But I don’t think you could blame me or anyone else who missed Respawn’s sequel, the multiplayer-focussed Titanfall.
Welcome! This column is part of a series in which members of the Tom's Guide staff share what they're playing and enjoying right now, with the goal of helping you find great games that you may have missed. Be sure to check out our previous entry, where we talked discussed how Aliens: Dark Descent is the best PS5 game you’re not playing right now.
Despite launching to critical acclaim, Titanfall 2 was released around the same time as Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and thus got lost in the hype dust kicked up by new entries in two behemoths of war-based shooters. Yet Battlefield 1 is a bit of a quiet footnote in the series, and I’m not sure many people really look back at Infinite Warfare with a nostalgia-filled gaze. Conversely, Titanfall 2 blossomed into a classic game that can be heralded for introducing some fantastic mechanics into the fps genre.
And with it now available in the Steam Summer Sale for a frankly absurd $4.49, Titanfall 2 is very much worth playing today. In fact, on the day of writing this, I installed the game on a beastly desktop from custom PC builders Starforge Systems in a bid to experience playing the game with everything cranked to the max and being piped to the Alienware AW3423DWF with its 165Hz refresh rate OLED panel (incidentally that’s a Tom’s Guide Awards-winning monitor).
I expect to be thoroughly impressed. But even when I played Titanfall 2 at a mere 1080p on an older gaming computer it got me hooked with its fluid action and a suite of levels that are a high point in shooter design.
- Titanfall 2 Ultimate Edition: was $29 / £24, now $4.49 / £3.74 on Steam
Hop, jump, run and shoot
You'd think that one of the core parts of Titanfall 2 would be piloting the titular Titan mechs. And while that is true, with such combat being a fantastic cacophony of big guns and set pieces, it's the movement of Rifleman Third Class turned pilot, Jack Cooper, where Titanfall 2 sings.
Despite seeming like a run-of-the-mill future soldier grunt, player character Cooper is surprisingly spry. He can go from a sprint into a jump and double jump, which when positioned against flat surfaces allows the player to wall run for a bit. Not only does this feel great but it's also a core part of navigating some traversal puzzles in early levels.
What you learn from early movement can then be applied in some more open areas, allowing for all manner of dynamic movement for outflanking enemies and making split-second escapes before a barrage of fire prematurely ends Cooper’s tale of survival on a hostile planet.
Speaking of combat, Titanfall 2 gives players a whole range of guns to play with, from light SMGs to energy-powered sniper rifles and chunky lever-operated but futuristic shotguns. A diverse armory combined with fluid movement really sets a high bar for fps shooting and still feels very fresh in the face of interactive Call of Duty and Far Cry games.
This all feeds into the rather excellent multiplayer mode, which sees pilots get access to a grappling hook for getting around the arenas and into elevated positions super-fast; Titanfall 2 did addictive first-person grappling hooks way ahead of Halo Infinite.
And once a few minutes of initial combat in most multiplayer modes is complete, players can then call down their custom Titans, changing the battlefield from a boots-on-the-ground/wall/roof skirmish into a firefight between robots armed to the teeth.
But even then Respawn doesn’t forget the joy of fluid moment, with each Titan having options to evade attacks; the light-and-fast Ronin specializes in rapid hit-and-run attacks, while the precision-focused Northstar can hover. Even if your Titan is destroyed, you can eject at the last minute and use the pilot's grappling hook and wall-running to survive to fight another day or even hop onto an enemy Titan and remove its battery energy source, which can then be used to power up friendly Titans.
The multiplayer and co-op modes of Titanfall 2 alone are worthy of attention and picking it up in the Steam Sale. But arguably Apex Legends — which is based in the Titanfall ‘universe’ — offers the best realization of combat mechanics and movement established in Titanfall 2. So the reason I’m considering revisiting Titanfall 2 is the design of the single-player campaign.
A Titan-ic campaign
Each level/mission in Titanfall 2 tends to introduce a specific concept, theme or combat mechanic.
Blood and Rust has Cooper battle through the bowels of a water reclamation facility that keeps players on their toes by introducing new types of enemies at quite a clip and then coming to a head with a tense final battle. Into the Abyss leans heavily on the wall running mechanic in a facility that’s initially baffling but then makes sense in another cathartic conclusion.
But it’s Effect and Cause that Titanfall 2 is most fondly remembered for. Without wanting to spoil too much, time travel is used here in what was a properly original fashion in 2016, while bypassing usual tropes established with turning back the clock. Fans of Dishonored 2 will know what I’m talking about as Effect and Cause is similar to that game’s A Crack in the Slab section. It's one of the best moments in Titanfall 2, if not gaming in general, and completely subverts one's expectations up to that point.
Just writing all this is making me a little sad that there’s seemingly no sequel to Titanfall 2 on the horizon and that the game was unappreciated when it launched. But Respawn has tapped into its Titanfall heritage with the rather good Jedi Survivor, which is flush with dashes and double jumping.
But in some ways Titanfall 2 exists in its own self-contained bubble with a story that concludes with a satisfying snap, leaving no threads that need tying up. And that means it's completely worth playing today.
More from Tom's Guide
Get the BEST of Tom’s Guide daily right in your inbox: Sign up now!
Upgrade your life with the Tom’s Guide newsletter. Subscribe now for a daily dose of the biggest tech news, lifestyle hacks and hottest deals. Elevate your everyday with our curated analysis and be the first to know about cutting-edge gadgets.
Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.