Last week, at their offices outside Los Angeles, the good people at Respawn held an event where, for the first time, they showed off footage from single-player campaign in their upcoming sci-fi shooter sequel, Titanfall 2, which will be available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 28th.
For those unfamiliar with Titanfall 2, this first-person shooter, like its predecessor, has you battling other humans on alien worlds. But what makes it stand out from similar games is that you not only battle on the ground, but you also sometimes have access to a Titan, a giant mechanized suit of armor similar to the titular machines from the Metal Gear Solid series (only more human shaped), the Jaegers from Pacific Rim (only smaller and single piloted), and the Hulkbuster armor Tony Stark used in Avengers: Age Of Ultron (only less orange and yellow). In addition, pilots of Titans can also do some creative acrobatics when not suited up, including running along walls like in Prince Of Persia and double jumping like in Super Smash Bros. For WiiU.
In Titanfall 2, you play as Jack Cooper, a rifleman in the militia who wants to be a Titan pilot, and has been getting driving lessons from his Captain. But when the demo video begins (and we were told the footage was taken from the beginning and middle of the game), Jack is in an escape pod that’s hurtling towards a planet called Typhon, a scene that oddly recalled the beginnings of both Halo 3: ODST and Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare. The militia’s mission was to explore a research facility on the planet, but when their ship was shot down, everyone ran for the escape pods.
Regaining consciousness after crash landing, Jack meets up with his Captain who, with his dying breath, transfers control of his Titan to Jack. Unfortunately, Jack’s new BFF, BT-7274 — who, unless I’m mistaken, is voiced by the guy who does The Walking Dead promos for AMC — is low on power, so Jack sets off to find him a battery.
This, not surprisingly, seems to be the training part of the campaign in Titanfall 2. Besides shooting some really weird-looking dog-like animals, Jack also learns how to do the wall-running and double jumping moves. This brings him to an outpost, and his first encounter with human opponents and their trigger-happy drones. Along with a bevy of futuristic but still recognizable weapons — including pistols and machine guns — Jack also has a personal cloaking device, which makes it easy for him to perform stealth kills that momentarily switch the game’s perspective from first- to third-person animation like in Halo 5: Guardians.
These early scenes in Titanfall 2 also revealed two aspects of the game that continued throughout the demo, and will undoubtedly do so in the final game as well. First, it seems that Jack and BT will often be separated by circumstance, though even when they are, BT will still provide helpful hints much like Cortana did for Master Chief in the early Halo games.
Next, the Titanfall 2 demo had Jack coming across the wreckage of his outfits’ space ship, at which point the demo jumped ahead to yet another gun fight back where BT was parked. After killing all comers, Jack was then shown getting inside BT, and having his mind sync up to his new toy. The demo then jumped again to a scene in which Jack and BT are sent on a mission to fix a communications station. But, of course, the tool they need is located in an area inaccessible to anyone — or anything, as the case may be — that can’t run along walls. In other words, this was yet another platforming scene, though one punctuated by some frantic firefights with security robots and more of those drones.
The demo then followed Jack as he finds and then uses the aforementioned tool to power up and open doors and other mechanical devices throughout the rest of the demo (which reminded me of when you got the gravity gun in Half-Life 2). The demo then cut to Jack’s next mission: finding a targeting module for the communications station. This took him and BT to an industrial area made up of tall platforms and gangplanks.
This was also where we learned another of BT’s special skills, though I somehow doubt you’ll be able to this whenever you want in the game. Picking Jack up, BT flung him across a ravine to another section of the station much like when Colossus threw Wolverine in X-Men: The Last Stand. This was also where the demo revealed, for the second time, that Titanfall 2 has some moments of levity. Which isn’t to say that the game is jokey or silly, but rather that it has some dark situational humor.
Unfortunately, there was also some unintentional humor in the Titanfall 2 demo. While running around the multi-platform station, following Jack as he wall-ran and double jumped from one firefight to the next, we were introduced to a merc named Richter who is supposed to be a bad ass soldier, but instead sounds more like a bad comedian doing a terrible Arnold Schwarzenegger impression. Which wouldn’t have been as laughable if he was just a grunt, but in the scene after the platform fight, Jack — now in BT — takes on a bunch of ‘bots before squaring off against Richter. Who, not surprisingly, has his own Titan.
How that fight plays out, though, will have to wait until Titanfall 2 comes out, as this part of the demo video ended just as Richter closed the cockpit door on his Titan. But what followed was just as intriguing. The last part of the demo was a quick montage of scenes from the game that ended with a moment in which time has frozen, but a confused Jack is still able to walk around, wondering what the heck is going on. Which is where it left those of us watching the demo video as well.
While this was the end of the Titanfall 2 demo, in casually talking to some of the Respawn-ers afterwards, I was able to learn some other small tidbits. First, the ‘bots you fight before taking on Richter include two new ones: Ticks, which are about four-feet-tall, look like someone attached spider-like legs onto one of those red barrels you find in nearly every action game, and basically work like moveable mines; and Stalkers, humanoid robots that are essentially the evolution of the Specters in the original Titanfall, in that they’re taller — ten or eleven feet tall, as opposed to the six-foot-tall Specters — and more powerful.
Then there’s the issue of the controls in Titanfall 2. While the demo was just a video, and thus didn’t include any hands-on time, I obviously cannot comment on the quality of game’s controls during the campaign. But if the controls in the multiplayer demo I played during E3 a few weeks ago are any indication, we can expect the controls in Titanfall 2‘s campaign to be as solid, smooth, and intuitive as the ones in the original game. I guess we’ll find out for sure when Respawn release Titanfall 2 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 28th.