Titanfall 2 may technically be Respawn’s first foray into a story-based campaign, but the team’s pedigree inspires confidence, as did the first-hand look I was offered at Respawn’s HQ earlier this month. While there, I saw excerpts from Titanfall 2’s single-player campaign before playing a few hours of its multiplayer (more on that soon).
Titanfall 2’s story puts players in the boots of Jack Cooper, a Militia rifleman who dreams of piloting his own Titan. At the beginning of Titanfall 2’s story, Jack realizes this dream — under less-than-ideal circumstances. After their first encounter, players set out to locate a power source for an incapacitated BT-7274 (“BT,” for short). After finding and installing it, the pilot and machine form a neuro-link, at which point Jack is able to take control of BT and the game kicks off in earnest.
One might assume that a game featuring pilots controlling giant mechs would spend most of its time putting players in the cockpit, but Respawn is taking care to balance the campaign’s time between pilot combat, Titan combat, and more environmental mobility-focused sequences. One stretch of our demo saw Jack using a combination of jet pack boosts and wall-running techniques to navigate a chasm that would have been impossible for BT to pass.
Sometimes the best solution is the simplest one, though — at one point, Jack and BT encounter a dead end, with more structures dozens (maybe hundreds?) of feet away. BT suggests that the only way forward is a throw, to which Jack replies… well, he replies one of two ways, depending on the player’s choice. Yep, Titanfall 2 features multiple dialogue options, though based on what I saw it doesn’t seem to be as central to the experience as something you’d find in, say, Mass Effect or a Telltale game. The few open-ended moments I saw each gave Jack two response choices, mapped to either up or down on DualShock 4’s D-pad.
But back to the throw! BT suggests that Jack climb into his hand to be tossed across this massive abyss, a maneuver that BT pegs at a 64% chance of success. The person driving our demo chose the response “What about the other 36%?!” which was met with a comically dry assessment of the catastrophic results of a hypothetical missed throw. More personal moments like this punctuate the action-packed, explosive sequences that players might expect to make up the bulk of Titanfall 2.
The story focuses on Jack and BT, but they’re not the only personalities on display in Titanfall 2. At one point, when searching for a comms beacon that’s crucial to their mission, our heroes come across an occupied enemy base and can listen into their radio chatter. “Get to the beacon, now!” orders a particularly animated character with a striking Austrian accent. Our demo ends after we fight our way to him (and his Titan, of course) and he opens the cockpit for an overconfident, face-to-face pre-battle taunt.
Titanfall 2 launches on PlayStation 4 October 28, 2016. What I saw here was but a brief glimpse of its story, but it’s clear that Respawn is making its debut single-player campaign one to keep an eye on. Hang on, BT, I’m on my way!