I've had Titanfall 2 on the brain for some time now. Between the current open beta, my hands-on time with the extensively reworked multiplayer, and the addition of a full-fledged single-player campaign, there's plenty of Titanfall 2 hype to go around before the game drops on October 28th. But ever since I got the chance to see the game in-depth, something in particular stuck with me: how much Titanfall 2 reminds me of some successful, beloved game series that have nothing to do with giant robots and FPS parkour.
Whether or not you've played the first Titanfall and know what to expect from the Pilot/Titan dynamic, these comparisons should help give you a little more context to how the sequel will play out. If you're a fan of any of the following franchises, you should really start keeping tabs on Titanfall 2 - its influences defy the conventions you've come to expect from the military shooter space.
The original Titanfall kicked off the recent FPS trend of high mobility mixed in with the classic aim-down-sights shooting, and the same holds true in Titanfall 2. Before, the most practical use for your pilot's jet-boosting Jump Kit was figuring out all kinds of tricky ways to bound around the maps in multiplayer. But now, with Titanfall 2's single-player campaign, there's a lot more room for full-on platforming and environmental puzzles, akin to the acrobatic vistas seen in the Prince of Persia games. There's such an inherent satisfaction to gazing at the smoothed walls of a canyon, recognizing that this must be the correct path forward, then chaining together three wall-rides in quick succession to gracefully glide over a giant chasm. It always feels great when the Prince pulls off such agile stunts, and Titanfall 2 protagonist Jack Cooper looks to follow that same light-footed, physics-defying path.
The ability to activate high-tech stealth camo is another inherent part of any pilot's equipment, and looks like it'll play a key part in the one-against-many fights that define just about every single-player skirmish. Running up to a wide-open clearing, scanning the area for enemies, and then formulating a plan to take them out (quietly or otherwise) feels like a more contained version of Far Cry, but Crysis is the more apt comparison given your suit's Predator-like cloaking capabilities and enhanced jumps. I will say that right now, it seems like the enemy AI is a little too susceptible to stealth: instead of enemy soldiers firing where they think you'd be, they'll immediately drop their guns and start gawking at your previous location if you trigger stealth in the middle of a firefight. Maybe this is their first time witnessing such eye-deceiving technology in action?
Naughty Dog's legendary action adventure series has repeatedly set the bar for beautiful jungle landscapes in games. Titanfall 2 by no means tops it, but the tropic vista shown in the first level is undoubtedly gorgeous, with realistic foliage, staggering rock formations, and glistening waterfalls dotting your surroundings. You should probably expect more metal facilities than ancient ruins interspersed between the outdoor areas, but the fact that Titanfall 2's verdant level looks so lush is good sign for things to come. And because the ever-raging battles of the Titanfall universe transpire on multiple planets, there's extra room for alien, otherworldly creativity in the environments (though it remains to be seen just how weird Titanfall 2 is willing to get beyond dinosaur-like wildlife).
If you played the Tribes games back in the day, you're probably in love with their distinct sense of speed, made possible by the crucial 'skiing' mechanic of cruising down mountains and launching across the map using your jet thrusters. And though Titanfall 2's cross-map maneuvering doesn't have the same gigantic scale or breakneck velocity as Tribes, there's a similar amount of potential for speed demons to master the art of traveling very, very quickly. The tutorial makes a point of emphasizing that you literally travel faster when wall-running, and when you combine dextrous wall-runs, powerslides, and double-jumps with the grappling hook of the multiplayer Grapple class, there's a world of possibilities for devising new, increasingly zippy ways to move around. Advanced parkour techniques were a sight to behold in the original Titanfall, so I'm terribly excited to see what's possible in Titanfall 2.
Recent single-player footage of Titanfall 2 briefly shows off the Arc Tool, a device that shoots off a zap of electricity to activate automated parts of the environment. It doesn't appear to serve any purpose in a shootout (though maybe it could act like a stunning taser?), but you can use it to pop open doors or energize an elevator while you're on the move. It reminded me a bit of the non-combat gadgets in the Ratchet & Clank series: tools you can use in clever ways to expand or streamline your exploration. My hope is that Titanfall 2 will encourage you to look for potential uses for the Arc Tool beyond the beaten path, which would be the perfect way to hide secrets in the expansive single-player levels.
Any ninja game will do, really - I'm just going with the most widely recognized name in virtual ninjutsu. Titanfall 2 has a strange fascination with traditional Japanese weaponry, including the Pulse Blade kunai (think Naruto) that reveals nearby enemies via sonar, and high-tech shurikens with different elemental effects, including the Fire Star and Gravity Star. I'm not entirely sure why the military technology of Titanfall 2's future would be so enamored with ancient projectiles - but regardless, I'm a fan. I'll take a souped-up, vortex-creating throwing star over a plain old grenade any day.
Don't worry - Titanfall 2 doesn't employ the snarky, meme bait sense of humor that the Borderlands games seem so fond of. It doesn't have nine bazillion guns, either - but it does borrow one of Borderlands' coolest bits of pure style. At the end of my single-player demo, an enemy pilot by the name of Richter dropped his Titan directly onto our position, then stepped out of his mech to taunt and threaten the player personally. As he steps out of the cockpit, he gets the kind of flashy, freeze-frame-with-a-name introduction akin to Borderlands' signature boss entrances. Admittedly, it was a little bizarre to see in an otherwise serious single-player campaign, but I'll gladly take some purely stylistic pizazz to break up the cliched beats of a blockbuster FPS campaign.