Titanfall was envisioned as multiplayer-first franchise, where all of the game’s ideas coalesced around developer Respawn’s vision for berserk and awe-inspiring clashes between two teams of mechs and their hyper-agile pilots.
But for all its white-knuckle action and balletic chaos, Titanfall’s world was lacking in narrative and context. Its six-on-six deathmatches weren’t exactly meaningless, but the game as a whole would have fared better if there was some deeper understanding of who were these pilots and their towering robot companions.
Titanfall 2 will provide answers to such questions. Its single-player mode tells the story of a titan named “BT-7274” and its new pilot, rifleman Jack Cooper. For reasons not explained, 7274’s previous pilot was killed in action, and the explanation for why Jack was summoned as a replacement also remains a mystery.
There is already tension and distrust here; a well-trodden yet effective narrative trope on the trustworthiness of our deadly robot companions. In what can only be seen as a foreshadowing extension of that idea, 7274 spells out his three protocols in order of priority: 1) Link with pilot. 2) Uphold the mission. 3) Protect the pilot.
One doesn’t need to be a super-fan of Robocop or I, Robot to know of the inevitable conundrums with AI’s being programmed to prioritise a mission over the safety of its companion. A telling clip at the end of EA’s trailer shows 7274 grabbing Jack like a baseball and, after saying the words “trust me”, throws him across a chasm about a quarter-mile in length.
As for the action itself, the titans this time around seem far more nimble, performing kung-fu, ground-pounds, and quite brilliantly, chopping down other mechs with swords as long as a train carriages. Whether these mechanical giants will be able to perform their own wall-jumps and parkor is a tantalising question that hangs in the air, for now.
Speaking of hanging in the air, the trailer concludes with a marvelous first-person glimpse into the eponymous attraction of the series: You, strapped in a titan suspended in a spaceship that hovers above the clouds, plunge like a bomb to the battlefield below.
It’s a staggering sight similar to the dramatic moments that graced the first game. This time, however, those awe-inspiring sights and sounds will have a story, and hopefully a meaning, attached to them.
Titanfall 2 ships October 28 on Xbox One, PS4, and PC