What the Tom's Team Played This Weekend: 'Titanfall 2'

It can feel hard to escape multiplayer first-person shooters (fps) these days. If anything, most games encourage you to play with more people than ever, thanks to the proliferation of the 100-people-per-match battle royale genre. Games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 are even scrapping their single-player campaigns entirely. That's a shame, because Titanfall 2 shows there's still a lot of potential for one-person entertainment, even in the FPS genre.

I know Titanfall 2 is a year-and-a-half old. I also know that it has a multiplayer aspect wherein assorted teams fight to the death by jumping into Titans (semi-sentient mechs with various features) or hopping around like bunnies that were force-fed cocaine-laced carrots. But I couldn't be less interested--I'm ambivalent on mechs and have Fortnite, Overwatch, and similar titles for multiplayer fun. I'm here for Titanfall 2's campaign.

Part of the problem with campaigns in FPS games is that many of them started to run together. Someone needs to be shot,  and your character has a weird affinity for anything with a trigger. There will be battles amidst waist-high cover, often punctuated by sequences on some form of transport. Bonus points if one of your buddies is killed along the way. Call of Duty even had shot-for-shot identical cutscenes in Ghosts and Modern Warfare 2.

Maybe the removal of a single-player campaign from Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 isn't a sign of problems with campaigns in FPS games so much as it's an admission on Activision's part that the franchise has long depended on its multiplayer offerings to sell copies. Why spend ungodly amounts of money on AAA development costs for a single-player campaign that most people will play once, at most, before forgetting it exists?

Titanfall 2 makes a strong argument for including single-player campaigns that are worth gamers' time. That's probably in large part because it embraces its sci-fi roots to give you more freedom than you'll find in its countless counterparts set during historic wars. With Titanfall 2, you aren't waiting to sprint in between trenches; you're using a lightweight jet pack to run along walls and jump again while you're in mid-air. (And that's just the intro.)

Combine that freedom of movement with the option to hop in your companion mech for giant robot battles and some adequate gun play--sometimes your shots feel like they have little impact, with more emphasis on how many rounds you can pump into someone than on how well you aim--and Titanfall 2 is good clean gaming fun. Add in the option to pause whenever you want, so you can adult for a little while and you're gold.

Of course, none of this is revolutionary. Many early PC games were first-person shooters without multiplayer modes, and as much as series like Call of Duty have shifted focus to their multiplayer aspects, the single-player campaigns were also a significant draw for many gamers. There's no denying these games are fun, but is abandoning a well-done campaign you can play at your leisure and which doesn't depend on active servers worth it? Trends in 2018 suggest the answer is "yes," but if this game from 2016 shows us anything, it's that we should reconsider the value of good single-player gameplay.

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