Welcome to Best of Xbox Game Pass where each week I’m going to pick out a game available on Game Pass and explain why I think it is worth playing. While I’ll certainly include some of the bigger titles available on the service, I’ll focus more on other games that you might have overlooked in the hope of leading you to a hidden gem
If you enjoy shooters and haven’t played Titanfall 2 yet, get ready for one of the finest FPS campaigns to have ever been created. while the first Titanfall focused purely on delivering multiplayer thrills, Respawn upped their game for the sequel and gave players a 5-6 hour campaign all about a dude and his Titan stranded behind enemy lines and kicking ass.
After BT-7274s previous Pilot is killed, you find yourself his new Pilot and stuck on a hostile planet with the IMC hunting you down. What follows is an engaging tale that has at its heart a surprisingly emotional bond between a giant piece of machinery and his meat-bag Pilot. Respawn work hard to make BT endearing and likable, despite his metal exterior or robot voice. Little flashes of humour go a long way toward making the Titan seem…well, human, really. And as the game explores the relationships between Pilots and their Titans, you’ll get caught up in it all and come to view BT as a friend and not just a walking tank you can control. Although he is that, too.
There’s a couple of things that make playing Titanfall 2 so deliciously good, and the first of those is movement. Outside of your hulking Titan you’re an agile Pilot, capable of running at a respectable speed, running along walls, performing double jumps and sliding along the floor like you’ve been covered in grease. The end result of all this is that you can belt around the battlefield at damn near DOOM speeds, especially since wall-runs let you go even faster, although you’re actually capable of stopping mid-run and just hanging their like a gun-toting Spider-Man. It’s bloody glorious stuff, really, and Titanfall 2 injects its combat with plenty of chances to employ your movement skills. If you’re touching the ground, you ain’t playing it properly.
Respawn make sure to use their excellent game feel outside of combat too, creating fun platforming sequences that let you unleash all that acrobatic energy. First-person platforming is a tricky thing, so Respawn get around it by ensuring that you don’t need to be pin-point precise – it’s all about the smooth flow. It’s training for the manic multiplayer, too, where players demonstrate insane skills and seemingly never touch the ground.
Then you’ve got the guns themselves. Every gun you can get packs a meaty punch and firing them is a pleasure unto itself. Basic squishy enemies can be mowed down with just a few bullets, giving you a feeling of power when you slide around a corner and unleash a shotgun blast into someone. And yet even these regular foes can kill you if you’re stupid. Meanwhile, tougher robots and stuff make you work a bit more for the kills. Going up against a Titan without your own machine is a blast, too, because you have to employ all those ninja skills to avoid being turned into a red mist.
The final ingredient which makes the game so damn good is variety. Respawn pack the campaign with awesome level designs and cool concepts. How about an entire level set inside a gigantic subterranean factory that is constructing entire houses? Huge platforms shift and turn, creating an excellent combat experience, an amazing vista and plenty of chances for some leaping and climbing. And then right after that, how about an entire level where you can jump between two time periods at will? One is a ruin where everything is on fire and monsters prowl the corridors, the other is a ultra-sleek lab with plenty of armed guards. You can outflank foes by literally travelling forward in time and then back again. That’s cool enough on its own, but then Respawn add in fun platforming sequences where you have to jump back and forth between time periods in mid-air.
Of course, there’s BT himself, the towering titan that acts as your squadmate, ally, friend and ride throughout the campaign. A lot of areas are designed around hopping in and out of BT, switching up the action so that you can get a taste of both worlds. Piloting your Titan is awesome, feeling at once weighty and yet still agile. Going up against other Titans feels great, too, like something out of Pacific Rim but without the monsters. Actually, Respawn could do a wicked Pacific Tim game, now I think about it.
Respawn are careful to keep everything balanced, never letting you spend too much time either in BT or outside of him. It’s a tricky balancing act, but Respawn manage it well, coming up with reasons to keep you separated that feel natural rather than awkwardly forced. And there are some great segments where you work together as well.
While the game might be getting on a bit, its old age hasn’t stopped its many fans flocking to its multiplayer. Boot up Titanfall 2 and hop online and you’ll still find a health community of players eager to gun each other down. Of course, many of the people you’ll find are also combat veterans at this point, so if you want to step onto the battlefield you better be prepared to be humbled for the first while. But with Titanfall 2 available on Game Pass, there’s an influx of new blood that might help level the playing field a little. Or just act as cannon fodder for the vets, I suppose.
If you’re looking for an extra reason to play Titanfall 2 or even replay it, then the game just got the Xbox Boost treatment, allowing for up to 120Hz if you have a TV that can handle it. Titanfall 2 already feels smooth as Hell to play, so I can only imagine what 120fps could feel like. I might actually have to install it on PC and check out the extra frames.
Without a doubt, Titanfall 2 delivers one of the best FPS campaigns in recent memory, and perhaps one of the best of all time. Few shooters feel so satisfyingly smooth to play and offer the same outstanding level design that Titanfall 2 does. And if that somehow isn’t enough, you get an entertaining story with a solid emotional core, and a multiplayer that is heaps of fun provided you don’t mind getting your arse handed to you.
Now all we need is Titanfall 3. C’mon, EA, let Respawn do it. They’ve earned it.