Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Best Shooter

                The year 2016 is a return to force of First Person Shooters with many quality titles for the wide array of styles that this genre entails.
The shooting madness started in force with the big pleasant surprise that was DOOM. A shooter returning to the roots of the series providing great entertainment value through an action packed singleplayer campaign with an extremely satisfying shooting system and the surprisingly awesome Glory Kills. DOOM sacrificed the narrative, which no one really cared about, for better gameplay mechanics and a level design powered by greatly optimized graphics by its new id Tech 6 engine. Too bad the multiplayer couldn’t capture the feeling and greatness of the singleplayer campaign, but nevertheless, DOOM is a shooter to be remembered. Homefront: The Revolution followed with a quality that was a reflection of its long and troubled history, but its lack of success was covered by Blizzards’s entry on the FPS market with the online game Overwatch. This game took the world by storm gaining a huge fanbase way before it was released with its cutsy characters and colorful graphics. Providing casual fun while still having a learning ladder to climb on, Overwatch ticked all the boxes of current trends becoming a huge success. ARMA 3’s Apex expansion hit new grounds of success for a niche game with its vast and intricate new tropical map that pushes the boundaries of sandbox gameplay even further. Shadow Warrior 2 derived from its classic formula with a Borderlands-esque gameplay and progression system that wasn’t as entertaining for all Wang’s fans out there, but made up for it with a PC support that’s worth praising. Battlefield took another direction with the weirdly name Battlefield 1 that went for a massive change with its WWI setting beautifully displayed with the immense power of Frostbite Engine. The campaign has seen some improvements, but still lacks the consistence in narrative and gameplay that other shooters have. The multiplayer remains action focused like the latest Battlefield games, but taking a step backwards with a further streamlining of its gameplay. Killing Floor 2 left Early Access with enough content to support the gameplay elements that make it such a good horde mode shooter.
In the last couple of years we barely had one game capable of breaking the curse of assembly line shooters and this year even Call of Duty tried something different. It seems like a close race, but choosing the best shooter turned out to be easier than I thought it would be. The two standing competitors in a year filled with first person shooters took the gamers by surprise and while DOOM was an excellent return to the 90s, Titanfall 2 felt like a more complete game.
                Titanfall 2 is EA’s lamb sacrificed in the prime month of the year launched between Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare as a pawn in a battle of pride. Yet, the game emerged despite being pitted between two established franchises. It doesn’t share the same financial success, by probably a large margin, but it’s a quality title in all the aspects that define it.
                The multiplayer of Titanfall 2 follows the expected pattern with a few design changes, some for the better and some for the worse. The highlight is the additional content that was pumped into the multiplayer fixing the biggest complaint about the predecessor. Titans have been split into personalized classes with special abilities and unique weapons with combos available that work extremely well. Pilots haven’t been forgotten and besides the ton of cosmetic customizations, their loadout has been expanded with more weapons, abilities and upgrades. There are a few problems that hinder the fast paced and skill based multiplayer of Titanfall 2, much stemming from a level design inferior to the previous game. But overall, Titanfall 2’s multiplayer has in store dozens hours of competitive gameplay that will be kept fresh with the release of free DLCs.
                Titanfall 2 is the successor of a multiplayer game that has brought back to life the fast paced action of shooters like Quake or Unreal Tournament, yet the sequel’s shiniest component is the singleplayer campaign. A total surprise coming from the minds that brought the older Call of Duty games, the singleplayer campaign follows a great level design that isn’t the linear tunnels I was expecting and it’s seasoned with some amazing and always changing gameplay mechanics that give birth to some of the most epic missions I’ve seen in a shooter. The narrative is a bit cheesy, but the campaign is grounded in the relationship between the substitute pilot Jack Cooper and his newly assigned titan BT. There is an evolving synergy between these two characters fueled by failed sarcasm, jokes and emotional moments. But even outside of the two’s bubble, Titanfall 2’s campaign creates a feeling of conflict and war that games based on reality didn’t manage to achieve.
                I had a blast taking the role of pilot Cooper and I’ve spent dozens of hours with the frenetic multiplayer fighting titans and honing my movement skills. Titanfall 2 was a game that I looked forward to in 2016, but I didn’t expect such a level of quality especially from its singleplayer campaign. Out of the two big surprises that reanimated a slightly slow year, I chose Titanfall 2.

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