Five levels that show why Titanfall 2 is one of the best shooters ever made

By Rick Lane, Contributor

The Titanfall series may have originated as a multiplayer experience—with dual-layered battles involving nimble human pilots and heavily-armed mechs—but it's the sequel's singleplayer campaign that will go down as its finest hour. Far from an afterthought or an obligation, Titanfall 2's campaign includes some of the most imaginative and exciting singleplayer FPS design seen in the last ten years.

Key to the campaign's brilliance is its mission design. While Titanfall 2's campaign still centers around the two-layered combat featured in multiplayer, each scenario plays with the game's distinctive movement and combat in unique ways.

From an entire level that moves under the player's feet to messing with the very concept of time itself, the campaign is built from ideas that could often form the basis of entire games. Below, we recap the five missions that cement Titanfall 2's status as one of the best shooters ever made.
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Into the Abyss

Titanfall 2's first major twist on the corridor shooter is a level that builds those corridors around you while you play. Pilot Jack Cooper and his Titan BT-7274 journey across the planet Typhon, attempting to take a shortcut leading into a subterranean manufacturing plant known as the World Foundry. When BT is abducted by the Foundry's operator, Cooper must navigate his way through the plant to rescue him.

Into the Abyss is the first true test of your movement skills as a pilot. By this point in the game, you're comfortable with boost-jumping between platforms and running along walls. But Into the Abyss challenges you to move between platforms that are themselves moving, weaving in and out of a gigantic assembly line designed to build prefab housing.

As you leap between its mechanisms, you need to avoid crushing presses that stamp artificial grass onto concrete slabs, and time your jumps precisely as mechanical arms flip platforms around, suddenly turning the floor under your feet into a wall you can sprint across.

You follow the same assembly line throughout the level, letting you watch the buildings being constructed in real-time while evading gunfire and kicking enemies into the chasm beneath the factory.

The climax of the mission is an arena battle staged inside the completed prefab village—a playable homage to Titanfall's multiplayer heritage. Into the Abyss is the moment the Titanfall 2 campaign first shows its hand, revealing itself to be far more than a typical linear shooter.
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The Beacon

One of the longest missions in Titanfall 2, The Beacon follows up Into the Abyss's assembly line gimmick with two smaller ideas. Where Into the Abyss emphasizes forward momentum, The Beacon is all about verticality.

Set in and around an interstellar communications array, the mission starts with you descending into the bowels of the facility to retrieve a device called the Arc Tool, dodging a gauntlet of electrified obstacles as you proceed through the facility's substructure. Once the battery is retrieved, you then ascend to the main communications dish to repair it.

Unlike in Into the Abyss, you can't just follow the pathways set out for you—you have to create them yourself. The Arc Tool is more than just a MacGuffin for you to retrieve. It can power nearby electrical systems, letting you flip switches and activate platforms remotely. The second half of the level combines this with cranes that can be manipulated to move platforms into the right position.

Positioning and timing are crucial in The Beacon, particularly in its latter stages, where you often need to trigger platforms in midair.

The Beacon is also the setting for some of the best pilot-level combat in the game. The open-air environment surrounding the communications dish gives you plenty of room to use speed and acrobatics to your advantage. It isn't the flashiest mission in Titanfall 2, but it is one of the most fundamentally satisfying.
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The Ark

The Ark is a fitting title for a mission all about ships—although Noah would have been able to take a lot more animals with him on one of Titanfall 2's massive flying battlecruisers.  The Ark sees an assembled Armada of allied IMC marines chasing after a mercenary fleet to stop them from activating a device called The Fold Weapon, powered by a mysterious object, the titular Ark.

The two fleets are The Ark's main hook. As you and BT try to catch up with the leading mercenary vessel, you have to fight both inside and outside of the assembled ships to get there.

The mission's highlight involves clearing out a gun battery along the exterior of a merc frigate, before joining up with a team of marines to battle through the ship's main hangar—and culminating in a Titan battle on the roof of the frigate.

The Ark is on the shorter side of Titanfall 2's levels, but it's easily one of the most spectacular.
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The Fold Weapon

The climactic mission of Titanfall 2 is fully aware that events are barrelling toward a conclusion—but instead of trying to slow things down, it instead gives you the tools to reach the end as efficiently as possible.

The mission's first half sees Cooper, alone and massively outnumbered, headshotting entire groups of enemies using the auto-targeting Smart Pistol while racing along the walls of the Fold Weapon's underground complex. The second half switches to Titan combat, furnishing you with a huge minigun that smart-targets Titan weak spots.

The entire level is about building momentum, increasing the pace and the pressure of the action to deliver an intense and thrilling finale. Developer Respawn Entertainment knows you've put in a shift at this point, and wants you to be able to enjoy the fireworks. Yet even at the end, Titanfall 2 tosses around fresh ideas like Leonardo da Vinci on his second bottle of wine.
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Effect and Cause

Time is both a tool and a toy in Titanfall 2's centerpiece mission, as Cooper and BT discover a research facility phasing between two different points in its own history. In the present, the complex lies in smoldering ruins, its exterior overgrown with alien flora and its interior still burning from recent catastrophe. In the past, its rooms and hallways are clinically clean, bustling with scientists studying the object responsible for its temporal torment—the aforementioned Ark.

Initially, Effect and Cause pits you against the facility's abrupt time switches, forcing you to time your movements to avoid being caught out by the sudden changes between environments. Yet it isn't long before you come across a device that puts this power directly in your hands, letting you shift between the two time periods at the press of a button.

The remainder of the mission dedicates itself to exploring both the tremendous power of this device, and the peril that comes along with it. Time-shifting makes you nigh omnipotent in combat, letting you phase out of existence whenever an enemy targets you, then reappear behind their back to take them out.

But safety in one timeline does not guarantee safety in the other. A gleaming waxed floor in the past might have collapsed into rubble in the present, leaving a fiery chasm for you to fall into. Likewise, a ruined laboratory in the present might be crawling with soldiers in the past, with you inadvertently dropping into the fray.

There's good reason why Effect and Cause is often cited as the high point of Titanfall 2's campaign, and it's worth playing the entire game just to experience its time-bending combat. But the mission is a crest on a ridge rather than a solitary peak—an ingenious showstopper that Titanfall 2 builds toward, before maintaining that momentum to its dramatic conclusion.

Grab Titanfall 2 now on the Epic Games Store and get ready to experience one of the most creative and exciting video games ever made.