This week, I’ve been playing Titanfall 2 on the recommendation of Tom, our lead writer. It’s one of his favourite games ever, so I thought I’d check out what all the fuss is about.
I’m not usually a big fan of first-person shooters, but as I’m quickly finding out, Titanfall 2 has a lot more to offer than simply gunning down opponents indiscriminately. First off, traversal is excellent. With the ability to run along walls and double-jump, every action feels incredibly fast and fluid. At one point, I’m leaping out of an exploding factory onto the side of a moving spaceship, which I continue to run along, all the while shooting at enemies in my path. It feels like an action movie sequence that occurs organically, rather than being contrived by the level design.
Stomping around in your Titan (large mech-style robots) is a blast, too. Literally. With numerous load-outs – from homing missiles to a force-field that throws your enemy’s bullets back at them – there’s plenty of ways to change up your play style and keep things fresh.
In short: Titanfall 2 rules. Go check it out on Game Pass now.
Tom – Lead Writer
Playing on Xbox Series S
It’s tough to think of the Xbox platform without thinking of Halo. The Master Chief has endured as an Xbox mascot for two decades with good reason: the Halo games are incredibly fun to play. I’m an incredibly casual fan of the franchise – until now, I hadn’t played a Halo game since Halo 3 – but I recently finished the Halo Infinite campaign, and had a great time.
Now, maybe it’s my fault for not playing Halo 4 or 5, but I found Infinite’s plot to be unintelligible gibberish. The game makes the same mistake as many soft sci-fi paperbacks, in that it heavily emphasises lore over actual story. Proper nouns like Reclaimer and Forerunner are thrown around with reckless abandon and zero emotional context. I had thought that this game was meant to serve as a soft reboot of the Halo story, accessible to new players as well as old. I was wrong.
That being said, Halo Infinite is a blast to play; so much so that I didn’t care one bit that I had no attachment to the plot. Shoot-outs take place in large arenas stuffed full of weapons, vehicles, and explosive barrels; there are so many variables that no two playthroughs of any given mission will be the same. Set-pieces never play out quite how you expect; a rogue grenade or an unintended barrel explosion can easily mess up your flow, and you need to be ready to adapt.
Take the video above, for example, which is taken from my playthrough of a particularly punishing double boss fight; alien heavy Hyperius rushes you on his Crusher bike while his brother Tovarus rains down explosive laser fire on you. After beating my head against the wall for a while, I was eventually able to take out Hyperius and hijack his ride. Seizing upon this opportunity, I decided to drive straight at Tovarus, praying that I’d kill him. And you know what? It only bloody worked! I mowed Tovarus down before launching off a ramp in a moment that should have been scored by a sick electric guitar lick. As I leapt off the damaged vehicle before it exploded, it occurred to me that few games deliver moments of exhilarating improvisation quite as well as Halo does.
Infinite is ostensibly the first open world game in the series, but I didn’t take much advantage of it. Outside of hunting for Spartan Cores, with which you upgrade your abilities, I pretty much just went from main mission to main mission and paid little attention to side activities. The open world isn’t particularly big, nor is it varied; one grassy corner looks the same as the next, with no deserts or fiery volcanoes or icy peaks to explore. Still, though, I greatly enjoyed my time with Halo Infinite. As has become my refrain, it’s well worth a try if you have Xbox Game Pass.
Playing on Xbox Series S
As I alluded to on a previous Wednesday, I’ve not had the easiest time with my mental health as of late. Things have been gradually improving, but my sprits were particularly buoyed by a Fortnite session with fellow Average Joes Ollie and Joe, as well as our other friend Joe. Though I perhaps felt a bit left out due to not being named Joe myself, I soon found myself laughing harder than I have done in weeks. Ollie has written beautifully about the role Fortnite played in maintaining our friendship during the pandemic, but its importance has long outlasted the age of lockdown.
Look, it’s hard to get a group of friends in their thirties together in one room, especially so when they’re divided between Manchester and London. I don’t get to see my dearest friends in person as often as I’d like. But when we party (up) and bullshit in Fortnite, it’s like no time has passed at all. We laugh and joke and catch up, all while killing (or more realistically, getting killed by) teenagers thanks to the miracle of fibre internet and cross-platform multiplayer.
All of this has almost nothing to do with the game itself. Fortnite is a perfectly fine shooter, but I think I’d experience similar benefits whether we were playing Call of Duty Warzone, Apex Legends, or any other multiplayer shooter. What really matters is the excuse to spend time with the people who mean the most to me; it turns out that the real Fortnite was the friends we made along the way.