Hello, Javy Gwaltney here, Associate Editor for Game Informer. I currently putting together a series of deep dives into my ten favorite games of all time. You can read all about the origins, as well as the beginning of the series, here.

This week we’re going to be talking about my #4 pick: Titanfall 2 Feel free to leave comments below and thanks for reading. Be sure to come back next week on Wednesday at noon CST for #3

I grew up on shooters. Most of my afternoons in junior high were dedicated to downloading  and fiddling around with mods for Half-Life, Doom, Unreal Tournament, and Deus Ex. There's always been something exhilarating about progressing through corridors, vaporizing enemies with a variety of deviously creative weapons. The arcadey frenzy of these games made them perfect getaway vehicles for me, ever glum, always looking for media to escape.

And then the rise of the military shooter happened. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, an incredible game in its own right, changed everything. Arcade shooters were out, having been traded for some weird articulation of realistic violence that wasn't actually realistic but just appeared to be. Make no mistake: I still enjoyed 'realistic' FPSes. I've played every single Call of Duty. I loved Arma, Rainbow Six. Spec Ops: The Line. There's just a certain level of satisfaction that comes from firing a weapon in a game that feels powerful and the vast majority of them accomplished that, though they traded the fast-paced thrills of Quake and Doom for grit, despair, and poorly articulated politics.

However, as with all things, there are cycles. Wolfenstein: The New Order returned in 2014 and struck a balance between emotionally-driven storytelling and the frantic action of old school shooters that I loved so much. Titanfall also released that year as a game that felt frankly incomplete but showed great promise. And then, two years later, a new DOOM and Titanfall 2 were released, each of them articulating that old familiar action in vastly different ways. And while plenty of people have flocked to DOOM for its gripping rhythmic combat, goofy sense of humor, and fantastic aesthetic--it was Titanfall 2 that won my heart. 

The act of simply moving around in the game, whether you're sprinting around or lumbering about in your Titan, is immensely satisfying. And the ease of switching between those two modes is a low-key kind of miraculous that no one ever seems notice because of how tragically easy it is. Titanfall's 2 brand of action, both in and out of the eponymous Titans, is just so tight yet frantic that it's constantly entertaining.

Titanfall 2 is simply the best shooter since Half-Life 2. It's a game that offers not only a compelling, consistently entertaining multiplayer mode that lets everyone of various skill levels contribute in meaningful ways but the six hour single-player campaign is beautifully constructed and lean, with every single level emerging as a thrilling mixture of parkour, Gundam fighting, and fast-paced shooting.

Most of those who have played Titanfall 2 and loved it will often call attention to the mind-bending level Effect and Cause, which has you switching between two time periods thanks to a miraculous device as you navigate a research facility. It's a level that speaks to the game's subtle kind of ambition. When most modern games are ambitious, it's often talked about in terms of size or amount: we have [x] many quests, our open world is [x] big. Titanfall 2, a linear corridor shooter that feels transported straight from the early aughts, has no interest in any of these things. Instead, Respawn worked within the familiar parameters of classic design to create something that felt bold and exhilarating even though it's a short segment.

However, I'd argue that the same innovation that underlies Effect and Cause is spread out across the rest of the campaign, whether it's when your Titan BT is hurling you across satellite dishes in an incredible aerial level that feels more a high-dive act than what you would expect from a first-person shooting or, my personal favorite, Trial By Fire, which reimagines the classic D-Day storming levels from Call of Duty and Medal Of Honor with massive, sword-slinging robots.

And the multiplayer! The multiplayer is so good. It was strong enough in the original game but 2's enhancements, added maps, weapons, and classes fleshed it out even more. Attrition, which pits two teams against each other on a map, filling it with AI grunts, and lets you call down giant mechanized suits during the battle is easily my favorite multiplayer mode of all time. It's a seemingly large match that has all the grandeur and emergent storytelling moments of Battlefield without all the dull waiting around for things to happen. It's also a mode that rewards everyone for playing. Not great at going head-to-head with other players? You can run around and pick off AI enemies to make your team's score meter go up, or blast enemy titans from inside windows with your rocket launcher, or run around leaving traps. This sort of flexible design evens manages to get lone wolves to work together and contribute, which is an achievement unto itself.

Titanfall 2 hasn't even been out a year but I feel confidently putting it this high on my persona list because I've played it nearly every single day since release, in some shape or form, whether it's an hour's worth of multiplayer matches or cramming the entire single player campaign within a five hour marathon session.

"There is no such thing as a perfect game," is a thing a lot of people (including me) like to say as though it's some grand wisdom. And it's true. There are always niggles here and there, a rubbish texture, a poorly acted line. However, in terms of a game being a tightly-contained piece of work that's consistently great, truly great, in what it sets out to do: I think Titanfall 2 comes as close to perfection as one can reasonably expect it to. If you haven't played it yet, even if you're not a first-person shooter fan, you should fix that ASAP. It's an incredible experience.

For more on Titanfall 2, check out the review I wrote for it last year.