by Andrew Skelton (Outfoxed)
Attack on Titan has become a big thing since its launch back in 2009. While most people were introduced to the series through the anime, the manga for the title had been going strong for four years before that. Universally, it seemed, there was one common call amongst the fans: where’s the Attack on Titan video game? Well, that call was answered with the release of Attack on Titan in August of 2016. Since that game, the anime has enjoyed a successful second season, and the manga still continues developing.
It was only obvious a new game was going to be needed that told the events of this second season. Many were hoping for some improvements on the original game, developed by KOEI Tecmo and Omega Force, and there were murmurs of an even more amazing feature incoming: the ability to create a custom character. Attack on Titan 2 releases soon, and I got a chance to play through extensively. Does it compare to the original? Can it exceed its predecessor at all? These are questions I hope I can answer for you.
Crafting A Soldier
The story mode of Attack on Titan focuses on a hitherto unknown member of the 104th Cadet Corps, referred to in cutscenes vaguely as “our man.” While most of the cutscenes use masculine pronouns in the English translation, your character can be either male or female with no change whatsoever to gameplay. The game even has a reason for this, stating they recovered a journal from an unknown soldier. Not knowing who it was, it simply becomes the aforementioned, “your man.”
Attack on Titan 2 doesn’t skimp on customization options either, rivaling some MMORPGs for the breadth of its character creator. The one unfortunate thing is that most parts (hair, clothes, etc) are taken from other main characters in the game, so creating something truly unique isn’t 100% possible. Your character, however you choose to create them, still looks like they would be at home in the pages of the manga or on screen in the anime, which is an amazing feat.
You Might Have Heard This One
As previously stated, your character joins the 104th Cadet Corp (akin to military recruits) along with other famous Attack on Titan characters such as Eren Yeager, Mikasa Ackerman, and Armin Arlert. The game does a great job of making your character feel like they belong in the manga or anime, with others interacting with them as if they were a part of the story from the start. Many people worried that you’d just be in everyone else’s shadow, but happily, the game puts you in the protagonist role without making you the sole character in the universe. In fact, it puts you in the first-person for character cut-scenes, pushing your immersion into your role even further.
The game’s tutorial functions a lot like the training the other cadets went through. The training teaches you the basics of moving about with your Omni-Directional Maneuver Gear (ODM for short) to zip across the battlefield and take out your titanic opponents. Admittedly, the controls can be a bit tricky for new players to learn, but it quickly becomes second nature. Additionally, you can freely rebind your keys, so if you’re not feeling the default controller scheme, change it to something you like.
Aim For the Nape
Combat in the game is expectedly fast paced. When you’re not darting across the battlefield, you’re taking out Titans in brutal form. At the start, you have limited access to equipment and consumables, but the game thankfully scales reasonably. Taking out a Titan seems simple enough: take out the head and you win, right? Well, if you’ve never watched the show or read the comic, you actually have to attack the back, at the nape of the neck. Facing the titans head on will quickly wear out your blades and your supply of gas (your secondary statistic next to health). Also note you can’t actually see your character’s health. You must rely on visual cues from the game itself to understand whether you need to retreat or if you’re good to press on.
You’ll have access to extra blades and gas canisters from the start, too, along with restoratives to heal damage. New to the series in AOT2 are buddy actions, which allow you to give your squad orders in combat. Each character has their own unique ability, and they can also change and develop as the story goes on. Essentially, you don’t simply have to rely on your own skills in the sequel, as your teammates offer powerful tools to help you succeed.
You Must Live For Your Goals
Also new to the series is a daily life segment, where you can wander around the barracks and various other locations. Here you can talk to characters, change your appearance (at will, thankfully!), and more. Several features unlock throughout the course of the main storyline, which will be discussed soon.
Most important, however, is the social aspect of Attack on Titan 2. You can chat with most everyone on the cast. At various intervals throughout the story, you can even develop your friendship with them. By choosing the correct options based on each character’s personality, you grown your bond with them. Fill the bar, and you get a rank up scene which can either be simple, or a fully fledged cutscene. Some will even take you on combat missions! One drawback here was I quickly found you could save and reload in order to pick the best option every time (aka save-scumming), so it’s not a perfect system. Leveling up these bonds grants your characters a variety of skills which you can equip to further power up. Keep in mind, you can only equip as many skills as you have skill points available, which are earned by leveling up on combat missions.
You’re Going To Get Blood On It
Skills aren’t the only thing you’re going to want to equip. Equipment comes in three primary forms: Blades, scabbards, and ODM. Blades determine your damage, and also have a durability rating on them. More durable weapons means your blades damage slower, allowing prolonged use before changing. Scabbards offer gas capacity, pressure, and number of blades. Capacity is obvious — more gas, longer use of the grapples that propel you about. Higher pressures increase the speed at which you dash, and blade capacity is how many spare blades you can carry per mission. Finally, the ODM grants reel speed, anchor range, and anchor strength. Speed indicates how fast you’re pulled when you engage your anchors, range should hopefully be obvious, and strength indicates how long you can stay attached to a titan before being shrugged off. You can also gain stat increases by equipping pieces of the same “set” together – I usually used pieces that offered me the best balance of stats though.
Stores open up after a couple points in the story. Here you can purchase new equipment, or upgrade your current gear. Purchasing and upgrading both require raw materials in order to perform, so luckily there’s a material shop that unlocks when you unlock the shops. Keep in mind, however, that not all materials can be purchased: some must be earned from story missions. One final option for upgrading comes in fortifying, where you can sacrifice three pieces of old gear to raise the base parameters of your preferred one. This can make for some very powerful equipment, and is key to maximizing your potential against titans. You’ll also gain access to a shop that sells horses for field missions, as well as a gift shop to purchase presents to strengthen bonds with your friends. All of these options also require regiment funds, which you earn by doing well in battles.
Not All Fun and Games
Further into the story, you’ll be granted access to the Survey Corp NPCs. These trio of NPCs stand in the barracks, and have several important functions. The first allows you to replay any story mission you’ve completed for materials, or simply to gain a better rating. The second is the research and development head. Research lets you enact policies that have a variety of effects, such as reducing gas consumption for the next mission or increasing the experience you earn. Development allows you to upgrade the unlocked bases that you can build when you’re out in the field. These upgrades are quite significant, but they cost a lot of wings — a secondary currency given by, effectively, being a good soldier. Helping citizens in the towns, chastising soldiers for poor attitudes, and doing well in combat with your comrades all grant you wings, and you’ll earn a lot simply by playing through the game. They’re also used for training on the Training Grounds you’ll have access to, which allows your character to increase their base stats.
You’ll also have access to Scout Missions, which are quick forays into the world. While doing these missions has no effect on the story as a whole, they are a great way to earn additional regiment funds, additional resources, and to build bonds with soldiers in the missions. There are dozens of missions to perform, and clearing them also helps to unlock even more. Some materials can only be obtained in this mode, so it definitely is helpful to go through if you really want to power up your character.
Know Your Enemy (Your Very, Very Large Enemy)
Also unlocked through the course of the story is the Titan Research facility. With it comes the ability to capture Titans in the field rather than killing them outright. There are dozens of Titans you can capture, too, from small to large, skinny to muscular, and everywhere in between. The game keeps track of the titans you’ve captured, and you’ll gain regiment funds for each you bring in — bonuses for new ones you haven’t before! Keep in mind some titans need to be weakened before capture. Typically you can capture small titans easily, but larger ones may require you to disable arms or legs, and the truly large ones require you to take out every body part save the neck.
As you capture titans, you gain access to a variety of perks. New skills can be learned, but more importantly are the development of various anti-Titan weapons like firebombs as more is learned. These rewards tend to be very, very powerful, so it’s worth pursuing if you want some additional options for some of the more challenging missions in the game. Plus I found it enjoyable to see how many different types of Titans I could find in every stage.
Another Time, Another Place
One of the first things unlocked in the story mode is Another Mode. You’ll notice thus far I’ve only talked about the main story involving the created character, and that’s all the story consists of. Another Mode allows you to use other characters you’ve unlocked for use in the previously mentioned survey missions. There are about 30 additional characters you can gain access to, well improved from the 10 in the first game. Each of these characters has their own strengths, and each can be leveled up like the created character can.
Another Mode is also where you’ll have access to various online multiplayer modes. You can complete survey missions co-op with up to four players total, or you can compete against each other in Annihilation mode, which pits teams against one another to see who can eliminate the most titans in a given time limit. Keep in mind, though, this isn’t simply defeating enemies. Bonuses are given for assists and chains as well, so working together will really rack up the points against your opponents! More online modes are promised to be coming soon, further fleshing out the online component of the game.
Final Verdict: Great (4/5)
I fully admit, I never played the original Attack on Titan game. I watched quite a bit though, and enjoyed most every moment spent watching. Attack on Titan 2 improves on the original in almost every conceivable way. More characters to choose from, a created character story that puts you in the storyline immediately, a social system, and squad actions in battle are just a few of the additions that make it shine. The controls, while taking a bit to understand and master, are quite tight and fluid, and add so much to the fast paced action of the game. There are a couple of small drawbacks I see, however. First, the game can get repetitive quite quickly. The social aspect of the game is also very easy to save scum in order to choose the best answers every time (though obviously you don’t have to). While optional, you’ll probably end up doing a bunch of the scout missions just because you’ll need the funds to upgrade your primary gear.
Still, these are minor gripes in an overall solid title. If you’re a fan of the anime and/or manga, you definitely owe it to yourself to try Attack on Titan 2. There’s plenty for people who’ve never seen the show or read the comic to enjoy, too. If you’re into action combat that’s frenetic and strategic at the same time, you’re missing out by not checking out this title.
Note: A game key was provided for review purposes.
Attack on Titan 2 Screenshots