A sequel is coming to 2014’s smash sci-fi shooter Titanfall – the game that sped up multiplayer battles everywhere and revealed the chaotic awesomeness of free-running “pilots” commanding 20-foot-tall robots known as “Titans” – and this time it’ll have what players have long demanded: a single-player mode. And unlike the first Titanfall, Titanfall 2 – due October 28th – will be available for Playstation 4, in addition to Xbox One and PC.
As acclaimed and popular as the first game was, it had its flaws, from an overly chaotic battlefield to a somewhat opaque approach to conveying its limited story. One of the most exciting things about the sequel is that the production team (Respawn Entertainment, founded by the creators of the Call of Duty franchise), made a concerted effort to fix them, one by one. For Titanfall 2, Respawn has added a whole new single player mode, and is also making significant changes to the multiplayer gameplay. We spoke with the development team during this year’s E3 show, and here’s what we learned.
The franchise that sped up gaming is actually slowing down
Despite the fact that Titanfall is largely responsible for the recent trend in extremely fast-paced multiplayer shooters, one of the tricks that the team has used to reduce chaos in Titanfall 2 is to actually slow things down a little. While this may disappoint some fans, the team asserts that it’s a good design decision, as it reduces confusion during huge firefights. The majority of successful multiplayer shooters benefit from a degree of predictability, as it allows players to learn how engagements transpire and adapt their tactics accordingly.
The team’s goal with Titanfall 2 is to make the experience feel much more structured, and also give players a sense that they’re really able to learn the game, rather than simply react to what’s happening in front of them. While Titanfall actually had a huge skill ceiling, game director Steve Fukuda says that the chaos prevented some players from believing that they could improve.
The new single player mode is about a relationship
The story in Titanfall 2 centers on the relationship and bond that forms between Militia rifleman Jack Cooper and BT7274, a Titan that has lost its pilot. Though Cooper isn’t qualified, BT requires a human pilot to fully operate and to execute its primary directives. As it states in the trailer, it needs to “link with the pilot, uphold the mission, and protect the pilot.”
“Even from the inception of this project, how the pilot and the Titan were to relate was something that we knew was going to be the big challenge and that we had to deliver on,” says lead single player designer Mackey McCandlish.
“It’s something that Steve [Fukuda], the game director identified early that we needed to get our head around. So we did a lot of prototyping and experimenting, and bit by bit as the dialog got there and as the levels got there and as the features came in one by one, we managed to get the personality across. You’ll see in our trailer that when the Titan talks he doesn’t have a mouth, but the lights show that he’s talking. So even just getting the functionality of syncing that up with the sound effects of his voice, all those little things add up to a character that you can relate to.”
“I think the purpose of a campaign is a little like a buffet, where you want to get each dish in its most concentrated form,” says McCandlish. “Not like multiplayer, which is all of the different pieces competing with each other, filtered by game mode. There should be times when it’s the pilot and the Titan, there should be times when it’s just the pilot, in contexts that are tuned to really draw out what’s most fun about each.”