Respawn Entertainment on Why Titanfall 2 Will Define Them

Hardcore Gamer headed out to Los Angeles to get copious amounts of time with Titanfall 2 and to talk with Vince Zampella, CEO, and Joel Emslie, Art Director, of Respawn Entertainment, the studio behind the upcoming Titanfall 2. In this in-depth interview, we talk about everything you need to know about both the single player and multiplayer components of the mech-battling game, including what sets it apart from its predecessor.

Hardcore Gamer: What was the main inspiration behind adding single player to Titanfall 2?

[Joel Emslie] A desire to expand the universe. We kind of made a decision last game that we needed to concentrate on multiplayer. We tried to weave the single player into multiplayer, and it went well, but there’s a limit to what you can explore in multiplayer because there’s so much that can happen. So I think the ability to tell a bigger and better story. I think fans’ reaction to the universe and saying they want to know more helps a lot too. If no one cares, then why do it?

Was it important to get a strong story behind it? It was a lot more emotional than expected.

[Vince Zampella] There was definitely a desire to tell a more emotional story. That kind of get back into a deeper storytelling experience that you’re just not able to do in the campaign multiplayer.

[JE] There was a desire to give you a reason to actually play. We wanted to give the idea of why you fight, why you want to survive, because if you ended up not caring about BT (Editor’s note: BT is your Titan companion throughout Titanfall 2’s campaign) at all or not having interesting enemies to kind of brush up against, it just seemed like it would fall flat. It needed that, the story needed not necessarily this super crazy space opera, but just a dynamic between you and this character. You become Jack — that’s you, that your personality, but BT was the performer that had to interact with you in a way where he’s emotionally leading you along the story and the environment, and escaping the planet in one piece and all that stuff, but it was very important to have him come off with the right type of personality where he’s not annoying, not too passive — all this work went into that, just get the right balance for that character. He’s the real star of the show.

started out as a multiplayer-centric experience — was it difficult to balance that with the single player?

[JE] Yeah, it was crazy. When we first unleashed the Titanfall mechanics into a single player environment, players were skipping across this massive environment in seconds, and we’re like, “oh my God, what the-,” it’s like a Firefly-like on crack.

[VZ] Yeah, we did not know how to make a Titan feel supportive because their mechanics are so different, so we had to kind of teach ourselves how to do it. Trial and error.

[JE] I’m not going to say nasty things about anybody, but I think there’s this trend happening in first-person shooters generally speaking where it’s kind of the old pop and lock, where you pop up and you just hit the ADS button and lock onto AI — pop, pop, pop — and go back down. We didn’t want to dull the single player like that. Especially with the mechanics that we had at our disposal, we felt like we wanted to do something more with Titanfall 2, especially with the single player.

Besides the single player, what do you think the most unique aspect of Titanfall 2 is that sets it apart from its predecessor?

[JE] Aside from the single player, the variety in single player was surprising me when we were making it. I did not expect it to be so varied; usually I feel as if you took a mechanic from a level in Titanfall you almost could build an entire game out of that mechanic and just get wrapped up in that, but the fact that it changes level by level, section by section, is surprising to me. The type of single player that TitanFall 2 has sets it apart from other games, but multiplayer I think it’s the depth mixture: the fidelity, the personality, the art style — the audio is banging, I mean it’s just all there. I think what will really set the entire thing apart is the writing in the single player and the depth and quality of what they’re getting in multiplayer, so as an entire package I feel like you’re getting your bang for your buck when you pick it up.

Can you talk about some of the new modes and which one you think will prove to be the most popular?

[JE] Jeez, I don’t know, what’s your favorite Vince?

[VZ] It’s hard to say, I mean Attrition’s always great — I like LTS.

[JE] Yeah, it’s pretty cool, and they added the new battery mechanic too, which is really interesting. I’ve always been a huge fan of Attrition, and I love Attrition even more now that our progression system changed, so I get to use all my equipment that I love, and just level that all up and have a great time. I love grinding, you know like leveling up on all the minions and stuff, I mean the environment, but I love the idea that Attrition seems to work even better now because it’s more, the game is more of an emphasis on team play, you know, even with the networks that we added to the game, so you can party up easier with people that you know and you can make new friends, but going in and actually working as a team, being able to — the cosmetic side, being able to get all on the same palette, so you roll into a game and you look at the other team and they’re all like matte black, and you’re like, “what the hell — who are these people?” — it’s really cool.

[VZ] Yeah, you get the feeling like, “Oh $#!^, what am I going up against?” and it does, it terrorizes you. It’s psychological.

[JE] I remember a time — like this can actually happen in Titanfall 2 and I can’t wait until it does — I was playing Counter-Strike a long time ago and I hopped into a match with a bunch of dudes speaking German and they were the most tactical SOBs I’ve ever seen in my life, they were like a wall of fire. They would just destroy everything they met, and you could absolutely do something like that in Titanfall 2’s multiplayer, so Attrition is great, but I like Bounty Hunt a lot. I just like the idea of taking the grunts and all the AI in the multiplayer, and actually they’re not just there — they have a purpose. They have a commodity, they have a gameplay purpose, and there’s some other stuff they’re going to release later that actually will take full advantage of that stuff and really push it further. So Bounty Hunt and Attrition for me. I love the fact that we have Pilot v Pilot — super cool, because once in a while I just like to go toe to toe with people as a pilot, and I love the fact that our system allows players to — you can kit your pilot out to go just Pilot v Pilot and not have to worry about artillery for Titans, so I love that. I don’t know if you realized this, but you can adjust your kit on the fly. You don’t have to jump out and — you can — there’s a couple little things that are big that you can’t change mid-match, but for the most part you can reconfigure your loadout right there. If someone’s playing super weird and doing crazy stuff to you, you can react to that basically tactically and just change everything to kind of fight back.

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