The launch of next-gen consoles slowly coming over the horizon is full of unknowns, but one thing’s for sure: Titanfall will be taking up an entire spotlight on its own. The new brainchild of Respawn Entertainment – led by one of the minds behind Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – was unveiled to stunned audiences at E3 2013, and hasn’t looked back since.
That first gameplay reveal offered a futuristic look at Mech combat, but seemed to share DNA with Activision’s reigning king of online multiplayer. But according to the developer, looks can be deceiving.
“I still watch everybody come in and play it like they’re playing a less vertical shooter… They come in, they hide behind cover, they pop out and shoot a dude, they run for the next cover. When we play we’re immediately on the walls and roofs, running around like crazy.
“You have to break people in a bit… And then I see them jump into a wall and they’re like ‘oh, I just ran along it’ – and by the end of the match they’re going crazy and playing more like how I would play.
“Even if you tell them, ‘No no no, you should do this’, it takes them doing it themselves to realise that – ‘oh, you really can! Even after seeing the trailers and the gameplay videos we’ve released, you’d think [people would know], but it’s about breaking people out of how they’ve always been playing.”
It’s hard to say if the Halo-esque aesthetic is to blame, or the undeniable fingerprints of the men and women who molded Modern Warfare, but we’d wager most players – even those who’ve watched every ounce of gameplay footage – might still think that finding cover and falling back on old strategies is a strong start.
But lending too much significance to the developers’ experience in the Call of Duty series is still a recipe for disaster. In order to succeed, Heppe explains, players will need to grasp the unique qualities of Titanfall, and shake off any ties to other shooters. Respawn has made it clear that they’ve got high hopes for reinventing the online multiplayer space, but they’ll need players to follow behind them for it to work.
One surprising choice from the developers is that streamlining of weapon progression and weapon customization. Some hardcore multiplayer fans might immediately scoff at the idea of a next-gen shooter taking choices away rather than providing more, but from level design to player progression, Heppe believes that players will come to love Titanfall in time:
“I see people walk down the corridors. And it’s like: ‘You’re going to get run over by a Titan. I mean, he’s going to stomp on you if you keep doing that.’ So you want to get in the paths, in the buildings, on the routes the designers have left for you.”
“You’ll say ‘Oh I love playing with the R1 Sidewinder, I love playing with the Smart Pistol’ – and then you build out from there. You’re not going to have an overwhelming amount with you on the battlefield, it’s about keeping the things that you love, the loadout that you want to play, and making it so that you can try everything.”
We saw enough in our firsthand preview of Titanfall at E3 2013 to prove that existing strategy and level traversal is going out the window, which we can’t help but see as a long-needed change.
What’s your take on the promise of vertical combat and the need to learn all new tactics? Do you think the studio is overstating their case, or are you trusting Respawn to inject some innovation into the online FPS arena? Sound off in the comments.
Titanfall launches in spring 2014 on the Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.
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