If Respawn Entertainment hasn’t made it clear already, allow us to repeat: Titanfall, the surprise Xbox exclusive from the designers who revolutionized the modern military shooter, will be placing top priority on its multiplayer systems, through and through. Singleplayer? They claim most wouldn’t finish it anyway.
But building a game around large battles of human players and bots makes the design process harder, not easier. For instance: when adding a blend of wall-running soldiers to a collection of high-speed mechs, do classic multiplayer game types still work properly? According to the studio’s community manager, trial and error has produced some surprising results.
Speaking with Polygon, Respawn’s Abbie Heppe explained that it’s far too early to name each and every possible game type or variation that Titanfall will support, since the programmers are still experimenting with that very issue. Of course, experimentation doesn’t always lead to success.
If nothing else, the amount of failed ideas that Respawn has encountered is testament to how different their approach to multiplayer gameplay is proving to be:
“You know almost every possible game mode that you can think: of pilots-only, Titans-only and many, many variations of that stuff is most likely things that we have tested at the studio… We definitely tried a mode with way more Titans than probably should be on a map and it just turned into this cluster bunching. It gets ridiculous.
“I remember once we tried one-on-one and stuff like that. We tried a lot of different variations of other things that you have seen in other shooters, but yeah, we are still in the process of creating things like that.”
Heppe has already explained just how much players will need to cast off old habits to learn Titanfall’s style of play, but that doesn’t mean that players won’t enjoy the process. According to Heppe, that’s just one example of the team’s desire to keep potential players from making too many assumptions about the game – citing the alarm among Respawn when word of their next game being centered on ‘mechs’ broke, knowing how much baggage that term carries. Luckily, gamers came to realize: these aren’t your usual mechs.
So in case anyone is concerned that mastering new control schemes or deducing individual tactics means fun takes a backseat, Heppe promises that the experience will be satisfying for hardcore and newcomer alike:
“You can land your Titan on enemy players which is really difficult because the motion is so fast.. it is easier in these demo games because people are still getting use to the wall-running and jumping and you get more people on the ground. That is when you get them. And that is really fun.”
“When there is someone the back of your Titan you can either get out and shoot them off or you can use the electric smoke to get them off your back… My favorite combo is when you have pilots on your back and you can melee them out of the air, which is most satisfying. There are so many other tactics that we can’t talk about.”
“…I love it when it just turns into robot boxing, I mean it is so goofy.”
Although the game is far from completion, Heppe promised that whatever ideas gamers might have for Titanfall’s game types, they can rest assured that the team has already spent months considering every variation:
“We don’t make decisions lightly and we try to choose what is right for the game and what is actually fun and sometimes people are like ‘That sounds awesome’ and we are like ‘Well, actually, we tried it at the studio.’… But we are trying to be smart about it and trying to figure out what would be fun for players and lot of cool options for modes.”
Those comments will no doubt come as good news to skeptics (or those who are cautiously hoping that the minds behind Modern Warfare can revolutionize shooters once again), but shouldn’t come as a surprise; after all, both Respawn and EA know just how much is riding on Titanfall‘s success.
The publisher has made no secret of their desire to dethrone Call of Duty as the leader of online FPS multiplayer, and while simply following their lead has led to failure, Titanfall looks to be the next contender. Will taking the foundations they helped lay into a new generation, with a new take on multiplayer combat be a winning combination? Only time will tell. But it’s hard to imagine a game with better odds.
What do you think of Titanfall? Is it one game that will actually influence which console you end up buying, or is it too similar to current offerings to get your attention just yet? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Titanfall launches in spring 2014 on the Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.
Follow Andrew on Twitter@andrew_dyce.