As shooter fans eager for Titanfall 's arrival eagerly await the expected news of some form of beta, several questions about Respawn Entertainment's next-gen multiplayer extravaganza persist. The developers have made it clear (more or less) from the start that players looking for a streamlined singeplayer campaign should look elsewhere, since this game was designed from the ground up to be a multiplayer experience.
The game itself was still promised to feature a strong, compelling story, but few details on the exact plot or setting have actually been released. That seems to be changing as the first information concerning the heroes and villains of the game has been released by the developers.
Previous trailers have placed the focus on the massive mechanized Titans for which the game is named, and with good reason. Online 'pilots' are able to fight on foot or encased within their very own Titan, but now the fight they'll be taking place in is becoming clearer. It begins with the phenomenally successful Hammond Robotics - the makers of the Atlas, Ogre and Stryder - a robotics manufacturer whose mechanized rigs helped push forward the industry of interstellar mining.
As a result of their success and continued evolutionary designs for their Titan line, the company would go on to become the Interstellar Mining Corporation, or IMC. As the head of mining operations across a number of frontier worlds, the IMC inevitably found themselves forced to deal with occasionally irritated locals (who may not respect the company's right to strip planets of resources for the betterment of core worlds.
The company turned to military leaders and private contractors to enforce security across their empire, and it is this group that will likely come to represent the darker side of Titanfall's cast of characters. The first and most notable name to remember is that of Vice Admiral Graves, the Commander-in-Chief of IMC's Frontier Command. Given his history with the frontier inhabitants, he s both unconventional, and far less brutal than other officers within the IMC.
The other human character representing the IMC that Respawn has declassified is simply called Blisk, a South African mercenary who fits the usual stereotype of the war-hungry, knife-loving hired killer. Blisk handles field orders and intelligence, aided greatly by Spyglass, a robot dispatched into combat as "a physical manifestation of the IMC's vast computational network."
Occupying the good side of the dispute which will send Titans, grunts, and robots into combat en masse, is the friendly neighborhood Frontier Militia. In order to oppose the expansion of the IMC, the Frontier systems have grouped together into a number of Brigades, designed to defend a set territory of planets from IMC incursion. The Marauder Corps - a.k.a. the 'MCOR' - is just one section of the rag-tag Brigade overseeing the Freeport System, which looks to be the setting for much of Titanfall's story.
The MCOR is led by the veteran fighter known as MacAllan, a soldier of the Titan Wars who previously served under Vice Admiral Graves aboard the IMS Odyssey. Mystery surrounds the events that took place aboard the ship, but whatever happened, it left Graves without a ship, and his executive officer taking the ship to fight with the Frontier Militia in opposition of the corporation.
Aiding MacAllan in the field is Bish, another former IMC electrical engineer who now handles battlefield intelligence, "remote hacking into IMC systems during combat on behalf of ground forces, tracking mission progress, and giving tactical guidance to Pilots on the ground" (it is Bish who has often been seen in players' HUDs barking orders or mission objectives).
Rounding out the trio is Sarah who, unlike Bish or MacAllan, made her way up through the Militia after her family members fell at the hands of IMC violence. The reasons that Bish and MacAllan have for taking the fight to IMC isn't clear just yet (fans will likely have to wait to play the game themselves to find that out), but Sarah's is: good old fashioned revenge.
It's still difficult to pin down just how Respawn has decided to infuse multiplayer battles with story; level progression and cinematic moments can be carried over to larger battles simply enough, but if these characters and their motivations are signs of a larger and more personal plot, the developers have an interesting task. Especially when it's not yet clear which characters (if any) the player will embody themselves.
Here's a close look at each faction:
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Are you intrigued by these story details and character descriptions, or do you have concerns over how successfully a singleplayer story can be adapted to multiplayer? The team justified their design by pointing out that only a small percentage of players would finish a singleplayer campaign, meaning there will be one major difference between Titanfall and Call of Duty even casual observers will spot.
We'll keep you updated as more information regarding the story Respawn has set out to tell - and just how they'll go about telling it - is released.
Titanfall launches on March 11 for the Xbox one and PC. Xbox 360 owners will have to wait until March 25.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.