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Titanfall 2 Interview With Respawn: Single-Player, Multiplayer and Welcoming the PS4 Players

PlayStation LifeStyle: You mentioned keeping players active in the game. That brings up a problem that a lot of multiplayer games have, is that the player base tends to fall off a cliff past a certain point after launch. Was that the case with the first Titanfall, and is that what brought about this “Networks” mode?

Jon Shiring, Lead Engineer: Yeah, in Titanfall 1, we saw a population dropping…This is a hot topic for me, so I apologize, but from talking to a lot of other people, the reality is that the rate of people dropping off, our curve is identical to every other game’s curve. Really, it’s just how many people you have on launch day, that decides where your curve’s going to be, but the shape’s still going to be the same. It obviously changed how we did our matchmaking a lot, because it creates a lot of harder-to-solve problems of low-pop times, and low population playlists, and it’s very regional. So you can have playlists that are certain parts of the day and certain parts of the world, you can’t make a match.

Jon: So we had to do a lot of adjustments in our matchmaker to try and put matches together, and find the right balance between skill and full matches. So, coming from that knowledge, we designed a whole new matchmaking system for Titanfall 2. It has been really valuable to have gained all that data from the last game, and the things we learned from it. In Titanfall 2, even for the same population, we’re going to have a lot better match quality.

Jon: On top of that, it’s going to be a much bigger launch. So we’re going to have a lot more players online for each point after launch. So it should be pretty smooth, hopefully, and that’s what I spend a lot of my time working on and worrying [about]…What I’m hoping is that Networks will both create a more friendly environment for a lot of people, and a more social environment. I don’t know if you got to try it today, but you can use “Invite Network” to easily party up in a room and go play together. So my favorite part of any game is that opening weekend; all your friends are online, you’re playing in parties with them, you’re talking on your mic, and then with any game a little while later, usually, you don’t have as many friends online, it’s harder to get those parties together, it’s hard to get a full party. It becomes a lot less social. I, as a gamer, really like talking with people I know, on a mic, having fun while we’re playing a game. So I’m trying to push that angle more.

Jon: The idea of Networks is, I really want to find one Network for everyone, hopefully more than one per player, that’s kind of like their cheer spot, of like, you “walk into” the room, everyone says “hey, glad to see you,” you know people, you party up, and go play matches together. So we’re going to provide online friends for people whose friends are not online right now. That is a big goal, that’s my hope of being able to meet people, get to know people, and then find your own home. That’s the place you’re going to go in between matches, and every time you go into multiplayer. So it’s going to be a lot less of a confrontational experience for people, and I’m hoping that it will bring a lot of people who are new to multiplayer in, who might be put off by some of the other experiences of playing multiplayer games where you basically enter a room full of really hostile people, go compete, and it’s not very friendly, and often not very social. So we’re kind to change a lot of that up, and we’ll see how it goes. [The] tech test will prove it out for sure, and we’re going to be watching that closely, seeing what we learn from it.

PSLS: Do you think the introduction of a single-player mode is going to help with keeping the player base a little higher than last time?

Jon: I think there’s a lot of different types of people out there, and single-player games appeal to an audience who might not have bought a multiplayer-only game. Then there’s people in-between, who like single-player and multiplayer. One of the big things is that having single-player is going to [let us] have more people coming into the game at launch, and so there’ll be an uplift on everything. There’ll be more people playing, more people there to join your Network, to party up with, play online with…So yeah, I think single-player will help, even for people who aren’t interested in multiplayer, or who don’t think they’re interested in multiplayer. So it’ll help, but that’s not necessarily the main goal of the single-player campaign. What we really wanted to do is create a really different and offline single-player experience. So “Mo” can talk a lot about that. But we really have created something that’s really different, really special, I can say that having played it fairly recently. It’s longer than people are expecting, it has a lot more variety than people are expecting, and I’ll leave it there for now. “Mo” has more to say on that.

PSLS: Could people buy Titanfall 2 as a $60, single-player, offline game, and be content [with their purchase]?

Mohammad Alavi, Senior Designer: Absolutely. You don’t need an Internet connection to play the campaign mode.

PSLS: Good! Could you fill us in a little more on the “BT” character?

Mohammad: BT-7274 is a Vanguard-class Titan. What that means is he’s the most-advanced Titan in the universe of Titanfall at the current time. He’s also the very first Titan that the militia has created in-house, instead of appropriating an IMC Titan, and repurposing it. He’s the most advanced, because he can take any of the loadouts from the other six Titans, and use them all. That’s unique to him. BT-7274 specifically was Captain Lastimosa’s Titan, until he passed away and passed him on to you. He has his own personality, he has his own set of AI routines, and the relationship you develop with him, you saw some of the banter [they] had back and forth, that was closer to the beginning of the game, how he treats you when you are still really a grunt who just kind of stepped into the shoes of being a pilot, versus how he’s going to treat you towards the middle and end of the game [will be different]…There’s definitely some serious and dramatic moments in the game, so we wanted to juxtapose that with some levity, and we thought an easy way to do that would be with the Titan. But also, to just help create that bond between you and him.

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PSLS: What would you say convinced you to add a single-player campaign to Titanfall 2?

Mohammad: It was a pretty easy decision, actually. One of the two things that the community definitely wanted out of Titanfall 2 was: they wanted more. They just wanted a lot more. They wanted a bigger progression system, more weapons, more customization, all that stuff. We gave them all that. The other thing they wanted was a single-player campaign. Something to sink their teeth into. ‘Cause we had all this universe-building, but it was kind of really hard to get into when you’re getting your ass kicked online, right? But that didn’t mean that people didn’t feel it, and they wanted to get lost in it. So they wanted that, and then, we have so many devs, veteran devs, that have over a decade of experience making single-player games. So there’s definitely a passion there for single-player. So the passion from our end, combined with the community, it was a very simple decision to just go do it.

PSLS: This is a new direction for shooters, to go from multiplayer [only] to suddenly including a campaign. Do you guys think you’re going to start a trend here? What do you think the future of multiplayer shooters is?

Mohammad: I think different companies have different goals. Ours was, we didn’t decide to go make a multiplayer game because we didn’t like single-player, for the first one. It was just a fact of, [we’re] a brand-new company, new engine, starting from the ground up, no artwork, no history, no nothing…We actually started to make a single-player on Titanfall 1, but we noticed that [with] the amount of time that we had, we weren’t going to make a quality multiplayer and a quality single-player product. So instead we decided to focus all our efforts on making something unique and fun to play, and we picked multiplayer. Once we had that really strong foundation, of these really fun and unique gameplay mechanics, that at the time were totally new, once we had that, and that passion to make a single-player game, well, the decision to make a single-player [campaign] was easy, but it was basically, take all these great gameplay mechanics and figure out: what is a Titanfall game, [in] single-player? It’s not like we knew – it’s not like there’s a blueprint out there. It’s such a unique experience, that we couldn’t really draw on any other medium or game. It took a long time to figure that out. As a company, it wasn’t a conscious effort to build a multiplayer franchise first, and then go single-player. It just happened organically.

PSLS: Was Titanfall 2 going multiplatform a push by [Respawn Entertainment] or EA?

Mohammad: We love gamers! The more platforms we can come out on, that means the more people can play our game. I’m really excited for people to play this game, you have no idea! So if I could get this game out on another platform, I would! Dude, if there was a fourth platform, I’d release on that as well. It’s just a matter of time and resources. We didn’t have the time or resources to make multiplayer and single-player [with the original], to come out on all platforms, but now we do.

Jon: We’re really excited to bring Titanfall 2 to PlayStation 4 gamers. We know they won’t have necessarily have played the first game. So this is really exciting, to be able to take this game and bring to a new group of people for the first time.

PSLS: What would you say is unique to Titanfall?

Jon: Our single-player is unlike any other single-player game out there. It’s really different – you saw some of it this morning. On top of that, there’s a lot that we haven’t shown, and we really want to keep it as a surprise for a lot of people. The single-player is something that I just think is really unique and special to me. Very excited to let people play that in October. The multiplayer, I mean, you’ve played it; it’s unlike any other game out there. There’s a few mechanics that are similar to other games, and that’s fine. We play everything out there. We get inspired by movies, art, everything out there. Everybody who works in games gets inspired by other games. That’s just a good thing for everyone. But what we’re trying to make is our own kind of universe and gameplay. We don’t really worry too much about what other games are doing.

Mohammad: You can’t really talk about Titanfall 2 gameplay as an isolated experience of pilot and Titan. It really is the combination of pilot and Titan that makes it unique, and feel the way that it does. We don’t really talk about the backend too much, but we’ve put a lot of time into making the controls even more intuitive, even more responsive, even more accurate. It’s a bunch of technical mumbo-jumbo that we don’t like to get into, but the game is going to feel better.

PSLS: Last question, what’s your favorite loadout for pilot and Titan?

Mohammad: For multiplayer I like the grappling hook and CAR, and grav grenades. For my Titan, I like Scorch a lot. I like locking down an area, I like punishing people who come into it. For single-player, I like the double-take, the double-shot sniper rifle. I love that with ricochet, because you can basically hit guys around corners with it. I like Firestar, and then for Titan, I like…oh, actually, I can’t talk about that one (laughs)…You’ll have to come back for that one!

Jon: I love Scorch. It depends on the map and the mode. I can’t always use it very well, but I really enjoy doing Scorch as well. Other maps and modes, Ion is my sweet spot of effectiveness on the team. I was an R101, R97 guy on Titanfall 1. I love the R201 on Titanfall 2, still kind of learning the LSTAR and other guns that are interesting and different. I’m getting better at it. There’s always that pull of things that I haven’t mastered yet – so I get more kills when I use “this” one, but you still have to dive in and see how much better you would get when you give it more time. I’m going to be there on the tech test playing myself. Also, when you play against developers all day, it’s really different than when you’re playing against a general population. There’s a lot of things that we see really expert designers do all the time, or really expert testers do all the time, that will take the rest of the community a little bit more time to learn. Then obviously there will be things that the community figures out that we never saw coming. So it evolves, and what my favorite load out is going to be will evolve with it

Interview with Respawn was conducted at the studio during EA’s invite-only event. We’d like to thank Respawn for taking the time out to answer PSLS’s questions. Titanfall 2 will be out this October 28 for the PS4, Xbox One and PC.