At a two-day review event in perpetually sunny Hollywood, California, Respawn Entertainment managed to rope their Producer away from his latest creation just long enough to talk all things Titanfall 2. So just another day for him, then! Read through our full interview below and you might just learn a thing or two about the processes involved with creating a highly-anticipated sequel.
PlayStation LifeStyle: You announced that all maps and modes would be free post-launch. So does that mean weapons, Titans, etc., will be paid DLC?
Drew McCoy, Producer: Anything that affects game balance, anything functional, is free. Maps, modes, weapons, anything like that is free. We learned an obvious lesson, but it’s extremely apparent on the last [Titanfall], that when you sell things like maps, you segregate the playerbase in a very unhealthy way. Even though it’s obviously going to leave money on the table, when you buy them, it’s much better for the health of the game and the community to not charge for them.
PSLS: Speaking of the previous game, what lessons did you learn from that which you have applied here?
Drew: Oh my God, for multiplayer, specifically, trying to expose ways to get better. The first game was extremely skill-based, but a lot of people felt it was shallow, because we didn’t do a good job of having you feel like you could get better at it. So we tried really hard in many ways to [let people say] “oh, I can keep going on this weapon,” or ability or Titan, and keep getting better at it.
PSLS: How long would you say it takes to unlock everything for even a single weapon?
Drew: It’s not too bad, actually. We don’t want the game to feel like a grind. If you focus on one thing, it’s not going to take you forever. The fun part about Titanfall is that so much of what’s in it changes the way you play so dramatically. You get a very different experience when you start to play with other stuff. We want people to try and explore other weapons, abilities of Titan, taste all the “flavors of ice cream” that we’ve made. You go to [Baskin Robbins], we want them all to be things that people find delicious.
PSLS: And they are delicious! How long would it take to get to player level 50?
Drew: It depends. We’ve done some playtests internally, we ascribe to the philosophy that it shouldn’t take you forever. I think, the last time I did it, it was maybe a day’s worth, 24 hours of playtime, 24-30 hours. Obviously, if you’re not very good, it’ll take you longer. If you try to min-max it, you can do it much quicker. But then you get the regenerations, different challenges, and try and get all the cosmetics and unlocks. There’s plenty there to keep you occupied for a long time.
PSLS: Angel City has been announced as the first DLC map this coming December. What sort of time table do you guys have for other DLC?
Drew: I don’t think we’ve talked about it yet. With multiplayer games now, you kind of have to constantly have a drip-feed of things. You can’t wait five months and do a big drop, so we are planning on fairly regular [releases]. We’ll keep people engaged.
PSLS: What would you say you guys have to compete with other games, like Battlefield 1 and Infinite Warfare this holiday in terms of retaining your player base?
Drew: I feel like Titanfall offers ways for you to play the game [that are] different than any other game, which gives you the opportunity to master things in more ways than one. Case in point, the first game I’m watching, Titanfall players who’ve stuck with the game, they’re doing things that I couldn’t have even dreamt of! But you go watch players of other games, who’ve been out for two or three years, and they’re doing the same things. Maybe they’re chasing a carrot, and making a bar fill up, and leveling up more, but the actual mechanics of their experience, they’re not doing anything different. So I think that’s where our strength lies, it’s a game that lets you play in a bajillion different ways.
PSLS: Switching gears a little bit to single-player. How happy are you with the final product?
Drew: I think it’s great! When we started on it, I didn’t know if it was going to be possible to translate Titanfall mechanics into a single-player game. It’s a game that wants you to feel like you are in control, more than first-person shooters give you control. We fought against it for a while, while prototyping stuff. But the end result is, I think, a really compelling story that’s not too complicated, with just an awesome array of mechanics on display. You’re doing something different on every level, and it’s really fun to play! I think the guys did an amazing job with it.
PSLS: One thing we did notice was the absence of the grappling hook in single-player. Is that a case of not finding a way to use it in a way that made sense?
Drew: The problem with the grappling hook is that, as great as it is, it would have broken everything! We tried.
PSLS: How satisfied are you with Titanfall 2’s release date? Was EA the decision maker with that, or did you guys have a say in that?
Drew: I actually don’t know where the decision came from. I just know it was locked in a long time ago and there was no changing it. I’m not really worried about it. We tried not to [worry] really…When you care about what other games are doing, when they’re releasing [, you worry]. At the end of the day, we’re releasing a game that we’re happy with, and we enjoy playing, that we’re proud of. As long as we’re doing that, I think we’re gonna find an audience. It doesn’t really matter when it comes out. A good game gets noticed.
Titanfall 2 Interview - Drew McCoy, Producer | PSLS
PSLS: Do you have any projections sales-wise?
Drew: I wouldn’t know. That’s above me!
PSLS: Any plans for single-player DLC?
Drew: Not currently that I’m aware of. DLC’s always the type of thing that is really hard to make in a vacuum. You have to listen to your fanbase.
PSLS: What would you say is the best way for fans to give feedback?
Drew: We are voracious readers of Twitter, and Reddit. We have our own forums. Pretty much, if you talk about it, we’ll be hearing it.
PSLS: How has reception been with Networks into and after the beta?
Drew: It was actually really interesting. We had a lot of data coming out of the tech test about Networks, and they were a huge success, in my opinion. The goal of Networks is to give people a way to play the game in a more social way. Our theory is, you’re going to end up playing the game more. You’re going to have more fun, you’re going to want to come back to it. The data showed that people who joined other networks were more engaged with the game. They played more matches, they played longer, the came back for more days. It wasn’t just by a small percentage; it was like 800% or something increase in their engagement with the game if they were in anything other than the default Network. It was really good. We had some bugs with it, which we knew, because it was a really early pre-alpha build, but it does some really cool stuff to help people play the game and find like-minded players. One of the things I like about it, is that it hopefully gives people a reason to engage with the game, not necessarily straight from a player’s perspective, but as someone who runs a Network. So, a website, or a streamer on Twitch or something will have a reason to send messages, engaging with their audience even if they’re not playing the game, like “Hey, we’re going to be doing this on Thursday night, Titanfall Thursdays,” and the message goes out and everyone sees it, and even if they’re not active in that Network right now, as long as they’re a member of it, they’ll see it in their inbox. It gives you yet another platform to be speaking to your user base.
PSLS: Have you sat down through the whole single-player in one go?
Drew: Oh, dozens of times.
PSLS: What would you say is something you hope people take away from the campaign?
Drew: I just hope people can appreciate the amount of just, fun that we’re trying to let them have. It’s easy to kind of fall back into old habits in games, where you just kind of walk through, shoot guys, see the next piece of content…But if you really play with it, this game lets you have fun. Jump around, run on walls, you know, have fun with the AI, play on a harder difficulty, give yourself a challenge. It’s still a fun game for me to play through because of that ability. This is not a game where we’ve preordained your path down a hallway and explosions go off. This is a game for you to play with. It’s a toy!
PSLS: What’s your favorite loadout in multiplayer?
Drew: Well this weekend, I’ve been playing a lot! I’ve been using the Volt a decent amount (it’s an SMG). I’m all about going fast, so I use stim on my Pilot. I also like to roll with the arc grenade, since it slows down my enemies. So I’ll see ‘em, chuck an arc grenade, stim, go for a kill and blast them. For Titans, it’s gotta be Northstar. Northstar is awesome!
PSLS: What’s next for you?
Drew: Patches and DLC! No rest for the weary!
We would like to thank Respawn Entertainment and Drew McCoy for taking time out of their busy schedules to speak with PlayStation LifeStyle. Titanfall 2 is out now for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows. Check out our review!