What did you want to achieve in Titanfall
2’ s multiplayer?
When asking players what they wanted, the answer most of the time was simply ‘more stuff’. So we added things like a grapple and slide to reinforce movement and give more options. We were also trying to tackle issues that might be causing burnout, so that led to the changes to the Titans. In the first game you could freely customise your Titan but that led to people finding the best options, and that led to just two viable choices. So we broke up the Titans into different playstyles to reinforce the meta, and have a bit more depth.
Could you make many changes to the tactical relationship between Pilot and Titan?
We identified as four ‘food groups’ for combat: Pilot versus Pilot, Pilot versus Titan, Titan versus Pilot, and Titan versus Titan, and we’re constantly looking at those relationships. In this game we were trying to give Pilots a support role for friendly Titans. So we made the battery system, where by either getting a boost or rodeoing an enemy Titan you can bring a battery back to a friendly Titan to heal them up, and that also gets you your Titan faster.
Bounty Hunt was the big new mode in Titanfall 2. How did it come about?
It came at the end of the project; we wanted to have another AI mode in the game, potentially one where the AI wasn’t randomly scattered but in focal points to encourage combat to have more direction. And we wanted to increase the variety of AI combat, which shows up in the different AI and the boss Titans that periodically appear. The money and banks was an effort to add consequence to your death, and to give you a sense of security when you’re a Titan. entirely through its physical performance. Lee Wilson took over the studio’s motion-capture room to act out BT’s run, walk and gestures, embodying its great power and grace, steadily narrowing towards setting the strong and reassuring presence it has in the final game.
“It was important that the player felt reassured, because you’re going to be this person stranded behind enemy lines, marooned with this strange robot,” says Fukuda. “There’s a sense that, as the new player to Titanfall, you needed someone you could trust, someone reliable and safe.” In the first iterations of BT’s script, however, it erred towards the bossy. They wanted to avoid Optimus Prime, and they also needed it to perform the role of the player’s main objective-giver.
Part of the solution was to create conversations between player and mech, intended as a way of strengthening their bond with BT without resorting to cutscenes. But they raised some controversy in the studio: if they were making Half-Life, shouldn’t they have a silent protagonist? When the script had BT asking if the player was OK after they’d fallen down a pit, Fukuda realised there was room for a response from the player character. These moments of dialogue choice are a minor flourish for a game that’s about wall-running across chasms and giant mechs hitting each other with swords. But they give a little space for selfexpression, and even a gently progressive air among all the bullets, following the same path (if to a very different destination) as games like Kentucky Route Zero. Accidentally. “Actually, I played Firewatch long after the game shipped and I didn’t know about it at the time, but, ‘Oh, these guys did it already!’” Fukuda says.
Much of the flexibility with which the pieces of Titanfall 2’ s campaign came together is a direct result of its engine, which allows designers a great deal of power to script their own levels. The engine is Source, which powers Half-Life 2 and Portal 2, but was heavily modded to build the original Titanfall. During the making of the first game, Haggerty and his team had entirely broken the original Valve code that saves and loads level progress. Back then it wasn’t necessary for a multiplayer game, but to reinstate it for the sequel’s campaign was a huge hurdle.
The scripting system was entirely made by Respawn, too, and it enabled designers to construct even Titanfall 2’ s most technical-seeming moments. Effect And Cause was not the work of programmers but of its designer, Jake Keating. Looking back at the way Titanfall 2’ s campaign is constructed of hundreds of little blocks of play, it’s clear that it’s enabled by the fact its designers could quickly produce their own divergent takes on what mechs and Pilots can do.
There’s one sequence during Into The Abyss, in which prefabricated chunks of buildings and ground construct themselves into the level around you for a single encounter, before it whisks you on to something completely new. It embodies the spirit of Titanfall 2’ s campaign: it’s a game about hyperactive movement and thundering power, built from one dazzling set-piece after another.