February 17th 2014 10:48 am PT
Recently, we asked you what you wanted to know about Titanfall. Literally hundreds of you contributed questions, many of them quite excellent. So we filtered out questions that we knew would be answered by other articles about the beta (for more on the beta, click here), then we sat down with Respawn Community Manager Abbie Heppe, who graciously provided detailed answers:
Michael Gulliver asked: What features, using the Xbox One, set Titanfall apart from other next gen games?
Abbie Heppe, Respawn: We’re one of the first games to really take advantage of the Xbox Live Cloud and to have dedicated servers across the world to provide a really consistent, awesome experience for gamers. That’s been amazing. Of course, we do some of our AI calculations in the cloud as well, and really, it powers our game.
We had a tremendous opportunity and the right timing to create something new right at the start of next gen, and to have the option to use Azure.
Adam Bankhurst asked: I am a huge fan of story-based games and tend to lose interest in multiplayer-only games after a short while. What will Titanfall offer to keep me coming back for more?
Respawn: We have a variety of classic modes, three which we’ve shown so far, there’s some that we haven’t talked about yet. That’s if you wanna hop in with your buddies, get into a quick match, skip the story elements of the game. With the campaign multiplayer, you’ll play once through as the IMC and once through as the Militia. Because it’s a multiplayer game, it’s always moving. It’ll start out with these scripted sequences, and there’ll be way more dialog and characters and way more context for the world than you would otherwise get in the classic modes, but it’s not a single-player game. It is still a multiplayer game with story elements woven in. So when we talk about the game having single player elements, one of the things we’re really talking about is the quality of what you’re seeing in multiplayer. It doesn’t get done a lot, because normally you’re saving the high-quality art, animation, everything like that for the single-player and scripted portions of the game. For us, we’re trying to get that attention to detail and those big, epic moments and that really cinematic stuff, but have it happen in multiplayer. So, doing things like having those cool animations where the Titans reach and grab you out of the air or slide through their legs or getting on their back and rodeo-ing them, all of these are part of the way that you’re going to weave that experience where you come out of that and you’re going to have your own story. That’s one of the consistent things when people play, they come out of it and say “so, I did this thing and then I did this other thing and then this cool thing happened!” That’s you building your own story within the story that we’re giving you context for.
ƦeνoƖυtioɳ asked: Are there plans for supporting competitive play in tournaments and such?
Respawn: That really hasn’t been our focus. Our focus has been to get a really solid foundation out. A game that is really fun, that will attract players, and keep them playing for a really long time. That said, we have a TON of interest from the e-sports community, and I know we’re not going to be shipping with all the features that they’re going to be wanting in the game, but we’re in our first iteration. A lot of the games that have developed good e-sports features and the competitive community are ones that multiple iterations to get that done and to build in those things. So while that couldn’t be a priority for us here, we’re definitely listening to all of the feedback. We’re interested in what competitive players think when the game ships, and it’s definitely something we’ll look into, but not something that’s been our primary focus.
Paul Rogozinski asked: Circle strafing is one of my biggest complaints in most Mech games, usually due to reduced maneuverability coupled with high defensive capabilities. Have there been any design decisions with the Titans themselves or environments that would push people away from just circling around each other and force them to use other tactics?
Respawn: The mode that we’re showing today, Last Titan Standing, will help you get an appreciation for the higher-level Titan tactics. Yeah, you can just run at people and swing your Titan fists and shoot off your shoulder rockets into them, but there’s a lot that you can do almost fighting game-style, spacing people out with quad rockets and using the electrified smoke to provide cover while you dodge behind a building and flank someone from the side. Especially with the three different kinds of Titans, it benefits different gameplay styles. The Strider is not going to be rushing in on anyone; it’s weak, it’s going to attack from a distance. The Ogre is definitely your rush-in-and-melee Titan, but if you’re up against a Strider and it moves a lot faster than you, you’re going to have to rely on a different tactic like trapping them or working with your teammates. It’s not about “I’m a big Titan and I’m going to smash my Titan fists into you!” Although that is awesome fun.
Kade asked: Can friendly team members be killed by calling in a Titan on top of them?
Respawn: Not friendly, but enemy for sure, and it is so embarrassing to get killed by Titanfall. You’ll see better players try to trap people. You’ll be like ‘why is he just hanging out right there?’ and you’ll realize he wants you to walk over there so he can drop a Titan on you. It is probably the most satisfying way to kill someone.
Robert Sparks asked: How many levels will it take to reach max in Titanfall, and will this game feature a prestige style system?
Respawn: You are definitely going to put in some time levelling, but we are going to leave that stuff for the players to figure out. We really like to strike a balance between a slow grind and a really rewarding levelling up system. We don’t want you to spend all your time hating that you have to complete some task. There are some [tasks to unlock things] in, but we try to make it so that it’s not overwhelming.
Wayne Mcd asked: Will Titanfall feature deep customization options? weapon attachments, Camos etc?
Respawn: There are attachments and unlocks that you’ll get as you progress through the game. Right now the customization is not visual, it’s your loadout and how you want to equip your character based on how you want to play. We do get the customization question a lot, and there are three different types of Titans with different looks, and different colors depending on which side you’re playing on. As far as pilots go, we have a male and female version of each one, so you’ll at least get a super-cool looking pilot that’s your own. The artists have had a lot of fun with the look of the pilots and those cool helmets – there’s some that we haven’t shown yet that are just super-cool looking. That’s the extent of visual customization, but as far as your loadout, sure, we totally want you to play your way with the stuff that helps you do the best that you can.
Rick Aguillon asked: Since there will be AI players. In the game modes you’ve created, will we be able to interact with them? Meaning, (securing points, flanking, suppressive fire, calling for backup, etc.) or will they calculate those decisions on their own?
Respawn: So the AI stuff is something that we’ve really been passionate about talking about, because it’s such an integral part of the game. AI can refer to four different things:
You have the Marvins, they are like the handyman of the universe. They’re not worth killing. They’re kind of sweet, and you’re kind of a jerk if you sit around shooting them. They’re there for some flavor.
Then you have Grunts. Grunts are your sort’ve standard military cohorts. You’ll see them rappelling in from helicopters, and they’ll assist you on the battlefield. They’re rushing into points. They follow the flow of battles. They can also help you find where there are enemy soldiers and enemy Titans. They’re not very dangerous – maybe if you had lost a lot damage and one of them hit you, yeah they could kill you.
Jeff Rubenstein, Xbox: I was killed by one.
Abbie Heppe, Respawn: Yeah, it happens. But in general, they’re there not only to help newer players feel like they’re accomplishing something and getting a bunch of kills, but they also provide the sort’ve humorous element to the world. They will talk to each other, they will melee each other, they will drag their buddies behind cover. They will be like ‘oh, there’s a Pilot coming through.’ ‘I don’t see what the big deal about Pilots is anyway.’ So you should eavesdrop on them, because it’s kind of funny.
But they’re human, and they don’t move like Pilots do, and you’re very much more powerful than they are, and they do make the world feel really alive. There’s some more high-level tactics: for example, if I’m going into a hardpoint, sometimes I’ll let the AI rush in first. I’ll wait for the guy who’s upstairs waiting there to hit them, see where he’s at and take him out myself because he thinks I’m one of the dudes running up. So they can be used to your advantage, even if you’re a stronger player.
Then there’s Spectres. Spectres are much tougher, much more dangerous. You can hack them to turn them to your side with the Data Knife. They’re way more powerful, way more deadly, and they also move differently. They can jump up multiple stories. So sometimes you’ll catch one out of the corner of your eye, you’ll think it’s a Pilot. They’re way more mobile and scarier.
The fourth AI is the Titan. When you’re not in the Titan, you can have it follow you around the map, you can guard where you are and it will fight other Titans for you. It will grunts for you, it will take out Pilots for you, and it’s really satisfying when you’re doing your own thing on the map, and you’re racking up kills because your Titan is doing really well.
So AI is really more than soldiers running around. It’s a really integral part of what Titanfall does.
Dan asked: How many pilots would need to stand on top of one another to equal the height of one Titan?
Let’s say they’re maybe 6 feet tall… three and a half, almost four. Let’s check with the collector’s edition. [Abbie gets up, and measures the CE Pilot figurine with the CE Titan model] Yeah, I’m going to stick with three and a half.
Thanks to all of you who sent in questions – due to the huge response, we’ll be sure to do this with more titles moving forward.
Winners of the Titanfall Limited Edition Wireless Controllers have already been contacted.
If you haven’t already, be sure to apply for the beta here!