The goal of that story, Respawn says, is to give players a "more thoughtful," roughly eight-hour campaign that takes what was "core and fundamental" to the Titanfall gameplay experience and build a single-player experience around it.
Titanfall 2 producer Drew McCoy said that building the game's campaign was a two-year long effort that required hundreds of prototype "action blocks" to get right.
"After we shipped Titanfall, we had a lot of really good response from our players," McCoy said during a presentation at Respawn's headquarters last week. The speed, traversal and Pilot/Titan-based gameplay of the original resonated with players, and Respawn "had to figure out how we wanted to transition that to a single-player game. That was loud and clear from everyone that liked the universe [and] liked the gameplay but they wanted a story. They wanted to know more about this universe and the characters within it."
Titanfall 2's campaign will build upon the freedom of mobility and the freedom to play in or outside of a Titan, as seen in Titanfall's multiplayer, in ways that may surprise players, McCoy said. Some of the campaign's levels are almost platformer and puzzle-like. Players will have to use a Pilot's abilities — jump jets, wall-running, ziplining, cloaking — to work their way through rooms flanked by electrified railings while also fighting off enemy soldiers.
"You would think it would a hyperkinetic game," McCoy said, explaining that rather than create an adrenaline-fueled action game where players are funneled through corridors and flanked by explosions, Titanfall 2's campaign will have stretches of quiet and exploration. Players won't be constantly barked at by a sergeant to go here or flank that. Instead, they'll explore a hostile, alien planet with their faithful companion, the Titan BT-7274.
After explaining the design principles of Titanfall 2, McCoy presented a hands-off gameplay demonstration which featured segments from the beginning and middle of the single-player campaign.
Players will take on the role of Jack Cooper, a grunt-level rifleman in the Frontier Militia. Cooper has aspirations of one day becoming a Pilot, McCoy said, under the tutelage of Captain Lastimosa.
At the start of the campaign, however, Cooper and Lastimosa find themselves dealing with a botched Militia operation. They've crash-landed on an alien planet, Typhon. That planet is inhabited by enemy soldiers from the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC) and equally dangerous indigenous wildlife. With Lastimosa mortally wounded, it's up to Cooper to revive and bond with his captain's Titan and rescue his fellow Frontier Militia members.
Some of the early gameplay segments we saw involved stealthily recovering a battery for BT-7274 from a crashed Frontier ship. Cooper moved gracefully through the alien world, wall-running on and double-jumping alongside cliff walls trying to reach the ship. When confronted with enemy drones and infantry, Cooper cloaked himself to hide from his foes and sow confusion. Speed, stealth and tactical combat engagement appeared paramount to survival.
Later sections focused more on navigating the maze-like levels of industrial structures or exploiting the partnership of Pilot and Titan in both combat and traversal. In one example, BT picked up and threw Cooper at a distant structure hundreds of meters away. Cooper hit the wall with a running start and used his momentum to surprise a group of IMC infantry and mechanized soldiers. Using his Arc Tool, a multipurpose beam device used to control electronic equipment, Cooper opened and closed doors, lowered and raised platforms, changing the very layout of the battle zone.
Respawn says that some of Cooper's equipment, like the Arc Tool, will be area-specific, giving levels their own distinct gameplay mechanics.
One of Respawn's apparent goals in developing Titanfall 2's campaign was to drive home the bond between Pilot and Titan. Throughout the campaign footage we saw, that was supported by conversations between Cooper and BT. They'll exchange dialogue in an attempt to get to know one another and players will have some choice in how they respond to or ask questions of BT. These moments add some levity to the action; in the section where BT is about to fastball Cooper at a far off wall, Cooper asks what the risks are. BTthen dispassionately and exhaustively lists the number of fatal injuries Cooper could sustain from such a maneuver. It's dry, but funny.
Other dialogue moments offer some insight into Cooper's background and personality, such as when BT recounts his Pilot's brave military accomplishments or attempts to coldly calm his human partner while under duress. Players will get the impression that Cooper is a nervous grunt in over his head, but has a genuine ally in BT.
While we didn't get a chance to play Titanfall 2's single-player campaign ourselves, it shows immense promise. We were pleasantly surprised by the unexpected variety of the gameplay shown and Respawn's smart implementation of the original Titanfall's multiplayer mechanics transposed to a single-player setting.
Titanfall 2 and its offline single-player campaign arrives on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One on Oct. 28.