Titanfall 2 will bring with it just about everything everyone was hoping it would, and more. The game will be coming to Xbox One, Windows PC and PlayStation 4; it will offer refined multiplayer, more mechs and a meaningful, story-driven single-player campaign; and it will introduce a personality of sorts to those hulking mechs.
"When we sat down to make a single-player Titanfall game, we had an interesting situation for ourselves," said Drew McCoy, a producer on the game. "We had a great multiplayer game with Titanfall. We found ourselves with the problem that we already knew how the game worked, but had to decide how to make it function in single-player."
Early on, McCoy said, the team didn't expect fans would need to be "huge lore hounds" in Titanfall to understand Titanfall 2.
"We knew we would probably have a huge number of new players," he said. "So the campaign will take place in the same universe years down the line, but it's not a continuation of the first game. There will be some familiar faces and some fresh new characters."
After deciding when the game would take place, the team decided that it also wanted to make sure that players would have the same sort of freedom they found in the original game's multiplayer.
"We decided to lean into it," McCoy said. "It's structured in a way that isn't a typical cinematic single-player campaign. It has a different feel. It doesn't feel like any game in that respect."
McCoy said the team is focusing on the multiplayer aspects of Titanfall 2 at E3, but he did explain a few elements of the campaign.
"The story is about a militia rifleman who's a grunt," he said. "He becomes a battlefield-promoted pilot and has to finish a mission behind IMC [Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation] enemy lines. He's sort of stranded behind enemy lines.
"It's not a traditional militaristic game with a sergeant yelling at you to get in line."
In designing the campaign and reworking the multiplayer, the developers looked at some of the things they saw in the original game that they felt could have been improved upon.
"If you look at Titanfall, it was a multiplayer-only game, and the titans were a little disposable," he said. "But even with that disposable nature, people really gravitated toward the connection they felt they had with the titans and the way the animated when standing guard or picking you up."
McCoy said Respawn is leaning into that tenuous bond in the campaign. This time around, those hulking titans will be characters in the game. In the single-player campaign, there will be the one pilot and one titan.
"It's not a sentient being," he said. "He isn't alive, but he has a personality and you get to know him."
The titan in the campaign will be a new class, Vanguard, which McCoy described as being closest to the the medium-sized, medium-armored Atlas from the original. For the campaign, though, he'll be a bit more powerful.
"He's not just a machine that looks cool," he said. "Artists, animators, the game director all spent time a lot of time crafting his visual appearance and how he moves."
The game will run at 60 frames per second on console and top out at 144 Hz on PC, he said. "We care about the PC guys a lot," McCoy said. "We don't like making a crappy console port."
But he was quick to point out what the campaign won't be.
"It’s important to know this is not a bunch of training missions from multiplayer levels with bots," he said. "This is a meaty single-player game you play offline. It’s a huge portion of the game. We’re going to find a huge number of people who only play this.
"There are some interesting avenues that the campaign takes which I don't think people will be prepared for."
"We're not going to go into all of the titans of multiplayer at E3," McCoy said. "But things have changed quite a bit.
"We do have six new titans this time. It's years down the line and they've all evolved and changed, but you can see the DNA they drew from."
McCoy says two of the new titans will be shown at EA Play: Ion and Scorch.
Ion has lasers and a particle accelerator: "She's a descendant of Atlas," he said.
Scorch is an incendiary titan with a mortar that launches burning rounds. He also has a flamethrower and can throw out gas canisters that will explode.
"He's a big heavy," McCoy said. "You can tell he is a descendant from an Ogre."
All of the Titans of Titanfall 2 are named. They also all have unique voices and personalities that drive the way they talk to you.
Pilots, too, will see some changes.
"Pilots can now load out with a grapple hook," McCoy said. "It works anywhere: buildings, player players, other players' titans, your own titans.
"There are a whole bunch of pilot abilities that determine what your pilot looks like."
Some of these changes were made to make it easier and faster for players to identify enemies from a distance, so they can prepare for them, McCoy said.
Although a lot has been done to Titanfall 2's multiplayer, McCoy said much of it is very subtle.
"People who haven't played Titanfall in a while will play Titanfall 2 and think it feels the same," he said. "People who are hardcore, who still play it a lot, will notice some changes.
"We've been fine-tuning, balancing and tweaking."
One of those tweaks is the addition of a power slide that helps with flanking around corners.
McCoy said the multiplayer will have a decent amount of modes, but declined to name them.
The map being shown at E3 is Boom Town, a map that is an IMC training facility that has been bombarded.
"The game mode is 'Bounty Hunt,' an evolution of Attrition from the last game," McCoy said. "It's a really good casual mode. It's very target-rich and great if you have 10 minutes to get to grips with this game while you're playing it."
Titanfall 2 will also have more competitive-focused modes, he said, but the team isn't talking about them at EA Play.
Respawn views Titanfall as a tremendous success. McCoy says the team doesn't believe the first game had a drop-off that was faster than typical, despite being multiplayer-only.
And, he said, Respawn supported Titanfall for eight to nine months with map packs, a black market, burn cards, ranked modes and "all of this crazy stuff."
So why build a sequel with the addition of a campaign?
"We really wanted players to invest in us as a studio," he said. "We really wanted them to feel like they got the most out of their money.
"A lot of the feedback we received was about wanting to get more invested in the Titanfall universe. People wanted to know more about the frontier, and why IMC and the militia were fighting."
He said that there were also players who seemed afraid to play online multiplayer.
"They were too afraid to try it out," he said. "Single-player is a good way to dip their toe in the water."
The team also wanted to explore gameplay opportunities that aren't present in multiplayer games.
"I think people are going to be taken aback by the single-player," he said. "It doesn't feel like anything else. We've made tremendous leaps with our tech.
"The closest touch-point structurally and mechanically is to take the framework of Masterblaster and wrap it around the original Half-Life."