With Titanfall 2's release right around the corner, we chatted with Respawn's COO Dusty Welch and art director Joel Emslie during their time at Tokyo Game Show. On the agenda: Feature creep, animation work, and Gundam.
I’m Keith from NZGamer.com – cheers for sitting down to talk to us about Titanfall 2.
Can you give our readers a brief rundown on some of the biggest changes coming to Titanfall 2, and what were some of the big additions that you really enjoyed working on?
Dusty: Maybe the most obvious is that we now include a full, bespoke, action, adventure-packed single-player campaign to the game. It’s deep, it’s memorable, it’s meaty. As a player of the game myself, I would say there’s no two levels back-to-back that look like anything else. We’re going from being a foot soldier, to battles inside your Titan. You’re exploring the world, doing puzzles, it reminds me a lot honestly of playing Half Life 1. It really hearkens back to a game that is more of an exploring mans, thinking-man’s game, melded together with this dynamic that Titanfall brings – this fast, fluid, Pilot and Titan combat which is really exciting.
Multiplayer also. There’s a surprising emotional connection that you’ll get with your 20-ft. tall Titan. [laughs]
Joel: We worked really hard to identify the strongest elements from Titanfall 1, and bring that into a new game. One of the things that I’m really most proud of – I really love single-player – but I really love how multiplayer has turned out.
When we did internal testing, I found myself sitting down with Titanfall 2 multiplayer for a good four hours straight, and I wanted more [laughs]. And I hate to say it, but I didn’t have that on Titanfall 1… I think that we had the knob cranked up to 11, and then ripped it off. It’s great, and insane.
I believe that when you’re trying to evolve the game and make it better, I love the refinement and balancing that we’ve made. You can sit there for it for a long time, because there’s a tonne of unlocks with it. You really need those hours to get deep into the gameplay.
Dusty: And I think we heard the audience. We introduced in Titanfall 1 this new universe, and this great new gameplay mechanic that seems to have changed the FPS genre. But the audience wanted more – so we gave them more customisation. More Titans – you’ve got six in there. You can customise your pilot, your Titan. Progression was a big piece that we needed to improve going forward in the sequel. Now you’re progressing your weapon tree, your Titan tree, your Pilot tree.
There’s a lot of depth and replayability there.
Joel: Yeah some huge changes. We’ve added physical-based rendering, we have a new audio system, we have streaming, depth-of-field. We have dynamic resolution, where depending on what’s happening on-screen, the system will intelligently scale up the fidelity, or bring it down a bit to keep that smooth 60 through single-player and multiplayer.
So I guess that naturally brings me on to my next question, mainly aimed at Joel. Titanfall 2 is a bigger game than its predecessor – campaign, Titans, weapons. How has it been from an artistic standpoint fleshing out the world of Titanfall?
Joel: Absolutely a dream come true. I think that doing Titanfall 1 was amazing – a great experience. It was surprising. But at the end of development – I did a lot of art in the art book, and we’ve done another one as well – the feedback on the art book was “Wow, there’s so much universe here in this book – I don’t see it in the game yet.”
From an artistic standpoint, going in and having an opportunity to do a really deep, single-player world and universe – and our levels had to be massive for the mobility of the pilots – we really went after that. But it was important for us to visually stand apart from the other shooters on the market at the same time.
We went with a very grounded, believable visual language for the game, but also went a little more exotic and saturated. We took advantage of the idea that this is a science-fiction world, and crazy stuff happens there. It hit every bell that we wanted to hit artistically, and what we wanted to do, and it’s in a great place.
For me, playing through the single-player now is a perfect moment of seeing everything come together visually, and with audio and gameplay, and just sit back and enjoy it.
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