'Titanfall 2' single-player campaign opens up worlds, player choices

One drawback to “Titanfall” was the lack of a single-player campaign. Players wanted to explore the “Titanfall” world with a storyline that would be engaging and fun.

As “Titanfall 2” was being developed, a separate team focused on putting together the elements for a compelling story while showcasing the new gameplay available. The result is a direct sequel to the first, maintaining a direct line for seasoned vets, while introducing new players to the concept of joining pilot and Titan together.

Joel Emslie, lead artist for “Titanfall 2,” and Dusty Welch, COO of Respawn, agreed there were still new adventures and stories to be told in the franchise’s universe. Taking the great multiplayer action from the first title and using it for a single-player campaign took a lot of work.

“We did these things called action blocks,” Emslie said. “Designers went on a game mechanics journey. They went in all kinds of different directions but always focusing on the strengths of the pilot and the strengths of the Titan and how do we bring those two things together. All this gold came out. You could almost build three games out of what we created, but we had to narrow it down to the best of the best.”

The designers created new elements, like jumping puzzles that can explore entire regions of a map, to a full-scale military landing involving a Titan beachhead against opposing forces. Welch said the landing scenario is particularly well done because of the previous experience of the team with the “Call of Duty” franchise and the “Medal of Honor” series.

“To some degree, ‘Call of Duty’ was the training wheels, and here’s this game that they always wanted to make, to break out of the constraints of a world war thing and tell this story in the ‘Titanfall’ universe,” Welch said. “We felt the game needed a real narrative to sink your teeth into on this one.”

The team wanted to give players the change to explore the world in ways they couldn’t in the first title. Creating the two sides of the conflict, the homesteaders, who were on the forefront of exploration into the galaxy, and the mega-corporation, who wanted to exploit their efforts, have realistic and specific goals.

The worlds are more diverse as expansion into the galaxy took place. Flora and fauna of the planets also come into play in dangerous ways. The settings beckon players to look around and explore, providing a freeing experience to play.

“We were told to make postcard-esque environments so every environment is very different, very unique,” Emsile said. “You’re going to go deep into these secret facilities to see what the IMC is up to. There’s some crazy stuff going on.”

As Jack Cooper, a lowly rifleman who becomes a Titan pilot through tragedy and happenstance, joining forces with BT-7274, players will join up with the homesteaders’ militia to drive back the corporate forces that want to harvest as much resources as possible for shipment to Earth.

The single-player story explores the bond between pilot and Titan and how that all changes when a pilot dies in combat. Cooper and BT are thrown together to complete the mission, and the campaign delves into how the partnership works, how the Titans have developed since the first game, and doing whatever it takes to finish the job.

BT is a unique Titan, custom built for the single player campaign, giving experienced players something new, while BT’s powers will help beginning players understand what other Titans in the game can do.

The game does have a stealth component, allowing for sneaky play rather than going weapons free and destroying everything. The enemies have changed their tactics from the first game and are more inclined to send tech bots at players rather than charge into battle right away.

Elements from multiplayer action find their way into the single player campaign. While Emslie and Welch would say which way was better to start, boss battle in single player will definitely help when players face them in multiplayer action.

“The cool part about bosses is they are from multiplayer,” Emsile said. “As you are playing single player, it is informing you how these things work in multiplayer. It’s a good way to learn the game at your leisure.”

Different enemies, new weapon, advanced abilities and multiple paths through an environment encourage players to experience the game in their own ways in the single player campaign. Giving the players choices was paramount as the title was being built.

“Our single player is so unique,” Welch said. “The introduction it gives you and the mastery over the mechanics over being a new pilot, getting command of a Titan, in this case, BT, and getting a command of all the weapons and tactics at your disposal, it leap frogs you in multiplayer.”

“The goal was to give the players as many tools as possible to play with to have fun,” Emsile said. “Let them approach the gameplay problems in their own style or their own way.”