Titanfall 2 game director on a slower-paced multiplayer

Following our chat about the Titanfall 2 campaign, game director Steve Fukuda spoke to Shacknews about multiplayer, slowing down its pace, a fresh approach to map design, and keeping the online community alive.

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While Respawn is putting newfound focus on a single-player mode for Titanfall 2, the sequel to the original mech-based military shooter, the house built by former Modern Warfare developers have not forgotten what made the original so memorable. The multiplayer is seeing a few changes this time around, which console players may have already noticed during this past weekend's multiplayer tech test.

So what exactly is Respawn aiming for? To find out, Shacknews continued its chat with game director Steve Fukuda about Titanfall 2's multiplayer modes, including its design and its implementation of player feedback.

Shacknews: What do you feel is the key to differentiating Titanfall 2's multiplayer from the original game?

Steve Fukuda, game director: After the original game, we sat down and looked at it objectively. We got a lot of feedback from the outside, from fans, from research saying, "Hey, there's not enough. There's not enough content. We want more content." Internally, we played the game and came out of the play session thinking, "That was super exhausting. That was super chaotic." Why is that? We struggled with trying to answer what it was.

What it came down to was, it was difficult for players to have a predictably unpredictable kind of experience. It was difficult for players to say, "If I die here in this game mode, how do I get better?" Do I zig? Do I zag? What should I have done differently? It was hard for Titanfall players to answer that through their experience. So we went back to the drawing board so we could fix this.

We started by addressing the fact that you move so fast. You can't shoot out of the air so easily. So we slowed things down just a touch. Then also thinking more in terms of having players more proactive decisions, so instead of reacting to everything, they're thinking more like, "This match and this mode, this map, etc." They go, what things in the loadout menu will best help me fulfill that purpose. There's a much greater sense of purpose for players, so now they are thinking in terms of planning ahead, in terms of "I want to do this. This is my goal, this is my identity of how I am as a player." There's a huge difference, because all the different modes now kind of necessitate the player proactively thinking about what they want to do.

Shacknews: How is Titanfall 2's multiplayer planning to improve the pilot/Titan synergy that we saw in the first game? Will we see more strategies like using Guard Mode?

Fukuda: Here's the interesting thing about Guard Mode. They actually now really aggressively and properly use their full panel of abilities, as opposed to before where they tend to use Vortex Shield. This one, if you have Scorch and put him on Guard Mode, he's going to use the Flame Shield, Thermite Launcher, the canisters, and everything else. That's one of the big improvements to how that works in multiplayer now.

Shacknews: How has your approach to map design changed from the previous game?

Fukuda: One of the big efforts there was trying to think of the degree of verticality, the sort of "swiss cheese" effect. But now we have a 3D "swiss cheese" effect. So we started thinking more in terms of simplifying the concept and using what the designers call a "window pane" effect, where we think in terms of lanes. Defined paths become the norm: the left, the middle, the right. There's a greater simplification of the player's understanding of the environment, so that the environment becomes more predictable and becomes less about just drawing lines across the map from any point to any point where it just becomes a mess. We're trying to make sure the level is designed in a way that gets these trendy routes and feels more fundamental.

Shacknews: What are some of your favorite additions to multiplayer, whether it's new weapons or new Titans?

Fukuda: While all the physical toys and abilities are really exciting, I do like stim. Stim is much faster than in the original game, which lets you just really fly around. It's really fun.

But what I'm really excited about is the Networks and the social element of that. It's the chat window, the IRC, the whole thing. It brings back memories of playing Counter-Strike on a server that I was familiar with and going in there all the time and recognizing the names. It has a sort of "going to a favorite bar" kind of feeling.

But on the gameplay side, I'm really looking forward to the progression system. The progression system is much more in-depth. Now you're leveling your weapons, you're leveling your Titans, and you're leveling yourself. The range of unlocks, cosmetic and functional, are greatly expanded, so there's something in there for everybody. And there's no cap. There is a turnaround point and at the turnaround point, things will start switching to "v.1" font or "v.2" font and it'll cycle around each time. So I actually wonder if anyone will get to "v-four digits" or something.

Shacknews: If there's one thing I remember about the original Titanfall, it was the player base. The Xbox One community thrived for years. I could always log in and reliably find a game. But the PC player base tapered off after just a couple of months. So you might have already touched on this with Networks, but how do you plan to maintain an active player base across all platforms?

Fukuda: I think that's going to come down to us watching to see how the players react to the game. The game is considerably different in the way we're approaching the problems of the game. I think it's going to come down to actually watching what is happening online. We're evolving in the way we interact with the community at Respawn, so now we're thinking about how do we increase the amount of contact points between the developers and the team. Traditionally, there's been a "face of the company" model at a lot of places, but a lot of places have evolved towards a more distributed kind of approach. And we're going to start exploring that for pre-launch, post-launch, and we look forward to interacting with our fans.

Shacknews: Is the door open to cross-play across platforms? I realize Xbox One and PlayStation 4 might not be so realistic, but I'm referring more to Xbox One and PC or PlayStation 4 and PC?

Fukuda: We aren't planning on doing that at launch. For now, the answer is no, but we aren't closed to the possibility.


Titanfall 2 is set to release on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on October 28. Those looking to revisit our chat about the single-player campaign can check out part one of our interview.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    August 23, 2016 12:00 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Titanfall 2 game director on a slower-paced multiplayer

    • reply
      August 23, 2016 12:09 PM

      What is this rambling attempt at an explanation?

      We started by addressing the fact that you move so fast. You can't shoot out of the air so easily. So we slowed things down just a touch. Then also thinking more in terms of having players more proactive decisions, so instead of reacting to everything, they're thinking more like, "This match and this mode, this map, etc." They go, what things in the loadout menu will best help me fulfill that purpose. There's a much greater sense of purpose for players, so now they are thinking in terms of planning ahead, in terms of "I want to do this. This is my goal, this is my identity of how I am as a player." There's a huge difference, because all the different modes now kind of necessitate the player proactively thinking about what they want to do.

    • reply
      August 23, 2016 12:17 PM

      Can't quite read the article yet, but if they slow it down terribly much, I feel like it loses a significant chunk of what makes that game so great. Speed ruuuules. That, mixed with a few things some reddit post was saying from the technical test make me much more concerned about the game all of a sudden ;_;

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        August 23, 2016 1:21 PM

        It is noticeably slower than the last game, but if you're looking for speed, apparently they amped up stim packs quite a bit.

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          August 23, 2016 1:33 PM

          That's somewhat reassuring, as well as the post in the other thread about still going 30 km/h on the walls. I can't NOT use stim packs in that game, so I am glad they are there and still powerful!

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          August 23, 2016 1:58 PM

          The stim packs help but they don't last very long and have a long cooldown.

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      August 23, 2016 12:31 PM

      On PC, shooting while you're in the air is part of the challenge, it's totally doable, but you have to work on it.

      So yeah. Battlefield 1 I'll be playing at launch, it'll be wait and see on titanfall

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      August 23, 2016 1:38 PM

      Kinda wished you guys asked this question, a similar question to overwatch.

      How are you approaching balance between pc and consoles? For example, the overwatch team decided that consoles and PC's will be balanced separately.

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        August 23, 2016 2:03 PM

        That would have been good. My mindset going in was remembering how quickly that Titanfall base just died on PC. Like, it was dead within the first month.

    • reply
      August 23, 2016 1:48 PM

      Ozzie I was just thinking about you today

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      August 23, 2016 4:03 PM

      Are you back? Or is this just a freelance type thing?

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      August 27, 2016 10:13 AM

      I'm all for it if the auto-aim pistol is gone.