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Titanfall: three years of secrecy finally laid bare

Thursday, 13th June 2013 17:40 GMT By Phil Owen

Titanfall has finally been revealed to the world, after three years of utter secrecy surrounding the Respawn title. During E3 2013, Phil Owen spoke with a studio relieved to finally bring its creation out of the shadows and into the glaring spotlight.

Titanfall – E3 2013 Gameplay

Slowly but surely, from the moment Call of Duty 2 was released on the Xbox 360 at the launch of that platform back in 2005, there has been one franchise that has pretty much owned the shooter space on consoles, and while Treyarch and Sledgehammer and those folks have certainly contributed to the world coming under the control of Activision, it all started with Infinity Ward, the actual creators of Call of Duty.

While Infinity Ward is certainly the studio responsible for this year’s Call of Duty: Ghosts, and while, yes, there are folks who have been with IW through the long haul, as we all know a not-insignificant portion of the IW DNA left to form Respawn with EA, where they’ve been working for three years on the project we now know as Titanfall.

In theory — and I use that qualification because we have no going hands-on with the game thus far, instead only being able to watch the Respawn team play it — Titanfall is a new dynamic in the multiplayer shooter space, as it contains warfare that is not quite balanced the way we’ve come to expect from all the man vs. man online shooters we’ve dealt with so many times before.

Titanfall has men and women on foot, yes, but it also puts some of them in the cockpit of a mech, a “second skin” in the words of the game’s lead artist, Joel Emslie. The mechs are a new variable intended to change up the online shooter status quo completely while still appealing to the crowd that has been eating up the status quo for the past seven years.

Respawn has been at least laying the groundwork for Titanfall for three years now, and in that time none of us on the outside looking in had any idea what they were doing, though we naturally assumed they were building something multiplayer-related. Folks in the gaming industry love to keep secrets, and they kept this one for a long time, until this month’s Game Informer cover leaked ahead of the Titanfall’s planned announcement on Monday.

“It’s great to finally have the opportunity to get support from the fan base. It was like I was out at Area 51 working on alien technology. So to have everybody come up and talk to us and feel their excitement for it, it’s surreal.”

When I spoke with Emslie at E3, he expressed palpable relief about actually just being able to talk about this damn thing they’re been toiling away at for years.

“It’s great to finally have the opportunity to get support from the fan base a little bit. I know we’re rebuilding a fan base because this is a new intellectual property, but my mom didn’t even know what I was working on. It was like I was out at Area 51 working on alien technology or something. So to have everybody come up and talk to us and feel their excitement for it, it’s surreal.”

And, naturally, Emslie said the folks at Respawn were a bit nervous coming into the show, because three years is a long time to work on a new idea without being able to tell anyone about it.

“We’ve been so close to this project for such a long period of time, and it had to be so secretive that you really start scrutinizing it so heavily, and we’re our own worst critics. I know you hear that from everybody, but we really are hardcore on ourselves,” Emslie said. “After a certain point you’re just seeing things, like, ‘I can make that better or I can make that better,’ but there just comes a point where we’re just, like, let’s get it out there and see what people think.”

Fortunately for them, people have generally been thinking good things about what we’ve seen on the game, and they’ve not been shy about expressing their thoughts to the team, Respawn’s community manager Abbie Heppe told me.

“It’s really humbling, and it’s really exciting, too, because we’re just blown away by how excited people are about it,” Heppe said. “Our whole team is here, and we can’t even keep them away from the booth because they’re just so excited to see people reacting when they’re coming out. It’s really wonderful for us.”

Titanfall E3 Announcement Trailer

The Titanfall demonstration booth has indeed been a popular attraction as E3, as folks have waited in long lines to watch some Respawn staffers play a match. But while Titanfall certainly appears to be a fresh experience, no shooter is ever going to be completely unique at this point. I mentioned Brink to Emslie and Heppe as a comparison to Titanfall, due to the first-person free-running mechanics the two games share, and while neither of them would admit to that game being an influence on Titanfall, Emslie said the comparison did make sense.

“That’s the beauty of the industry — everybody’s doing awesome work, and we can all inspire each other,” Emslie said. “Sometime it’s weird to be working on stuff in secret, and then someone else is working on something in secret, and you come out the end of the tunnel, and stuff looks… It’s like a zeitgeist. We’re all thinking the same way sometimes.”

You can rest assured that what the team has shown off at E3, much of which you can see online, is only a very small portion of the final game. Emslie told me what they brought here to the show is a good primer, but folks who are interested will need to pay attention over the coming months as they mete out more details. He also told me the world of Titanfall will have plenty of lore to soak up if you’re into that.

Titanfall will be released on Xbox platforms and PC in 2014.

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21 Comments

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  1. Aullah

    I have faith in you Respawn. Dont fuck up the PC version.

    #1 10 months ago
  2. Erthazus

    It’s really good that this game is coming to the PC. I hope that the game has more substance then CoD games.

    CoD multiplayer is a weak version of Quake 3:A so I hope for a much better experience. what I saw was much better with jumping and stuff. should be cool with M&K

    #2 10 months ago
  3. MCTJim

    This one is on my must have list.

    #3 10 months ago
  4. tezzer1985

    I think that making this game exclusive, shows why EA will always be playing catch up to Activision.

    Destiny and Titanfall are based on the same multiplayer principal, which mean they both have a level playing field…yet EA chooses to limit their player base. Which will leave Destiny to establish a player base on both platforms going forward…rather then the limited player base Titanfall will have.

    #4 10 months ago
  5. redwood

    IF it’s exclusive to xbox/MS.. than they might make it exclusive to win8 too :) … makes sense?

    #5 10 months ago
  6. KineticCalvaria

    @2, next gen is all about the jumping! :D

    #6 10 months ago
  7. Erthazus

    Fun fact though. Infinity Ward said that they have next generation engine for Ghots, but in reality it’s the same 1999 year old POS with few current gen effects.

    While Respawn Entertainment makes a game on the 2005 year old engine and look at the difference between Titanfall and Ghotsts. The difference is huge!
    Although Valve is making a new Source while developed a DOTA2 game on the first Source.

    But Battleifled 4 still takes the cake. Frostbyte 3 is a true next gen thing in every way there is.

    @4, These games are different. TITANFALL is ONLINE multiplayer and Destiny is MMOFPS.

    2 completely different games that has nothing to do with each other.

    #7 10 months ago
  8. tezzer1985

    @7 I NEVER said they were the same, I said they are built on the SAME multiplayer principle. Which involve the same level of player commitment.

    Why do people not read before they comment at others.

    #8 10 months ago
  9. Erthazus

    @9, with the same comment you now can compare Call Of Duty to World Of warcraft which both requires the same multiplayer principle.

    Zero logic.

    #9 10 months ago
  10. Patrick Garratt

    Most impressive game I’ve seen here. Very solid.

    #10 10 months ago
  11. UuBuU

    I’ve been playing online FPS games since the late 90s and this one didn’t impress me at all ~ the gameplay reminded me of halo mixed with cod, which isn’t a good thing.

    The only encouraging thing about it is that it’s multiplayer only. More developers should focus on either producing a great multiplayer FPS or a great singleplayer FPS rather than trying to do both at once.

    #11 10 months ago
  12. G1GAHURTZ

    Very hyped for this game.

    Non CoD players probably won’t see it, or understand why, but this has CoD killer written all over it.

    Especially with the cloud implementation. That could be key.

    I highly recommend watching the vids of this game in 1080/60, from the official website, btw.

    The poorly compressed videos above are terrible by comparison.

    #12 10 months ago
  13. Erthabutt

    I’ll agree with my good friend here and say that tezzer1985 is on the wrong track.

    First things first, you say “…yet EA chooses to limit their player base”, and while EA most probably wasn’t against that deal, Respawn did say that they were a small team and prefered to focus their effort on one console. So it wasn’t all up to EA, I’d guess.

    Secondly, what the hell were you trying to say with that? “Destiny and Titanfall are based on the same multiplayer principal, which mean they both have a level playing field”
    That doesn’t mean anything.

    Finally, Erth, go in your cave with your engine talk, you know nothing in that matter. You don’t build an entirely new engine from scratch everytime you want to make another game. ON THE OTHER HAND, IT’S QUITE TIME FOR THEM TO IMPLEMENT A FEW MORE THINGS INTO THEIR GAMES, BUT THEY’RE GIVEN ONLY 2 YEARS TO MAKE THEIR GAME EVERYTIME. What I mean is they spend most of their effort in content creation, probably not in R&D.

    #13 10 months ago
  14. Lengendaryboss

    @Erthabutt
    Really? I am surprised Erthazus hasn’t commented on his alter ego :D

    #14 10 months ago
  15. manamana

    Just wanted to enhance this article with the Polygon interview (had it posted in the forums already), if you don’t mind, because it has interesting stuff going on. http://www.polygon.com/e3-2013/2013/6/12/4419110/titanfall-respawn

    I think it looks very engaging, although I wouldn’t buy a XB1.

    #15 10 months ago
  16. G1GAHURTZ

    ^ Also set for 360 (although probably lacking in numerous features) and PC, so you shouldn’t have to.

    #16 10 months ago
  17. viralshag

    This game essentially made the decision on what console I want.

    #17 10 months ago
  18. pukem0n

    PC version will be canned anyway, or delayed longer than Rockstar ever delayed a PC port in their history ^^

    #18 10 months ago
  19. polygem

    @18: same here: ps4

    ;)

    #19 10 months ago
  20. zinc

    @Poly, What class you choosing in Destiny? I’m thinking the cyborg soldier build. Probably call him Chief :)

    #20 10 months ago
  21. polygem

    not sure yet, can´t even decide which faction to join. really curious how all that will work. good pick for a name :)
    might call mine Destinys Child …….nahhh not funny. cheeesy. now that chief is taken already i might just call my build John then we create a squad and add 2 other players to our fireteam, one called 117, the other guy master.
    i thought about picking a titan because this class looks a lot like the classic halo thing but then, maybe it´s time for something new, maybe a warlock? can´t say, must see more of the game first. cannot wait for this game now though. it could really be fun and keep me entertained for years…IF IT CLICKS.

    #21 10 months ago