With the launch of our free trial weekend we thought this would be a good opportunity to talk a bit about the making of the mission you’ll get to play.
The chapter we want to show you is called “The Beacon”.
This was the first level we designed for Titanfall 2 single player. Actually, this level was designed when we didn’t even have a single player.
Titanfall 1 was a multiplayer only game. Bringing those mechanics, weapons, Titans and environments to single player showed tons of promise, but also left us swimming in a sea of possible ideas. Paralyzed by choice! We had to start somewhere.
First, we set a few ground rules.
- The single player game is about a Pilot and his Titan.
- The game takes place in “postcard locations”.
A Pilot and his Titan.
This seems obvious in hindsight, but early in development we weren’t sure what the relationship was between a Pilot and his Titan other than there was a natural duality to the two roles that seemed sensible to explore. We had to figure out the details that would best express such a relationship in a single-player context.
In Titanfall 1, a Titan was used like a tool, you blew them up, and then called in another. They were disposable and replaceable. That disposable dichotomy didn’t seem appropriate to what we wanted from a single player experience – Emotion! Conflict! Heroics! We decided that the Pilot had his (or her!) own Titan, and that Titan was going to be a character.
This helped us decide a few design principles.
The Pilot and Titan should work together to solve problems they couldn’t solve alone. This should involve size, ability and will (or, for a Titan, its protocols).
To do this, the Pilot and Titan will need to learn to trust each other.
The game takes place in “postcard locations”.
Fundamentally, this means we wanted the player to go places that invoke a sense of adventure. You should want to go there and spend time there.
Sure, you’re doing missions that will ultimately decide the fate of the Frontier, but that doesn’t mean some of those missions can’t be in exotic, beautiful locations.
“The Beacon” was designed to feel freeing. Open, begging you to explore it. Climb all over. We wanted to prove that this is an adventure game at heart.
So, what was the gameplay?
We went back to our design principles:
The Pilot and Titan should work together to solve problems they couldn’t solve alone.
What problems can a Pilot solve that a Titan can’t?
In what ways would I need a Titan to progress?
These questions were asked and answered over and over again in the form of Action Blocks.
Action Blocks are small, discreet prototypes, built in one week by 1 or 2 designers. There are no restrictions or guidelines on creativity, other than the game is about a Pilot and his Titan.
This step was incredibly important for us. It laid a foundation that Titanfall gameplay supported many different gameplay concepts. It broke down preconceived notions about what a mission could do and still feel like it belonged in the universe. In Titanfall 1 we were wallrunning, shooting guns and stomping around in our giant robots. Now in Titanfall 2, after Action Blocks, we were using cranes to create new wallrunning paths, using our Titan to throw ourselves across massive gaps (Fastball Maneuver), surfing the air flow in a massive fan… and stomping around in our giant robots.
Crane Action Block
With all these new possibilities, our next question was: What does a Titanfall 2 single player level play like?
The Beacon aimed to find the right balance between the types of core gameplay we identified from Action Blocks:
Pilot Combat, Titan Combat, Pilot Mobility Challenges and Puzzles.
Wall Run Obstacle Action Block
Not all missions in the final game needed to fit in a strict formula (in fact, we consider that one of the game’s strengths), but to know when we were breaking the rules we first needed to define the rules. The Beacon tested each core gameplay type in different areas of the mission.
Pilot Combat found its cadence in the Reaper fight among the towers in the clouds.
Titan Combat (and a Boss fight!) take place in the open fields of electric fog.
The Beacon Substation tested how intense and challenging we could push Pilot Mobility and Puzzles.
We also explored ways in which a Pilot and Titan have to work together to solve problems they couldn’t solve alone. Examples included environmental hazards that only a Titan could cross, being thrown by your Titan to inaccessible places (Fastball Maneuver) and adventuring to locations underground where a Titan could never fit.
We also explored ways that the Pilot and Titan could learn to trust each other.
One approach to building a relationship was to let the player chat with their Buddy Titan (BT).
This came about impulsively (as many features do!) when BT delivered a question to the player in early versions of the script. It was meant rhetorically, but our impulse was to reply. We said, “Yes BT!” out loud. That’s when we knew that the bond between Pilot and Titan has to work both ways. Interactive Dialogue resonated with us, and immediately we started to care for BT.
These lessons learned in “The Beacon” were used throughout the game as touchstones when designing other missions.
Ultimately, this is the reason we chose “The Beacon” to showcase Titanfall 2 single player in our demo. You’ll get a little taste of everything. While other missions in the game bent (or even broke!) the guidelines in fresh, exciting ways, “The Beacon” is a great example of what Titanfall 2 single player is as a whole. We hope you love it.