Reviews - Updated on April 15, 2022

Shortly before the release of the shooter Titanfall 2, which took place on October 28 (PC, PS4, XOne), we contacted Mackey McCandlish (actually his real name is Fairfax, but in the industry he is known precisely as Mackie) – the lead designer of the single player campaign to properly talk about the project. McCandlish previously worked as a designer on several Call of Duty (including Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2), Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, and one of his first works was the HIP1M5: Military Complex map for Quake Mission Pack No. 1: Scourge of Armagon.Titanfall 2 review
The presence of a “plot” is the main difference between Titanfall 2 and the original. The story in the sequel revolves around the newly-minted pilot Jack Cooper and the titan BT-7274, on the side of the militias opposing the IMC corporation. From interviews with Respawn Entertainment employees, it seemed like they were very proud of the campaign. What are its features?

This, in fact, we talked with McCandlish. What do Titanfall 2 and the iconic Half-Life have in common? What does the game have in common with Counter-Strike? Why is Titanfall 2’s “single” not focused on entertainment? What games have influenced how the Titanfall universe looks like? What did Respawn forget at Tokyo Game Show 2016? What is the main feature of the sequel’s multiplayer? You will find answers to these and many other questions in our interview. And, of course, McCandlish said a few words about Modern Warfare 2 and how gamers participated in the development of Titanfall 2.

: With Titanfall 2 you return to the concept of a project that has both multiplayer and a story campaign. What made you abandon the approach you took when developing the original Titanfall?

Mackie McCandlish: When we started the first Titanfall, we had 40 Infinity Ward guys on our team who had just completed Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. During the development of this project, the team that created the single player campaign and the team that worked on the multiplayer mode operated separately .

Starting Titanfall, we still adhered to the principle of dividing functions between the two teams – each did its part. But it soon became clear that in the case of a new game and a new IP, this approach would not work. Our previous projects were created within the framework of an existing franchise, which made things easier, and we worked on the early releases of Call of Duty as a single team. So, around the middle of development – it was 2012 – we thought that the process was not built very efficiently, and decided to focus our efforts by forming a joint team.

Titanfall 2 review
We focused on multiplayer to understand the rules that apply in our universe and bring variety to this mode, which allows us to create a product that would be different from other games on the market. At the same time, the team still had a lot of designers working on a single mode, and I didn’t want to lose two years of effort either. With the release of Titanfall, we had the opportunity to stop and think about how to further develop the franchise, and here the players helped us.

A lot of people loved the universe, but wanted to learn more about it and get a feel for the world of Titanfall beyond competitive gunfights. So we dusted off the old design docs, went back to the ideas we had before, chose the best ones, and started to prototype the single player mode. It all started with this, and gradually we returned to the principle of dividing the team.

SG: Does having a story mode make it easier to communicate with the audience?

MM: Definitely, the general audience is more likely to accept a game that has a single-player campaign. Many are simply not interested in online multiplayer. And it doesn’t matter what kind of game is in front of them. Someone just wants to immerse themselves in their favorite setting – and so that no one tries to kill you at the same time.

In addition, we have good experience in creating story campaigns. We really love this business, and the concept of Titanfall 2 allowed us to play to our strengths without abandoning the multiplayer mode from the previous game. So for us, this is not a step back – rather, it is a movement forward and going beyond the usual framework.

SG: What gameplay tools did you use to introduce new players to the Titanfall 2 universe?

MM: Elements such as wall running, double jumping, and other features may at first glance seem too complicated for players who are used to just moving around, aiming and shooting, so in Titanfall 2 we decided to limit the movement speed of the pilot, balancing the gameplay so that it was not too difficult for a beginner, not too easy for an experienced user, and equally fun in both cases.

We found the following solution – in the “plot” the player has access to a variety of styles of passing. If you wish, you can act very carefully, fire from behind cover, do not stick out once again and thus practically eliminate the mobility factor. At the same time, more experienced players who are familiar with the mechanics of shooters can successfully use advanced movement options, building complex schemes from wall runs, precisely timed jumps and aimed shots.

Titanfall 2 review
In addition, we worked hard to ensure that the player did not find himself in a hopeless – in the truest sense of the word – situation. We watched how gamers used additional abilities (like the already mentioned wall running), analyzed the mechanics and chose those that were used more often, trying to build gameplay around them.

Having determined the basic mechanics, we tested their viability in a huge number of tests. This is how we selected the final variants that were included in the game, after which we developed and integrated the basic versions of these mechanics into the initial levels of the single-player campaign. And then we put in some kind of reminder in the peaceful scenes so that the player is ready to use these gameplay elements at a later stage.

SG: In one of the interviews, your colleague drew a parallel between Titanfall and the first Half-Life. What do you think are the similarities between these projects and what other games, films and books have influenced how the Titanfall universe looks like?

MM: Valve’s games have certainly been a big influence on us, not just the Half-Life series, but Portal and Left 4 Dead as well. Valve employees are incredibly talented – they are great at creating cinematic situations, telling character stories through action gameplay. Some of the missions in our game have a slightly slower pace, but at the same time, this has allowed us to better reveal new, truly unique mechanics that really make the player think.

You know, it seems to me that the original Half-Life was the first FPS game focused on the thinking player, and in the single-player mode of Titanfall 2, interesting things happen not only and not so much on the screen, but in the user’s head. Many modern shooters strive to be like a movie, to amaze with spectacular special effects. In Titanfall 2, we deliberately take a step away from the spectacle and appeal to the player’s imagination, trying to stir him up, make him think and at the same time feel that his efforts are rewarded. As you progress through the Titanfall 2 campaign, you’ll notice that many of the challenges require an out-of-the-box approach and offer more than just another impressive combat setup.

As for inspirations… Since this is a game about giant robots, we drew a lot from universes like Transformers, RoboCop, and even from Tomb Raider 2. At the same time, we wanted to take a fresh look at the relationship between the pilot and the titan, rethink it relationship, to make sure that the presence of the titans in the game creates a certain context, but at the same time get away from the usual formula and give the player freedom in decisions.

Titanfall 2 review
SG: Titanfall 2, unlike the previous part, is released not only on Xbox and PC, but also on consoles from Sony. What does this event mean to you?

MM: Without a doubt, we are very excited to bring Titanfall 2 to PS4. We’ve always been big fans of the PlayStation and have been thinking about this possibility ever since the first Titanfall. With the first game in the series, we didn’t have the resources to prepare versions for both next-generation consoles, and we settled on platforms we were more familiar with. Microsoft did a lot to make it easier to get familiar with the Xbox architecture and helped bring the game to release. This also played a role in the decision to release the original on Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

SG: Do you expect success in Japan with the release on PS4?

MM: Respawn is a multinational team. A significant part of our employees are from other countries: Australians, Koreans, Canadians work for us. Most, of course, from the States, but not all. Curiously, we have quite a lot of Asians from English-speaking countries: Japanese from Canada, Koreans from Australia…

If you look at the games we’ve developed in the past, you’ll notice that we’re not only interested in the American audience. Our projects can be called American only to a certain extent. For example, back when we were working on the Call of Duty series, we were especially able to connect with the British audience, partly due to the use of English characters.

One way or another, in this case, we managed to make a project for Japan, using huge combat robots in the game. The effect was very noticeable during the Tokyo Game Show, where we presented the game this year. I’m not saying that we intentionally created Titanfall 2 with a Japanese audience in mind, but when such opportunities arise, we try to use them.

Titanfall 2 review
SG: What is the main difference between the sequel’s multiplayer and the original Titanfall?

MM: After finishing work on the first game, we spent six months supporting it, while analyzing how the players behave. And the most valuable observation for us was that Titanfall was obviously attracted by the combination of cinematography and controlled chaos. In a way, the game really was more about how to manage chaos than who was the better shooter. This added to its complexity and made it more demanding: not every gamer was ready for long sessions, especially given the unpredictability in a number of situations.

Let’s say, under certain conditions, you had a chance to deal with a lot of opponents who, being busy with bots, would not even notice your presence. And it was fully consistent with the spirit of the game – with high speeds and open spaces.

In the first Titanfall, multiplayer was the only mode available – we deliberately toned down the cinematics to emphasize the Titan’s mastery and tactical depth of combat. Perhaps the original offered the player too wide a range of options, and the abundance of mechanics produced a stunning effect. With the new game, we revisited the approach and set a goal to design gameplay that would encourage the ability to think strategically, anticipate the development of the situation and act ahead of the curve, allowing you to implement complex and deep combat scenarios.

SG: Which of the innovations, in your opinion, will have a decisive impact on the outcome of individual battles?

MM: In Titanfall 2, we tried to build a comprehensive feedback system so that the player had the opportunity to predict their actions and make the most of the information from the battlefield. Focusing, for example, on the sound made by an enemy titan, a fighter who has several explosive sessions behind him is able to imagine what the enemy is going to do and how he can respond at the moment.

Another difference that greatly changes the perception of the game as a whole concerns replays. As before, having suffered a defeat in battle, you are free to watch the recording of the last seconds and, on the one hand, see where the mistake was made, and on the other hand, analyze the opponent’s behavior. In the original, replays were not as functional, because in most cases the respawn and return to the map took place at a different point, and the situation had changed so much by that point that it became difficult to use the replay data to your advantage. In Titanfall 2, it’s like you get a second chance – the game offers you to solve the same problem in a different way.

Titanfall 2 review
It can be said that in Titanfall 2 we used our gaming experience in other games, for example in Counter-Strike, which is very much tied to such patterns, but at the same time we added mobility and made the pace higher than in a number of other online shooters. So our new game is still high speeds combined with extensive opportunities for developing your gaming skills and even deeper and more elaborate mechanics than before.

* Questions – Yaroslav Gafner, interview – Ivan Osenkov.

Similar content:

Darksiders: Warmastered Edition: Review

Reviews • 15/04/2022

The original Darksiders is one of those games that have become very fond of only over time. At first, it came out simultaneously with ...

Axiom Verge 2 Review & Wiki

Reviews • 30/03/2022

The first Axiom Verge, even several years after its release, remained an inventive and catchy metroidvania. Until now, she can be considered one of ...

The Tomorrow Children: Phoenix Edition: Review

Reviews • 23/09/2022

The Tomorrow Children was one of the strangest titles on the PlayStation 4. A free-to-play game about clone girls gathering resources to build communism, ...

Narita Boy Review & Gameplay

Reviews • 03/04/2022

“In the capital of Digital Kingdom, the great mother Motherboard supports Trichrome. With the advent of Stallions, the Digital Kingdom code and the Trichrome ...