Interview with Titanfall's Vince Zampella brings the goods
Got an Xbox One? Looking for the next BIG THING. We reckon Titanfall, a 3D shooter from the brains behind Call Of Duty (COD), might just fry your burger.
We spoke to Vince Zampella from developer Respawn Entertainment about the game and why he's hoping it will define the next generation of shooters.
So Vince why is Titanfall looking so special?
Vince, "With Titanfall we wanted to try and take things to the next level. We started the company with the goal of not necessarily having a particular game in mind. We wanted to make something that is familiar, but also pushes the boundaries. We wanted to work with what we know, because we are good at it. However we aren't going to make racing games and we aren't going to just make another COD."
Titanfall is a sci fi based online shooter. It is set in the future, when mankind has manged to explore the universe, and has found a place on its outer rim that is very similar to Earth. This 'new frontier' is chock full of safe habitable planets and valuable resources. Naturally, a civil war erupts between two factions over these spoils (think Rebels and Imperial Alliance), and you get to take sides and slam the other force while exploring some sweet looking online maps.
Vince: "Now this all sounds pretty conventional, but Titanfall then tweaks the basic idea by letting you behind the controls of the massive 'Titans', and shakes up gameplay in the process."
These bipedal behemoths are the size of an office block and have insane firepower, as well as shields and rockets. They can even catch missiles and throw them back at opponents. Controlling a Titan is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game, as they can frag the lightly armoured Pilots easily on the open ground. However the game then throws in a twist with lots of buildings and places Pilots can sneak in and out of, sniping at Titans as they go, so there is balance there. Pilots can even, if they are agile enough, jump onto a hostile Titan and shoot out the power core on its shoulder, setting off a spectacular Titan meltdown!
This 'Titans versus mere men' concept is at the heart of the game's play appeal and having blasted through the narrative campaign, it works really well. Both sides are fun to play and controlling a Pilot or a Titan is also going to slap a cheesy grin on your face.
Vince: "With Titanfall we wanted to push the genre forward. With the idea of 'big versus small' in a multi-faced game design. Playing as human 'Pilot' or a massive 'Titan' is cool, as both have advantages and challenges. You can wall run and perform great stealth kills and acrobatics as a Pilot and as a Titan you have a sledgehammer on the battlefield."
The game, which is just releasing as an Xbox One exclusive as you read this, has a lot going for it. The maps are superbly crafted and there is plenty of depth when it comes to different weapon load outs, experienced based skills development and fast flexible online play. The lighting effects and visuals are also bleeding edge and the seamless integration of online play, load outs and lobbies is a credit to the genre.
Unlike most online shooters Titanfall also features a cohesive narrative driven campaign that punctuates the missions, as you play online in teams. This is really neat and makes it easier to feel like you are a part of a real living breathing world.
Vince: "With our narrative approach we have looked at changing things in a unique way. With most games, you have this vast open space that people play in for hundreds of hours, without really knowing why. They are there blasting each other, but none of it makes sense in a broader context. What we have done is paid that experience the proper respect it deserves. We wanted to expand the universe and draw people in."
Indeed, Titanfall does this as the game feels like it isn't just set in an arena. Instead your actions have consequences.
Vince adds, "This is spot on, as people spend much more time in multiplayer than they do in single player arenas, and so we wanted that to have a compelling narrative. There is a story and as you play through the missions you will understand why the two sides are fighting and who are the puppet masters behind the pawns in the battlefield."
This 'big versus small' approach, with several different classes of Titans and human Pilots adds a lot of variety to the gameplay.
You will always be looking at Titanfall from a different viewpoint and this keeps things fresh and exciting. There is Pilot versus Pilot, Pilot versus Titan, and Titan versus Titan warfare. Each dynamic requires a rethink on tactics, and most importantly the way each encounter plays out differently is intriguing, and makes the game fun to play.
Vince explains: "In Titanfall there are all types of scenarios in the game where you find yourself having to react and play differently as you face a unique challenge that requires you to adapt. This seemed really cool to us and is at the centre of the game's appeal."
Having enjoyed the game it is hard not to agree.