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Respawn talks Titanfall 2 and that Call of Duty remaster

Zampella: "I told them - don't f*** it up"

The boys from Respawn are back. By the time Titanfall 2 launches, it will have been two-and-a half years since their mech-focused first-person shooter first touched down on Xbox One.

Titanfall 2 makes the franchise - finally - multiplatform. Not just PC but PlayStation 4, too. There's a campaign, too, and a whole load of free DLC.

But there's also increased competition - not only from a new Call of Duty, which has gone more sci-fi than ever, but from the enhanced edition of that game with the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare remaster.

This year, Respawn is in the curious position of competing against its own game. Or rather, a game which many of its staff worked on back at Infinity Ward, before that very public lawsuit where co-founders Vince Zampella and Jason West left to start Respawn instead.

I caught up with the Titanfall 2 team back at E3 2016 and found myself in a room filled with Modern Warfare alumni. Almost everyone there had made some part of the game.

The chat was squarely focused on the team's future, rather than its past, but Respawn boss Zampella did have one thing to say.

"I told them - don't f*** it up," he laughed. "That's my on the record response. I rang them up and said, honestly, don't f*** it up. It's a huge part of people's gaming memories."

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Unsurprisingly, not f***ing it up was important for Titanfall 2, as well. It's spent the past two years working out how to expand on the original idea and come up with solutions - both big picture and granular.

On the big picture side, there's the brand new campaign mode - perhaps the biggest change from Titanfall 1.

"We're spending years of our lives pouring everything we can into this - we want it to appeal to as many people as possible," Zampella reasoned.

"For as long as there were single-player campaigns, no one got too upset," lead single-player designer Mackey McCandlish added. "There were people really into competitive multiplayer who said, 'I don't know why they bother'.

"But then we took the campaign and suddenly people come out the woodwork, like 'what did you do with the campaign?!', like some dark matter of players out there who got all vocal. It's different audiences."

Titanfall 2's story isn't just there to tick a box or look good in screenshots, either. Titanfall fans really wanted a single-player campaign to play first time around - the fact it didn't have one was a turn-off, especially when its world seemed so interesting.

"I think it has to do with the universe," Zampella continued. "We tried to put some of that into the multiplayer first time around and teased it, and people's interest was piqued."

On the smaller scale, Respawn has gone back to the drawing board on its Titan design and deployment. You no longer just get Titans for free, for example - you can't just wait for the timer to tick down, you have to earn them.

The mech's designs have also been overhauled, as part of a wider focus to make Titanfall 2 feel fairer to players.

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"Looking at a Titan, you can now tell at a glance everything you need to know," Zampella explained. "In the first, they could have any kind of customisation."

The changes are about making the game feel fairer. If you're killed, Respawn wants you to understand why, so you can learn from the situation and - hopefully - get better.

"It was hard for players in Titanfall 1 to see a replay and learn anything," McCandlish said, "because when they respawn they will probably come back in a different place and go up against a totally different enemy."

Players had struggled to "climb the ladder" of skilled combatants, he continued. "We put a lot of thought and experimentation into getting more anticipation into the multiplayer. Things are a little clearer, so you can learn from what's going on."

So that's Titanfall 2, then. Improved, available more widely, and now with a campaign. It'll be a busy autumn of first-person shooters, but Respawn isn't concerned - even with EA's fellow shooter Battlefield 1 due shortly after, and some of their best work to compete with getting a new airing.

"There's less of an overlap with Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2," McCandlish concludes, "than, say, the other game..."

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