Hands-On Titanfall’s New Update With Respawn Art Lead Joel Emslie

First on my short but busy E3 2014 schedule was an outing with Titanfall‘s latest game update that developer Respawn Entertainment hopes to launch later this month on the Xbox One and PC, and eventually the Xbox 360 as well.

Unlike traditional game updates that look more deeply into bug fixes and polish, Titanfall’s upcoming content-rich patch borders what could be considered paid DLC, except that it’s absolutely free. With new modes, new Burn Cards, new customization options, matchmaking improvements, and a refresher on the game’s entire user interface, Respawn has got a lot in store for fans this month.

I sat down with Titanfall Art Lead Joel Emslie to talk about the upgrades and new content the studio is bringing to their sci-fi shooter this month, as well as what’s next for Titanfall.

“We’re showing off Marked for Death [at E3], and basically, it’s 6v6. Right when the round starts, a team member on your team is marked for death for the enemy team, and someone else is marked on their team. It becomes a hunter – hunted kind of scenario where you’re trying to protect your mark but kill the other team’s mark,” Emslie explained in our preview of the new game mode, one of two being introduced to Titanfall later this month.

“Once you eliminate the mark on the other team, or whoever gets eliminated, it switches marks,” he continued. “So I like it because, for me, I like a lot of pilot kills and it’s really heavy [on] pilot killing and you tend to run through the map really ferociously. You really take advantage of wall-running.” In fact, constantly moving was a tactic I adopted during my hands-on time with the new mode, as I attempted to avoid my hunters after being marked for death. It worked out to my satisfaction, but it’s not the only strategy.

“Big time, I found that because of the way it’s made, because of the game type, you tend to use Titans more,” Emslie explained. “Cause if you’re marked, you want to get into that shell so you can last longer and give your team enough opportunities to get the other mark. It gets pretty tactical.”

While it wasn’t present at E3 this year, Emslie also made mention of another game mode coming along with this month’s update, a smaller more intimate version of Last Titan Standing called Wingman. “We’re not showing it here at E3 but I think in the next update you get Wingman Last Titan Standing where it’s 2v2, so it’s a little bit of a tighter game that way,” he said.

I asked if the studio had any plans to ever add on missions or levels to Titanfall’s campaign as a way to bring players back to it. “I think we’re looking at ways to improve it, make it better so that that isn’t a problem,” Emslie answered. “I mean, they’re always trying to update it and make it so that it’s encouraged, but right now we’re just focused on those other game types. So, we’re thinking about it, they’re looking at it, but I just don’t know what the result is.”

Heavy Titan users will also have a lot of exciting new content to look forward to this month that’s specifically tailored to further improve Titan customization. An entirely new set of Burn Cards specific to Titans is being introduced, along with new customization options that let you further tweak your Titan’s look.

One of Emslie’s favorite new Burn Cards was the Amped Vortex Shield: “The Amped Vortex Shield turns into just a big reflector, so you pop it out and it just literally knocks rounds right back at enemies.” In addition, you’ll find a number of other Amped Titan weapons, abilities, and ordinance within the brand new deck of cards.

When it comes to tweaking the look and appearance of your machine (because we know you want to), Emslie told me that the studio has “added decals that you can unlock with challenges.”

“Then we have these insignias that you can [also] unlock with challenges. For the Gooser challenge, we added this special icon you can get if you were one of the people that hit the 50 Gooser challenge early on before we fixed it.

“You gen-up, you get a gen-tag to go with it,” he added. “And so these are positioned all over your Titan. They’ll be on the rodeo hatches. It’s just a little bit of customization that we’re throwing in there for the players. We’re doing what we can to support it after launch – just get as much as we can in there that makes sense to everybody.”

“We also added two more voices to the – we added two more onboard voices so you can customize your Titan’s voice inside the cockpit.” Emslie then introduced me to Lisa and Jeeves, two of the new personalities in addition to the default Betty voice.

Lastly, I was walked through an entirely new front end which spiffied up a number of the game’s menus and added a few nuances that many players are bound to appreciate.

“We were able to go in and kind of update the shell, so both sides have a different background, there’s a new loading screen,” explained Emslie, all “just to kind of breathe a little bit of extra life into it, kind of refresh it a little bit,” he said.

“There’s stuff based on the feedback where, well it’s not in here right now, but this whole new menu is kind of updated. So once you come out of a round, one thing that kind of – you didn’t see it ship was the last score board from your last match. So, now you can access that right now while you’re in the lobby waiting for the next round.

“One of the other really cool things that I love that – it’s just a detail that we needed to get in – we have a matchmaking auto-balancing that’s happening when you’re in a game. What’ll happen is you’ll both get into a like a neutral lobby and both teams will be set up and while it’s matchmaking, everybody goes grey. Then, once you’ve been cycled and auto-balanced, you’ll get your colors and go into a match together. So it s a nice way to actually color queue to see that the game is matchmaking you and auto-balancing you and kind of moving things around.”

All that and more is coming later this month, though Emslie wasn’t quite able to nail down a specific date for me just yet.

Before parting ways, I commented on the rich universe the team has built with Titanfall’s back story and how it seeps into every detail, including their latest DLC launch, Expedition.

“Yeah. We’re going to explore that later,” he told me. “We’re not making any announcements but we’re actively looking at what’s next for Titanfall. We’re working on it. We’re definitely supporting the main game right now, making sure that it’s solid as hell, because it’s like, whatever we do next, it’s based on how good can we possibly make this while we’re on it. Support it as much as possible, and that all feeds into making Titanfall something more than this.”

Whatever is “next for Titanfall” that Respawn is “actively” looking at, we sure can’t wait.

Keep your sights on MP1st for any future Titanfall announcements that the studio might have up their sleeve, and keep your eyes open for more details on the game’s upcoming June update.

  • marpla78

    is this game dead or just dying?

    • latch360

      Nope its alive and well. Best fps I’ve ever played. I’m at still learning. Huge learning curve. Can’t understand the editor saying took a new game mode to keep him moving. Have you played it Marpla, or just own a PS4?

      • marpla78

        i played…but feels like is harde to fill up the servers. No ps4 here, just pc for the momment.

      • Samson

        LOL alive and well. Thats why matchmaking takes 10 minutes on PC now

        • J4MES

          I just bought Expedition and sat in the DLC Attrition lobby for 35 minutes and couldn’t get a game going. I think the matchmaking is terrible but I do think the numbers online are getting lower by the day.

          • eduardkhil

            I play on the x1, and have the dlc and play at like 1-3am eastern time and always find matches even on weekdays

        • Enochrewt

          Your fault for playing on PC. I get games quickly in all playlists on XB1.

    • RustyFrags

      Nobody talks about it anymore, but there’s still a fairly large community behind it.

      • latch360

        We’re talking out it now. It keeps getting updates. It’s been four months.

        • RustyFrags

          Compared to other games, this game is no longer largly talked about.

          • latch360

            You do realize this is a multi-player website.?

            • RustyFrags

              Yes, and what does that have to do with anything?

            • latch360

              How is the game not discussed? What multilayer game is more discussed about in here, so much more? Talking out your ace man. Long as it makes you feel like you know what you’re saying.

            • RustyFrags

              Battlefield and Call of Duty are discussed significantly more than Titanfall. There are probably three to four BF articles for every one TF article.

              Your taking my arguments out of context. I said largely discussed, not discussed.

            • HotHam

              Don’t worry about it. Latch is most likely one of those fan boys that can’t hear anything bad about his precious and when he does he gets upset

            • Guest

              Your arguements kind of unfair and weak when you compare titanfall to franchises that are being talked about for their sequels coming out in a few months.

              If titanfall 2 was announced at e3 along with advanced warfare and hardline and tf2 wasnt talked about then your arguement would make sense.

            • RustyFrags

              I get what you’re saying but it doesn’t apply to my argument. His initial statement asked, “what multiplayer shooter is discussed about in here, and so much more?” I stated both Call of Duty and Battlefield, because it answers the question.

          • latch360

            Compared to what other games that came out 3 months ago just being objective

            • RustyFrags

              That’s not what I’m talking about. Compared to the hype going into release and throughout the first week, this game is now disregarded. Sure, people still play it, but nobody cares enough to largely discuss it.

    • Leon

      Vanilla maps are not a problem. Still plenty of people on PC West EU server. However, DLC maps are dead, although the first 2 weeks the DLC lobbies were full instantly.

  • Zebalot

    Still played it, just should on the right time on the right servers, patient is the key

  • latch360

    This game proves the camping mentality. It’s Cod but you have to keep moving. People just don’t want to learn how to play it. Even the editor admits he camps. Play cod and site of to the side. Do that in this game you get your ass tire u and people don’t like that. Bad hand eye coordination.

    • I said the opposite! 😛 “In fact, constantly moving was a tactic I adopted during my hands-on time with the new mode, as I attempted to avoid my hunters after being marked for death. It worked out to my satisfaction…”

  • KiLLaMaNiLLa

    They need to add more weapons and weapon camo’s but that’s just my opinion.

    • latch360

      Yeah., definitely more customization is needed. Keep it fresh. Plus after you get generatiob ten I wish there was more to strive for. I like how they say there’s a gen 10 on the new map at the beginning. If you’ve leveled up that much it will

      • KiLLaMaNiLLa

        Yeah definitely they need to release more attachments for all weapons. And hopefully they add more then 3 maps per DLC pack but that’s wishful thinking lol.

        • latch360

          Yeah I was happy it was only 10 dollars, then it was only 3 maps. Alreast they’re not charging for updates kind this.

    • Samson

      Sorry, Titanfall is pretty much over Johnny.

    • DanDustEmOff

      That’s my only issue with this game. Every lobby it’s either shotguns or carbines. Great job for it’s first outing, looking forward to Titanfall 2 to add more depth.

    • Crusina .

      I disagree. All everyone complains about is how bloated the new games feel, look up BF4 bloat in google and you’ll see what I mean. Endless videos talking about how gameplay comes first and all these gimmicks, and hundreds of weapons that act and perform exactly the same as others.

      So Titanfall comes around with an emphasis on gameplay, fun, and balance (disregarding satchel charges, nothing is OP) and people complain that game made by 56 people, that literally ran out of money half way through development, and places emphasis on player skill and tactical thinking is some how bad.

      Look, I’m not saying a little more wouldn’t hurt but why do you think we have gen challenges? Because it forces you to play differently, use weapons or attachments you normally wouldn’t. The Starburst for example completely changes the Hemlock with how you play with it. Excluding the Carbine, every weapon has an attachment that completely changes how you play with that weapon. We don’t need more weapons and neon pink camos with dick pics on them. We need thoughtful, unique additions to the game that add to it and accentuate the gameplay and not “HUR DUR 500,000 GUNS MAKE A GAME BETTER” Titanfall is going up against games that have been around for a decade or more with 1/3 the team size and MUCH smaller budget and it STILL sold over 3 million physical units in north america alone. That’s great for a new IP.

      Titanfall has done a lot of things right. It’s proved that mobility is refreshing, it’s proved you can make a game both accessible and hard to master, it’s proved AI can work in a match, and it’s proved that once again Gameplay and fun > Numbers.

      That’s why I’m really excited for this games future. Can you imagine if they went all out with the integrated campaign? Imagine a halo style SP mixed with competitive multiplayer that lasts like 30 minutes per match with drop in/out. I mean imagine playing a level with actual plot development and fighting your way or falling back throughout different areas just like any other SP game. Imagine moments like this:


      Happening all the time. Titanfall has a lot of potential and it’s certainly not dead. It’s proven once again that gameplay and fun trump everything else.

  • KiLLaMaNiLLa

    If anyone want’s to play this on X1 i just picked it up since it came out been hooked on Diablo 3:RoS on PC and want to take a break almost paragon 400 that alone screams take a break lol. My GT is HH KiLLaMaNiLLa and i like to play Hardpoint not a fan of Attrition.

    • latch360

      I don’t play much hardpiint but add me. Latch360

  • M1ke Daddy

    Titanfall is a great and addictive game but it just feels too bare bones which is why I can’t wait for a sequel to come out which im sure will have more weapons, attachments and just a lot more

    • latch360

      I agree

  • awkenney

    I’m surprised to see so many of you wanting more customization options. And I’m wanting less, not more. The real reason I haven’t played Titanfall lately is the same as COD: there’s just too many players trying to go for cheap thrills with crazy loadouts. I would love to see players get back to gun-on-gun again. You think TF is barebones now? I would pay good money for a barebones MODE.

  • Brandon DeBoer

    “Unlike traditional game updates that look more deeply into bug fixes and polish, Titanfall’s upcoming content-rich patch borders what could be considered paid DLC, except that it’s absolutely free.”

    Couldn’t stop laughing long enough to really read the rest of the article.

    Weapon balance is still broken, and this doesn’t make any specific mention of the worst offenders (satchels and the carbine).

    The game still has a pathetic amount of content, even with a “content rich update”. Any gametype other than TDM takes upwards of ten minutes to get a match on pc, so adding two more gametypes is just adding two more things no one wants to play.

    Still no competitive style playlist with burn cards and AI disabled, something people have been asking for since day 1.

    PC version is still buggy as all hell and has a number of poor optimization points. Still no SLI support.

    The Titanfall devs made the patch they want, while completely ignoring what the community is asking for. I’m sure this will work out well for them.

    • Leon

      “Any gametype other than TDM takes upwards of ten minutes to get a match
      on pc, so adding two more gametypes is just adding two more things no
      one wants to play.”

      Well said!

  • WilmaGColeman

    Cause if you’re marked, you want to get into that shell so you can last longer and give your team enough opportunities to get the other mark. It gets pretty tactical. http://tw.gs/W6z5hV

  • J4MES

    I play Titanfall now and again but there just isn’t enough depth to the game and it just feels pretty bare. I think the controls and the mechanics are incredible along with the maps but there doesn’t seem to be much diversity in the gameplay, so after a few games on the few modes available; it gets boring far too easily.

    I think they need to add a considerable amount of unlocks to keep people engaged in the long term challenge as longevity doesn’t seem to be there. There is also barely any point in prestige to the next generation either. Camo’s would be another neat addition to add to the challenge and give the levelling some meaning.

    You look at the scale of BF4 compared to this and the gulf in the multiplayer infrastructure is ridiculously huge. Respawn have got so much right but so much wrong in the process. I think this game has died a death already and not even a few fixes or additions could be enough to regenerate interest.

    Hype made this game and Titanfall didn’t live up to it.

  • Guest

    The problem isn’t that’s it needs more weapons or camos, its that that it has dull generic gameplay.

    • J4MES

      Yeah the 6v6 + bots plus the samey run and gun shooting style is just repetitive and tiresome. Titanfall would have been epic 10 years ago but people seem to be looking for games with more gameplay variety and tactical edge these days. Not even new modes could save the game because the core of it lacks diversity.

  • Leon

    The game is really good but I don’t feel that the new additions are even close to compare it to paid DLC. Those things should have been there from the beginning and don’t change much the fact that the game lacks content and longevity, although the game’s mechanics is fantastic.

    Imho, the first DLC maps very really excellent. Good quality, enough different, and a lot of fun. But unfortunately on PC, West EU Server, 2-3 weeks later literary nobody plays it anymore and you can’t find any games except on vanilla maps. What a pity!

  • TripleBeamRIII .

    Wow, almost forgot I bought this game lol Haven’t played since April 3rd. And I bought season pass. This does sound interesting though. BF4 and BFH are starting to get old so I might pick this back up. This is a good thing to get people back on.

    • Hol_Up

      BFH = Hardline?

      If so, do you mean the beta is getting old?

      • Leon

        For me, it got old the moment I started to play. And the weird part is that I couldn’t do anything about it. 🙂

      • TripleBeamRIII .

        Yes, BFH = Hardline.
        For me, 1 map and 2 modes that go very very quick, make it hard to keep playing. If they’d only raise the ticket/money count. Fun game but I need a lil more.

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