Before Respawn Entertainment took a dive in the battle royale genre with Apex Legends, they had been working on some prototypes within Titanfall 2 that dabbled in the idea of one life, one victor. One of those ideas was influenced by the Hunger Games and this Titanfall 2 battle royale prototype was called called “Survivor.”
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This detail was revealed in a recent interview, where ex-Respawn dev Drew McCoy spoke briefly about the action blocking process for Titanfall 2.
Ben Hanson: Was Apex kind of that story of “Well, I guess we should probably check out Battle Royale.” Was it met with enthusiasm out of the gate at the studio or was there a little bit of “okay, everybody has to go for it, I guess we have to make a battle royale”?Drew McCoy: There were a handful of people that were super into it and it was started because if you’ve watched any of our, like, behind the scenes talking about development of Titanfall 2, talking about our action blocking process where we do all these small rapid prototyping and it was like the summer of 2017 and a bunch of designers are rolling off of post-launch support for Titanfall 2, and they had their action blocked. I’m like, “Go ahead, go crazy, go prototype whatever you want,” and a little designer and descriptor made and it was called the Respawn-royale. It was gonna be our take on battle royale but it was very much just let’s get battle royale stuff going in the Titanfall world — and it was fun, it was crazy. Like the very first one I played back then, our engine couldn’t do big maps. I think we capped out at 24 players and we had no way of doing like a drop-type of system, so it was all zip lines criss-crossing the line on the high ground of a map, and so you you just zip line in and then you drop wherever you want and it was cool getting some live play tests. But once we had like squads with a really early version of ping and some character abilities and started to like, “Oh, this is really fun!” And then our play tests for the other stuff we were making it was hard to get participants and people would leave the playtests early,that’s a really good sign that we’re not on the right track.”It was born out of two people going, “let’s go try this crazy thing that you know we’ve been playing the Arma mods, PUBG that had just come out on PC” and they’re like, “this might be good, let’s try it out.” And it was before battle royale was a juggernaut. We’d actually tried a version of it in Titanfall 2 a year or two prior after Todd’s kids got addicted to the Hunger Games in Minecraft. So the Minecraft server that had, like, a 16-player Hunger Games battle royale type mode, and they were just like stuck to it, so we were like, “let’s try this out my kids like it, we’ll try it.” And we just didn’t have time to finish it, but so we dabbled in it over the years.Ben Hanson: Hang on, so there was a chance that Titanfall 2 would have done the battle royale before PUGB blew up?Drew McCoy: We called it Survival, and it wasn’t quite battle royale. It was more of like one life, and go find chests of stuff, type of thing — quick rounds. It was that kind of every man for himself, one victor type of mode.
Of course this mode was created right at the end of Titanfall 2 support, so any hope of it even making it in the game then was highly unlikely as the team was looking to move on to other projects. One of these projects is, of course, Apex Legends, which has arguably become the studio’s biggest game to date.