Though recent confirmation of Titanfall‘s player count on PC, Xbox 360, and Xbox One caused quite a stir in the first-person shooter community, developers Respawn Entertainment are certain its the right decision.
“It’s been this number for months,” Titanfall lead designer Justin Hendry recently told Polygon in an interview, speaking on the subject of the game’s six vs. six human player count limit. “We are pretty avid players in the studio. People speak their minds and we listen and make changes. This is the number that felt best.”
Recalling countless play tests of the sci-fi shooter, ranging from teams of two to twelve players per side, Hendry explains that the studio eventually came to realize “the game is essentially built to be six on six.”
That doesn’t mean Titanfall is any shorter on action than shooters like Call of Duty or Battlefield are. In fact, developers had to keep the player count tame in order to avoid overloading players with the game’s chaotic combat design.
“The higher the player count, the more uncomfortable the game gets,” Hendry said. “Unlike in most games where you can sit there and guard the two ways in, in Titanfall the guy can come in through the window right behind you, he can come from the window to your left, he can come from straight ahead, he can come in from the stairway and he can come in from the doorway, or whatever. Essentially there are five directions you can get killed from and the higher that player count, the more likely you are to get killed from behind and the more difficult it is to kind of manage your surroundings.”
Keep in mind that on top of six players per side are an additional six AI-controlled soldiers on each team who can also call in their very own Titans. That’s a potential grand total of 48 combatants on the field at once.
After some hands-on time with the title, Polygon editor Bian Crecente writes that AI-controlled allies and opponents in Titanfall are “meant to serve several different functions. On one level, the AI characters are there as fodder for players who simply aren’t good enough to kill other player-controlled characters. They also serve as an easier way to load up on the experience needed to call in a Titan. And they’re meant to provide a sort of backstory and narrative to a game lacking any sort of single-player element.”
Ultimately, it gives casual players and newcomers a chance to contribute to a win more easily while the pros are off learning the ins and outs of Titanfall‘s hectic combat design.
“When people start playing Titanfall like Titanfall, the player count becomes a non-issue,” Hendry says.
In the end, “it just comes back to what makes the game fun. If you’re making a game and you’re making decisions that’s not based on fun because you’re trying to please someone or trying to match numbers, you’re not doing the right thing.”
Titanfall launches on the Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC March 11.