Titanfall is one of the most highly anticipated games of 2014. But recent news has some gamers upset.
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Yesterday, developer Respawn boss Vince Zampella tweeted that the player cap has been set at 6 vs. 6 plus AI, which includes both bots and the titular Titans.
“6v6 is max player count,” Zampella tweeted. “Turned out to be the best balance with AI for us.”
Zampella attributes the decision not to anything technical but rather to the fun factor. With twelve players, twelve Titans, and other AI all on-screen, the game is hectic enough, and 6 vs. 6 keeps the matches well-balanced.
But the internet isn’t entirely convinced. After all, isn’t more better?
Not necessarily, according to Titanfall producer Drew McCoy, who stopped by NeoGaf to put fears to rest.
Twelve players won’t make for empty maps, according to McCoy, who says that for the “amount of stuff happening at once in a map you’ll be hard pressed to find a game that keeps the action higher. I literally have to stop playing every few rounds because my heart just can’t take it some times. Remember, you can get out of your Titan and let it roam on AI mode – meaning there can be 12 Pilots wallrunning around, 12 Titans stomping below, and dozens of AI doing their thing.”
The AI aren’t like bots in other shooters, McCoy adds, noting that the “AI play their own role in the game and are a different class of character in the game.”
So why is this?
Partly it’s because having AI gives players some fodder, allows them to feel a bit god-like at times even when they’re not the most skilled player on the map.
But it’s not just about feeling like a hero. There’s also the fact that matches in Titanfall attempt to tell something of a narrative. According to GameInformer’s Mike Futter, that narrative, which introduces changing story elements to each match as it progresses, “has a meaningful impact on how I perceive the action.”
I’d also suggest that more is not, by any stretch of the imagination, actually better. Some people obviously prefer big matches—Halo or Battlefield for instance—but many excellent shooters often opt for smaller teams. My favorite Counter Strike: Source games were typically no bigger than 24 players and often less. Team Fortress 2 gets by fine with smaller teams.
I wonder if some of the backlash might also be due to the recently released Call of Duty: Ghosts, which also caps its matches at 6 vs. 6. The big maps and low player count can make some Ghosts matches feel empty compared to a game like Black Ops II‘s multiplayer.
But there are not mechs in Ghosts. There is no story element to the maps. It’s an entirely different shooter altogether.
For my part, a lower player count sounds just fine. Killing both PCs and NPCs sounds perfectly okay. If it’s fun and balanced I see no reason why the cap should be any higher (or lower, for that matter.)
And as McCoy notes, “Only a couple months until speculative threads like this are gone and people are actually talking about their experiences with the game.”
The real question isn’t whether or not the player count is ideal, it’s about how the game fares at launch. EA has had some notoriously bad launches of its multiplayer games in recent months, including Battlefield 4. Here’s to hoping that Respawn and their new IP avoid a massive launch controversy, and players walk away happy.
(P.S. I also think it would be cool to have a multiplayer game where one team had mechs and the other had tricked out dinosaurs, but that’s a story for a different time.)
(P.P.S. Since Titanfall does incorporate wall-running / parkour, it would be sort of hilarious to have 64 player matches, with everyone running into one another as they dash across walls…)