If you’ve been following news about Titanfall 2’s singleplayer, you’ll probably know that the protagonist is a bloke called Jack Cooper. And that sounds about right for a game that’s being made by a studio filled with Call of Duty alumni.
But that wasn’t always the case. The campaign would have originally let players choose between a male and a female avatar, but Respawn’s Joel Emslie explained why that wasn’t the case.
In an interview over the phone, Emslie, the art director for the original Titanfall and the sequel, explained that the company had created playable male and female avatars for the campaign from the outset.
“I’ll give you a funny story,” Emslie replied when I asked about the brainstorming process for Jack Cooper, the protagonist. “When we were first starting the game, I really wanted to be able to choose between a male and female avatar in singleplayer. We had two models that were approved for Jack [Cooper] and Jill, so that’s how Jack [came out].”
“And it turned out when we added some really cool stuff to the game where you could talk to BT [BT-7274, the mech that Jack Cooper pilots in the campaign], that closed the window on being able to–we had to pick one or the other and we went with Jack. But it easily meant that the amount of audio work we would have had to have done to record that really cool new game mechanic … we just couldn’t support it. So I was able to get those female characters into multiplayer which we’re really happy about, and that’s how Jack came about.”
I asked later on whether, particularly considering the criticism levelled at the original Titanfall, whether a singleplayer was necessary for major franchises. After all, EA’s chief operating officer Peter Moore — the same EA that’s publishing Titanfall 2 — said in August that the data showed that very few people play single player campaigns in major franchises, even though their absence was always taken by gamers as a major slight.
Respawn’s chief operating officer, Dusty Welch, agreed that it was. I think if you’re going to take people on a journey with your franchise … you’ve got to introduce them to the universe, and the protagonist, and captive characters. And if you do that in a memorable, meaningful way, then people then want to come along for the ride for many, many years.”
Titanfall 2 is due out on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on October 28.