The Weapons of Titanfall

By Jonathan Barnes, 2 years ago
If you're anything like me, and who's to say you're not, your lovely planned weekend with your significant other is being wrecked by Twitter updates about how amazing the beta is for Titanfall. You're trying to gaze deeply into your loved ones eyes, enjoy the taste of bubbly, and maybe enjoy some time away from your console... but the call of Titanfall is strong.

I'm here to enable you, as we have some more news about Respawn's upcoming title.

The first bit of news is an interview between Xbox Wire and Ryan Lastimosa, Senior Artist at Respawn. Because it contains such good info and insight, we're going to give you a few highlights, but encourage you to pop over to Xbox Wire to get the down and dirty full details.

Xbox Wire: Your background in weapon design is with real-world, existing technologies. How does designing a futuristic weapon for a game like “Titanfall” differ from designing a weapon based in the real world?

Ryan Lastimosa: Well, taking a real world weapon, it’s tactile. You have it in front of you. Holding an M4 or an AR, we want that feeling to translate to “Titanfall.” The first couple years, we just went shooting. We’d go out and shoot and take lots of pictures. We photographed lots of different firearms, then we gots lots of different parts from weapons that we thought looked and felt cool. We started slapping them on and kit-bashing a bunch of the shape we knew we wanted for “Titanfall.” So we would, for example, take a receiver from an AK and a stock from an MP5, put them together, then figure out how we could make them work in the game. So there was a lot of kit-bashing, but it also had to be functional.

One of the big things we also did was look at how the original “Star Wars” was made. In the original “Star Wars,” they basically took a bunch of WWII-era weapons and started slapping attachments on them. If you look at Han Solo’s blaster, it’s that broom-handled Mauser that they threw a scope on and all of a sudden it’s got an iconic sci-fi look. But it’s practical and it still theoretically works. That was our goal with the weapons in “Titanfall.” We wanted to make some cool angles and add some attachments to them, but also make everything completely and totally practical. We didn’t want to have a big dial or a knob on it for no reason.

Xbox Wire: Was there a difference in the way you designed the Titan weapons compared to the Pilot weapons? It seems pretty clear that they aren’t simply bigger versions of the same weapons.

Ryan Lastimosa: Titan weapons are tough, man. They’re really tough because, first off, we didn’t know how big the Titans were going to be. Our first thought was that they’d just be suits that the Pilots wore that were slightly bigger. Of course, they ended up being these big behemoth robots that move super quickly. So we ended up taking a lot of reference from tank firepower and naval-based weaponry. We got our hands on all of these giant moving parts for these things and asked ourselves “What’s the purpose of this weapon?”

Like the XO-16, which is based on a lot of things. It’s based off of a 20mm anti-aircraft cannon with some inspiration from the CIWS. So we put those things together and thought, “OK, now we need to make it into a big, beefy rifle that spits out lead.” So we started messing around with the weapon with different shapes. At first, we couldn’t really tell how big the weapon was or how it would look in a Titan’s hand. In the revisions I did for the XO-16, I started adding little details like handholds for human mechanics to carry the weapon and lift it up to a hook so they could service it. There are different little ports on the XO-16 so you could hook a computer up to it. Of course, a lot of us are “RoboTech” fans as well, so we put all sorts of “No Step” decals all over it (laughs).

Scale was really important with a lot of the Titan weapons. We wanted a bunch of moving parts, but not so many moving parts that it felt like they’d jam in a firefight. We wanted people to see that there’s a lot more happening than you might see at first.

At one point, we were tossing around the idea of putting magazines on Titans. So with the XO-16, they have these big drum magazines that would probably be like 3 feet tall in real life. If a Titan had a bunch of these on his side, how would he reload it? We realized that that would take a lot of skills for the Titan Pilot to load it up on his own. So we decided to just automate it. The Titan will grab the new magazine and put it in the vicinity of the XO-16 and the XO-16 will do the work. You know, kind of like a garbage loader or a forklift. You see the Titan put the magazine in a certain area and the weapon will just grab it and pull it in for you.

Xbox Wire: You mentioned how important it is to figure out a weapon’s role in combat. I noticed in the beta content that most of the weapons fall into your kind of standard archetypes. You’ve got your close quarters shotgun, your long-range sniper rifle, etc. A lot of games go crazy with the choices and might give you an assault class with 20 different assault rifle or something. Was the move away from that toward something more simple intentional?

Ryan Lastimosa: Well, we boiled it all down. You don’t need 20 different swords to do the same job. Also, there’s so much going on in “Titanfall,” why would you want to sort through dozens of weapons? All you really need is one specific weapon to do one specific job. We tried adding stacks and stacks of weapons, but if you keep doing that you’re just using the same weapon over and over again. There isn’t any specific nature to the weapon you’re using.
Again, the full interview has a few more, smaller insights in it, so be sure to pop over to Xbox Wire if you'd like to hear about Lastimosa's favorite weapon in the game, as well as the process they go through to design the advanced firepower.

The second bit of news revolves around a new perk system called "Burn Cards".

Burn Cards are consumable perks that you may activate before spawning into a match. These cards will give one-life perks like lowering the time it takes for your Titan to build, buff your primary weapon from the standard to the "Amped" model, and more. The beta includes dozens of cards from which to choose, and you'll unlock the ability to use them once you hit level 7 in the beta. At level 7, you have one Burn Card slot, while others open up after you level a bit more.

The twist is that, as mentioned before, the Burn Cards only last for one life, meaning if you spawn in and instantly get iced, poof, Burn Card is gone.

Titanfall's Xbox One beta is live now for some. All accepted beta users will be notified by February 17th at 11:59PM PST.

Titanfall will be released on Xbox One and PC on March 11th in North America and March 13th in Europe. The 360 version is set to be released on March 25th in North America and March 28th in Europe.
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.