Combat in Apex Legends (above) is fast, but not Titanfall-fast.
Apex Legends is Respawn's new battle royale set in the Titanfall universe, but it's definitely not a Titanfall game. The first and biggest clue: There are no Titans. There are no big robots to control in this battle royale, and you're not playing as a Pilot, Titanfall's elite soldiers. That means Apex Legends is sadly also missing Titanfall's fun hyper-mobility, with no double-jumping or wall running at your disposal.
Why are those moves MIA in Apex Legends, when they were so much fun in Titanfall? I asked Respawn Entertainment executive producer Drew McCoy, who said that in the end those features just didn't mesh with making strategic battle royale combat.
"A lot of the stuff [from Titanfall] that was brought over was brought over purposefully. Our goals are really to make a masterable, learnable, deep game with a lot of strategy," McCoy said. "When we first started making it, to be completely honest, we had double-jumping and wall running. We had triple-jumping for awhile. We had Titans in tons of different forms. For us, we don't restrict ourselves when we're early on in a project about what 'has' to be there. So even though we were like, yeah, this is probably going to be the Titanfall universe, we didn't put any hard requirements on what had to be there. While prototyping and playing and iterating, things stay or they go as a result of whether or not they're achieving our goals. Things like wall running and double-jumping, they actually really hurt the strategic and learnable aspects of combat. Because a player can get anywhere almost immediately. So there's no thought process like 'okay, I saw someone run around that building, now I know they're going to be in one of two places.' No—with double-jumping and wall running, they can be anywhere."
McCoy elaborated that the same iteration process helped Respawn hone in on three player squads. Larger squads were fun and chaotic, but too much to keep in your head in the heat of the action. "You didn't feel like you learned anything after a fight. It just felt like what happened happened, and let's move on."
He compared that same experience to playing Titanfall's multiplayer, which was high-skill but hard to learn from when you died.
"I love Titanfall and Titanfall 2, I'm incredibly proud of especially Titanfall 2, but that's a very common Titanfall feeling in multiplayer: 'Oh, someone was 300 feet in the air and they just snipered me in the head as they were flying over. They're having a great time and I'm just like, 'I guess I shouldn't be under people who are flying.' There was really a lack of learnability to those mechanics from a combat standpoint. So that's where a lot of this stuff came from, was trying to make a game that felt learnable and strategic.