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Titanfall's online battles will be smaller than you might expect. Respawn Entertainment co-founder Vince Zampella confirmed today that the game will be limited to six-on-six matches.
This led to some complaining among shooter fans. Six-versus-six is low by genre standards. However, as producer Drew McCoy pointed out on NeoGAF that players are only one part of the battle. The A.I. have a significant role in the action as well.
"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," McCoy said. "Oh, and I keep seeing people thinking we've got 'bots' when we talk about AI. Thats not how they are. The AI in Titanfall are not replacements for human players. Our playercount is not 6v6 because of AI - AI play their own role in the game and are a different class of character in the game."
Earlier previews of the game described these A.I. as "grunts." They're not as agile or accurate as players. The grunts are there to help ease new players into the action: the enemies are an easy source of kills and XP while the allies show you what part of the map you should be heading toward.
I can understand why people would be leery of a small player count. No one likes wandering for ten minutes to find someone to kill. With players double-jumping across the map while mechs and A.I. battle below them, though, it's possible that there's always going to be an enemy in view. Level design is going to play a key role in the pace of battles, too. Focusing on player count alone seems like a mistake.
Respawn is going all-in with Titanfall's multiplayer. They decided against releasing a campaign because they figured only a small percentage of players would complete a single-player mode. They're opting instead to tell their sci-fi shooter's story through the online play. Furthermore, the decision to go multiplayer-only allows them to focus all their resources there. Hopefully their gamble pays off. If Titanfall's online matches don't live up to the hype, there's no other reason to buy the game.
Titanfall will launch on Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC in the second week of March. Are you still planning to check it out, in spite of the 6v6 player count?