The Titanfall franchise is beloved amongst video game players, having obtained cult status thanks to its action-packed mech warfare, agile first-person shooter action, and clever campaigns. While it never achieved the high sales needed to sustain its longevity, the critical success of Titanfall 2 in 2016 eventually inspired work on a sequel.
Titanfall 3 aimed to expand on the franchise’s world incrementally, with strong new features and a devotion to new multiplayer mechanics. Despite enthusiasm for the project, it was ultimately cancelled – and questions have long lingered about the reasons why.
According to former Respawn Entertainment developer Mohammad Alavi, Titanfall 3 was actually a victim of its own success, as the team’s devotion to a renewed multiplayer mode ultimately led to part of the game’s ideas being spun-off into Apex Legends, Respawn’s highly successful multiple battle royale shooter.
‘We worked on Titanfall 3 for… ten months, right? In earnest, right?,’ Alavi recently told The Burnettwork. ‘We had new tech for it, we had multiple missions going, we had a first playable, which was on par to be just as good, if not better, than whatever we had before, right? But I’ll make this clear – incrementally better, it wasn’t revolutionary. And that’s the kicker, right?’
‘People love Titanfall 2 multiplayer. But people who love Titanfall 2 multiplayer is a very small number of people. And most people play Titanfall 2 multiplayer and think it’s really good, but it’s just too much. It’s cranked up to 11, and they burn out a bit fast … So we were like, trying to fix that, we were trying to fix that from Titanfall 1 to 2, trying to fix it from Titanfall 2 to 3, the multiplayer team was like, just dying.’
‘Then PUBG came out. I don’t know if you remember Alex Roycewicz [game designer], but Alex Roycewicz was starting to play PUBG. And then Geoff started playing PUBG. And then they made a battle royale map with, you know, Titanfall 3 classes.’
‘At the time, I had just literally become narrative lead designer on Titanfall 3, I had just pitched the mission, story, the whole game, that me and Manny [Hagopian] had come up with, made this big presentation and then we went off a break and went back from break, and we talked about it, and we were like, “Yeah, we need to pivot. And we need to go make this game.”‘
According to Alavi, the Titanfall 3 team basically ‘cancelled Titanfall 3 [themselves]’ due to the desire to make the improved multiplayer aspects of Titanfall 3 shine on their own. ‘We can make this game, and it’s going to be Titanfall 2 plus a little bit better, or we can make this thing, which is clearly amazing,’ Alavi said.
The multiplayer mode in question evolved to become Apex Legends – a game that has proved to be a major critical and commercial success for EA and Respawn. While the Titanfall 3 team appears to know what they’ve missed by cancelling Titanfall 3, it’s arguably led to one of Respawn’s biggest successes – and potentially opened the door for more Titanfall down the line.