Titanfall 2: Science, Magic, American Civil War In Space

If you are looking for a tale of magic and science, wrapped up in space warfare it looks like fiscal year 2017* may bring you joy as Titanfall 2‘s single-player campaign seeks to offer exactly that.

Speaking to Forbes, the game’s lead writer Jesse Stern promised:

“What inspires us is the junction of technological advancement with the inevitability of conflict and war and what the next war might look like. In Titanfall 2 there will be a lot of [scenes] where science meets magic, but keeping it grounded and dirty and human and real.”

I am trying to remember the first Titanfall at the moment. I think I had a gun and I think it could sort of auto-aim but not quite? Also wall running might have been a thing. Was wall running a thing? Wait. There were titans but they were… robots? ROBOTS! You sat inside them until they blew up or you ejected! BUT THEN Blizzard made D.Va a character in Overwatch and she was a mech pilot and former pro-gamer from Busan, South Korea who can summon a bubblegum pink mech during battle and she’s pretty great and I’d long since stopped trying to play Titanfall. I would settle for Titanfall 2 being the story of D.Va’s squadmates preparing for battle by biffing each other.

It isn’t. Although I could maybe write that fanfiction.

INSTEAD Stern describes his and his colleagues’ work as follows:

“So we are doing our best to deliver a vision of grand global colonial warfare retelling the story of the American Revolution and the American Civil War in space. We imagined the next generation of immigrants moving out to the new frontier of an inhabitable planet. Rather than taking a traditional sci-fi approach to that we wanted to look at how that would happen practically, what the ships would look like and with machines that were designed for excavation and construction, demolition and working the land, and what happens when they are turned into instruments of war.”

Isn’t the American Civil War and American Westward Expansion in space what Firefly was about? I’m wondering if this will go in a similar direction. I’m not really sure where the magic comes into all this. Adam suggested it might be a DESTINY MOON WIZARDS type thing. Tom over at Eurogamer thinks it might be “magic” as in advanced and unfamiliar technology.

I’d favour moon wizards of the two. That or the titans get a cool setting where they can perform stage magic and must face off against each other to see who is better at card tricks and escapology and things. You could either fight people or just astound them by telling them their card was the four of hearts. This would only work if their card had actually been the four of hearts, by the way. That’s why not everyone can be a magician.

*That’s the year which starts in April 2016 and goes til the end of March 2017. In the financial zodiac it is also known as the Year Of The Financially Prudent Octopus. We are currently in the Year Of The Spendthrift Centipede.


  1. Dewal says:

    I really want to know what are “DESTINY MOON WIZARDS” but the link is the same as the article from Eurogamer (about “magic”). So I thought that maybe it was an error.

  2. Ansob says:

    You know, for most people, the American Revolutionary War and Civil War are not the first thing that spring to mind when one hears “grand global colonial warfare.”

    • GernauMorat says:

      The U.S civil war is not very interesting to people outside of the U.S. Even those among us interested in history.

      • SpiceTheCat says:

        I’m from outside the US and I’m interested in history, includng the ACW, not least because it was an early example of warfare between newly-industrialised societies, it had complex political causes which seemed to make war inevitable but possibly could have been avoided, had surprising international repercussions and has lasting effects on the modern world.

        Playing on-line manshoots even with big robots? Pfft, now that really is not very interesting. To me, that is.

        • HeavyStorm says:

          Me too. Although I’m unusually interested in all American history, given the amount of influence this country has on the world.

        • Zenicetus says:

          There is no reasonable argument for how the ACW could have been avoided without retaining the institution of slavery. And that was becoming increasingly untenable for a modern Western nation. The South was trapped by their historical reliance on slavery as the foundation of the agrarian economy.

          The usual arguments involve a buy-out by the North to free the slaves, but the dollar value of slaves was far too high. We’re talking 400 million slaves, worth approximately 3.5 billion dollars. That’s 75 billion in today’s value. Slaves were the single largest financial asset in the American economy at the time. So with no way for the North to simply buy their freedom, and the South unwilling to give up such a huge financial asset that was the foundation of its economy, war was inevitable.

          No idea what that has to do with Titanfall, but it’s always interesting to hear discussions about the ACW.

          • Butts says:

            400 million slaves would mean that the US slave population at the time of the civil war was some 80-100 million people greater than the current US population.

            I don’t think that’s correct.

            Maybe you added an extra zero?

          • Zenicetus says:

            Oops… thanks for the catch. I added not one but two zeros. Make that 4 million slaves, with the same estimated economic value based on slave market sales at the time. Needed more coffee before posting (or an edit button).

          • SpiceTheCat says:

            In John Keegan’s history of the ACW, he describes the war as not unnecessary but not unavoidable (in contrast to WWI). His point is that the tensions between slave and free states (and territories) were vicious and enduring, but the country had been managing to arrive at (more and more uncertain) compromises in response to various crises for decades. But yes, given the popular support for war on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, it’s hard to think of a convincing counterfactual that unwinds the Southern slave-based agarian economy without bloodshed.

            I also agree with LexW1 that using the ACW as source material for a future robot manshoot game is… problematic.

          • SpiceTheCat says:

            *agrarian, dammit. Not an economy based on seaweed.

      • Anthile says:

        You think? I know some of my history books compare it to the unification wars that were going on at the time in Germany and Italy, where ultimately the more industrialized sides emerge victorious and thus paving the way for the disastrous world wars of the 20th century.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        I’m just a casual history observer from up in Scandinavia but my history teacher in the 11th grade skipped all USA’ian history ca.1492-1918 except some stuff about the native tribes and major cultures of the Americas. His motivation was the “North American cultural breastfeeding via Hollywood”, so we already knew more than the content of the curriculum anyway (plus I’m pretty sure he was a communist).

        Summary: Something about blue men with a pipe stove, gray men with Bruce Lee and a Tom Cruise samurai fighting for the Shogunate with gunboats.

        • Butts says:

          Yes, this is correct.

        • pandiculator says:

          I was going to reply to correct your historical inaccuracies, but decided I liked them better, anyway.

    • seroto9 says:

      I think the Revolutionary War reference is just an excuse to get cheap British actors to do the voice work for the baddies…again.

  3. LexW1 says:

    Science vs magic is usually an utter disaster, I mean, in pretty much any story. Either it becomes a polemic (if vaguely political/philosophical) or gets mired neck-deep in the lore/plot (often with Scooby-Doo-style reveals that the magic was science all along). I can’t think of any exceptions despite it being a popular theme in the eighties.

    Then there’s “Like the American civil war”, which is one of the world’s less interesting civil wars in generalities (the specifics are fascinating, but as a model for fiction… ugh… esp. as slavery always gets a cheap/lazy/inaccurate analogue), so that’s also not great.

    This sounds like a recipe for utterly un-self-aware hot-mess-type disaster.

    • Herring says:

      Arcanum was good I thought. No ‘right’ way that I picked up from the story / gameplay.

      • LexW1 says:

        Oh good move well-played, I had forgotten Arcanum. I do think it stands alone with that story actually working (albeit just barely imo), but yes it managed to tread a line few have managed (and that an AAA shooter is certainly never going to manage short of hiring a superb main writer, probably from outside computer games).

  4. SamLR says:

    I really wish I could make video games b/c I really like the idea of some sort of stage magic with robots game where you have to send up the commands for the robot to do the trick or something…

  5. Unsheep says:

    The concept of the single-player campaign sounds fun and entertaining, but if the campaign is only a few hours long its not worth paying fullprice for. So the length of the campaign is my main concern, I have little doubt the developers will deliver on the action and mechanics.

    Well at some point science approaches magic, even more so when science-fiction is concerned, which has the luxury of dreaming ahead.

  6. LionsPhil says:

    Focusing on the tangent on the wrong game, but: dear god, Blizzard managed to make a character with a voice even more grating than Tracer’s.

  7. C0llic says:

    Titanfall was a really good game killed off by paid map packs. It offered something a lot more fun than the typical grey military shooter.

    I can’t really say it’ll have much of a future if they make another one and EA use the same battlefield business model. If you want a game to succeed you need to actually build up the fanbase and maintain it, THEN you can start making some real money (and we get a good game that sticks around too).

    • Atomica says:

      I think they released them free of charge, but too late to save it. I fancied a go of the game on the “game time” or whatever it’s called on Origin. However I balked at the ridiculous 50 GB download for a multiplayer game. Battlefield 4 with all the expansions is less than that!

      • C0llic says:

        It’s a great game (when people are playing it!), and certainly worth a try. A big part of the huge size was a whopping 35 GB of uncompressed audio. I’m not exaggerating. God knows why that was a thing, but there it is.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Celestial says:

    Firefly but with robots? I’m in.

  9. sosolidshoe says:

    Rather than taking a traditional sci-fi approach to that we wanted to look at how that would happen practically, what the ships would look like and with machines that were designed for excavation and construction, demolition and working the land, and what happens when they are turned into instruments of war.”

    Eh, whut? What kind of “traditional sci-fi” are you reading that’s unconcerned with the practicality and plausibility of its setting?

    Ugh, this is what happens when dudebro middle-management wanks who’s total experience of sci-fi amounts to “watched Star Wars one time in 1987” directs devs used to making grunty-growly modern military online manshooters to do science fiction :/

    • LionsPhil says:

      Sci-fi hasn’t meant science fiction in a long time, sadly.

      • gunny1993 says:

        Do what I do and spend hours going round Waterstones and moving “Sci-fi” books into the fantasy section.

        Makes me happy

    • MrUnimport says:

      If you substitute “conventional” for “traditional” the sentence makes a lot more sense.

  10. Dances to Podcasts says:

    the inevitability of conflict and war

    I’m sure this is wishful thinking in some circles, but wars have been declining since the end of the cold war. Especially interstate ones.

  11. vahnn says:

    Quality games journalism.