The lights are on
Since the series' debut, Gears of War players have logged an impressive 2.3 billion hours playing
Gears of War's multiplayer. The Coalition is acutely aware that it has a passionate
fan base looking forward to digging into the next online Gears experience.
Our recent trip to visit the studio for our April cover story focused largely
on the game's story-focused campaign, but we were still able to eke out a few
juicy details about multiplayer.
1) Multiplayer is getting a bigger focus
this time:"Historically, the campaign is the hardest thing to make out of any of these games," says studio
head Rod Fergusson. "So if you look at the development of Gears one, it was
probably 90 percent single player, 10 percent multiplayer. Over the course of
the franchise, that percentage shifted, but I don't think it ever got above
70/30. Coming here, multiplayer has a much greater position at the table. On
day one, as we were prototyping our first campaign experience, we were also
building multiplayer maps. We really want to meet the needs of not just
recreational players but eSports players, and it's something we've been
thinking about for the entire development cycle."
2) Ryan Cleven is the Lead MP
resume includes series like Need for Speed and SSX.
3) We'd be shocked if Horde mode didn’t return:The
Coalition wouldn’t confirm the addition of any particular multiplayer
mode, but the team is keenly aware of the mode's popularity and seem focused on making the Gears community happy moving into the future.
4) The multiplayer beta will
start this April:During
the beta, players will be able to play as five of the campaign's protagonists.
The first three are the three main playable heroes, JD, Kait, Del. The fourth is
Kait's mom and leader of the Outsiders, a woman named Reyna. The fifth is Kait's
uncle, Oscar, who is an ex-Gear soldier and expert survivalist.
5) Multiplayer is still humans vs monsters:To fit into the lore
of the world, there will be at least three factions in multiplayer, but these
will still be separated into humans vs. monsters, meaning one side will play as
the new Swarm enemies, while the other side with play as either COG soldiers or
human Outsiders. We're not entirely sure if multiplayer is only limited to
these three factions, however, so it's possible that there is a second, unknown
6) Each faction has their own knife and will
likely have other unique attributes:
7) The team is making a big push
for the eSports market this time around:The Coalition even has one staffer dedicated to work full time on the eSports initative.
of War was one of the first games to be part of the eSports growth, and it came
around during a time when things like Twitch were just starting to explode," says
director of community Adam Fletcher. "What were trying to do now is treat eSports
as a brand. We started that with the Ultimate Edition where we partnered with the
ESL, and worked to created different seasons in of a pro league as well as an
open series that spans North America, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia. During
our championships, we had over 130,000 unique viewers on Twitch, and we sold
out of tickets for a live event down in Burbank."
8) But casual fans are still
I was at Epic, we didn't really value pro players," says studio head Rod
Fergusson. "We were always focused on accessibility and how to get more recreational
players. We let pro players do whatever they wanted and tried not to
overdevelop for them. Now we're trying to find that balance. We recognize that
there's this professional player, and have you sort of build a funnel toward them
but also make sure your game is highly accessible."
9) Don't expect a lot of wind:Wind
is a big part of the story campaign, but at this time, the team isn't planning
on incorporating wind flares into the game's multipayer maps.
10) The Coalition is getting some
multiplayer team also includes London-based developer, Splash Damage, which has
previously worked on games such as Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Brink, Batman:
Arkham Origins, and even Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. “They’re helping with a lot of the level design stuff," says Fergusson. "Especially with meshing of multiplayer maps, we’re tapping into the expertise they got from Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. They also have a lot of expertise with online systems, in terms of matchmaking from Ultimate Edition. They basically had to rewrite for Xbox One, between us and them, the whole matchmaking sub-system…when you get a strategic partner like Splash Damage, we talk about training up our own team on Gears, but when you have another team that’s trained up on Gears, we definitely want to work with them as much as possible.”
11) Multiplayer will run at 60
fps and will have its own dedicated servers:What else do you want?
12) Balance is important to The
Coalition:The Studio has introduced
a new takedown system that allows players to initiate a series of close-combat
melee takedowns. In single player these might become fairly easy to pull off,
but The Coalition has worked hard to ensure that, in multiplayer, players on
the receiving end of these have several ways to counter the attacks and escape
before a knife ends up in their brainpan.
To learn more about Gears of War 4, click on the banner below to enter our hub of exclusive content, including a video interview where we ask Rod Fergusson 105 questions.
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