Even before anyone had a chance to play Gears of War: Judgment, Epic Games Design Director Cliff Bleszinski was already toying with fan expectations for the game. When the company first revealed the game’s existence a few weeks ago, via a shaded Game informant cover featuring the silhouette of a muscular man in chains, which most fans thought they saw Gears franchise hero Marcus Fenix is finally carted off to prison. It turns out that the chained soldier was actually Damon Baird, the mechanically inclined, wise-talking member of Fenix’s Delta Squad.
While fan interest in Baird was certainly a major motivator for the switcheroo decision, Bleszinski said he also thought it would make for a cool reveal. “I like to operate [thinking about] which would make fans happy and which is also cool news,” said Bleszinski. “So with the reveal of the cover of Game informant you see someone chained up and everyone immediately assumes it’s Marcus. “It’s Marcus’s story of how he went to prison!” And it’s like ‘Ha! It’s Baird’s downfall, isn’t it?”
All about the challenge
Judgement is a collaboration between Epic Games and Bullet storm developer People can fly. According to Adrian Chmielarz, creative director of People Can Fly, Judgement is a combination of some ideas that Epic Games brought to the table during the Gears trilogy, the imagination of People Can Fly and what they could do with it Gears I P.
“Fishing rod [Fergusson, Director of Production at Epic Games] For example, I mentioned that a long time ago you guys played the Beast vs. wanted to play Horde mode. It didn’t work before Gears 3. It was a tough nut to crack, but now we have the time to really approach this and do this,” Chmielarz told Bleszinski. there are things I would change. I was very vocal about this when I spoke to Epic… and one day there was a phone call. “Hey, remember these few ideas for Gears?’ It’s a mix of both. There are many things that Epic guys initiate, there are many things that [People Can Fly] initiates.”
People Can Fly already has a reputation for designing challenging first-person shooter gameplay, as exemplified by Bullet storm‘s skillsshot system. The big change Chmielarz made to the Gears franchise raises the bar on the challenge level. “The big idea behind the campaign was that we want people to get scared of the Locust again, like the first time you played GearsChmielarz told Ars Technica. “This game is all about challenge…we believe the fun comes from being challenged and overcoming that challenge.”
Chmielarz thinks some of from bullet storm spirit can be found in the following Weapons of war. “What I liked about Bullet stormand I think some of that DNA is here [in Judgment]is a pair of systems that are independent in theory, but together create a unique experience that is only yours,” he said.” That part I think translates, and hopefully the intensity of combat, more enemies and crazy, crazy fights. “
Chmielarz said so Judgement will show more Locust on screen at once than in any previous one Gears game. Their behavior is determined in part by the Smart Spawn System (S3), a new AI setup that analyzes players’ performance and location and uses that information to decide where enemies will spawn and what tactics they will use. Thanks to S3, the developers said that players cannot learn and exploit patterns in the levels and no two playthroughs of a level will be the same.
New story, new controls
Judgement‘s story, setting and presentation tamper with the established order Gears formula too. The game tells the story of Baird, fellow franchise star Augustus Cole, and the rest of Kilo Squad fifteen years before the first Weapons of war. Kilo Squad is on trial for treason and various other crimes before court-martial, and every level of Judgement follows Baird’s testimony at trial.
This overarching story has a direct effect on how the gameplay will evolve through multiple playthroughs. Playing a level once gives players the “secret” version that Baird tells in court for the first time. Afterwards, players will have access to an unrated version, which better captures Baird’s unvarnished memory of the battle. Chmielarz said the “unrated” playthrough will add crucial narrative details, different enemy types, and additional challenges such as weapon or time-limit limitations. For example, Baird’s “secret” memory may have neglected to include the fact that Kilo Squad had a mech available during battle, but the mech will be there in the second, “unclassified” playthrough.
The developers said that this story will integrate better with the action in Judgement and that the game won’t be plagued by so many sequences where a character has a finger in their ear as they broadcast HQ. The storyline won’t dominate the action either; cut scenes into it Judgement are meant to be a quick break from the action to dry off your hands and catch your breath before the next engagement. “Our statement for the game is ‘fear the Locust,’ but sometimes [we say] a simpler version that is “sweaty palms.” That’s really what we’re looking for here,” Chmielarz said.
And Chmielarz said so Judgement did not intend to recreate the worst excesses Bullet storm‘s over-the-top story presentation. “We’re not going ‘Dicktits!’ on this one,” he said. “The story is much more disciplined. It doesn’t mean there’s no humor at all, but the humor is there to highlight the dark side of these events.”
People Can Fly has also updated the control scheme Judgement to reflect the faster, more deadly nature of the game. Weapons can now be swapped with a single button tap, or hold down a gesture to switch to pistols. Players can still use the traditional bow-based aiming system for precision grenade throwing, but now all they have to do is tap a button to eject explosive ammunition without that preparatory step.
“We had three [Gears] games with a certain control scheme and it seemed to work pretty well given the sales numbers,” Chmielarz said, “but once we [the new control scheme] in the game and experimenting with it, it took us about five minutes to realize it was the right choice.
Multiplayer is also seeing a bit of an overhaul Judgement via a new team-based multiplayer mode called Overrun, in which human COG players protect a generator from Locust players who try to destroy it. is overrun Gears top-notch multiplayer mode, featuring new character types, each with their own unique weapon sets and abilities: medics who can heal companions, engineers who can erect protective turrets, and so on. As COG players work to repair and maintain pre-placed barbed wire fortifications around the generator, Locust players earn points through damage, unlocking the use of familiar Locust creatures including Tickers, Wretches, Grenadiers, the Kantus, Bloodmounts , Corpsers, Serapedes and Maulers during the match.
“The beauty of Overrun is the synergy effect of combining the classes,” Chmielarz noted. “We have the Ticker and the Ticker has the ability to eat a grenade. Someone from COG throws a grenade, the Ticker quickly eats it, the team is saved, but when [the Ticker] explodes, obviously that explosion is so much more powerful. So I played against our guys [People Can Fly] and I saw the other team’s strategy was they started with a Grenadier throwing their own grenade, had the Ticker eat it, had the Grenadier kick the Ticker in its butt so it actually went over the fortifications… and then do you have this missile charging at your generator with a grenade in its belly.”
Dennis Scimeca is a freelance writer from Boston, Massachusetts. You can enjoy his random excitement on Twitter: @DennisScimeca.