During a panel at PAX East The Coalition Studio Head Rod Fergusson and his team shared a lot of information on Gears of War 4‘s multiplayer mode, upcoming merchandising and more.
Below you can read a summary of what was shared, and see all the slides in the gallery. As an important note, something that some may consider a spoiler on the campaign (Fergusson said it’s not a spoiler, but I know you) has been included under the gallery. If you want to go in completely blind, don’t read it.
- The number one goal is to make the best Gears of War multiplayer possible. There are three main goals, and you can see them below.
- Gears of War Judgement was an experiment to see what would happened if they made Gears of War more similar to first person shooters. This ended up not satisfying either the third person shooter audience or the first person shooter audience. With Gears of War 4 The Coalition wants to do the opposite, staying true to what makes Gears of War unique, while still innovating.
- When they moved from Unreal Engine 3 to Unreal Engine 4 they had to rewrite a most features from scratch.
- The mantle kick was a bit cumbersome in Gears of War 3, so they added the “yank and shank” which is a defensive version. All these moves work in single player as well. They’re also faster so people should use them more. The knife finishers are different depending on the direction they come from.The new vault Kick is smoother than it was in the past.
- The world has been at peace for a long time, so the developers thought “how could there be new weapons?” There have been rebuilding efforts for years, so it was logical to turn tools into weapons. The dropshot is essentially a mining tool. It was a fun challenge to come up with weapons that weren’t based on a war.
- The second goal was to make the best versus multiplayer for everyone. In past Gears of War games developers always focused on new and social gamers, and kind of left everyone else take care of themselves. With Gears of War 4 instead of focusing on the bottom of the pyramid only, they wanted to have something for everyone, including competitive and pro players.
- One of the innovations are visible skill ranks. When you beet someone that isn’t as good as you are, it doesn’t count as much as if you beat someone on or above your skill level.
- In the beta everyone is playing everyone, but for launch The Coalition is still look at how to organize playlists. Some will be unranked ans social, and some will be ranked.
- The game itself doesn’t change. What changes is the level of competition. The visible skill ranks and skill based matchmaking is to allow players to play at the level they can enjoy playing.
- Co-op Verus is a safe place to go learn and discover. The multiplayer bots have different personalities and roles, and they are much more skilled than earlier bots.
- In the final game there will be different levels of difficulty, and the mode will give you XP rewards as you would in regular matchmaking. It’s balanced to serve new and social players.
- Dodgeball is designed to serve social and competitive players.
- Escalation (that was introduced yesterday) serves competitive, e-sports players, casters and viewers. It takes inspiration from MOBAs in the fact that lethality escalates during the match. It starts with 10 seconds respawn timers and then every round adds two seconds. Players place power weapons themselves and there is a half time that resets everything. It can be quite long and makes for very interesting viewing.
- The new spectator mode is also designed for casters. It has a lot of different new cameras. It lets you plug in a keyboard to use shortcuts to jump directly to any player. You can also pull the bumper and target a player, letting you “jump” to that player directly.
- The third goal was to maximize engagement.
- One way to maximize engagement is e-sports. With the Ultimate Edition The Coalition started crawling in this environment, with the release of Gears of War 4 they want to start walking, and beyond release they aim to be running.
- Characters and weapon skins can be acquired via cards. Skins can also be used in the single player campaign. Emblems help you express your character. Those are the permanent cards.
- Bounties are consumable cards that give you objectives for extra experience. They are consumed only when you actually complete them, so they’re not “bets.”
- Gear crates can be purchased with credits that you earn in game. Everything in the game can be earned through gameplay, but can be achieved faster with real currency. The only exceptions are promotional items like the beta rewards. Nothing that can be used in versus actually affects gameplay. It’s all cosmetic. You can get three different tiers of crates.
- The game will have ten multiplayer maps at launch (nine new ones plus gridlock). Every map released as DLC will be free. There are going to be 1-3 map releases a month with a mix of new maps and remastered maps from older games. Playlists will be curated to avoid overwhelming new players on the long run, so maps will be rotated in and out as new ones are released. The sweet spot should be 10 to 14 available at the same time.
- Maps that are outside of the public rotation can be purchased via DLC and used on private matches. Only the host needs to own the map.
- Beta players will receive a free Dodgeball avatar item. You just need to play one match to earn it. Delivery date is TBA.
- Tomorrw new Gears of War avatar items will hit the marketplace.
- New merchandise is coming for Gears of War 4, including a physical dodgeball shirt (coming tomorrow), Vynil Pop! (coming in September), McFarlane toys action figures (fall 2016) and premium statues by Triforce (the first one will be available for pre-orderr tomorrow).
Mild Campaign Spoiler ahead! Don’t read if you want to go in blind: Kayt has a ponytail on her left side, while Reyna has it on her right side because in the Outsider culture the way you wear your ponytail indicates your availability. If you wear it on your left you’re single. If you wear it on your right you’re married. Reyna lost her husband, but she still wears her ponytail on her right to say that she’s unavailable.