Xbox 360

Microsoft's and Epic Games' Gears of War 2 is set to be released on November 7th in Europe, and here is a long interview covering it. Microsoft's XCN let several European websites submit questions for it, including us, and it ended up with a great variety of interesting questions. Answers are provided by Cliff Bleszinski and Rod Fergusson.

Answered By: Epic Games’ Cliff Bleszinski, Design Director, and Rod Fergusson, Senior Producer

Gears of War was one of the first 360 games to really capture the public's imagination and there is now a lot of expectation regarding the sequel. Do you feel that you will be able to meet the hype and deliver a game better than anyone can imagine?
Cliff Bleszinski: Ultimately, it will be up to gamers to decide if we’ve succeeded in making Gears 2 a more satisfying and intense experience. The game is bigger in every imaginable way. The campaign is longer with a deeper story, the controls are tighter, the multiplayer is richer, and the co-operative play is a blast. We have a great five player co-op mode called Horde in which COG players team up to take on wave after wave of increasingly difficult Locust, and it will really test your team’s combat prowess and push your skills to the limit. We hope everyone will love all the new stuff we’ve put into Gears 2 – we’ve labored to create a meaningful storyline, really interesting characters, insane weapons and a wide range of multiplayer modes.


How do you decide on the Achievements that will appear in the game, do you find it increasingly difficult to think of original ideas for these?
Rod Fergusson: We’ve had a blast coming up with Gears 2’s Achievements, which are designed to make the discovery of important game elements fun and rewarding, and to help players get the most out of the game. Some are difficult to obtain while others are just for kicks, and we think there’s a nice mix in there for everyone. We’re not being as strict about how Achievements are obtained as we were with Gears 1 because we want more players to earn more points this time around; in fact, we’ve made sure that rewards can be earned across all game modes. The War Journal and the in-game Achievement progress pop-ups allow players to track their Achievements progress at any time, will be a great way for players to keep up with what they’ve earned, aim for their next Achievement, and compare notes with friends.

With GOW you changed the shooter landscape, with nearly every game implementing some kind of cover system like the one you did. Do you think GOW2 will be able to introduce similar groundbreaking innovations?
Cliff Bleszinski: We’re totally flattered by other games that have adopted cover systems similar to what we created for Gears 1. We’ve actually made several hundred tweaks to the original mechanic, and we feel that it’s much smoother and intuitive this time around.

For example, while performing a roadie run, you can continue running through tight spaces without fear of getting “stuck” on cover by simply veering away from it. You can also quickly change momentum even after initiating a cover move like a SWAT turn. Players who aren’t comfortable with the default one-button movement system can opt to use an alternate control scheme that separates evasion and roadie run movements from the various cover movements.


We’re also introducing new gameplay elements in Gears 2 like dynamic cover. Meatshield lets you down an enemy and use him as an ammo-absorbing buffer, and you can also slay Locust Maulers to get the Boomshield, which can be used for portable cover as well. Another fun variation is the thick-skinned Rockworm, which you can hide behind and make your way past a lot of lead.

The first game was a little bit criticized for providing a too short singleplayer experience. Can we expect a lengthier story this time?
Cliff Bleszinski: Absolutely, the campaign in Gears 2 is longer than that of Gears 1, without a doubt. Playing times will vary from person to person, but you can expect plenty of campaign goodness. The story picks up six months after the Lightmass bombing; the Locust are back, taking down entire cities with sinkholes, and it’s up to Marcus, Delta Squad and a legion of COG forces to lead the charge in humanity’s last stand. Dom's search for his lost wife Maria was hinted at in the first game, and this will be explored a lot more in depth in Gears 2 as well.

Will we see significant progression in the GOW storyline and will we learn more about the locust and their reasoning behind the war?
Cliff Bleszinski: Gears fans have been asking for a more in-depth story in Gears 2, and we’re aiming to please. You’ll learn a lot more about the core members of Delta Squad, in addition to the new characters we’re introducing: Tai Kaliso, a spiritual warrior; Chairman Prescott, the COG leader who sends the military forces into battle; Dizzy Wallin, a COG conscript and former member of the Stranded; and Dom’s wife, Maria Santiago. We’ll also reveal a lot more about the enemies, including new baddies like the Tickers, explosive foes that scuttle like living landmines; the massive Bloodmounts, vicious steed that carry their Locust masters with fervor and frenzy; the sinister Kantus; plus new variations of Boomers, just to name a few.

Do you feel GOW2 is a showcase for the power of the Unreal 3 engine?
Cliff Bleszinski: Yes, Gears 2 shows off Unreal Engine 3’s newest enhancements, including ambient occlusion, improved liquid dynamics, soft body physics, the new crowd system for rendering hundreds of enemies onscreen at once, a fracture system for the realistic destruction of objects and the environment, and so much more.

In addition, several major character and weapon models have undergone substantial up-ressing, so they’ll look better than ever. These models include Marcus, Anya, the Hammerburst Assault Rifle and the Brumak.

There are also graphical improvements in combat, such as the addition of bullet tracers and blood decals; bodies leave blood stains on the ground, and injured players bleed onto nearby walls, for example.


I believe Epic mentioned that they'll improve the melee combat of Gears 1, but didn't elaborate on this for now. So I was wondering: will the melee in Gears 2 perhaps be partially influenced by Unreal Championship II (which I really liked), minus some of the exaggerated moves?
Cliff Bleszinski: We have chainsaw duels in Gears 2, so that’s a great new addition to melee combat. Furthermore, we’ve added new finishing moves, so when you’ve downed an enemy and it’s time to take him out, for example, you can turn him over and deliver a face-smashing curb stomp, or beat him with your bare hands, or split his skull in two with the end of your weapon. Finally, if you're hit with a melee attack you can evade out of the way instead of feeling "locked down" in one spot.

Speaking of Unreal Championship II: back in the days it was one of the few games that had a ton of options, and it even rivalled Halo in this regard. Can we expect the same degree of customization (for the modes that is) in Gears 2, as well as bots?
Cliff Bleszinski: We’ve made a ton of improvements to Gears 2 with many new or improved competitive multiplayer modes plus support for up to 10 players with the ability to fill in any open slots on a given team with A.I. bots when playing offline and private online matches. The inclusion of bots is a huge boon to players who want to enjoy competitive multiplayer when offline, or when they simply want a private match among friends and do not have the full 10 players.

Did you manage to remove the “host advantage” from multiplayer matches?
Rod Fergusson: We have taken several measures to address instances of host advantage so that everyone can compete on equal footing as much as possible.


Are you going to add party system to the multiplayer? Can you tell us more about new multiplayer modes?
Rod Fergusson: Yes, for Gears of War 2 we’ve added a party system that lets players hook up with their friends in full or partial teams and stay grouped together from match to match during Public (a.k.a. ranked) matches. As well, our new party system utilizes TruSkill™ to ensure that teams are finding opponents of equivalent skill.

Some of the new competitive multiplayer modes include:

* Guardian, an enhanced version of Assassination from Gears 1, in which teams secure victory by taking out the opposing side’s designated leader, while working to ensure the survival of their own leader. Players who are killed go into a respawn queue, but only as long as their leader is alive. Your team will have to carefully balance its tactics to protect your leader while managing to execute the opposing leader in a timely fashion in this mode.
* Wingman, which splits up 10 players into five teams of two, where it’s every pair for themselves. The goal is to defeat as many other two-player teams as possible, but killing blows must be in the form of an execution.
* Submission, which is Capture the Flag with a twist in which the flag is a living, moving, and shooting Stranded AI character, and we affectionately refer to as the Meatflag. The goal is to down the Meatflag and move his body to your team's base to earn points before the opposing team can steal him back.
* King of the Hill, which was previously only available in Gears 1 for PC, and involves teams fighting to hold a single objective point. While it’s similar to Annex, teams must completely control and stay within the objective target circle to score points. Enemies are downed through execution rules so that a team has to finish everyone up close to retain control of the objective.


Can we expect some kind of rank/promotion feature in the title to reward players for their online participation, perhaps something similar to CoD4 and Halo 3?
Rod Fergusson: While playing multiplayer you'll see the visual representation of your TruSkill™ ranking next to your Gamertag. As you play more and more Public matches, your skill rating will increase (or decrease) and this will be represented as one of five rank icons.

We've seen that map favourite Gridlock is due to make a return in Gears 2, which is great. Can we also expect some other favourites too and is there any possibility of the Gears 1 PC exclusive multiplayer maps making a showing in Gears 2?
Rod Fergusson: That’s right, Gridlock is returning in Gears 2 in the Flashback Map Pack that is being offered for free download via Xbox LIVE at launch as a token of thanks to our fans for buying a new copy of the game. The Flashback Map Pack contains our five favorite Gears 1 maps: Gridlock, Subway, Canals, Mansion, and Train Station, each specially updated for Gears 2.

In an interview Cliff Bleszinski said it would be stupid to not have more a user friendly party system to play ranked games with friends. Why turn 180° for Gears of War 2?
Cliff Bleszinski: We’re rolling out a skill-based party system that allows players to rapidly join parties, form teams and play against opposing teams of similar skill. It’s all seamless and easy to use and really enriches the online experience. We’re also enhancing our matchmaking capability through our "What's Up" feature so players can, at the press of a button, have access to all of their friends that are online playing Gears 2.


Will Gears of War 2 support clans?
Rod Fergusson: We have not implemented clan support for Gears of War 2, although we’ve tried to make it easy to play online with your friends. As Cliff mentioned, we have the new party system that lets you join your friends in full or partial teams and stay grouped together from match to match. As well, "What's Up" will give you instant access to all your friends playing Gears 2.

Epic (or more specifically Cliffy B) have talked a lot about how Dom's story will develop in Gears of War 2 in the search for his wife Maria. I was wondering how the story of the main character Marcus Fenix will develop, for instance will we find out more about his background and why he was put in prison in the first place?
Cliff Bleszinski: You’ll learn more about all the members of Delta Squad in Gears 2, including some new details about Marcus. If you're hungry for more information about Marcus and the Gears universe, then this is your year. Along with the Gears 2 game, we're also releasing a comic book series written by the game writer Josh Ortega and a prequel novel called Gears of War: Aspho Fields. It's written by Karen Traviss, a #1 New York Times best-selling author, and it goes on sale Oct. 28th.

Did the Epic team enjoy making Gears 2 as much as the first?
Cliff Bleszinski: That’s a tough question, because it was so amazing making the original Gears of War. We knew we were in uncharted waters; we were making a totally new IP on a brand new console with new engine technology, and that was a thrill ride. With Gears 2, we’ve enjoyed expanding the Gears universe by really digging deep with the storyline, and adding new characters, weapons, multiplayer modes – especially Horde, our five-player co-op multiplayer mode. It’s hard to say, because both games have been complete labors of love.

How will the new match making work and will you be able to play ranked with friends this time round?
Rod Fergusson: Our new match making system is a skill-based party system that allows players to rapidly join parties, form teams and play against opposing teams of similar skill. Parties remain intact as you move from match to match so you'll be able to play with your friends as long as you like. It’s all seamless and easy to use and really enriches the online experience. We’re also enhancing our matchmaking capability through our "What's Up" feature so players can, at the press of a button, have access to all of their friends that are online playing Gears 2.

With bringing in new "power" weapons such as the Medusa, do you feel they will affect the core elements of the online side especially when playing competitively?
Cliff Bleszinski: The Gorgon Burst Pistol shoots in deadly, short bursts, and it’s a favorite of the Kantus, the Locust priest that summons enemies with shrieks and battle cries. We’ve worked extensively on gameplay balancing so that you’ll have a fair shot at taking down foes wielding the weapon in multiplayer. There are inherent advantages and disadvantages to using any weapon in the game; while the Gorgon pacts a nasty punch, it also lets back with more recoil than its counterpart sidearms.


Will there be a beta for the game?
Rod Fergusson: We’re not releasing preview code for Gears 2 since we’re focused on shipping the game on time and making sure fans everywhere have it in time for the holidays.

Will the game have a movie editor, similar to that seen in Halo 3, like EGM thought it may?
Cliff Bleszinski: Gears 2 will not have a movie editor, although we have implemented a Battle Cam mode that lets you capture images photojournalist style and compare pics with other players. If you get killed in a multiplayer match, or if you’re waiting in the respawn queue, you can cycle through a number of fixed camera locations via the Battle Cam, which automatically pans and zooms in on the action. You can also fly through levels via Ghost Cam, and take screens that way. You can get pretty creative with it, and we want everyone to post their own images at gearsofwar.com so we can see who captures the best action shots.

Thanks for your time!

JasonGom
JasonGom
Commented on 2008-10-23 13:36:42
ITS GOING TO BE SO AWSOME

midnight madness here i come...
In reply to
Krabath
Krabath
Commented on 2008-10-23 14:19:08
Indeed, I think this game is going to rule. Good interview too.
In reply to
Doctor_Hades
Doctor_Hades
Commented on 2008-10-23 14:42:00
A longer campaign mode sounds great to me as I didn't like the multiplayer modes at all in the first game but the single player in solo and co-op was great fun. Just too short.
In reply to
Krabath
Krabath
Commented on 2008-10-23 15:13:06
Oh, and Anya's model getting upgraded is good as well. There was something off about it in Gears 1...
In reply to
type105x
type105x
Commented on 2008-10-23 15:14:43
so pissed awwwwwwwwwwf to see people playing this game on my friends list!!! :( should be kicked awf live and there gamertags LOCKED!


o "How will the new match making work and will you be able to play ranked with friends this time round?"

Still does not say anything about ranked........but i am sure it is :)
In reply to
BLackHawkodst
BLackHawkodst
Commented on 2008-10-23 16:27:25 In reply to type105x
Head over to the Epic GOW2 forum they have every bit of info you will ever need.
In reply to
Splicer261
Splicer261
Commented on 2008-10-23 18:59:23
Damn if only they had the replay camera system Halo 3 has..

Image freeze framing a grenade tag explosion against 3 locust or cogs? a boom shot to 4 players..

Your friend diving in front of you to only have the locust's head behind him exploded to smithereens

Or better yet, diving from an explosion of 4 or more locust stuck together, only to notice one torque has taken out all of them..

man, it would've been EPIC!
In reply to
soccer7
soccer7
Commented on 2008-10-23 19:03:26 In reply to Splicer261
lol. yeah this game will still be amazing. i haven't pre-ordered it yet though. It comes out in like ywo weeks too. I need some money. I spent wat i had on the orange box. It was like 9 dollars; Go Gamestop. Yeah im probably going to have to sak my mom for money. This game will be kick-arse. (or for blesinski "BAD ASS") lol
In reply to
Tarrell13
Tarrell13
Commented on 2008-10-23 20:07:34
I am trying to figure out how some people already have it. I have two people on my list that are playing it.
In reply to
Nit3m4re
Nit3m4re
Commented on 2008-10-23 20:58:09 In reply to Tarrell13
Posted by Tarrell13
I am trying to figure out how some people already have it. I have two people on my list that are playing it.
Obviously not legally sadly :( Not too long to wait though :D
In reply to
toelessfoot
toelessfoot
Commented on 2008-10-24 08:45:56
I didn't know they had bots now, Yay!!
In reply to
PlayLife
PlayLife
Commented on 2008-10-24 14:21:43
I just want to say that the game is AWESOME.
In reply to
CEZARR
CEZARR
Commented on 2008-10-25 15:11:44
I PLAY IT RIGHT NOW AND IT IS
In reply to
About the game
Platform
X360
Published by
Xbox Game Studios
Developed by
Epic Games
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