Tag Archives: Gears of War

Microsoft E3 2016 Press Conference Highlights

Microsoft opened this Monday with their big E3 press conference and they had quite a few big announcements and gameplay demos to show off.  I’ll once again be trimming out the brief lowlights of the conference in favor of just giving you the meat and potatoes of what we gamers love.  So without further ado, let’s get started!

1. Forza Horizon 3 is heading to the Outback!

Playground Games’ third entry into the Forza Horizon series was showcased heavily at the conference, as they revealed that the game will take the Horizon festival to Australia.  Naturally, this new aesthetic has added many new types of vehicles, including off-road buggies, to the game to compensate for the new landscape.  Horizon 3 will feature four player co-op across Xbox One and PC, and it will launch simultaneously on both platforms on September 27th.

2. Playdead Studio’s new game Inside is still kicking, and coming to Xbox later this month.

Inside was showcased at last year’s E3, and has been radio silent ever since.  Today, Playdead reintroduced the game and revealed that it is very much alive and practically done.  The game will be coming first to Xbox One on June 29, and PC on July 7th.

3. Two new Zombie games announced: State of Decay 2 and Dead Rising 4

Microsoft had two brand new zombie games to show off this year, with the announcements of both State of Decay 2 and Dead Rising 4.  State of Decay 2 was revealed with a partially cinematic and partially gameplay trailer that revealed it will come out in 2017.  Dead Rising 4 was revealed with a primarily gameplay trailer showcasing Frank West’s return to the lead role.  The game will take place at Christmas time, and probably not coincidentally, Dead Rising 4 is coming Holiday 2016.

4. Scalebound shows off 4 player co-op battles reminiscent of Monster Hunter

Platinum Games returned to E3 to show off Scalebound and it’s foru player co-op mode.  The gameplay featured the biggest boss battle that Platinum has ever created, with the players swapping between ground and dragon combat to fight the massive crab creature.  The gameplay wasn’t the quick action that Platinum is known for in games like Bayonetta, but appears more methodical like games like Monster Hunter.  Scalebound is due out on Xbox One and PC in 2017.

5. Halo Wars 2 gets delayed, but cools the sting with an Open Beta available right now

343 Industries’ Dan Ayoub took the stage to announce that Halo Wars 2 is being developed by both 343 and Creative Assembly (devs of Total War series), and will launch on February 21st of 2017, a delay from there initial Fall 2016 release window.  To cool the sting of the delay, 343 announced an open beta which is available right now on Xbox One.  The whole game will launch on both Xbox One and PC and it, along with all Microsoft Studios games revealed at the conference include cross-buy when bought digitally for play on both Xbox One and PC.

6. Gears of War 4 reveals a new co-op demo, special edition controller, and General RAAM in Killer Instinct

Rod Fergusson of the Coalition  brought out the big guns with an extended gameplay demo of the upcoming Gears of War 4.  The demo showed off the new swarm enemies and dazzling weather effects, including crazy lightning strikes, and a new weapon called the Buzzkill which shoot saw blades at enemies that can ricochet off walls.  The Coalition also showed off a limited edition Gears of War elite controller for Xbox One, and Iron Galaxy revealed that General RAAM, the antagonist of the first Gears, is available now for Killer Instinct.  Gears of War 4 launches on October 11th.

7. Sea of Thieves wows with insanely fun looking co-op.

Rare revealed the first gameplay for Sea of Thieves and it looks immensely fun.  The team at Rare invited community members in and split them into three teams to play the game.  They were given no tutorial, no instructions, and simply told to play.  What follows is an amazingly fun looking gameplay demonstration.  No release date or window was announced, but Rare did reveal they want to get fan feedback on the game as early as possible, so expect some sort of early access or alpha for the game.

8. Project Scorpio is real, and it is “the most powerful console ever made”, and Microsoft reveals a slimmer Xbox One, called Xbox One S

There have been rumors for months that Microsoft is building an Xbox 1.5 of sorts, that is more powerful than the Xbox One while not a new generation of consoles.  It is code-named Project Scorpio, and was confirmed to be real by Microsoft today.  It features of six teraflops of computing power, and the most powerful graphics processor in a console to date.  Microsoft also revealed the Xbox One S, a slim version of the current Xbox One console, that will feature 4K resolution and full HDR output (as will Scorpio).  Everything that works on Xbox One will work on Scorpio and One S, and likewise for anything that works on Scorpio will work on Xbox One.  “No one gets left behind,” Phil Spencer declared.  The Scorpio will launch in Fall 2017, and the Xbox One S this August.

And those are the big highlights from the Xbox One press conference, and I even left out a trailer for the upcoming game ReCore, which looks phenomenal.  The press conference was, in my opinion, the best Microsoft has put on in years.  What were your highlights?  Let me know in the comments!

by, Bobby Marquardt

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Microsoft acquires the rights to Gears of War, Black Tusk Studios working on new Gears game

Gears-of-War

Microsoft has announced today that they have acquired the rights to the Gears of War franchise from Epic.  Included in this acquisition is all present and future control over all rights including games, entertainment and merchandise.  Microsoft has designated Black Tusk Studios, their new Vancouver-based studio will begin work on an all new Gears of War game.  Rod Fergusson, Former director of production at Epic Games, and former director of product development at Irrational Games, is joining Black Tusk as it’s Studio Manager.

Black Tusk is the new developers for Gears of War

Black Tusk is the new developers for Gears of War

In the announcement, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer spoke on the acquisition saying “It all comes back to our commitment to Xbox fans. The “Gears of War” franchise has a very strong, passionate and valued fan base on Xbox. Over twenty-two million units have been sold across all “Gears of War” titles worldwide, grossing over $1B dollars (US). This franchise, and these fans, are part of the soul of Xbox. By acquiring this franchise, Microsoft Studios will continue to offer them more of their favorite games and entertainment experiences from the “Gears of War” universe.”

Black Tusk Studios was assembled in 2012, bringing in top talent who have worked on games like Uncharted, God of War III, Crysis 2, and many more.  They also recruited from other Vancouver-based studios like Black Box, Propaganda games, and Slant Six.  Phil Spencer commented on the choice to give Gears to the unproven Black Tusk, saying “I am extremely confident that under the leadership of Hanno Lemke, Rod Fergusson and our other leaders in the studio, Black Tusk is well equipped to take on the future development of the “Gears of War” franchise.”  Adding that Black Tusk is a world-class team, who have a passion for the shooter genre.

Previously, Black Tusk was said to be working on an all new AAA IP, that was touted as the next Halo by Phil Spencer.  The new IP was teased at Microsoft’s E3 press conference, but no real news had been heard on the game since.  Spencer called the teaser a “concept” piece; not another project being shelved in place of Gears.

Epic Game’s founder Tim Sweeny released a statement on the news saying “Epic Games has reached an agreement to sell the ‘Gears of War’ intellectual property rights to Microsoft.  We’re very proud of the franchise we built in close partnership with Microsoft over the past decade and are happy that this agreement enables Microsoft to forge ahead with the ‘Gears’ universe on their industry-leading platforms as Epic concentrates its efforts on new projects.  Epic remains totally dedicated to supporting Xbox One and is licensing the Unreal Engine 4 technology to Microsoft in support of their future projects.”

Epic_Logo

Today’s announcement begs the question: What exactly is Epic working on now?

Epic Games went on to clarify that they are still making games, and not just technology like the Unreal Engine.  Wes Phillips, PR manager from Epic Games, wrote on twitter that Epic currently has multiple games in development including Fortnite.  Epic’s last release major console release was Gears of War Judgement, developed by their Polish studio formerly named People Can Fly.  Epic’s primary studio in Maryland has not released a game since 2011’s Gears of War 3.

Former Gears of War lead developer Cliff Bleszinski wrote a blog today about the announcement.  He confirmed that he will not be moving to Vancouver to work with Black Tusk on the game, but did express his joy with the franchise being in good hands.  “343 knocked it out of the park with Halo and I think Black Tusk will do a fantastic job with Gears.”

This reporter’s opinion:  This is a very smart move by Microsoft.  Gears of War is a system selling franchise, and getting the franchise from Epic was the right move.  Epic didn’t seem to be doing anything with the franchise, and probably made quite a bit of money on the purchase by Microsoft so it seems like this is a win-win.  Bringing Rod Fergusson back to the franchise was also a very good move.  He is a long-time industry veteran, and has a passion for the Gears franchise.  The real question from today’s announcement is now what in the world is Epic working on?  We know they are developing the Unreal 4 engine, but their Maryland studio has been quiet ever since Gears of War 3’s 2011 release.  We know People Can Fly is working on Fortnite, and Chair is like working on more Infinity Blade, but is their Maryland studio then making a new AAA IP?   Could they be working on something more free-to-play based?  Tencent Holdings, owners of studios like Riot Games, now controls over 48% of the studio.  Could they be influencing the studio to make a game that could have the mega-success of League of Legends?  We’ll have to see.

by, Bobby Marquardt

Cliff Bleszinski wants to create an arena shooter for PC

cliffybCliff Bleszinski, famous for his work on Jazz Jackrabbit, Unreal, and Gears of War, wants to make an arena shooter for the PC.  Bleszinski revealed his idea on former Attack of the Show co-host Kevin Pereira’s Podcast: Pointless.  Cliff has been teasing his new project for quite some time in, with cropped pieces of concept art being posted on his twitter account.

During his interview, Bleszinski said “It will be a PC experience that will harken back to a certain type of game that we cut our teeth on, if you know what I’m saying.”  He continued by saying that many of today’s gamers don’t know what a true arena shooter is, thanks to games like Call of Duty.

He also seems opposed to working with a normal publisher, and would need his own studio for the project “I’ll talk to them, have meetings, but the last thing I need is some mid-level marketing guy telling me that, ‘Well, traditionally, this doesn’t sell well, so we’re concerned,’ and all that because they’re all rearward-looking and it just drives me fucking batshit.”  No word was given on if he would use Kickstarter, but that would certainly be a path he could take to avoid “mid-level marketing” guys.

This reporter’s opinion:  I would be incredibly happy if Cliff gave the arena shooter game the shot in the arm it needs.  I can’t even remember the last major arena shooter that was released.  CS: GO maybe?  That’s not a traditional arena shooter thouh, so maybe Quake Arena Arcade’s release on Xbox Live arcade?  There was Nexuiz, but it was kinda awful.  Back to the point, Cliff is the man to return the arena shooter back to prominence, and I hope he succeeds.

by, Bobby Marquardt

sources: Joystiq, Polygon, & Neogaf

Gears of War and Shoot Many Robots are December’s free Xbox Live Games for Gold

Gears-of-War

Xbox Live Games for Gold rolls into December with two more titles.  Major Nelson announced on his blog that the 2006 hit Gears of War and the 2012 Xbox Live game Shoot Many Robots.  Gears of War will be available on December 1st through the 15th, and Shoot Many Robots will close out the year, with it’s release being from the 16th through 31st.  If you have never played Gears of War, I highly recommend it.  The game revolutionized the world with it’s cover system, and had one of the best multiplayer for the early days of the 360.  I haven’t played Shoot Many Robots, but certainly will once it’s free.

by, Bobby Marquardt

Gears of War: Judgment Review

Before we get into the nitty gritty of the review I would like to start by saying I’ve played all three Gears of War games and have read all but one of the books by Karen Traviss. I’ve experience the good and the bad of the entire franchise; from the nightmare of Gears of War 2 launch day multiplayer to the infinitely smoother Gears of War 3. I played co-op with Bobby Marquardt on hardcore which took us about 8-10 hours. We’ve also played basic multiplayer and Overrun for about 4 hours. We have yet to touch Survival.

gears judgement 1

image credit: gametrailers.com, Epic Games

Campaign
Gears of War: Judgment is told from the perspectives of each member of Kilo squad (consisting of fan favorites Baird and Cole as well as newcomers Paduk & Sofia), all while on trial for a “crime” they committed in the line of duty. Through the entire campaign you learn about the events leading up to the first Gears of War campaign. The first immediate thing you notice when you start playing is the fact that you can only hold two weapons at a time. Anyone who has played the previous games knows how much that having that third weapon in major fire fights can be a lifesaver. They also switched the controls where hitting the Y button is now switch weapons. I’ve found myself trying to hit the D-pad throughout the entire campaign to pull out a pistol because I was out of ammo. It was quite irritating, especially while playing the multiplayer, but I’ll get to that later.
The look and feel of the campaign is the same as the previous Gears games. The graphics are good but nothing far beyond what the produced in Gears 3; they still show what the Xbox 360 is capable of even eight years after launch. If you’ve played any of the other Gears games then you know the feel of Judgment. There is the commander you love to hate, the love story and the big main baddy. People Can Fly didn’t steer too far from the tried and true methodology of Gears story telling even with the departure of Epic figurehead Cliff Bleszinski. At no point did I get confused as to what we were trying do in the campaign or ever think “Why did we just do that?”. Story does grip you because even with the looming threat of the Locust destroying humanity Loomis (the man you love to hate) is willing to put four valuable Gears on trial for an action that meant life or death for thousands. The way they told the story was a breath of fresh air for the franchise instead of the usual way of Delta having to hunt down a major bad guy while trying to save Dom’s wife and finding the salvation of humanity. Without getting too much into the whole campaign and releasing spoilers for those who have yet to play the game it’s worth playing and seeing the beginning of the story.

Multiplayer

gears judgement 2

image credit: gametrailers.com, Epic Games

The multiplayer is a whole different story from the campaign. People Can Fly went with a less dark feel and integrated verticality to all the maps. This doesn’t say much when the game only shipped with FOUR multiplayer maps for the basic gametypes (Team Deathmatch, Free for All & Domination). The game shipped with a total of eight maps but four are for Survival and Overrun. Triple A titles should never ship with only four maps for the basic gametypes, and then try to sell me a season pass at the checkout. That to me shows that multiplayer was just an afterthought. They also took out the signature “down but not out” aspect of the game. That means less executions and less of the signature Gears of War close quarters fighting.

You can still choose your starting layout but you only get a main weapon, Snub pistol and choice of grenade (now including reviving grenades and Ink grenades). That means you either have a mid to long range weapon or a shotgun. The only way to get a Lancer or Gnasher is to kill someone and take theirs. To be honest, it’s really annoying. I’d rather have the option to fight someone one on one with shotguns instead of having to melee three times to win because I don’t have shotgun. Then when it happens to you, you get frustrated. The maps are a good combination of long range and close range fighting but since not everyone has a certain weapon it can turn into a punching fight real quick.

The other two multiplayer modes, Survival and Overrun, are different. I have yet to play Survival but I’ve played a good amount of Overrun. Overrun is basically Beast mode but played against people instead of bots; being three rounds in length of two teams, one Locust and the other COG, trying to open or defend an E-hole respectively. The game can be frustrating due to team mates not playing smartly. You have six minutes to get the first hole open and if you fail the other team just needs to open the first hole to win. Also if you tie the game the team with the fastest team wins, which is rather silly to me. Overrun turns into a game where you only have fun if you’re winning.

Conclusion:

Even with all these issues the multiplayer is actually a lot of fun and quite enjoyable. Epic Games has done very well at upgrading and expanding their star franchise. With the addition of more multiplayer maps I can see this game becoming a platinum hit.
Overall: 4 out of 5

By: Max Sturm

Follow Max Sturm on Twitter: @Maxsturm1

gears judgement box art