17th February 2010 - Gears of War has made a name for itself as one of Xbox’s biggest and best exclusive series, and although the second instalment turned a lot of fans away with a slap to the face with its Hollywood-esque campaign and laggy multiplayer, we can all hope that the third game returns to the gritty and dark combat from the first.
The series has sold an estimated 10 million copies, and if Microsoft can win back the populous with the next Gears adventure, then they may just have a solid Game of the Year contender on their hands. Join All Age Gaming, as we look at what could bring the Gears back to its glory days with what we want for Gears of War 3, what we expect the final product will bring and the few nifty little surprises that could just sneak in there.
Part 1: WANTS
1. Improved plot and character study
Although primarily a tactical third person shooter, every great game needs a great story to coincide with it. Gears of War 3 needs to make us feel and care for the characters (even the Cole Train) and what’s happening to them, and finally tie in all the loose ends and questions we have about the story. Gears of War 2 touched on a character study with Dom and his wife, but it was under scripted and fast became a bore. We need to be able to relate to our heroes, and feel as if were in their shoes. I’m not asking for a drama script or anything here, just a little more depth to the characters we’ve all come to love. And we all want to finally find out why these damn Locust are attacking and where exactly they came from. Come on Epic, stop holding the details back and unleash the beast of a story in the third instalment.
2. Four Player Co-op
Some would argue that the games strongest point is playing some co-op with mates, so why not increase the number of players to 4? At pretty much every point in the game there are 4 squad mates, and this could really help with not only the above suggestion (Character study), but it would be great simply for the gameplay point of view. It could make us feel more for the characters that we play, and really make the campaign replayable. Epic could also include a kind of meta-game, with point scoring from the enemies you kill, similar to that seen in Halo 3, which was a huge online hit when players could manage to find a good enough host.
3. For it to be a more tactical shooter
For a tactical shooter, there isn’t much tactics involved besides run, duck and blind fire, so what would really make Gears of War better is deeper tactical gameplay. Be it a command list like the one seen in Rainbow Six games, or even just stronger flanking and covering options, it would be a welcome change and in the long run could even help a little with the top suggestion, making you feel more connected to your entire squad.
4. Bigger armoury
The weapon in Gears of War are truly great because they are all so different from one another and it really sets it apart from other shooters, but is it too much to ask for just a few new weapons? Surely there are some other types of weapons that we can play with in the Gears world, perhaps another sniper or type of shotgun? We have two pistols; let’s see two of our other favourites to add a bit more flavour to both single and multiplayer.
5. Multiplayer improvements
Gears of War is known for great tactical multiplayer, with 4 on 4 being a perfect number for some intense and action packed yet still tactical fire fights and matches. Of course, we don’t want to see some stupid customization to looks and load outs like in Modern Warfare (it may work in CoD, but in Gears? I don’t think so). The reason people play Gears online is to play on even playing grounds where skill is more important than who plays the most and who has unlocked all the best stuff. But in Gears 3, we would love to see just a few little changes in the multiplayer. For one, no Ghost Cam, unless there is a no-party chat kind of thing implemented like we saw in CoD6. Another little upgrade would be, and I know it’s probably (but shouldn’t be) too much to ask, dedicated servers. A lot of players complain about how Gears hosts are always so much more powerful due to perfect connection, but I guess it’s the same in most online games. Some other little add-ins could be a wider array of map settings (the actual setting for the map, not options) and some more options for the great Horde mode.
6. A Map Editor
Halo 3’s forge mode was a MASSIVE hit, with thousands of players constantly making maps, puzzles and generally just mucking around on there, and the classic Tony Hawk games were known for their awesome Skate Park Editor, so why doesn’t Epic take a little initiative and do something similar for Gears of War. I think it’s safe to say that there are a lot of gamers that would love to make some apocalyptic Gears of War maps, what with all the possibilities for destroyed buildings, war torn streets, ruined cars, and the list goes on. Gears of War multiplayer maps are always very even and well laid out, so why not let the players who know these streets so well the chance to get their hands dirty with their own creations? It would be a huge hit, and something we would love to see in the game.
Part 2: EXPECTATIONS
Now that we’ve covered what we would love to see in Gears of War 3, what can we actually expect Epic to do with the series that will separate it from the past two? When can we expect it to see the light of day? Will it be the final Gears game? We tackle these tough questions in this next segment, so take a look.
1. Sooner or Later?
Some speculate that Gears of War 3 will be kept in the dark till Microsoft bring forth yet another console, which itself could be many years off. Gears of War 3 could very well be the final installation in the series (at least this story of it anyway – see below), and what better way to unleash it then for it to be the single most spectacular release title on a new console? This is an entirely possible situation, and is likely to be the go if Microsoft plans to ditch the 360 in the next few years. Of course, a new Xbox is another story altogether, but when you think about it, the final Gears game will be a massive hit and to showcase it as a new consoles main selling point would be a bold and sure-fire move for nothing but success; for the game and the console. Sure, they can throw another Gears on the 360, but there is no harm in a long development process. If this will be another 360 game, expect it to be confirmed at this year’s E3, and even released as one of the end-years biggest titles, if not one of the first big games of 2011.
2. More Gears than Cogs?
Back in 2006 when Halo Wars was announced, people were left shocked, amazed and to say the least –excited; their favourite series was making the jump to Real Time Strategy. Is it not possible that Gears will go in the same direction and spit forth games of different genres, as the Gears universe is now widely acclaimed and loved by Xbox gamers? It’s very possible, and ever plausibly that Microsoft will hand off the rights to certain games in the universe to other developers than Epic, just as Halo Wars was. And Epic may even continue another story or view of the Human vs. Locust war that’s at hand in the future, again akin to the Halo series with Reach now in the works. Gears is one of the Xbox 360’s biggest series, if not single biggest so there is no reason to stop at just one story arc. They could be years off now, but expect Gears 3 to not be the death of the universe, but perhaps just this particular series.
3. Unreal 4 for Gears 3?
Having been in development for around 7 years now, Unreal Engine 4 is about due for its first release, and Gears of War 3 seems like a perfect opportunity for this. And given that Epic games President, Michael Capps has stated that it should be ready around 2012 gives strength to the first expectation that it might just be a title for the next Xbox. But even if the 360 is still Microsoft’s only developing console by 2012, it’s still just as likely that Gears of War 3 will be the first to showcase the hyped Unreal Engine 4. Unreal Engine is one of the most prolific and renowned game development engines in the gaming industry, so it’s only right one of Epic’s own and one of the biggest exclusive series of the current generation gets to show it off first.
4. Third time perfect?
It’s generally believed amongst loyal Gears fans that the first Gears of War was a greater experience than the second, so with the outcry from fans about the bugged multiplayer and lack of appropriate matchmaking, perhaps the third instalment of the series will finally get it all right. It’s safe to say that there will be updates to a lot of the multiplayer aspects, perhaps a working party and matchmaking system, and maybe even TrueSkill ranking. Even though many complain about the games bugs and downfalls, it’s still a very live and played online game so if perfected it could just knock out some other competitors like CoD and Halo for a while.
Part 3: POSSIBLE SURPRISES
Ok, now we’ve gone over what we want and what we think we’re going to get, it’s now time to touch a on what surprises Epic could bring to the table when they begin releasing some info about this possible mammoth of a game. We’ve talked about Gears 3 bringing 4 player co-op, being released on a next gen console and even Gears 3 being the first Unreal Engine 4 game, but what about the other options available to Epic that could not just take us by storm, but decide just how much we love or hate the new game. Let’s take a look.
1. Gears of Natal
With still no word about Gears of War 3, its time to think about what we could just get stuck with. And that’s a motion-heavy Gears adventure where you control Marcus Phoenix and Co. using your whole body as a controller. With more and more talk about big name developers making use of Project Natal, could Epic be bringing the Gears squad to a Natal set-top box near you? I personally hope not, but only time will tell. With the release of Natal fast approaching, Gears of War 3 could be its flagship which attracts the hardcore to its casual style, and could also make or break the series comeback.
2. Marcus no more
Another announcement that would come as a surprise to all, but not necessarily make the series fans run for the hills as the implementation of Natal might, is the possibility that Epic may decide to follow another soldier into battle this time. Could something happen to Marcus, or could he simply be pushed back as a backdrop character while you take the helm of another? This touches on what I mentioned before about the plausibility of new games set in the Gears of War universe, but one thing is for sure; every one of us would be not only surprised, but a little upset if Epic ditched our manly Marcus for anyone else. This is his tale, and we would like it to stay that way.
3. Gears no more
That’s right, no more Gears of War. What would come to a surprise to all is if Microsoft up and announced that there was to be no more Gears of War. Would they sell off the rights or plain old cut the series continuity before it even starts by keeping the rights locked away for their unconditional life? Of course, it would most likely never happen, but that’s why we filed this under ‘Surprises’.
There we have it people, All Age Gaming’s look at what the future holds for not just Gears of War 3, but the whole Gears universe. Will it make a triumphant return with Gears 3 and go on to make itself one of gaming’s most popular series? Or will crumble under the wrath of the gaming community as Gears of War 2 did and ruin all hope for a revival? How will Microsoft deliver the game; on Natal with all the iffy motion controls or plain old Gears style? Only time will tell, but if the past is anything to dwell on, Epic are surely the right developers for the job of reviving their past mistakes into a show stopping pile of goodness for a fun filled, action packed romp and probable conclusion to the story that’s captured Xbox gamers hearts for the past few years now. Bring it on, Epic Games.
Please let us know what you want to see in Gears of War 3 or a future Gears-set video game in our comments section below. Do you think the series will ever two-time the 360? Will we get a first person Gears game? Whatever your thoughts, we want to hear them!
Article by John Elliott