Gears of War Judgment Preview
The Gears of War series has been one of the best exclusive series for the Xbox 360 since 2006 and the three games in the series have sold over 18 million copies worldwide to date. With the trilogy concluded, Epic Games has taken a step back in the timeline to provide a look at Sera just after E-Day. Let’s take a look at what to expect from Gears of War Judgment.
Back in Time
Prequels seem to be all the rage in entertainment (Halo:Reach in gaming, The Hobbit in films, etc) and Epic Games has decided to follow suit and take the Gears series back in time to the months following E-Day. For those of you who might not know, Emergence Day (E-Day) was when the Locust first crawled out of their underground tunnels and attacked humanity in full. The Locust forces took advantage of the war-weary human population of Sera (which had just concluded a 79 year global war for imulsion) and began to devastate the population, putting humanity on its heels for years. Gears of War takes place 15 years after E-Day, so the characters in Judgment (which takes place right after) are much younger.
The story of Judgment revolves around Kilo Squad, a group of soldiers lead by Damon Baird that includes series veteran Augustus Cole and newcomers Sofia Hendricks and Garron Paduk. The squad attempts to save the city of Halvo Bay from the Locust horde and, in the process, ends up being tried for treason by the COG. The Locust attack force will be led by a Locust named Karn and it seems like there will be a few new Locust enemy types along with all the familiar baddies.
The game will feature a new “Smart Spawn System” that will change up the type and number of enemies each time you play through a level to give you a different experience each time through the game. The missions will also include optional “Declassified Missions” which are small challenges that can help give your Gear a top rating at the end of the level. The higher rating you have, the more unlocks you get as the game progresses.
Judgment will also include some Horde mode-esque defense scenario within the main game itself. The “Dynamic Defense Scenarios” will be times when Kilo Squad is called on to bunker down and protect an area for a set amount of time. Fortifications and turrets can be set up to help the process.
This will mark the first time in the Gears franchise where Marcus Fenix is not the main character, though it has been rumored that a young Marcus Fenix (before he is thrown in jail for desertion) will be featured in the game.
The game’s timeframe was chosen by looking at the overall timeline of the Gears franchise and deciding to stay away from things like E-Day or the Pendulum Wars. The Pendulum Wars was a human on human conflict, so the essence of having monsters and chainsaw guns just wasn’t there and it wouldn’t have been a “Gears of War” game to the team at Epic.
As for E-Day, according to former Epic Games Creative Director Cliff Bleszinski, “there’s no chainsaw on E-Day. It took the COG a little bit to figure out that the Locust have thick skin and their bayonets are breaking, things like that.” The desire to keep some of the familiar technology from the original trilogy led the team to choose the setting of a few months after E-Day.
The Gears of War series has always been known for having a unique take on multiplayer gaming from the introduction of Horde mode in Gears of War 2 to the popular Beast mode in Gears of War 3. Gears of War Judgment will be featuring some all-new multiplayer modes that will stretch the Gears of War gameplay formula to new lengths.
OverRun is the first of these modes and features a class-based battle between COG and Locust forces. The main objective of the mode is to protect a generator if you are the COG or destroy it if you are the Locust. On the COG side, there are five players that can pick different classes with different skills and benefits. Here is a breakdown of the classes on the COG side.
Engineer: This player class can deploy temporary sentry turrets to ward off Locust forces and repair damaged fortifications.
Solider: The solider can carry the Boomshot into battle and deploy ammo crates for the rest of the squad.
Medic: The medic has a special stim grenade that can heal teammates in the range of the grenade and revive downed teammates.
Scout: The scout can climb to special high grounds that are inaccessible to the rest of the team. The scout also has a tagging beacon that, when thrown, can mark enemy locations even through walls.
The Locust also have several different classes and all of them possess abilities that become more difficult for the COG to deal with as the match goes on. The Locust team begins as the lowest rung of Locust enemy types and then, by gaining points, can unlock better Locust enemy types as the game moves on. Here is a breakdown of the Locust forces that can be played in the mode.
Ticker: These walking timebombs can chew through fortifications, self-detonate, and dash very quickly.
Wretch: The wretch can jump over defenses, stun enemies with its scream, and climb to the perches that the COG scout can reach.
Bloodmount: The Bloodmount is a ridable beast that can carry the Grenadier and Kantus into battle and speed up the recovery time of their rider’s special ability.
Grenadier: The grenadier is one of two Locust enemy types that can ride a Bloodmount for more effective killing power. The grenadier can also toss frag grenades, as the name would suggest.
Kantus: The Kantus is the other Locust that can ride on a Bloodmount and he can heal any locust in his vicinity. This healing power is boosted when he is on a Bloodmount.
Corpser: The Corpser can burrow under COG fortifications and its armored legs make it hard to kill.
Serapede: The Serapede can attack with its mandibles or rear up and spit poison at distant enemies. The only way to kill it is from behind.
Mauler: The Mauler wields a massive shield that it can spin to deflect enemy fire and dice up nearby Gears. It can also attack with its massive flail.
OverRun seems to be borrowing some elements from Horde and Beast mode while also delving into a highly class-based system of action. It will be interesting to see how the balance between classes and between the COG and Locust forces is achieved.
Another new multiplayer mode that has been revealed for Gears of War Judgment is Free-for-All mode. Free-for-All pits COG soldiers against one another for the first time in franchise history. The mode also throws out the convention of teamwork and pits every player against every other player.
Free-for-All mode was debuted on two different maps and here is the description of those maps from the press release:
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Gears of War Judgment seems to be a lot of what worked in previous games combined with new takes on the series’ gameplay formula. The new multiplayer modes add in new elements that haven’t been seen before in the franchise and the spotlight on Baird and Cole could lead to some interesting story points.
Gears of War Judgment is coming to the Xbox 360 on March 19th. Check back here at VGU.TV for more news as we near release.
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