UPDATE: We’ve confirmed the information to be legitimate. This is no longer a rumor.
Given the recent commotion over information that was supposedly leaked from the upcoming EGM Gears of War 2 cover story and eventually proven fake, we’ll consider these new details from X360 UK Magazine ‘rumored’ until we have the actual source in our hands. That said, a lot of the information makes sense and lines up nicely with information and hints that we’ve heard from Epic. Plus, the European press is notorious for breaking exclusive contracts and NDAs early. We don’t know why the keep doing it, maybe they can’t wrap their heads about the time difference. In any case, the information is tantalizing to say the least and we don’t write for EGM, so it’s hard for us to be angry about this particular leak.
- Gears of War 2 will feature matchmaking.
Thank god! Gears of War was a tactical shooter that actually impeded players from forming up teams and practicing together against other players in the same skill bracket. What sense does that make? Hopefully the new matchmaking system takes cues from Halo 3, but even if it doesn’t it will probably still be a vast improvement.
- Player count has been boosted from 4-on-4 to 5-on-5.
- Assassination gametype has received an overhaul. Now named ‘Guardian’, the mode works similarly to Team Leader from Rainbow Six Vegas 2. Matches don’t immediately end when a team leader is killed, but the team without a leader loses the ability to respawn, and the match ends when a whole team is taken out.
Anyone that played the original Gears of War can attest to the fact that Assassination was the least played gametype by a wide margin. It was a great concept, but matches were often disorganized and ended too quickly. These changes sound perfect, as teams still need to focus on the leader in order to win, but the other team still has a chance to rally and battle back from the brink instead of immediately being shunted to the lobby.
- New mode called ‘wingman’ works similarly to ‘multiteam’ mode in Halo 3. 10 players are broken down into 5 teams of 2, each of which uses the same character models for identification purposes (Marcus and Marcus on one team, Dom and Dom on the other).
Two-on-two matches have grown popular in Gears of War as time and the release of several major shooters have distilled the active community down to the most dedicated and skillful players. That said, the team dynamics needed to succeed in a game with two teams, whether they have two people or four or five, is very different than the team dynamics necessary to win against four other teams coming from any direction. It will be interesting to see if the map design holds up for this mode as well as it did for the 4-on-4 gameplay in the original.
- New gametype called ‘meatflag’ is Epic’s personal twist on capture the flag. Instead of flags, the objective will be another player located toward the center of the map. The ‘meatflag’ has weapons to defend himself and can score kills towards his point total on the leaderboard. In order to win, teams need to knock down the meatflag and drag him back their spawn as a human shield. If the meatflag is shot enough times while being dragged, the person dragging them will lose their grip and the meatflag will have a temporary burst of power to take out on everyone in the vicinity.
This mode sounds nothing short of awesome. The fact that players not only need to deal with the other team to take hold of the flag, but also fight off the flag itself is a great twist to a classic game mode.
- New map called ‘River’ is a fairly basic symmetrical map where each team spawns on a thin strip of land on either side of a wide river. There are buildings on either side of the river as well that provide cover and sniping perches.
- New map called ‘Security’ is a long, slender map with plenty of cover and obstructions between the spawn points at either end. There are stairs on either side that lead to terraces that run the entire length of the map. Key areas and fast routes through the map are blocked off by trip-lasers and sentry guns that kill players if they cross. There is a button in the center of the map that turns them off. Teams have to coordinate their assaults on the button with their maneuvers through the map in order to ensure control of the power weapons and choke points.
- Gridlock is back, but it looks different. The city it takes place in has been long abandoned and the war has moved on. Nature has started taking back the city, so the buildings and wreckage is covered in overgrowth. Despite this aesthetic change, the layout remains unchanged, right down to the specific placement of the cars piled in the middle of the map.
- In gametypes with no respawn, players waiting in the lobby for the round to end can fly through the map in spectator mode. They can also take pictures of the action that can be shared with the community. No confirmation of a Bungie.net style website, however.
- The ‘scorcher’ is a flame-thrower that boasts what the author claims to be the most realistic fire effects he’s ever seen. This could possibly be the weapon seen on the cover of the magazine (see image at top of article).
Epic’s constant updates put the balance of Gears of War in a constant state of flux. When it was first released, the stop-n-pop dynamics were completely botched by the overpowered shotgun, pistol-whip, and grenade tagging. Around the time of the first DLC pack, Epic made some adjustments to beef up the Lancer slightly and tone down grenade tagging and pistol whipping. That was the point at which the game was most balanced in our opinion, as shotgun users were mince-meat for skilled Lancer-wielding players at mid-range, and grenade-taggers had to earn their kills by almost getting right on top of their victims. By the time the second DLC pack hit, Epic had made the Lancer so powerful that anyone could score kills with it, even at short-range against shotgun users (discounting host lag, of course). The point of all this? We’re as happy as the next guy to see more ways to kill things in Gears of War 2, but we’re a little wary of adding yet one more factor for Epic to balance when they couldn’t nail it down the first time.
- Grenades have been updated. The smoke grenade now explodes instead of gradually releasing, and the concussion of the explosion is large enough to stun players in proximity, giving it new tactical potential besides moveable cover. Frag grenades can now be planted anywhere, including walls, floors and ceilings. A new gas grenade unloads toxic fumes that knocks out and eventually kills players that stay in the cloud for too long.
- The bullet shield is a new item that can be found on some maps. Its not a weapon per say, but it takes the place of one in the d-pad weapon cue. The shield is a large piece of steel that can be carried around at very slow walking speed, or slammed into the ground to create a new piece of cover in a strategic position. Enemies can kick down the shield if they are allowed to get close enough however.
- Players can now choose whether they start each round with the Lancer or the Hammerburst. The Hammerburst has been retooled, and now operates along the lines of the pistol from Halo: CE or the Carbine from Halo 3, shooting single shots as fast as the player hits the trigger. The faster the player hits the trigger, the more recoil the weapon will suffer.
- New ‘stopping power’ mechanic causes players to slow down when being hit by direct, oncoming bullet-fire.
There are obvious benefits to this mechanic. The original Gears of War was supposed to be tactical shooter, but multiplayer more often than not hinged upon the player’s ability to dance with the shotgun, not their use of cover or teamwork. Now if players try wading through gunfire with the shotgun or grenades, hoping to use their speed to get in for the kill and out of dodge before the full red cog appears on their screen, they’re screwed. On the surface this seems like a great feature, we’re just a little worried about how far Epic is going to take it, based on our own conversations with Cliff Bleszinksi. Our major concern is that Epic is toying with the idea of replacing the ‘stun’ effect of shooting a chainsaw-revving enemy with simply slowing them down as they run at you. Quite frankly, we’d prefer they keep the stun effect, as its one of those small skills that really separates the ‘men from the boys’ in Gears of War.
We’ll keep an eye on our mailboxes for our copies of X360 Magazine to confirm what’s being reported, but in the mean time, why don’t you let us know what you think of some of these proposed changes on the forums?