Gears 5 is tobacco-free. Thanks to a partnership between Xbox Game Studios developer The Coalition, non-profit anti-tobacco organization Truth Initiative, and Turner Sports ELeague division, the upcoming Gears of War game will have no smoking, vaping, or any other tobacco references that “glorify” smoking. Gears 5 will still have chaingun beheadings and point-blank shotgun kills, so it still won’t be family-friendly. It will just not tempt teens into smoking while tearing enemies into puddles of eviscera.
Gears 5 will launch on Xbox One and Windows 10 on September 10th. The first public multiplayer “tech test” begins this Friday and will run until July 22nd.
Ranked Crossplay matches between Windows 10 and Xbox One players are coming to Gears of War 4 multiplayer. While Crossplay multiplayer has been available in Gears of War 4 since the beginning, it’s been stuck in the ghetto of social playlists, meaning it got about as much play as Marcus Fenix had with anyone not named Dom. With the upcoming change, mouse and keyboard warriors will face off against controller beasts in competitive ranked matches. It will be a welcome change for the PC players of the game for whom it’s been “increasingly difficult to find matches” likely due to a low population. According to The Coalition, the Ranked Crossplay feature will be largely controlled by console players, who will have access to a toggle to allow PC players into matches. Don’t be cowards, controller users! Let your system rivals in and settle the question once and for all!
In related news, the April Update for Gears of War 4 includes the pictured monstrosity.
Gears of War 4 is getting its first batch of free content. Microsoft will be releasing Checkout and Drydock for multiplayer. Both are remakes of maps from Gears of War 3.
As part of the new wave of shooters that promise free content updates for everyone with multiplayer being supported by optional purchases, the upcoming map pack is the start of a new pricing model for the Gears franchise. Season Pass holders can use these two new maps starting tomorrow, while regular players will have to wait until November 8th to partake in the legacy goodness. Owners of the $50 season pass will also have permanent (as “permanent” as any virtual goods can be) access to all DLC maps, while freeloading peasants are at the mercy of curated playlists.
Gears of War 4 will have a revenue scheme that apes other popular multiplayer games. In an interview with Gamespot, Rod Fergusson, of The Coalition, revealed that the game will have item crates as well as a rotating set of multiplayer maps. The item crates can be purchased or earned through play, and will offer a random assortment of cosmetic items like weapon skins. New multiplayer maps will be released one per month for a year post-launch and will be free for everyone. Like MOBA heroes, the free maps will rotate into and out of the official play list on a regular schedule. Players will only need to purchase the maps if they want them available permanently in their custom games.
I feel like that paradigm of cards is really clear to understand for collectibles. We had weapon skins and character skins [in Gears of War 3], so that idea of collecting cards is just easily understood. It felt like it adds some engagement, it’s not “Oh, I like Tiger Stripe. I bought Tiger Stripe. I’m done.” I like the idea of why you buy Magic: The Gathering booster packs. If I could just buy the one card I want then I’m out, then you lose it, right?
There’s some excitement around that. I think Hearthstone is brilliant at it. That idea of the glow, and the voice, and the excitement about being like, “I want to open packs, and I want to be a part of that engagement.” That’s the same thing we’re trying to do here. The notion that everything is earnable just through play means the only reason you would ever use real money is you want to accelerate it. We’re going to be balanced to where you’re going to be constantly getting crates, or enough credits to get crates through the game, so it really is just about your choice.
Gears of War 4 will launch on October 11th.
Microsoft says the company has heard the complaints about Universal Windows Platform Apps, and will take steps to course-correct. At the Build 2016 conference, Xbox honcho Phil Spencer, revealed that some of the issues people (including Epic Games’ Tim Sweeney) noted with Windows 10 Store PC games like Rise of the Tomb Raider and Gears of War: Ultimate Edition would be fixed. The specific points noted hinged on the fact that due to the nature of the way UWP works, user mods, overlays like Steam, disabling vertical sync, and using some graphics processor software, are all currently not possible. Spencer promised that Microsoft is working with engineer partners to enable these features into UWP that PC gamers have enjoyed for years previously.
During the same conference, Microsoft announced that the Xbox Store and Windows 10 Store would merge to present a consistent experience across all Microsoft platforms.
More details of Gears of War 4 were revealed today by GameInformer. Developed by The Coalition and published by Microsoft, Gears of War 4 features a brand new trio of characters that appear to have gone on a strict diet. No more hulking thrashball players for us! It’s all about the svelte look 25 years into the franchise’s timeline. Kait Diaz, the outsider rebel, rocks some fierce girl-power glam. Del Walker, the stalwart bestie kicks it up with street style. Even JD Fenix, the son of Gears beefcake hero Marcus Fenix, looks like he’s about 30 pounds lighter than dear old dad. The secret to their slim success? Hunger and desperation! Apparently, when you sweep the surface of the planet with devastating windstorms for a quarter century, food gets scarce. If you want to drop a few pounds, go on the run from burrowing monsters and compete for resources.
When Gears of War: Ultimate Edition was announced at E3, some fans were taken aback that the game wasn’t a bundle of the full saga like Halo: The Master Chief Collection. A remaster of the original Gears of War, with multiplayer enhancements from later games in the franchise, is a decent deal at $40 but how would the Gears crowd get the full Dom and Marcus bro-love experience? Here comes backwards compatibility to the rescue! Purchasers of Gears of War: Ultimate Edition will get digital copies of all four original Xbox 360 Gears games to play on the current-gen console.
By playing Gears of War: Ultimate Edition on Xbox Live from Aug. 25 through Dec. 31, 2015, you’ll get access to Gears of War, Gears of War 2, Gears of War 3 and Gears of War: Judgment in Backward Compatibility when it launches this fall.
Xbox One owners that already have the Xbox 360 version of the Gears games will be able to take advantage of backwards compatibility as well when the feature launches. In fact, Xbox One preview members can play the original Gears of War right now through the service.
Microsoft’s E3 2015 show started with their trusty headliner Halo 5 Guardians, then dropped a bomb on the audience. Microsoft is enabling backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One. According to Microsoft, over 100 titles from the last-gen library will be playable on the Xbox One by the holidays with more to come. Retail discs and digital download titles will work with this feature. No work is required from game developers. They only need to approve the compatibility and Microsoft does the wrapper work on their end. Microsoft couldn’t resist sniping at Sony’s PlayStation streaming service by pointing out that their backwards compatibility service was free for gamers to use.
A spiffy new Xbox One Elite Controller is coming this Fall. It has paddles, a rocker directional pad, and removable widgets. They must help with the shooting somehow.
On the software side, Microsoft kept to exclusives for the most part, with a few mutiplatform titles. Forza 6, now with inclement weather and night racing was previewed with Ford’s help. Rise of the Tomb Raider was QTE heaven. There were videos of Ion from Dean Hall, (of DayZ fame) Dark Souls 3, Tom Clancy’s The Division, Fable Legends, and Gigantic. Tacoma, the newest title from Gone Home makers The Fullbright Company got a quick spot in the indie segment along with Cuphead, a gorgeous side-scroller done in the style of a 1930’s cartoon. Rare has apparently been busy with a Rare Replay collection that bundles up 30 of their games in a discount package, as well as working on Sea of Thieves, a new title featuring multiplayer pirating. Gears of War returned to Microsoft’s show with the Gears of War Ultimate Edition that remasters the original Gears of War for the newer console, and Gears 4 which is apparently all about walking through pitch-black areas very slowly.
The Gears of War franchise has been a success on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 system, but there have always been rumblings about it coming to Sony’s ecosystem in one from or another. Since the intellectual property was owned by Epic Games, there was always the possibility that the studio could make Gears games on the PlayStation 3 or 4 if they wanted. In June 2012 Epic’s then-president Mike Capps expressed interest in porting the trilogy to the PS3, but that never materialized.
There is bad news for people that hoped to see Marcus Fenix “roadie-run” onto the PlayStation. Microsoft has purchased the Gears of War franchise from Epic making the chances for a port infinitely less likely to happen. On Xbox Wire, Microsoft announced that not only did they buy the IP from the North Carolina-based studio, they also nabbed Rod Fergusson, the former Director of Production at Epic, and he will be joining Black Tusk Studios to work on future Gears productions.
“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,” said Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney. “Epic remains totally dedicated to supporting Xbox One and is licensing the Unreal Engine 4 technology to Microsoft in support of their future projects.”
Black Tusk Studios is based in Vancouver, Canada.