Gears of War 4 multiplayer got some love at PAX East over the weekend. The Coalition was on hand at the annual convention to explain what new and familiar things to expect when the Xbox One exclusive hits in October. An Ultimate Edition and Collector’s Edition featuring JD Fenix on a motorcycle also debuted and are now available for pre-order.
The multiplayer beta for Gears of War 4 open up to all Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers today after being available in early access to those that played Gears of War: Ultimate Edition for the past week. Full details on what to expect from the beta can be found here.
As for PAX East, The Coalition and Microsoft opened things up Friday with the release of a multiplayer gameplay trailer. This was followed by an invitational tournament Saturday to provide a look at the new Escalation game mode and a panel Sunday featuring studio head Rod Fergusson and other members of the Community Management and business team, all streamed on Twitch.
When Gears of War 4 launches in October for the Xbox One, it will arrive with 10 maps. This obviously includes the three new maps being showcased in the beta — Dam, Foundation, and Harbor — plus the ubiquitous Gridlock remake.
The Coalition will release two free maps every month for a year that will be a mix of brand new maps and remasters of classics that will fit in with the Gears of War 4-style arena focus. Maps will rotated in and out of playlists as new ones are released. Out of rotation may have some additional tweaks performed on them before they are brought back in.
Gears of War 4 players that want to play their favorite maps can do so by purchasing the maps individually to support private matches on dedicated servers without the need for anyone else to purchase the map.
The free maps will be supported through microtransactions for the new crate system, as covered here.
Escalation is the new eSports focused game mode that puts a MOBA-like twist on Domination. Matches are played in rounds with no power weapons in the first. The loser of round one can then pick the type and placement of power weapons in round two. The round two loser does the same for round three, and so on. Additionally, the player respawn time is increased with each round.
This added strategic layer in between rounds allows Gears of War 4 competitive players to either obtain a power weapon if one of their team excels with or keep a certain power weapon away from the opposing team.
Co-Op vs AI
Gears of War 4 will offer co-op matches against AI-controlled enemies for those not ready for full versus. The Coalition rewrote the game’s artificial intelligence with the move to Unreal Engine 4. They used this opportunity to make multiplayer more accessible to with the co-op mode, which still provides rewards at the end of each match.
Other Game Modes
The other new mode being introduced in Gears of War 4 is Dodgeball. This mode allows players to “tag in” a teammate by killing an opponent. The dead teammate will only respawn if the player who got the kill survives for five seconds. This sets up clutch situtations that allows a single-player to completely flip a match.
Classic Gears game modes will return, as well. This includes Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill, Guardian, Warzone, and Execution. Horde mode is still expected, but there is no official word.
Standbys like the Gnasher Shotgun, Hammerburst Rifle, and Lancer Rifle all return with some slight tweaks. The Gnasher stays pat as the short-range killing machine, but the Lancer is now more of a medium-to-long-range support rifle. Meanwhile, the Hammerburst is now a 6-round burst weapon made for short-to-medium range.
The Retro Lancer is confirmed to return, while pistols such as the Snub Pistol and Boltok Pistol are currently in the beta. Classic power weapons like the Longshot, Torque Bow, and Boomshot are all back, as well.
The new weapons include the Dropshot. This is a converted drilling tool that is capable of going over cover and dropping an explosive shot on an enemy. It is available in the beta and will be joined in the full release by the Buzzkill. This weapon fires saw blades that ricochet around walls to kill opponents.
The discussion of these weapons resulted in a hilarious epiphany by Fergusson during the PAX East panel on the name of the mining company that created these deadly tools — the Carmine Mining Company.
Gears of War 4 will use a skill-based matchmaking similar to titles such as Rocket League. Fergusson made a basketball comparison to a game that never changes outside of the skill level. That is what The Coalition is aiming at the five skill brackets for players.
All players will go through a series of play-in games on each playlist to determine which skill-level they will be placed in. This is five games in the beta with placement updated overnight.
The Coalition is particularly excited about new eSports features to help broadcasters with competitive play. Gears of War 4 will allow streaming commentators to use a keyboard to move around the map with a series of hot keys. The hope is to give a more dynamic and entertaining view of the action.
Pre-orders for the Gears of War 4 Ultimate Edition went live Monday. This collector’s edition costs $99.99 and comes with the following (via Xbox Wire).
- Gears of War 4 ($59.99 USD value)
- Gears of War 4 Season Pass ($49.99 USD value)
- Includes exclusive Vintage VIP Pack featuring Vintage JD and two Vintage weapon skins, permanent access to 24 additional DLC maps (two per month for a year) for private play on dedicated servers, an exclusive Developer Playlist that grants access to new maps, modes, and features that can be tested prior to broad release and six Gear Packs (which unlock character and weapon skins, emblems, equipment and boosts)
- A limited edition SteelBook
- Early Access to Gears of War 4 on Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, four days before the game’s worldwide launch.
Meanwhile, pre-orders for a $250 collector’s edition featuring the Ultimate Edition with a JD Fenix statue from Tri-Force are now live through Amazon and other retailers.
[Image via Xbox Wire]