This FAQ is now largely out of date - I'll do some work to improve things... but do we still need a GOW1 FAQ??
Well, it's about time we get a nice fat juicy (and er sticky) FAQ about Gears of War on these forums. It'll be very useful as things start heating up over the next few months coming up to release - and indeed perhaps even beyond. I'll kick off - post anything you'd like me to add to this main body; and enjoy! In addition to this FAQ, check out Havoc's FAQ on the Official XBOX GOW forum - he focuses more on the story and background, it's good stuff.
Please note : I won't be updating this FAQ with post-release information and fixes until about the 19th November, once the dust has settled on the UK release. I'll be steering clear of the forums post US release to prevent spoilers!
1.0 - Release Dates and DEMO
EVERYONE and their DOG should now know that they game is being release for distribution on 7th November 2006 in the US. This means the game will be in STORES in the US for 12th November (yes, a Sunday) with suitable fan fares and smashing of drums. There is speculation it may appear a few days earlier than the 12th in overly-zealous stores who receive it early. Start buttering up your store managers now!
There will be no demo prior to release. Lets face it, this is going to sell like a hot cakes, so it's unlikely a demo post release will be needed for a number of months. In addition, the team do not have the available man power to fashion a demo and the full game. You want a demo now? Then we won't see the full release until next year, and it'll be all your fault!.
European release - The friday of the same week, on 17th November 2006. The Collector Edition will be coming to the UK (confirmed by Mark Rein) but I think retailers are being hesitant until their suppliers say so. Keep looking on Amazon etc...
Australian release - I could be entirely wrong, but I believe its a week later on the 24th November.
2.0 - Features
Some of the exciting twirly bits we can drum up excitement to the non-GOWing philistines out there.
You'll be able to play through the single player campaign with another buddy (2 players, for those who can't count). Significantly, your pal can join you even if you are already playing a "single player" game - he comes on line, you fire of an invite and BAM in he comes and controls Dom (Agent Smith like). Consequently Dom Santiago will always be with you in the campaign. Note this differs from other co-op games which tend to simply "clone" the lead character. Co-Op (as will other multiplayer modes) will be available split screen, system link (akak LAN) or through Live.
The primary game play mechanic, Gears implements a cover system allowing various complex activities. The design direction gives the cover system a very visceral "meaty" feel; shoulders slam against walls, bits fly off under fire etc - making it far improved over any fore runners (GRAW for example). Gameplay treats the cover such that you will almost use it as a character would in a platform game - popping from cover to cover to advance through a zone whilst under fire. Other elements such as dynamic cover and destroyable cover will keep things varied.
An optional mini-game based on reloading click timing can either improve your weapons damage temporarilly or - if done badly - jam your weapon for a second. Jamming is also accompanied by a curse / noise - making it a tactical queue to your enemies and allies alike! It will work like so; you press the RB to begin reloading - somewhere during the reload process (marked by a vertical bar moving across the ammo indicator, left to right) the ammo indicator will flash for a fraction of a second - hit the RB again to receive the bonus (decreased reload time and increased damage). The damage affect will last to the end of the current clip, or for X seconds (ie you if your out of combat for a while the bonus is lost). The muzzle flash will include a blue heat edge to it to indicate the extra power. Every consecutive time you attempt active reload it becomes harder to time correctly.
Source from this post by CliffyB.
It's not just a case of popping out of cover and shooting. Those evil locusts will out flank you, retreat, aid each other, shout insults and the fricking rest. It's going to be awesome. Those who've played UT2004 at LANs with bots filling the ranks won't be surprised here - Epic is well accomplished at some of the best AI in the business (god damn fanboi).
We've all seen it. The human "Lancer" comes with a chainsaw esq blade under the barrel. Get in close enough to an enemy and hold "B" to engage the attack.
- Chainsawing can be interrupted by allies if you're taken down - this has to take place before the animation is X time through
- They have made chainsawing more difficult since E3 2006 (where it was first debuted).
- The chainsaw must be started up before hitting the enemy.
- Getting shot (even by a single bullet) while using the chainsaw will make you stumble / stall the chainsaw
- The chainsawing animation is set to the front (face to face). Cliffy has confirmed the locust will twist around to face you (more intimate).
- The chainsaw can be revved without any target by pressing B, including plumes of fumes from the weapon. Awesome.
Mark Rein has recently inferred there maybe some additional weapons in the single player campaign that have not been discussed to this stage! No further information available, and he might have been pulling Arcanes leg.
Lots of blood, lots of swearing, with kick a$$ dialogue! Volumetric blood and blood splats on the "camera" will ensure a gore-tastic experience! It has been confirmed however that there is an option to turn off "Extreme" content - blood become sparks, and gibs are removed - which works in MP and SP.
Source for blood splat on "camera" post here by CliffyB
Emersive "better than hollywood crap(tm)" story
Years in the making, the story will be kick ass. We don't know many details, and I won't go into it here. The lads at Epic have poured there very souls into this baby (Cliffy being the main originator, so expect some f&*ked up stuff! ). Professional voice over add to the stories weight.
3.0 - Technology
Gears of War is utilising the most recent (since they wrote it!) Unreal 3.0 engine. Mark Rein has said GOW will be the main showcase for what the engine can really do!
The Unreal 3.0 engine allows for streaming of level data - in a similar way to how the Halo series deals with level progression. Epic do not want us to see loading screens. Thanks to multithreading (below) this shouldn't even be noticeable as we play through the single player campaign without a loading screen.
During the 1UPYOURS pod cast, Lee attempted to pin down CliffyB for some frame rates, sighting the sometimes chopping rate in the E3 demos. The engine has since been optimised and significantly configured to perform multi-threading (more than one process at once) giving good performance boosts. Quite how much remains to be seen, but the target is to have a steady 30 fps (60 fps just ain't gonna happen).
Decal and body stay
Decals (bullets holes, blood splats) will remain for relatively short periods of time, certainly based on the E3 demo. In a similar way, bodies appear to vanish reasonably quickly, though again the E3 demo indicated this may be out of view. These are unfortunate facts, but a necassary trade off to ensure good frames per second and available video resource when they're needed. Fufu has confirmed that the engine needs to "clean" away bodies to maintain framerates, however it does its hardest to ensure it happens of screen wherever possible.
The game will have VSync enabled. However, this will be a dynamic VSYNC implementation which will allow the game to remove VSYNC if the frames drop due to heavy load in order to raise frame rates. This will be extremely rare and will not be noticeable except by new born babies or ninja's.
Ragdoll and physics
The game will feature ragdoll physics, including gibbing and movement / damage to corpses on the ground (for example, you can push around bodies on the ground by walking over them).
4.0 - Single Player Campaign
The single player campaign will be broken into 5 acts, each with mutliple chapters. All acts can be played 2 player co-op at anytime. Play time has been estimated at 10 hours, based on IGN's closed door preview at the TGS. [Source : http://uk.xbox360.ign.com/articles/734/734793p1.html]
5.0 - Multiplayer
Split screen will be available, but no more than 2 per TV / XBOX 360. split screen can be used in system link games, however it has not been confirmed if they can play across LIVE in this way. [Source : http://uk.xbox360.ign.com/articles/734/734793p1.html]
System link has been confirmed in this post here. Good work SE7N! Of course... didn't they need system link support for all the MP demo's they've been doing?
You will not be able to team kill whilst playing co-op through the multiplayer campaign. Co-op will be available via system link, split screen or XBOX live (see Features above). Only two players can play co-op at once.
Excuse the MMO term! Currently only Team Deathmatch on small maps has been confirmed (technically, last man standing). Maximum of 4v4 players will create intimate shoot outs on the well designed maps. Epic has said GoW is being developed with a 70% / 30% balance to single player campaign (and co-op!) / multiplayer development time.
There has been no confirmation of how communications will be handled in multiplayer matches. The use of lip sync (still strictly unconfirmed by Epic in these forums) would infer communication is mainly "local" and therefore can be heard by the enemy. No information of whether voice masking will be on by default for Locust players or if private team channels will be implemented.
10 Maps have been confirmed at this time.
Canals - A level in which the player runs around, feet in water, underneath a small mini-bridge. the torquebow is in the middle.
Clocktower - (No information yet)
Escalation - series of terraces; one team starts at the top, the other at the bottom; bottom team aided by sniper pick-up
Gridlock - narrow street with bombed out cars for cover (playable at E3)
Fuel Depot - warehouse bases; cargo crates for cover; exploding fuel silos.
Mansion - "haunted house"; destructible cover; choke points: courtyard and foyer
Mausoleum - circular; a series of rings, the outer being a graveyard; design lends itself to match draws
Roof Tops - (No information yet - the return of Morphius?
Tyro Station - watch out for the bullet train
War Machine - (No information yet)
Character Customization / Skins
Colour or other customization will not be possible - however you can select your player model (locust or COG based on your side) at the beginning of each round with the bumpers. Currently confirmed models are;
- Minh Young Kim
- Col. Hoffman
- Marcus Fenix
- Augustus Cole
- Damon Baird
- Dom Santiago
- Theron Guard
- Trokia gunner
- Theron sentinel
There will be no respawning during multiplayer at launch. Due to its impact to the cover dynamic, this is unlikely to be available.
The following game types have been confirmed at this point (thanks to DFS).
- Warzone: 4v4 Elimination (aka Team Deathmatch with no respawns)
- Assasination: Your team needs to kill the opposing team's leader. Only the team leader can pick up the special weapons around the map. The highest ranking player on the side will be selected as the leader. The leader model for the CoG will be General Hoffman - for the locust it will be Grom.
- Execution : Players cannot be killed by normal ranged damage while DBNO. They will also not "bleed out". In order to kill a DBNO player you need to get close to them and finish them with a curb stomp, the chainsaw or a gun to the head. Awesome.
Epic are being quite quiet about multiplayer; that could mean they have some surprises or that it's going to remain quite limited game type wise. Unfortunately bots will not play a part of multiplayer on release - the hope is they may be available as part of the downloadable content strategy.
Mark Rein has confirmed there will be no clan support on release. Don't be so surprised here - remember that Clan support needs a database infrastructure for it to work, and that takes time and money to setup. This will be mitigated by the low game sizes (4v4); it will be relatively easy to hook up with 4 friends. In addition, there is some speculation (a big RUMOR on that one) that XBOX LIVE may be modified at a later time to support clans natively.
Game Preparation Mechanics (Lobbies)
There will be two types of match; Ranked and non-Ranked. For none ranked matches, you can create either a all public match (which will be filled by people searching for games) a public match with private slots, or an all private match. For example, if I want to play with me and 2 other buddies, I set up a public match with 2 reserved private slots and send invites to my pals. They join, filling the private slots; public players fill the remaining slots. Me and my private slots will remain in the same games, round on round, game on game (no need to re-invite). Second hand info here from a JoeGraf post, should be accurate.
In ranked matches you will not be able to designate who you play with or against - this is a requirement of Truskill, used by Epic for ladder rankings.
There will be no traditional health bar, rather a red omen that appears indicating you are close to death. There is limited regenration, but details are sketchy. Once you do get taken down you will not immediately die - rather you will enter a "Down but not out" mode for approximately 10 seconds (Rod quotes 20 seconds at E3). During this time an Allie can bring you back into the fight or an enemy can finish you off with normal damage, a "curb stomp" to the head (press X for CurbStomp), the chainsaw or a gun to the head at close range . The dying player needs to press A to keep his heart pumping during this period! Head shots, gibbing or chainsawing will kill the player instantly, bypassing DBNO.
Rank points will be available through damage caused, chainsaw kills, grenade tags, number of team mate revives etc.
6.0 - Controls and Camera
Preferences for stick orientation (pull down to look up, or push up to look up) are set in the game itself when you first take control of Marcus - Dom asks you to look at a torch to check your sense - however you choose to look at the torch will set the preferences! (In the words of Marcus - "Nice!"). You can also change the sensitivity of your sticks within the option menus (turn speed etc), as well as "Southpaw" Configurations (ie switching which stick does what).
- R-stick - Look
- L-stick - Move
- A - Cover / Roadie-run (For getting in and out of cover and Roadie-running)
- B - Melee (Hold to rev the chainsaw)
- Y - Point-of-interest-indicator
- X - 'Action'-button (Reviving team mates, curbstomping locust and probably opening doors and picking up ammo)
- R-trigger - Fire
- L-trigger - Aim (Where it get's slightly zoomed in)
- RB - Reload (and "Active Reload" mini-game).
- LB - Objective / Squad status.
- Directional pad - Change weapons.
Thanks to jackrubyn for the list!
Theres also a screeny of the control summary hand out from the E3 multiplayer sessions here
I *think* (great factual grounding then) you will only be able to hold 2 weapons + pistol during all play types. This has been a proven mechanic in many games to date. An added thing for Gears is the unused weapon will be visible on your back (ok a few other titles like PlanetSide have done this already).
Gears features an innovative camera which helps convey the games blockbuster atmosphere. In most circumstances the camera is in a third person "Resident Evil 4" position however it changes under various conditions, for example.
- Roadie Running - Pressing the "all move" key without any cover and pushing forwards will get the character the hunker down and run - half crouched - forwards. The camera moves back to behind the character and shake convincingly. This obscuring of the view is intentional to emulate your characters "head down" and thus limited visibility in this stance.
- Aiming - Pressing the left trigger will zoom the camera to immediately beside your characters head and introduces the aiming reticule. The camera is steady, allowing you to aim well. Note, this also partially raises you over cover (and importantly, its your head!). The side of your head the camera sits is based on which side of the cover you are; cover to your left, the camera will be to your right etc. It's unclear if the default side (when shooting over cover) can be altered in options.