Gears of War 4 - Release date change and multiplayer map design explained

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During a questions and answers session held at the finale of the Gears of War ESL league, staff from the creators of Gears of War 4 stated that the game may launch sooner than expected. During the stream, lead multiplayer designer Ryan Cleven also talked at length about the process behind the creation of the multiplayer maps for Gears of War 4. 

Gears of War 4 and beta release dates outlined

Gears of War fans were treated to some good news this Sunday when the top four professional teams competed against one another to become the first-ever Gears of War Pro League Champions. Attending the event was none other than the Studio Head of The Coalition, Rod Fergusson, and Lead Multiplayer Designer, Ryan Cleven who both had their fair share of announcements to make regarding Gears of War 4.

The main announcement was that Gears of War 4 will release earlier than expected. First officially pegged for the holiday season, Gears of War has now been set for release worldwide between September and December in 2016. You may not have to wait until then to play, however, as the Gears of War 4 beta was officially confirmed last night and is scheduled to arrive in between March and May in 2016. 

While the requirements on how to access the beta have not been clarified, it is great to know that fans of the franchise will be able to see if they enjoy the Gears of War 4 multiplayer beta before making a decision on whether or not to buy the game. 

Gears of War 4's Map Creation explained 

During one of the scheduled breaks in the ESL Gears of War league live stream Ryan Cleven, the lead multiplayer designer,  talked about the process behind the creation of multiplayer maps. 

One of the first things that Cleven pointed out is that Rod Fergusson, the studio head of The Coalition, made sure that his staff play the game regularly. To do so, he introduced an internal ladder that encourages the staff to play versus one another on a daily basis. As the amount of games wracked up so did the amount of data that they could collect. 

Here is an example of some of the internal movement patterns from players that can be seen in the heat map below. 


Heat map of Gridlock, a classic Gears of War map

The team has a couple of processes to go through before they reach the heat map testing on new map designs, which there are "a lot of" according to Cleven. The team starts with a high-level concept document, which they then move to 'blockout'. The blockout is the grey box 3D model of a level that is made with the most simple geometric elements in order to structure the level. Once they are happy with the general layout, they move to the validation phase. 

The validation phase, the studio test the map even further, making sure that the feedback from staff and game testers is positive. If there is negative feedback, the level designers will go back to the blockout phase to make the necessary adjustments. Once the level designers are happy with the feedback they take the map to the meshing phase. 

The meshing phase is all about getting the aesthetics of the map right. Ensuring that the theme of the map plays out according to the art direction of the game. Once this is done and no outstanding visual glitches have been found the team takes the fine arts brush to the map and polishes up all the nooks and crannies in order to deliver a great map when it comes to the public beta. 


The map creation process for Gears of War 4 

Gears of War dominates the backwards compatible games on Xbox One

During the live stream yesterday, Rod Fergusson revealed exactly how popular the previous Gears of War titles have been on the Xbox One, via backwards compatibility. 

According to the studio head, all four of the Gears of War titles have been among the nine most popular backwards compatible titles. Gears of War, Gears of War 2, Gears of War 3 and Gears of War: Judgement has been regularly downloaded. Also during the live stream, it was revealed that 45 percent of Ultimate Edition players are new to the Gears of War franchise.  

The fan base for the Gears of War series is still alive and well and bodes well for the franchise when the game finally hits shelves later this year. For now, however, we wait for the specific date on when the multiplayer beta arrives exclusively to Xbox One. 

Are you excited for Gears of War 4? What was your favourite Gears of War title? Let us know by commenting below or hitting us up on Facebook or Twitter. 

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