Who Was There:The panel initially consisted of Gears of War 3 design director Cliff Bleszinski and executive producer Ron Fergusson, but they were later joined by Gears universe author Karen Traviss and voice actors Carlos Ferro (Dominic), Lester Speight (The Cole train), and Michael Gough (Carmine).
What They Talked About: Bleszinski and Fergusson kicked off the panel by discussing where they were at in terms of development for the game. With the release date set for April 2011, Fergusson said that everything was coming together nicely and that the team was focused on four pillars: campaign, Horde mode, Beast mode, and competitive multiplayer.
Each mode has been designed carefully, and the two men explained that Beast mode is not meant to be a "reverse Horde mode" but a mode that is class based. Playing a Ticker is entirely different from playing a Berserker, so depending on individual play styles, gamers can pick which enemy type represents them best.
The Gears of War series was always meant to be a cooperative experience and never meant to feel tacked on, they said. Having four player co-op has its own challenges in terms of storytelling, as the story is now witnessed by three other people. As a result, the only way to see a character's specific story is to play as him or her.
On the subject of co-op, split-screen co-op for the campaign, as well as Horde mode and Beast mode, will be available. But four-player split-screen would be too technically challenging and will likely not happen.
When asked why female squad members were included, Fergusson said that he was surprised at how many women were fans of the series and that he wanted to represent them as well. Bleszinski said he knew there were a lot of girl gamers out there and wanted them to taken seriously.
At E3, the voice actor for Jace Stratton was announced to be Drake, a Canadian artist and actor who has worked with such performers as Kanye West and Eminem. Claudia Black has also joined the cast and will be the voice of Samantha Byrne.
For more Gears lore, Traviss' Anvil Gate will be released in August and her next novel, Coalition's End, is scheduled for next March, a month before the game's release. The three books, Jacinto's Remnant, Anvil Gate, and Coalition's End, will recount what happened during the 18-month gap between Gears of War 2 and Gears of War 3.
Part of the panel was dedicated to showcasing upcoming collectable action figures, detailed busts, and weapon replicas. However, the biggest news for the franchise was Microsoft and Epic Games' recent announcement that would allow fans to influence the fate of the next Carmine recruit.
While Bleszinski and Fergusson were keen on seeing Clayton Carmine die in the most sadistic and creative way possible, Traviss and the voice actors for Cole and Dominic were interested in seeing Carmine survive this time around. Gough was torn because on the one hand, he is the voice of the character and this is directly related to potential work. But on the other hand, he said he felt that there was a Gears tradition that needs to be followed. Fergusson joked that if the results were 50-50, Baird is going to have to go.
Fans can vote online or purchase Xbox 360 avatar T-shirts to show their support for Carmine's survival or his eventual demise. T-shirts are also available at Comic-Con, and all proceeds from this campaign will go to the video game-themed charity Child's Play.
Before starting the Q&A session, Bleszinski decided to talk about the state of the Gears of War Hollywood film so that fans wouldn't have to ask. He said that the script was completed last year and what they had wouldn't be able to happen until 2012. He also said that it would cost $120 million, and the studio would be worried.
"It doesn't have a love story of Will Smith's son in it," Bleszinski joked and said that they are going with Legendary Pictures and want to have something along the lines of District 9.
Quote: "Mama Carmine is like a clown car."--Bleszinski, in reference to the fact that the voice actor for Carmine shouldn't have much to worry about in the event that the next of kin does eat it.
The Takeaway: It sounds like there are a lot of Carmine supporters, judging from the audience reaction, as well as the fans online.