Gears of War Originally Conceived as a Battlefield-Style, Class-Based Shooter

Epic developer says initial version of the game had classes, mechs, and was going to be substantially more focused on multiplayer.

The original concept for what would become Gears of War was far different than the final product. According to an Epic Games developer who was there all those years ago, the game actually got its start as a class-based, Battlefield-style shooter.

"Gears started as a class-based Battlefield kind of game," Unreal Engine lead programmer James Golding told GamesTM. "It had classes, mechs, and it was going to be multiplayer-focused." This was around the year 2000/2001, according to the report.

This version of Gears of War was called Unreal Warfare. The idea was you could play in a massive multiplayer arena against other players or bots. This game was put on the shelf for a few years as Epic worked on Unreal Tournament 2003 and 2004, and then Unreal Tournament III.

When Epic finally did return to it, Golding said, "It'd been a couple of years and the industry had completely changed. We saw the rise of more single-player and campaign-based games, so we took Unreal Warfare back to the drawing board--it became just 'Warfare.'"

Golding said other names were tossed around, but the "War" part always stayed. During this period of experimentation, Epic tried out a "whole bunch" of different characters, including traditional-style soldiers and characters with a more sci-fi feel. Over time, however, "It slowly became more in line with the Gears of War we know now," he said.

Former Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski was reportedly at the heart of Epic's drive to focus on a single-player game. Golding says that after Bleszinski played a Medal of Honor game (based on that timeline, it might have been Underground, Allied Assault, or Frontline), he thought it would be a better idea to focus on a single-player campaign.

In the end, the game would have significant single- and multiplayer modes. The final version of Gears of War released for Xbox 360 in 2006 had epic set-piece campaign moments, and also a multiplayer mode that was well-received by fans.

Epic sold the Gears of War franchise to Microsoft earlier this year. Microsoft's Black Tusk Studios is currently working on the next Gears of War game, presumably for Xbox One. According to producer Rod Fergusson, this game will stay true to the essence of the Gears of War series.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch

For all of GameSpot's news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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113 comments
Moonbaseone
Moonbaseone

If they make a really amazing and fun Horde mode I'll definitely be interested in the next Gears of War. Along with a good co-op campaign of course. If they mess up Horde, it will definitely be a rental, just to beat the campaign.

Also, hoping they bring Guardian and Annex/KotH back.

themc_7
themc_7

interesting. It's always cool to hear how an idea evolved. I wouldn't mind seeing a class-based style gears of war. Might have been cool.

galeta
galeta

remastered versions of old gears for xbox one would be great, like they are doing with halo right now

Bleak5170
Bleak5170

Pretty sure I remember reading about this YEARS ago.

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

This is so not interesting. First they said it was originally conceived as some wishy washy cry drama, now this. Make your mind!

Monsterkillah
Monsterkillah

Cmon im waiting for my new gears bring it on

Charliesix
Charliesix

I'm convinced that Gears of War, with different art assets and some tweaks, could be a great Mobile Suit Gundam game.



spacecadet25
spacecadet25

Good thing they changed the concept and made Gears into what it was.  Can't wait for the next Gears, (if it's not like Judgment).  And please continue to have split-screen co-op and also the ability to have multiplayer matches against bots and still level up.  That's always a blast (well, it was only a blast in GoW 3), especially when playing with a friend locally.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

Wow, what we don't need is more online shooters and Gears of War was one of the few games I bought where the multiplayer was secondary. Please don't ruin Gears. I'd rather there was no new Gears than them screw it up.

RabbiSchmuley
RabbiSchmuley

my comment is pending because I cannot use the word "b. u_t. t"

rolla020980
rolla020980

At least Rod Fergusson is back on the series. It will be nice to see what he makes of the new one figuring he did 1-3.

unreal849
unreal849

I'd love to see a Gears game with the same gameplay, universe, and story... but without the hulking steroidal bros.

wookiegr
wookiegr

Gears of War, Halo and Crackdown are all definitive Xbox experiences to me. I want to see them all make major come backs on the Xbox One, NOT 360 ports!

Sam-os_IMP
Sam-os_IMP

Gears was a great game that helped to fine tune things that have become so common place now they're hardly noticed. While many of these things already appeared like the over the shoulder view from Resident Evil 4, Gears just did it all right. That dynamic zooming in as you shoot, the dynamic "news footage" like roadie run and the dynamic cover system.

wookiegr
wookiegr

I played through the first Gears game 3 times so I'm glad it turned out the way it did. It was one of the first 3rd person shooters I didn't absolutely hate.

RabbiSchmuley
RabbiSchmuley

M$ ruined it for me tbf, firstly by seizing and moving Halo over to xbox and then by bastardizing U3 engine tech for the first 2 or 3 years of it's inception.


MS: "We really should've done something with PC"   


ummm....how bout staying the hell away from it. I think that would do plenty for the PC arena.

Monsterkillah
Monsterkillah

Oly crap u read my mind dude but im more for a good Gundam series

Mobil Suit Gundam games have terible graphics wish they use UE4 and release some english version for the game

themc_7
themc_7

@spacecadet25 what was so different about Judgement? The gameplay felt identical to the GoW trilogy imo, just the characters differed.

RabbiSchmuley
RabbiSchmuley

@unreal849 What, you're not a HUGE fan of WWF, American Gladiators, USARMY, the extermination of Aliens (terrestrial and non), and NFL butt-slaps?



sladakrobot
sladakrobot

@unreal849
You could chose some pretty  ladies as playable characters in GoW3...sadly,multiplayer only

rolla020980
rolla020980

@wookiegr 

Crackdown 1 was definitely the underrated game of the last generation. I think GS gave it like a 7/10 or something like that. 

RabbiSchmuley
RabbiSchmuley

@Sam-os_IMP it was good, but it was stupid. Completely ham-fisted, and arguably built a monument in the name of "Press A to Win" 

grenadehh
grenadehh

@wookiegr Wish  I could say the same. Last time I played it I glitched out on a metal grate that fell out underneath me and I quit the game - was just stuck there floating.

dani_i89
dani_i89

@RabbiSchmuley  MS stay away from PC? What system is going to replace windows? Mac?? MS *ARE* the gaming industry.

Fartman7998
Fartman7998

@RabbiSchmuley  What are you smoking?  Halo has always been on Xbox....it's like the Super Mario Bros. of Xbox. 

_Silent_Jay_
_Silent_Jay_

@themc_7 It was definitely faster paced, and the weapon limitations (one main weapon, and a sidearm) weren't liked by many.  Personally, I liked having the LB for grenades, but a lot of folks didn't like that either.

unreal849
unreal849

@sladakrobot  Yeah, the women were the only playable characters that didn't look like they were cross-bred with bulls.

unreal849
unreal849

@EasyComeEasyGo @unreal849  Cole is the epitome of everything I hate about Gears. At least Marcus showed some minimal character development, and Dom had that emotional moment with his wife, before he capped her @ss.

wookiegr
wookiegr

@rolla020980 @wookiegr I got all 1000 achievements on that one. After that it was hard to play a game I couldn't leap from roof top to roof top or scale buildings in.

rolla020980
rolla020980

@RabbiSchmuley 

That is seriously simplifying the game. It was much more difficult than that unless you played it on easy, which would then be expected.

RabbiSchmuley
RabbiSchmuley

@dani_i89 Windows is an OS. Brilliant(arguably) and completely universal by now, let's leave it at that. But M$ should never have gotten into game publishing...if they were lauded developers who were actually raised in the industry and cared about it as their pride and joy it would be hard to argue( they may have made worthwhile games before they realized there was so much money in it)....but seeing as they've accelerated development to a pace that could only be termed "Annual Bowel Movement", and injected it with the redundancy of bastardized releases to capture the imagination of gamers by feeding them just enough incentive to buy the same game every year.....they can suck egg. 

In all reality, M$ contribution has been a Monopoly. Is that what we want? Maybe we can get Mcdonalds to open their own game publishing company...how bout Walmart?

RabbiSchmuley
RabbiSchmuley

@Fartman7998 @RabbiSchmuley I was there, man! You haven't seen what I've seen ....man! 


Seriously: Halo was a prime jump starter for M$' desperate new venture into Videogame Consoles.

BUT!!!! originally Halo was being developed for PC as somewhat of an answer to the rising popularity of multiplayer shooters (Team Fortress and Counterstrike were nabbing some serious fans at this time).

It was intended as a persistent-world strategic multiplayer action game...not too different from Tribes, but with a superior design aesthetic (thanks to the creative Bungie). I was coveting this game since it got coverage in PC game magazines. 

When I got my chance to play it finally....I...liked it...?? It was good, but it was nothing at all like what was revealed and promised.

sladakrobot
sladakrobot

@Fartman7998 I think read it once that Halo was originaly going to pc's before Microsoft approached Bungie.

RabbiSchmuley
RabbiSchmuley

@rolla020980    I wasn't talking about challenge, I was talking about it being a piece of cud that ushered you from start to finish through narrow corridors and less narrow corridors. It was simple and it was stupid, but it also wasn't over-reaching....seriously, as in, as soon as I got through 2/3 of the game I knew that there were 2 or 3 more games lined up to continue the series because the first one's campaign felt so barren and vapid. It's almost like WWF and American Gladiators suited up in Footballer's gear and fed on a steady diet of Hoo-Ahh with rifle-in-hand sent to eliminate illegal Aliens with extreme prejuidice. I'm surprised there wasn't a saturday morning cartoon and breakfast cereal...if only it was the late 80's. 

rolla020980
rolla020980

@RabbiSchmuley @dani_i89 

I will concede that Microsoft has a ton of franchises that need sequels that aren't Halo or Gears (neither of which are annual releases BTW), but not to make games is ludicrous. How about a new Blue Dragon or Crimson Skies? Or some of the ones they bought like Conker and Perfect Dark. How about Age of Empires? They could even resurrect combat flight sim and make it something good. They did make Max: Curse of the Brotherhood for the XBOX, which is geared towards the younger crowd but is still a very entertaining platformer.

Fartman7998
Fartman7998

@RabbiSchmuley @Fartman7998 Hmmm.  I've never heard about these things before.  Sounds like all of this happened before any of it mattered.  Microsoft buyout?  Macworld Expo?  I was in middle school when Combat Evolved hit shelves, so I was not in on any of that.  Oh well, I stand corrected, but I happen to like Halo just the way it is, and I am mainly a PC gamer now.  It's nice to play something that's designed with the console in mind, it gives me a chance to pal around with my console peasant friends.  :P



rolla020980
rolla020980

@RabbiSchmuley @Fartman7998 

Halo was the series that made XBOX Live and was pretty much the foundation of online console gaming until COD ultimately took over that title. Microsoft was genius to buy Bungie and the Halo rights.

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

@RabbiSchmuley @rolla020980 Did you play the original Gears of War when it was new?  My God, that game was awe inspiring back then, we hadn't seen anything like it (the friend I was playing it with), and at that time there had not been very many cover-shooters that came out previous to Gears of War (the previous console generation had Winback and Kill.Switch, and that was about it).  The gameplay was very fresh at the time.

The environments were also cool, and it had some of the "stay in the light" stuff, where if you were in the dark for more than a few seconds bats would attack and eat you (but only in a few levels).

There was so many unique things in that game, you must have very odd tastes, or don't like most shooters in general.  Or played the game many years after it came out. 

However I didn't like the Halo series, I thought it got very repetitive and the enemies were boring and stupid-looking, but that's just me.  So we all have different tastes.

RabbiSchmuley
RabbiSchmuley

@rolla020980 actually you just reminded me that they destroyed my favourite devs from my childhood, RARE. 

You are right though. I'm mostly ranting...and saying that any company is money-hungry is a needless understatement....but ever since xbox became microsoft's meal ticket, affiliated game devs have taken it in the pooper. They created a disparity for development of games by stocking money for the ownership of projects instead of aiding development, providing the necessary budget to expand on game mechanics and such..these practices have disenfranchised many qualified developers and led them to go indie in the recent years.

RabbiSchmuley
RabbiSchmuley

@Fartman7998 oh yeah....they also ruined Alan Wake. once again destined for PC and once again it had persistent-gameworld elements in mind. The sandbox ideology was not yet huge and due to the tech-developments in the PC world all games dev'd after around 2003 were aiming for persistent gameworlds. 

So it took Alan Wake like an extra 2 or 3 years to make it to PC and it was now not a game in which you can freely explore and such but it was hammered down into a thriller/survival horror styled venture of no more than 10hours time. 

sladakrobot
sladakrobot

@rolla020980 MS failed to secure the rights on Mass Effect,they try not to make this sort of mistakes again :-)

RabbiSchmuley
RabbiSchmuley

@spacecadet25 different tastes is right. I found Halo to be more refined and my taste. Don't get me wrong I was looking forward to Epic's first release on the U3 engine, but when I tried the GOW around the time it was released I was only treated to the multiplayer portions of the game which were impressive (the game was a real looker at that time) I was exposed to more of the game about year after release and once it hit pc I actually tried getting into it and it wasn't spectacular. It was visceral like many fps but I felt that I actually had to force myself through most of the game...there never was a sense of War about it and it felt under-utilized...like literally the game should have been longer and included more variety in enemies (much more). It was actually the reason I bought an xbox360 before going to ps3 a year later. 

I thought Halo and Gears would be the tie-breaker and I stuck with the system for a good while...but then later I went over to a friend's place and he had shown me Heavy Rain (tastes are strange indeed). This ode to the classic, and largely irrelevant, genres had won me over and I started planning my move to PS3. Now I only watch xbox to see what kind of damage they'll do next to the IP's of this fragile industry. 

If you might believe me, I'm not a half-witted fanboy, and I see the increasing rule of business over propriety, the rule of property over intellect...all are guilty here, but M$ is the last word in a long, and quickly forming, line of bs

Fartman7998
Fartman7998

@RabbiSchmuley @Fartman7998 You have a lot of inside information about these things.  Haha.  Alan Wake?  I never would have guessed.  As for Halo: Combat Evolved I was nowhere near a computer back then because of my parents, so it never occurred to me that Microsoft took Halo away from anyone.  Like I said though I am glad that Halo is where it's at, I'm a man of all trades when it comes to video games and I always have been.  I've always owned all the systems, never given preferential treatment to anyone.  Now being mainly a PC gamer, with the consoles only for exclusives, I'm happy to share games like Halo and GoW with my buddies who aren't computer savvy

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

@RabbiSchmuley @spacecadet25  Dang, you really liked Heavy RainMan, we sure do have different tastes in games.  :)

My first experience with Gears of War was playing the campaign split screen with a friend, and man, there was just nothing else like it at the time.  And the craziest thing is that it's supposed to be a slower, cover shooter.  But me and my friend didn't want to watch the other guy get all the kills, so we were constantly just rushing into heavy numbers of enemies, and which often got us killed, just b/c he and I didn't want to share the kills.  It was really funny and odd.


RabbiSchmuley
RabbiSchmuley

@Fartman7998 well certainly Fartman, sir. Games are to be enjoyed and shared...they are capable of shifting and evolving your perspective. Unless you're playing some kind of oppressively horrible and cruel game. 

I was a pc gamer for most of my childhood, but I started on something like a famicom (being born in Ukraine in the late 80's it was hard to get a hold of video games and consoles and there weren't many arcades).

I really wish Remedy could make games for PC again (the original Max Payne rocked my world when I was 12) . Quantum Break for example would be amazing if they made it with PC in mind...instead we'll likely have to wait at least a year after its release on X1 before seeing it on PC....that's if IF it doesn't become a giant hit, which is unlikely anyway. 


RabbiSchmuley
RabbiSchmuley

@spacecadet25 That is something I missed out on, playing co-op with a friend. I'd imagine that a game like Gears Of War would be quite excellent with a local 4-player co-op in the campaign mode. 


As for Heavy Rain...yeah I actually do love it, but that speaks to how I've always played games; alone and with a keen eye for presentation. 

I've always enjoyed presentation-touches like camera-perspective shifts and film-style techniques used in games, and a focus on music/sound. Heavy Rain also crossed a couple tropes throughout the length of the game which struck me; I used to love adventure games, point and click and the Myst/Riven style games. Heavy Rain also had the tone of a thriller, which brought me to simpler times recalling Resident Evil with it's odd camera-perspectives tank controls and intermittent sense of dread.