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.

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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.

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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.

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