Speaking with Stevivor, The Coalition’s Ryan Cleven, Lead Multiplayer Designer on Gears of War 4, said the game’s Horde 3.0 mode encourages you to think outside the box while still feeling like Horde.
The latest version of the genre-defining mode takes established functionality one step further with a mobile fortification system that lets you place support wherever you wish.
“If you played Gears 3 and Horde in that one, [Epic] used fortifications which were used to open new gameplay, but those fortifications were placed at locations that the designers thought were healthy places to put them.”
The idea of fortifications really emerged within Gears 2, Cleven said.
“One of the things that we really liked about the Gears 2 version [of Horde] was that the emergent quality of gameplay; one where you could succeed,” he said. “You would take Boom Shields and put them in certain places to redirect the AI. We wanted to embrace that emergent characteristic and establish formal systems.”
Now, in Gears 4, you’re truly in control of the situation, given choice when faced with wave after wave of Swarm and DeeBee enemies in a battle royale that either finishes when either you or your enemies are wholly defeated.
“What we’ve done is we’ve added in the idea that players can build their base wherever they want,” Cleven continued. “We’ve given them this unique new fortification called a Fabricator, which is almost like a military 3D printer. When they first start, it’s placed in the centre of the map and we really don’t tell you where to go. It’s very open-ended.
“Your team will pick up the Fabricator, move it to some place in the map and say, ‘This is where we think the best defence is for this map’, and from that Fabricator you build all the other fortifications and when you do, you’re just given it. It doesn’t get placed for you. You just get handed it and you can move somewhere, put it down, pick it up, move it to a different place and try to find the choke points and the vantage points and devise the strongest defence for you and your friends.”
To Cleven, this changes the entire mode and makes it gloriously unpredictable.
“This really opens up so many possibilities that we don’t really know what the best defence is,” he confessed. “We know a lot of viable defences — we’ve played the game a lot — but really we’re looking forward to see what the community does with it.”
Change or not, Cleven thinks Horde 3.0 is still in line with Gears’ spirit.
“We’ve tried to take from the emergent gameplay that was released with Horde back in Gears of War 2 and embrace that, really making a much bigger and deeper game, but all still holding true to what came before.”
Gears of War 4 heads to Windows PC and Xbox One on 11 October as an Xbox Play Anywhere title. Stay tuned for more soon — we’re checking out the game in The Coalition’s home base of Vancouver later this month.