Michael Capps, Ph. D, and President of Epic Games, led a panel on the making of Gears of War 2 at the GCDC in Leipzig, Germany, today. We were there, baby, and we thought you'd be interested in a recap of what was said:
4:00 PM - Michael Capps takes the stage. November 7th is a go for the release of the game. Thanks the people of Leipzig for helping to support his exotic beer habit.
4:02 PM - Discusses the founding of Epic Games. Announces a new partnership between Epic and EA for a game to be announced at a later date.
4:05 PM - Talks about the original Gears of War, Capps analyzed the reasons for the success of the original game. "No lasers" was a mantra of theirs, as they wanted to set up a game that had a solid internal logic of its own. Talks about the medieval settings for the game and the research they did. Talks about the weaponry. Epic is very happy about the chainsaw, again keeping the realism in the world of the game was very important to them.
4:08 PM - Discusses the iconography of the original game, and 'The Crimson Omen' symbol. Praises punk band The Misfits for creating such an icon when no one actually listens to their music.
4:10 PM - Reveals that German law is the reason that Gears 2 isn't being shown at Leipzig.
4:12 PM - Discusses the original Gears ad campaign, and the challenges of making a sequel, especially for such a successful game. It's hard to run from the success of the original, even if the second game is a better product. Also laments the lack of pre-production time you get for a sequel.
4:15 PM - Talks about how he and his engineers broke down the game into its separate elements, and tried to make each piece of the game better. Gives some examples of weaknesses in the first game, including what he thought was a threadbare plot.
4:20 PM - Tech improvements: "massive war" feeling, with humans vs. locust. Wanted hundreds of locust drones onscreen to really feel 'humanity's last stand' portion of the game. New elements include full destructibility in the buildings, especially in cover mode.
4:25 PM - Added party system and wanted to make it easier for people to play the game, at every level. 'Never fight alone' is a big thing for them. Really torqued up the co-op modes. More co-op drivable stuff...including monster trucks with tanks on top. No joke. Co-op drivable reavers. Independent difficulty for each player in the game. More save slots. You'll be split off in co-op to have different, asymmetrical experiences while playing. More co-op puzzles.
4:30 PM - AI bot support in multiplayer. Talks some new game types, including "wingman mode," which allows you to play co-op as a two-man team. Better matchmaking, a lot of work on the Xbox Live back-end experience. Horde mode allows the locust horde to come at you in wave after wave vs. you and your friends.
4:35 PM - Discusses gameplay improvements. Chainsaw duels, dynamic cover, including using hostages as cover (which Capps affectionately refers to as 'meatbag.') Using rock worms as moving cover, stealing boomers' shields and planting them for cover as well. Gears of War 2 will include lots and lots of tweaks to the cover system. Better things to do when you're wounded, but not dead, including planting grenades under your body so you'll explode when discovered. More bosses and mini-bosses throughout. More awesome finishing moves...and ladders all over the place.
4:40 PM - Showed gameplay demo of Marcus Fenix in a sinking city. Graphics were awesome. Fun new game modes. Showed off the 'meatbag' cover and the boomer shield cover.
And that's what we know about Gears of War 2, as told us by the head honcho at Epic. Looks great, gory, and fun. More from Leipzig as we get it. The game hits the streets on November 7th.