Just in case there weren’t enough HD remasters already, The Coalition (formally known as Black Tusk Studios) officially threw their hat in the ring with the Gears of War Ultimate Edition during Microsoft’s E3 2015 press conference. No, this isn’t an HD collection, but a fully loaded, revamped, and rebuilt remaster of the very first Gears of War game. While the existence of Gears of War 4 was probably the most exciting announcement coming from The Coalition, I’m here to tell you that I got an up close look at the remaster–which is set to release August 25–with the developers themselves during my time at E3. Let’s just say, you’ll want to pick this one up whether you’re familiar with the franchise or not.
The developers have taken the original Gears of War game and rebuilt it from the ground up. That means for the first time ever, you’ll be able to play through the title in full 1080p at 60 FPS. Also, everything from the lighting to the characters and even the cinematic scenes have been recreated. The story and voice acting of course remains the same as it ever was, but is bundled into a shinier package that is sure to please. It’s hard to pick out the most impressive aesthetic change, but as simple as it sounds, the change in lighting really stuck out to me. I mean, look at the gorgeous image of the Canals above. The location that once sported a drab gray pallet has been completely transformed.
In fact, the lighting on all 19 maps has been recreated. Probably one of the most interesting things they pointed out during our meeting was that the Grid Lock Map actually takes place on the ocean. Sure you may have already known that, but it wasn’t really possible to get the whole affect when the game originally came out. Now, with the power of the Xbox One, you’re able to see the waves crashing in the distance. Also, there is a light side and a dark side of the map, which they note was created with playing cooperatively with others in mind. It will be easier than ever to locate your friends by indicating which side of the map you are on.
Remember when I talked about key cinematic scenes being reshot? Feast your eyes on this impressive screenshot comparison of an encounter in the game I’m sure you’ll recognize. First up is the Brumak from the 36o version:
Next, check out the monstrous beast in the Xbox One version.
Sure, they could have easily sharpened the graphics and rereleased to bank on the nostalgia factor and the hype for Gears of War 4, but it is apparent by the new screenshots that The Coalition and Splash Damage worked incredibly hard at bringing the best possible version of the game to our current gen console. It was a labor of love, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. The story hasn’t changed, but there is more than just nostalgia behind wanting to replay this bad boy that released nearly 10 years ago. Can you believe that? Do you feel old yet?
It’s hard to pick out the most impressive aesthetic change.
Let me reiterate, this game came out back in 2006. While many of us had the pleasure of playing the game on arrival, there is a whole new generation of gamers flooding the market who’ve yet to check out the series. With Gears of War 4 coming out Holiday 2016, there couldn’t have been a more perfect time to release an updated version of the title that started it all.
So other than appearance, what else is new? Well, controls have also been updated for the Xbox One version, and includes things like aim assist, haptic feedback for the Xbox One Controller, and revamped input acceleration. Some other new things they’ve added are the ability to revive characters while remaining in cover, improved sensitivity connection, alternate controls and new tournament controls, the ability to toggle weapons while running, horizontal split screen, the ability to seamlessly join and quit the co-op campaign, and the aforementioned difficulty level.
Also, the developers have added in an easier difficulty level. So, that means you will be able to choose from Insane, Hardcore, Normal and/or Casual before tackling the game. Basically, what they did was rename the origInal casual mode normal, and bumped casual down a peg. That way it falls more in line with how the rest of the series is laid out in terms of difficulty. Seasoned veterans will be happy to hear that Insane mode is unlocked from the get go. So, if you want to jump in at the highest difficulty level guns blazing, you totally can. On the flip side, you can start off at the lowest spot on the totem pole–which by the way is still going to be extremely hard.
The fans of the series also have a lot to look forward to in terms of multiplayer. All of the matches will be running at 60 FPS, and new DLC maps will be included alongside 3 maps from the original PC version. On top of that, they have added new multiplayer modes including Team Death Match, King of the Kill and a 2v2 mode which comes straight from the Gears community. Modes you are already familiar with like Warzone, Assassination, Execution and Annex, will be making a return. Additionally, there will be 17 Gears of War 3 characters ready to be unlocked for multiplayer.
What could have easily been a cash grab looks to be a true labor of love.
The game will also be featuring LAN play. That means you will be able to take on challengers or engage in co-op with your friends online. It will be interesting to see what this means for the world of e-sports, especially when you factor in the addition of being able to spectate during multiplayer. From the looks of it, everything is being set up to cater to competitive tournaments. They explained that fan engagement has been a key part of the development process from the beginning. Features were made available and were meant to enable people to set up the tournaments that they want.
The game will also come with new achievements, which is an extra bonus for those achievement hunters who are hungry for more. Also, you will be getting early access to the Gears of War 4 beta just for purchasing it.
All in all, what could have easily been a cash grab–a trend lately with all of the recent remasters–looks to be a true labor of love. I think the takeaway from this is that if a developer is this invested in releasing the remaster, it bodes well for the next step in the franchise. I for one can’t wait to see the rest of the game and am more excited than ever to learn more about Gears of War 4.
The title is set to release August 25, 2015 and will retail for $39.99
Are you planning on picking this up? How do you think it looks? Let us know in the comments below, and stay tuned for more information and the rest of our E3 coverage.