During E3, we were lucky enough to sit down with Microsoft developer and head of The Coalition (previously Black Tusk Studios) Rod Fergusson. In the behind closed-doors session, Fergusson explained how Gears of War: Ultimate Edition isn’t just a simple last-gen remaster, but a modernisation of one of the Xbox 360’s most iconic titles.
The Coalition simply isn’t following the standard up-res playbook in bringing Gears of War to Xbox One. Fergusson said the studio has torn the original game down to it’s code, implementing a host of improvements to make the game worthy of the new Xbox One hardware. The most obvious improvement is the 1080p resolution, and while the campaign still runs at 30 frames, multiplayer has switched to 60 frames.
All of Gears of War‘s original assets have been remade for Xbox One, such that characters and environments actually resemble a current-generation title. All cutscenes have been remade with modern motion capture, and Fergusson used the example of Dom’s previous derpy face, which has now been replaced with a more realistic character expression. The game’s orchestral score has additionally been completely re-recorded. One of the only facets of the game that remains untouched is the original voice work.
Gameplay has also been updated to more resemble Gears of War 3. For example, players can now revive teammates without getting out of cover, dodge in any direction, and toggle weapons while roadie running. You can also utilise newer gameplay features seen in the later games like Tac-Com, and enemy spotting. For the achievement hunters out there, the Ultimate Edition also offers 1500 Gamerscore.
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition includes the five campaign chapters cut from the Xbox 360 version. These levels debuted in the later Windows version of the original game, but The Coalition is allowing Xbox gamers to experience these chapters for the first time. Fergusson also believes that the game’s original casual difficulty setting was too challenging for some players, so the developers have introduced a new setting that is properly aimed at casual play.
The multiplayer suite, which shall run on dedicated serves, includes all of the original and downloadable maps. In addition to the original Warzone, Assassination, Execution and Annex modes, the developers have included three new game types – Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill and 2v2 Gnasher. Finally, the Ultimate Edition adds a progression system, allowing players to level up and unlock new characters.
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition is set to hit shelves in August on Xbox One and PC at the very enticing price of $49.95. The game also includes access to the Gears of War 4 beta, scheduled for 2016.