As the gaming landscape continues to change, with PCs and consoles becoming less distinguishable with each new upgrade and multiplayer migrating increasingly to the internet and social platforms, many longtime players have felt shortchanged as features once considered obligatory have begun to drop away from major titles. Among the most contentious disappointments has been the increase in competitive games (or games with competitive modes) foregoing local or “split-screen” multiplayer in favor of concentrating on the lucrative online-focused version.
This came to a head last year when Halo 5 – a sequel in a franchise that had once defined multiplayer shooters – opted to ditch local entirely. However, Gears of War fans will evidently not have to face similar worries, now that the developers have revealed that the eagerly-awaited Gears of War 4 will offer split-screen multiplayer on all game modes.
Announced as part of a presentation on the Game Informer Show, Gears of War 4 boss Ron Fergusson stressed the importance of keeping local multiplayer as a key component of the celebrated third-person shooter franchise’s appeal and lasting legacy, saying “We can never get rid of that” while also confirming that it was never even a question of whether or not to follow Halo 5 in removing the option (though, the number of players who can participate in split-screen at a time has been cut from 4 to 2). In addition, the (current) technical specs for the varying modes have also been expanded on; so while local multiplayer will run at 30fps (the same frame-rate as the campaign mode), online multiplay is “shooting for” the 60fps magic number.
Fergusson also took the opportunity to expand on what players can expect from the game’s upcoming Beta release (ahed of its worldwide launch on October 11th), stressing that what they will experience is much closer to the actual work-in-progress rather than the highly-policed demos that some developers have taken to releasing instead:
“What you’re going to play is basically an alpha build of our multiplayer. That means there’s going to be issues, but it’s an actual beta. It’s not a fake demo; it’s not a highly polished thing in the sense that it’s set up as a marketing demo. It’s actually, ‘Hey, we have brand new technology on our servers and we have brand new features on our client and we want that to be tested at scale and we want your help.'”
The game, which takes place many years after the events of Gears of War 3, will focus on the exploits of original-trilogy hero Marcus Fenix’s son, JD Fenix, and two other new characters. Their adventure will take place within the span of 24 hours, set in a world where the superweapon used to destroy the Locusts at the conclusion of the original series has destroyed all fossil fuels – creating a new and dangerous scenario where The COG’s objective of organizing human survivors has created a backlash movement calling itself The Outsiders.
Fans can get their first look at what all this is building to when the Gears of War 4 multiplayer beta hits Xbox One consoles beginning April 18 – available exclusively to players who have played the Gears of War Ultimate Edition on Xbox One (or on PC, as part of Microsoft’s new approach to cross-platform movement) by April 11. That’s a change from earlier announcements, which would have locked-off the deadline to March 1.
Gears of War 4 will be released worldwide on October 11th, 2016.