Multiplayer is one of the most crucial pillars that the Gears of War franchise is built on. As important and beloved as the series’ single player and co-op offerings are, many would argue that the PvP multiplayer is just as important, if not more so. But if things had gone differently, the original 2006 title simply wouldn’t have had any multiplayer offerings altogether.
The same was revealed recently by Lee Perry, who was gameplay designer and lead level designer on the original Gears of War. In a War Stories video uploaded by Ars Technica (which you can check out below), Perry revealed that developer Epic Games was having several issues with the game’s multiplayer component until as late as summer 2006, and with merely months to go until the game’s launch later that year, the developer was even considering cutting out multiplayer altogether.
For starters, the small size of the game’s development team made work on the multiplayer side of things complicated in and of itself, and that, combined with the tough competition that Gears of War faced in the multiplayer arena from heavyweights like Halo made it an even more daunting prospect.
The biggest issue faced by the team, however, was figuring out how to design maps that were built around Gears of War’s slower-paced and deliberate gameplay and shooting, as opposed to the much faster gameplay that multiplayer shooters are generally known for.
Ultimately, Epic designed maps full of chokepoints, forcing enemies to emerge from specific spots to make their behaviour more predictable. Additionally, the developers also littered waist-high cover throughout the maps, not only to allow players to be able to take cover in various spots, but also to make larger sections of the maps more easily visible.
Of course, the multiplayer would go on to be cited as one of Gears of War’s biggest strengths, and was built upon and expanded upon significantly in subsequent instalments over the years. The rest, as they say, is history.
In related Gears of War news, The Coalition seems to have started working on Gears 6, while recent rumours have claimed that a Master Chief Collection-style remastered collection of Gears of War games is also in the works.