Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Gears Judgment Execution Mode; Pressure or Planned?

Yesterday, Epic Games and Maxim Magazine announced a sponsored free DLC pack which includes 2 new maps, Haven and Citadel, and the return of a fan favorite gametype, Execution. With this news came a lot of celebration for fans who had feared the beloved gametype was lost for good. But was this is a bow to significant pressure through the last several months, or was this a long thought out strategy to gain last minute enthusiasm?

Late last year, Gears fans were dismayed to hear that the core game mechanic, Down But Not Out, had been removed from traditional Gears. The conclusion was that Gears was becoming too casual, where instead of being able to be revived, players would just keel over. Instead of curb stomping enemies, they would be restricted to just chainsaws or retros for executions. The outcry was deafening, with vocal fans threatening to boycott the game if they didn't get the mechanic back. These ultimatums seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Then came another shocking reveal. There would be no elimination game modes. Team Deathmatch became first to reach the score limit, rather than whittling down the enemy team. Execution and Warzone were removed. Guardian was not going to make a return appearance. All gametypes had been turned into respawn types. While TDM was the fan favorite mode for Gears of War 3, the fact that you could hold out against a team with more respawns and work towards attrition to help you win, led to much of the appeal over the standard TDM formula found in other games.

When pressured about the realization that gamers would no longer have one of these modes, Epic released a statement saying that "no elimination gametypes will be available at launch." This was followed up by:
These are all the competitive MP game modes shipping with Judgment:
  • Free For All
  • Team Deathmath
  • Domination
  • Overrun
-Jim Brown, Lead Level Designer at Epic Games
With these confirmations of there being very limited gametypes to play, the furor only mounted among the social communities. Some shouted that the content wasn't enough for the money. Others said that Epic was making the Gears series too casual. Many compared the changes to conforming to the "COD Formula" which caters to the "everyman" multiplayer groups. The downpour of negative responses to these pieces of information led to dozens, even hundreds of petition threads on the Official Epic Forums demanding the return of these modes.

With the announcement of the Maxim sponsored "Execution" gametype, fans seemed mollified, some even ecstatic about the return. There were cries of joy that Epic had listened to the fans once again. There were others who appeared disappointed Epic "caved" to the pressure. But was this the case? Did Epic "listen" to the fans as they did when the modified Capture the Leader in Gears 3 to give us a Guardian mode? Did they cave to the pressure of fans potentially rejecting the game? Or was it a planned idea to introduce the gametype as a DLC mode the whole time?

The statements given to use by Jim Brown would certainly be viewed now with some suspicion, since he only said an elimination game mode wouldn't be available at launch or the fact that it would only ship with 4 modes. This could be seen as a veiled statement hiding what is technically not a fib. They did promise us that it wouldn't launch or ship with the game, and it may have been planned to be released with their newly announced Season Pass down the road, which also includes two more unannounced modes.

If this was something Epic was going to implement, did they feel that players having to pay to get Execution back would cause a greater problem than the original controversy about not having it back at all? Many people on the forums had the idea that Epic would charge us in order to play our favorite modes again. This seems closer to the truth than we would like to admit. Did Epic approach Maxim to sponsor the maps and the gametype as a way to offer it for free, reducing the potential backlash? Did they approach multiple companies, offering advertising in exchange for the sponsorship and Maxim was the one who accepted? Did Maxim have some fans in their organization that approached Epic with this idea? There are many questions raised by these recent developments.

In the end it all comes down to the fact that Execution will now be a gametype for Judgment. Whether it was planned or whether it was spontaneous, merely exists as a curiosity. Gears of War: Judgment launches March 19th, exclusively on Xbox 360.

1 comment:

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