The Gears of War 4 beta was not indicative of the final product. No sir.
Gears of War 4 has a lot to prove. Not only is there ground to recover after the non-entity that was Gears of War: Judgment, this is the first new series entry for this console generation, and the first since Epic sold the IP to Microsoft (although not the first to be developed outside Epic).
Which made the disappointing Gears of War 4 beta a bit of a worry; Microsoft is trailing Sony this generation and having one of its few big exclusive properties make a poor showing is less than ideal.
The good news is that the beta was much earlier than we've grown used to; six months before Gears of War 4's launch is an eternity these days, and you'd probably be amazed at how much does on in those final months.
"Though called a 'Beta', the Gears 4 Beta was at an early pre-Alpha stage of the project – a time where many of the final assets, animations, textures, audio and even gameplay elements are not in the game," a post on the Gears of War website said.
"Our Beta was at a very early stage of the project for us," The Coalition's Kirk Gibbons added.
Gibbons and a handful of other Coalition staffers provided an update of what has changed since the public last got a chance to see Gears of War 4 in action, and the executive summary is "a lot":
- Weapons have been retuned with two side-by-side balance trees: Core and Competitive.
- Active Reload is more powerful, but slower, in Competitive tuning.
- All Power Weapons now support Active Reload.
- The Gnasher has a shorter range in Core tuning.
- The Hammerburst is now a 3 shot burst weapon and can outgun a Lancer at long range.
- Dropshot explosion radius has been decreased.
- Dropshot targeting laser now shows team colours.
- Colour Blind support added.
- Only one Frag Grenade may be tagged on a wall at once.
- Wall-tagged Frag Grenades explosion delay increased allowing players to dodge damage.
- Smoke Grenades produce less smoke with a shorter active effect.
- Reduced firing delay after popping out of cover.
- Cover "Back" A now works on left hand corners.
- Cover "Up A" fixed so it no longer hits cover.
- Improved Roadie Run camera with less roll but more shake.
- Frame rate improved to "solid 60FPS".
- Added Ambient Occlusion and Capsule Shadows.
- Improved shadow resolution and localised reflections.
- Added "that unique architectural feel and detail that defines Gears".
- Lighting tweaked for colour and contrast.
- Cover made "more interesting and detailed" and maps "more organic".
- Ground made "interesting, detailed and layered".
- Materials like metal, concrete and bricks made more varied and easily distinguishable.
- Textures tuned for readability in both visuals and gameplay.
- Maps updated to allow for overlapping fights and open sight lines, to encourage support play, positioning and fronts.
- Opening spawns repositioned based on community feedback.
- Secondary Weapon type added; one spawns on each side of the map.
- Retro Lancer rebalanced as Secondary Weapon type with mid-range focus and shallow clip.
Gears of War 4 launches in October for Xbox One. You can try the rebalanced multiplayer experience at San Diego Comic Con this weekend - or check it out via gameplay footage of the SDCC Gears of War 4 beta build.