Initial release date: April 28, 2020
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Genre: Turn-based tactics
Engine: Unreal Engine 4
Platforms: Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Developers: Splash Damage, The Coalition
Polygon said:[...] Gears Tactics actually started out as an elaborate board game.
Polygon talked with associate creative director Steve Venezia, who cobbled together the paper prototype using the office printer way back in 2017, to learn how that work contributed to the final product due out on April 28. More than anything, he said, the early prototype helped his team experiment and take risks in a fun and flexible way.
“We didn’t want to just do Battle Chess but with the Gears logo on it,” Venezia said in a telephone interview with Polygon. “We really wanted to bring Gears of War into the tactics genre, to actually push the genre forward and see what that could bring to us.”
Two men discuss the rules of a board game. On the table is a black and white map with shields on it, some d6 and d10 dice, as well as some Gears of War themed plastic miniatures in white and gray plastic.
The process began with support from Tyler Bielman, publishing design lead at developer The Coalition. It was Bielman’s job to help translate the design language used to create Gears of War 4 and Gears 5, two games that carried forward the series’ dynamic third-person action.
“Tyler was super useful as a guide through this,” Venezia said, “talking about things like ‘horizontal platforming,’ which is basically how units move from cover to cover.
“We realized when you start to translate that into game mechanics, doing things like giving the player a little bit of extra movement when they slip out of cover and go into another piece of cover,” Venezia explained, “the player feels like they’re kind of cheating the system almost just by reading the environment, trying to deduce where they should move from and to. They’re actually getting that extra movement, and it suddenly feels Gears-y.”
To work through the design, Venezia built a prototype using dice and a large map. Rather than create an entire tabletop campaign, he used a single scenario as an experimental test bed. The cooperative mission required a four-player squad to repair a vehicle while defending it from Locust spawning in from the side of the board and up from underground. Enemies were controlled by AI cards with simple if/then statements, not unlike the rules that guide bosses in co-op tabletop game Kingdom Death: Monster. The team salvaged miniatures from an old copy of Fantasy Flight Games’ Gears of War: The Board Game, first published in 2011, to spice things up.
The final product was played dozens of times by many different members of the team.
Full Polygon article
The game is played from a top-down perspective and is a turn-based tactics title in which players issue commands to a squad of human soldiers to eliminate the hostiles in a map and depending on the mission, complete secondary objectives. Players can freely explore the map without being confined to a grid. Each character can perform three actions, such as taking cover, shooting enemies, or remain in overwatch to shoot any moving enemy in their line of sight. When an enemy unit loses most of its health, a friendly unit can move in and execute the downed enemy, which gives all units an additional action point. Players need to throw grenades to destroy erupting Emergence Holes which spawn more Locust enemies. If a friendly unit sustains too much damage, players may need to revive them, though they will still lose a significant portion of their health. The game has five distinct character classes, with each having its own unique abilities. The characters can be extensively customized with mods, armours, and they can acquire new skills after they level up. A permadeath system will be featured in the game. Other than the two central characters, other friendly units are procedurally generated and should they die in combat, their deaths will be permanent. [FROM THE WIKI]
One year after Emergence Day, when a subterranean race of creatures known as the Locust Horde emerged on the surface in a campaign to kill every human on the planet of Sera, Coalition of Ordered Governments leader, Chairman Richard Prescott, orders all major cities outside the Jacinto Plateau to be incinerated by the Hammer of Dawn. In addition, the Chairman had sent mop-up detachments in key-cities to eradicate the surviving Locust. One of the mop-up crews was Alpha Squad, stationed in Aldair City. Among them is Pendulum Wars hero, Sgt. Gabriel Diaz, who had demoted himself to working in the motor pool. Mere hours before the Hammer Strikes, he receives orders from Chairman Prescott and Major Sid Redburn to retrieve classified intel files from the CIC building. Sgt. Diaz and Major Redburn find the files that reveals to be about a Locust scientist named Ukkon, who has been responsible for the various creatures the Locust have been using as instruments of war. The Hammer of Dawn then destroys the city of Aldair, but Sgt. Diaz and Major Redburn survive. However, Ukkon destroyed the army base and killed everyone. Prescott then orders Diaz to assassinate Ukkon and is granted the rights to do so by any means possible. [FROM THE WIKI]
IGN: 8/10 Gears Tactics does an excellent job of grafting Gears' signature look and feel onto XCOM's turn-based battle format and looks great doing it. PC Gamer: 83/100 Clever combat abilities and brutal executions translate Gears of War into a deep, fast-paced strategy game. Game Informer...
Thanks to Mista for posting the review thread.