South London-based studio Splash Damage is helping to develop Gears of War 4's multiplayer, having previously worked on Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Collation head Rod Fergusson has revealed to Game Informer.
"They're helping with a lot of the level design stuff," said Fergusson. "Especially with meshing of multiplayer maps, we're tapping into the expertise they got from Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. They also have a lot of expertise with online systems, in terms of matchmaking from Ultimate Edition. They basically had to rewrite for Xbox One, between us and them, the whole matchmaking sub-system... when you get a strategic partner like Splash Damage, we talk about training up our own team on Gears, but when you have another team that's trained up on Gears, we definitely want to work with them as much as possible."
Multiplayer in Gears of War 4 is taking a much bigger slice of the overall pie than in previous games, which is likely why The Coalition needed to bring in Slash Damage as a partner.
"Historically, the campaign is the hardest thing to make out of any of these games," explained Fergusson. "So if you look at the development of Gears one, it was probably 90 percent single player, 10 percent multiplayer. Over the course of the franchise, that percentage shifted, but I don't think it ever got above 70/30. Coming here, multiplayer has a much greater position at the table. On day one, as we were prototyping our first campaign experience, we were also building multiplayer maps.
"We really want to meet the needs of not just recreational players but eSports players, and it's something we've been thinking about for the entire development cycle."
Fans won't have to wait too long to see the fruits of both teams' labour, with the multiplayer beta set to begin this spring. In the beta players will get access to five of the campaign's protagonists: JD, Kait, Del, Reyna and Oscar.