Gears of War: Judgment, People Can Fly and Epic Games will introduce something they're labeling as S3 – a smart spawn system.
"Previously in Gears, if you wanted a greater challenge, you went for the higher difficulty mode. It basically meant less health for you and more health for them. It worked perfectly fine, but we tried to attack this from a different angle," People Can Fly's Adrian Chmielarz explained to Joystiq. "S3 constantly monitors your performance, from simple stuff like accuracy and your skills, but also like your location in the combat zone." Chmielarz provided an example of a player in one corner, shooting Locust, then having the system adapt on the fly and spawn enemies at more challenging locations.
"The other thing it can do is run multiple scenarios: you play through a section of the game, from checkpoint-to-checkpoint, and you die at the very end of it. So then you think to yourself, 'Okay, I know how to fix that; I got this.' You replay and suddenly it's a completely new scenario – new enemies and you have to adapt one more time. Another example would be you choose a higher difficulty level to replay a section and then you encounter an enemy type that you have not encountered before. We kept it in reserves for a higher difficulty level. The big point about S3 is to make sure that you are challenged. We think that the word kind of disappeared from the vocabulary a little and games now actually paint the path for you on the floor, where to go next."
Cliff Bleszinski then interjected, "I think that's why you're starting to see this love for games kind of like Dark Souls now. In order to try and grow the audience, games have been softened – players can't get lost ever, or they can't die ever. But then it's like you've just lost the point of the game and what games do, having that challenge. We're a little guilty of it – I'm fully willing to admit that. When was the last time a game has asked something of you? I've been playing Gears since the beginning, obviously, but when I go into the playtest lab and we play 4-player hardcore co-op [in Gears of War: Judgment], it takes us a good three or four tries to get through a combat scenario. I play a lot of games where I just get into the flow of combat and it's getting good then, boom, cutscene. I'm like, 'Fuck you, get back to the gameplay.' In this game, the pacing has gotten to the point where when you get past a protracted battle, and you finally get a cutscene, yeah you're happy to see the story progress but you're really just happy to have a break. You're going to die, you're going to die a fair amount, but hopefully you like it," he said.
"It's definitely going to be harder than Gears of War 3," Bleszinski added. "The thing about Gears 3 that I learned kind of in hindsight is the fact that technically it was the longest campaign that we've ever done, but we accidentally softened the difficulty a little too much. So the good gamers got through it in a similar timeframe to Gears 2, and were like 'No way it's the same length!' So we looked at the difficulty and there are certain little trade-offs that they made where, like, do you go DBNO or just die? Things like that, and also the same thing with enemy damage models. Gears of War: Judgment is going to be tough, even on normal difficulty level." Chmielarz then added that he thinks "normal is going to be more difficult than ever before."