The current generation of games has focused its attention on widening their appeal at the expense of challenge and freedom, says Cliff Bleszinski.
Speaking to X360A, Epic's games design director highlighted the dangers of this attitude, and expressed his hopes to avoid these pitfalls in the upcoming Gears of War prequel.
“It feels like in this current console generation that we’ve taken a lot of steps to grow the audience and what I think’s happened is that the games have become more linear and easier, so it feels like a lot of quick-time-events,” said Bleszinski.
“The more I play games like that the more I turned off to them and just want to get back to systems interacting with systems, and get back to a game that, you know, when was the last time a game really challenged you and asked something of you, right?
"There’s a reason why Demon Souls and Dark Souls have taken off lately. It’s because they really require you actually try.”
Bleszinski's comments come as the industry revs its engines for a run at pole position in the social and casual markets.
But his vision for Gears of War: Judgment is a return to the values that appeal to core gamers: challenge, and tactical freedom.
“Casual mode will still be casual, whatever, if you just want to see graphics and you don’t want to die, but every other mode will be hard in this game and you will die," said the designer.
“When I played this in 4-player co-op… I mean, I’ve been playing Gears since the beginning of the course and I really have to hunker down and focus, and if my buddies aren’t reviving me, and we aren’t working as a team, you’re going to die, and it’s okay to die a few times in a game to try some different strategies, the S3 respawn system provides unique challenges.”
To a player, tactical freedom turns a game into a unique experience.
“We then get some cool, ‘How did that combat scenario play out for you?’ ‘Oh, I used grenades against this one declassified challenge and then my buddy came in,’ which is interesting and cool, as opposed to, ‘I came around the same exact corner and saw the same exact plane crash, the same exact enemies, there’s nothing unique,’” said Bleszinski.
“If this game doesn’t make you sweat, we haven’t done our jobs.”