Cliff Bleszinski: "Games Have Become More Linear and Easier"

Lee Bradley

Cliff Bleszinski believes that this generation of titles have become too easy. He doesn’t think games challenge us any more. So with Gears of War: Judgment he’s cranking up the difficulty levels.

Speaking to X360A, the Epic Games Design Director outlined the pitfalls of catering to a broader audience, while detailing the pain we’ll go through in Epic Games and People Can Fly’s upcoming Gears 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.”

To help embrace this spirit, Gears of War: Judgment has a few nasty tricks up its sleeve, reckons Bleszinski.

“Casual mode will still be casual, whatever, if you just want to see graphics and you don’t want to die,” he said. “But every other mode will be hard in this game and you will die.

“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 [Ed - as referenced in our preview] provides unique challenges.”

Not only does this system maintain the challenge, it also means that different players will have different experiences with the game.

“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.

“There’s nothing unique to you,” added Adrian Chmielarz, People Can Fly’s Creative Director. “This is what we’re trying to provide… your own moments, something that you’ll feel like only happened to you and you figured this out.”

Bleszinski concluded, “If this game doesn’t make you sweat, we haven’t done our jobs.”

Gears of War: Judgment is out next year.

  • i cant wait to sweat
  • Lets hope it ain't bullshit :P
  • Make more challenging games then ? Have to say I wanted a prequel of Marcus's story, play out how he became this feared Pendulum Wars hero! I'm sure it will come out in a few years time, money to be made :)
  • So will it be harder than Gears Hardcore?
  • When Molly boy says something out there it's insane, when Cliffy B says something a bit mad he's a visionary.... don't get me wrong he's right and molly is genuinley mental.... I lost my point, oh well
  • Don't like the sound of this. I think Gears is fine the way it is, Insane is already hard enough without co-op or doing arcade mode in number 3.
  • i agree that games have been alot of games that are literally as easy as a to b (call of duty im looking at you) or those that push you mentally (dark souls im looking at you) but i think its because single player is been left out for multiplayer so there busy making that work they will just throw you a story. but i think also its really down to the play skill because you see a new guy he will die a experienced player will work through at ease.
  • 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, Oh oh I can answer that one! That's what the introduction of Gamerscore and Trophies has done to the games Industry. I know when I first got a 360 I was GS mad, wanting to beat friends etc. Now 5 years on I don't give a shit and play when I want to.
  • i played GOW1 and GOW2 for years with friends. Then the changes came on GOW3, didn't like those changes. Everbody in my friendlist, even the GOW2 clan i was in fall apart because nobody liked the new changes, fast play, stupid achievements, horde and so on. Guess they want a broader audience, many hardcore gamers are leaving. Even the timeline to the next GOW is to short. There are 3,5 years between GOW2 and GOW3, now only 1,5 year to GOW4. I ain't going to buy GOW Judgment.
  • I've never liked the guy.... Don't know what it is about him but I think he's a knob... Could be his tight fitting shirts!
  • i kinda agree with games being less challenging, but completely with them being linear. I cant even count how many linear games Ive played over the last few months. i miss the days where you could go exploring, do what missions you like. Instead of being tied to a stupid narrow path and crappy scripted events
  • Bring it Cliffy, bring it biatch :)
  • It sucks when games are too easy and too hard. You should be able to win if you're skilled enough, but at the same time the difficulty should not be cheap. Look at Call of Duty on veteran - you only win because of luck and being able to peek around corners. Enemies with 95% accuracy just isn't realistic or fair.
  • I actually enjoy dying. That probably sounds really wierd out of context.
  • @10 indeed he is, in fact he borrows his Tshirts off my 6 year old and he's yet to return any of them. What happened to Gears is going be bigger and more "bad ass" line
  • I do agree with him but I cant help but wonder if this will actually be a step back in the right direction or if it will all be BS, dont really trust game companies promises anymore
  • @10 i Dont think he likes you and your hannah montata games either. ot: bring it!
  • I normally like to play games for fun and relaxation, but I do enjoy going through Gears on hardcore. Since I never do online co-op, I don't have anyone backing me up which makes taking down RAAM on Hardcore a challenge that I can feel proud that I solo-ed. Now I try and give most of my games a run-through on the harder/est difficulties. And when I complete them the gaming buzz I get is awesome.
  • i played gears 1, and i tried 2, never really understood why people went so crazy for an average game.
  • I am not going to die a lot in Gears of War: Judgement because I am not going to buy Gears of War: Judgement. EPIC can kiss my ass.
  • Lol there are loads of difficult games if you know where to look ... Its just mainstream games which are wimping out.
  • @20 you mean its to hard for you? ot: bring it!
  • just erase that stupid super reaload mutator shit !!!
  • I felt new games were easier too, but then again I'm probably just a better player then when I was 10 and such.
  • I agree. That's why I enjoy playing games like ninja gaiden 2 and dark souls.
  • I always welcome a challenge! It makes games more fun.
  • I always like Cliff B. Hes always been passionate about his games and gives the players what they want. People complained when the DLC for Gears 2 was overpriced so he reduced it.
  • im getting tired of he's statement's. It's like he listing too what people complain's about at the moment and then say he agreed's with them so they might buy he's games. (i am proberly going to get thump down for this)
  • @17 at least 10 is man enough to state his opinions on his own account and not hiding behind a troll account, and yes I've played Hannah as well
  • So is this all we're going to see until this game's release, are articles about how Cliff thinks things are too easy or whatever else his royal hypocrite'ness doesn't like? I think his opinions are a front to hide the fact that his series has the makings of being milked...yeh it is.
  • I agree games have been getting a bit easier, and seemingly catering to more 'casual' gamers. Most anyone can clear through a game nowadays without much effort. I remember when beating a game was a real accomplishment, limited continues and lives, not infinite respawns. The thing is though, there are a lot of gamers now who are accustomed to the infinite lives and continues, and what happens when they get faced with a really hard game where they die a lot and get frustrated? Will this turn off a lot of gamers?
  • I love a challenge but hate it when games just het cheap shots at you and look forward to this greatly
  • "Games Have Become More Linear and Easier" I agree, Gears have become more linear and easier.
  • I don't think I have sweated in gow since fighting Raam on insane really. I hope he is upping it up like they say....
  • Pretty psyched for this
  • @32 get a grip of yourself you homophobe
  • Dead Space 2 - Hard to the core made me it's bitch. I don't want that too much :)
  • I won't play it then. Gears series have notoriously difficult achievements.
  • Looking foward to this game, but there are MANY challenging games on the market, not just Demon souls
  • besides - difficulty and frustration often goes hand in hand, so devs really need to make an effort and give us GOOD games if the difficulty is rising. (ie Max Payne is a bitch - fun game, but issues makes it harder than it really should be = frustration).
  • GOW 1 Raam was brutal and GOW 3 last boss fight on Insane was tough too. I don't want it to be a cheap shot, Gears 3 is insanely hard on insane, if not using mutaors
  • This new game is just a GoW3 expansion pack. It looks the exact same.
  • "Games have become more linear and easier" Coming from the guy who made planted grenades, the sawed off and the Retro part of Gears multiplayer. Cool story, bro.
  • So no more cover system and no more Wolverine-health? Otherwise, easy game is easy.
  • Finally a developing team that gets it! Let's Rock!
  • Cannot wait for this, a reason for 4 player co-op...
  • My sweaty body is ready.
  • I agree with #8, there has to be some in-game reward system for the things you do, I don't beat games on hard unless there is an achievement for it, I hate it but an hour in I think "what will I earn for this", "oh nothing?" "Fuk it then". I don't want to waste my time playing games if I earn nothing in-game.
  • This GOW installment is going to suck. They should focus on other issues before trying to make this new "gears" game harder. Too many problems to list, and I have no desire to get this game. EPIC is going down the COD road, you watch.
  • They've already released more info on Judgement than they have on Fortnite. Did they give up on that already?
  • My "sweaty" balls are ready to drop in the mouths of more locust, bring on GOW:J, make us proud PCF !!!
  • @50 true all games are following COD, battlefield have brought out an premium service for people To buy now we just need someone to bring out Contestant remakes and same game over and over Like halo
  • Cliffy is 100 percent right. Games are too easy. Except for some exceptions, like Dark Souls and Ninja Gaiden, they are all pretty much cakewalks. What happened to the ridiculous difficulty of games like Contra and Battletoads?
  • Bleszinski concluded, “If this game doesn’t make you sweat, we haven’t done our jobs." lol sweat? sounds like I'll need some extra strength old spice winter breeze, and couple cases of power aid chilled with glacier ice, that gets poured into a metal grail that has been sitting in the frozen barrens of my freezer with a case of coors light on standby sitting in an ice cooler filled with ice that some hot russian babe is sitting on handing me chilled klondike bars as she seductively sucks on a frozen popsicle giving me the do you wana take a break look with her eyes, then the ice goddess Shiva steps through the to my living room doorway casting an ice blizzard spell saying, no home girl that's my man, then im like whoooooooooa there you two, keep your cool....
  • I hope GOWJ is good.
  • Id dont like Cliff but this is one of the smartest if not the smartest thing hes said.
  • Hmmm, could be just packed with cheesy moments. AI hasnt really gotten better since the days of old. One of the reason old games were hard comes down to bad controls or hit detection. Also they were difficult (generally) because they relied on muscle memory and pattern memorisation. I say this is fairer because the more you try and adapt you will eventually be 1cc the game. The other difficulty i personally like is the DOOM style. Pure overwhelment of enemies. You are generally stronger than the said enemy but the sheer number and their attack variety pose a tense and rewarding challenge that asks you to use your skills at evading, spacing and then attacking. Streets of Rage mania is a personally good example of this to.
  • Left 4 Dead's AI Director Valve need to license the shit out of this. This counteract's the familiarity of spawn points and repeating the near-same experience everytime you enter a room. Let's see how many get their Hard To the Core or The Shadows Rushed Me achievements then, eh? Probably not I :p Also funny how Cliff B. is saying this when each Gears games has gotten significantly easier. #51: Don't get your hopes up for any game until you see some gameplay. CGI trailers can suck it.
  • Most old games weren't harder, they were just more tedious. Shit like having to go back to 1-1 in Super Mario Bros if you run out of lives doesn't make the game harder. It's not testing your skills to have to replay a bunch of easy levels to get back to where you failed for another try. It's merely testing your patience. Same shit with Demon's Souls. It isn't testing your skills when it tricks you into going into an instant-death trap and sending you back to the start of the level. It's just testing your patience. And I for one do not enjoy that kind of "challenge". Give me something that's actually hard in terms of skill required but doesn't waste my time with making me replay a bunch of easy shit I already got past. That's the kind of challenge I want. Not this time wasting bullshit.
  • This is great news. All games can follow suit. Hopefully they can appease everyone by keeping all the difficulties the same and just adding a harder one. (OT..kinda) All games should have sliders so you can play it how you want. There would be no more bitching about too hard/too easy. You can just play the way you want.
  • Also, the hardest difficulty needs to be avaliable from the beginning. I hate that I had to play hardcore instead of insane in gears 3. It is way too easy and I found it boring. Made me not want to play it again on insane.
  • I've said this before, I'm not so sure that I'm looking forward to the difficulty being ramped up. I like to play the campaign on my own; Raam on Insane in Gears 1 was bloody hard to beat, the end boss on Insane in Gears 3 was ridiculously difficult. I'm not talking about using mutators, or playing in co-op, I mean totally on my own. They were both really difficult to beat and took me hours and hours to do so, and at the end I felt a sense of achievement. I wonder exactly what the statistics are for people completing these games alone on Insane? Certainly on Gears 3, I suspect that nowhere near as many people beat the end boss on Insane whilst playing it alone. It seems to me that most of my friends only beat the game on Insane whilst playing with others. What they need to do is keep the difficulty pretty much where it is, but have it scale up when playing with others, no mutators and no allowing different people to play on different difficulties in the same game, which in turn makes it easier. I really don't want the difficulty to be like Dark Souls; we're talking bullets here, and if a single bullet fired by an enemy with 100% accuracy is going to end the game, then I very much doubt that anyone would be able to complete the game, and worse still, it won't be any fun.
  • This coming from the same franchise that has become easier and easier each game it puts out? Raam on insane (1) was tough, the only tough part of (1) i might add. Gears 2 was easy, and gears 3 was the easiest so far and pretty laughable.They are becoming like cod, the first ones were hard, cod waw was insane, then mw2,mw3 have been a cakewalk. Pot ? Kettle? Black ?
  • @55 That's a crazy story. Nice boat.
  • I hope this'll turn out to be true. Gears should have been like this from the beginning, and while I understand making the game easier for casual players, that's what Casual difficulty is for, but they spend so much time trying to make the game "accessible to everyone" that they forget what drew fans to the series in the first place.
  • This is exactly why gears "omg" achievements are usually just time consuming achievements(seriously's anyone)! I've played plenty of rough XBLA games. Bionic Commando:Rearmed, Schiziod.... Ikaruga. Maybe anyone who says games are too linear and no challenge plays too many gears games or retail games... I really haven't found a retail game challenge in a while..... Also.... I will probably never play another gears game( unless going back to 1 or 3 for cheevos ) cause gears 3 was shit.... I want my 30 bucks back!
  • I can't wait for this game.I'm a huge Gears fan and so is my fiance.I've got all the games,books and even a Gears xbox 360 and tattoo.I have to admit though that the Gears games are pretty much the definition of linear.I don't know how the awesome Cliffy B could have thought it was anything but,lol. I am still enjoying Gears 3 and can't wait until I get to play Judgment!
  • I look forward to the challenge and rewards.
  • @3: That story is detailed in the novels, and it won't ever make it into the games, I guarantee you. He became a Pendulum Wars hero in the Battle of Aspho Fields, but the thing about this battle is that it was originally an infiltration to extract the Hammer of Dawn schematics, so there's no fighting until all of the COG's info-taking is done, and only then does the UIR strike. Even then, the battle is not a battle for the COG, but a retreat - as they have their information. Marcus becomes a renowned war hero because his friend, Carlos Santiago, becomes mortally wounded, pissing Marcus off enough to single-handedly hijack a UIR vehicle, which he subsequently turned and rampaged on the UIR with. So if you want an infiltration game that takes place over the course of one battle, with a minimum of actual fighting, and a short vehicle session, then go ahead and ask for that. But I personally want a different scenario lol
  • @58 I agree, I've beaten Perfect Dark on perfect agent, and under 1:38:00 to get the full 200GS the enemies were almost always in the same spot but it took some serious technique and knowledge of the level to beat it with a fast enough time. OT: I hope it's difficult, but I don't want it to be CoD difficult where it's just simply unfair, and where there's too much luck required. I don't want to be cursing Epic's name when I play GoWJ.
  • Cliffy B. Has a point there, but i think what he forget is that alot of games did try to be masterpieces in terms of graphics but totaly forgot about the story or how to corperate this all into an non linear gameplay. The fact that Gears Of War when it came out had all the right ingredients to be one outstanding game and abit of a showpiece for the xbox360 then says enough, if the follow up games sucsseded depends how you look at it, sure the def team tried hard to bring something new to the audience, but not always for the best, i know enough gamers that enjoyed the first game and the MP, but changes in the new MP in Gears 2 proved totaly bad and wrong, not to mention they probly took a look at Halo matchmaking and tried to copy that but what works for one game not means it works for another. This new Gears sure will try to go another road but i not think stiffen up the difficulty will bring a whole new range of gamers into this game that never played the first 3 games or didn,t like it back then. Actualy stiffen up the difficulty to a point even the famous hardcore difficulty looks and plays like a walk in the park not would turn this inyo a better game, it even could backfire, i think they far better off making an believable story and a set of caracters you actualy feel close with and yes even then a bit of linear gameplay woudn,t be that much of a problem, because lets face it, its after all still a cover based shooter game and we seen and will see more of those. But with the right ingredients it might be more then just that :)
  • so does the difficulty change for just 1 person in 4 player if they are owning? suddenly if your good at the game your gonna be dying heaps??
  • I think Cliffy B says the things he thinks old school gamers want to hear-but doesn't really think it himself.Speaking as a 40yr old gamer of many years-i don't think games are easier;smarter AI,better technology added to a generation of more experienced gamers makes it appear so.It all comes down to choice these days-the majority of games have a crazy difficulty if you want to play that way,they also so have a more user-friendly difficulty catering to the more casual gamer. Also people seem to equate hard to get cheevo's with difficulty when a lot of the 'hard' cheevos e.g GOW Seriously-are just time playing related not difficulty related. Anyhow Dead Space 2,Dark Souls,War of the Worlds and Left4Dead2 on expert are all recent games that really test your ability,patience and resolve.If your up for that or want to just play for fun-its all cool with me.I'm a fan of GoW and will play Judgement on Normal,Hardcore,Insane-In the words of Marcus Fenix....'BRING IT!'
  • Cliffy B, further proving the fact that he is a mega douche.
  • I wouldn't mind seeing the Dark souls system there where we die it gets harder.
  • damn, he's good at stating the obvious. lil cliffy b needs to play more games, because there are plenty of challenges out there to be had.
  • I am excited for this big time.
  • Hopefully some gameplay trailers soon can tide me towards buying this. Considering the series was intended to be finished at GoW3, it looks more like they're living off the franchises name than anything else.
  • Isn't Gears linear? Nothing wrong with a linear game, so long as your story and gameplay are good. On-rails and QTEs though? Nah, they can play in traffic.
  • @75 and how exactly is that?
  • Cliff Bleszinski annoys the hell out of me, but I love Gears!
  • Funny how he said games are becoming linear, because Gears of War 3 was the most linear game I've played all year.
  • No more Epic games for me, ever.
  • You can't make these corridor-shooters hard without being cheap. CoD has only been hard because of unlimited enemy spawn(=cheap). Games have to have some kind of tactical freedom to be able to ramp up the difficulty and still be fair. A shooter I found quite challenging and still fun is the Brass-Balls ins Bioshock1. If a part is too hard you can try a ton of different weapons and ammunitions, hack turrets, go explore for more upgrades/health kits, try different combinations of plasmids and tonic, try taking a different route through the level, set traps, ... but on games like Gears or CoD or something pretty much all you can do is improve your reflexes, so a way to up the difficulty is pretty much reduced your time you have to react. This is a small line to walk on for making a challenging but fair difficulty. The simplicity of modern shooters with their Auto regeneration, limited leveldesign and 2 weapon limit ,a checkpoint every 2 minutes, ... makes it pretty hard to not be cheap, so I'd rather have them stay there, where they are. I think Gears Judgment will be pretty much the same as the games before. I don't think they have enough time to revamp the concept that much, even if they were willing to do it, which I doubt they are.
  • Good I love games that are insanely hard and insanely open... Day Z *mod* is a great experience/ example because of the two things I listed... and because I love super realistic games. Now if they would add gun degradation, gun jamming, a more involved way to interact wit the environment more realistically and a few other things that game would be perfect >:) in a nut shell bring on the pain!!
  • raam on insane like difficulty? i don't mind at all last boss of GOW3 on insane like difficulty? i do not want. that one was cheap as hell
  • Well no shit you 37 yr old media whore. 90's pc gaming was fucking hardcore! no bullshit tutorial stage, automatic assist, or hints.
  • lol day one over a 1000 gamers 100% gears of war judgment and that will be in the 1st 7 hours lol
  • So, in order for Gears 4 to be considered "hard" we will now be campaign reset? Seriously guys. I believe about as much that comes out of Cliffys mouth as much as Peter Moylnuexs (Spellings off, I know, and don't care). And if they pull that Mutator shit (which IS fun) then that's not hard at all. I love Gears, and always have. Lets just hope they don't F this one up more than 3.
  • People and developers have to remember that there is a huge difference between legitimate challenge, and cheap/unfair artificial difficulty or tedious frustration.
  • Might pick it up after I finish Seriously 3.0.......oh right nevermind.
  • I find this hilarious. He said the same thing about Gears 1 when 3 was coming out. The said it again about Gears 2 when 3 was coming out.
  • Anymore PRISON TERM SENTENCE ACHEIVEMENT REQUIREMENTS like Seriously 3.0 and I wont be buying.. end of story.
  • I give up if something is too hard i hope this is not too bad. Some parts on insane have got me stuck for an hour or 2 that was bad. Nothing that bad in number 3 though. I have quit MANY games because of difficulty
  • try solo-ing reach on legendary !!! XD challenge accepted !
  • So games such as ninja gaiden and dark souls are easy huh?. i like how games keel over to the gaming cimmunity. How many people here complained call of duty veteran difficulty was brutal and helped get that dumbed down. Come one gaming community its not the publishers fault, they have to appeal to every one now
  • “But every other mode will be hard in this game and you will die." Funny CliffyB seems to be paying homage to Dark Souls so much, but even so... I really doubt that you can compare any Gears game to a Sous game. Even on Insane, it's difficulty doesn't even match DS's base gameplay (without the NG+ buffs.)
  • So linear, but bullets do more dmg. Sweet, not buying.
  • Cliffy doesn't want games to be hard for fun. He wants them to be hard so you don't play anything else. Seriously...(4.0)
  • Is the guy blind? Gears 3 was much harder than the other. Developers need to stop focusing on difficulty and focus on the damn game itself. Make it good, that's all I care about. That's what "difficulty levels" are for. Nuff said. I fear that Gears is going to turn into that SSDD just like Call of Duty. I like what the did with the Lambent being the primary threat in Gears 3 as opposed to the Locusts, it was a nice change. Now they need to keep focusing on keeping us on our toes, not focus on insignificant shit that people don't care about. Just give us a good story and fun new MP additions like Gears 3 did and I'll be happy...
  • Games have become more linear and easy? YOU DON'T SAY!
  • @67 Bastado - I agree 100%, Arcade games, well a lot of them show how easy most retails are. The last difficult retail that was really hard was the challenges in Vanquish.
  • @3 they dont have too much of a reason to make a gears game based on how Marcs and Dom became Pendulem war heroes because they covered all that in the first gears book "Aspho Fields" You should pick the books up they're an amazing read :)
  • @104 - Just because there's a book out there doesn't mean the majority of players have read it.
  • @105: the point is that the events of the books would make for short, horrible games. Marcus and Dom became Pendulum Wars heroes through a brief, covert mission to infiltrate a UIR science facility and steal the Hammer of Dawn plans. This mission didn't last long and didn't see any extended action.
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