Gears of War – “Movin’ On Up”


“Movin’ On Up” is a Gears of War level in which Marcus Fenix must work his way up the floors of an apartment building to the roof to catch a ride on a Raven and escape the city.  Marcus must explore each floor to find the right path up.  Locust inhabit both this and the nearby buildings, attempting to prevent Marcus’ escape.

For this level, I focused on scripted combat sequences and matinees.  Much of the combat within the level begins with a scripted sequence or matinee, giving life to each of the encounters.  Not every encounter uses them, however, to avoid overuse and taking away from the uniqueness of each encounter.  I wanted plenty of playtime for the player, and a bit of exploration as well, so the building is fairly large.  There were humorous elements added as well, to add a bit of levity to the overall seriousness of the level.

Development time:  Approximately 180 man-hours

Original Level Design Document:

To play this level, download this .zip file and follow the instructions in the Word file contained in the .zip:  (must have Gears of War for the PC to play)

Brief video highlighting some gameplay elements of the level: Movin’ On Up Video


Exploring rooms offers different experiences

Rooms were identical on each floor, to give the feeling of a typical apartment complex. Each room that was available for exploration (not all were open) offered different experiences, whether through combat or exploration. The goal was to provide more incentive for exploration and offer some minor rewards for finding hidden objects. Some of the humorous elements could only be found through exploration, as well.


Hallways offered confined battles and open sightlines.

The goal of long hallways was to change the dynamic of combat and give the player more sense of danger has they had very little to no cover.  At times, the player was forced to fight while retreating.  The planters offered artificial cover nodes but were not fully protective.


Danger from the building next door.

Part of the route to the rooftop required players to leave the building and climb the fire escape. To add danger to this path, I used the building next door as a vantage point for enemy snipers to attack the player by surprise through the windows. A sniper rifle was place strategically near the first opening to help the player through this combat. The enemy drones would shatter windows as they moved between them, creating their own sniper positions.


The cityscape was laid out for realism.

Originally the design of the exterior was a mass of buildings around the complex. This made no sense, both aesthetically and from a logical layout.  So I redesigned the exterior extensively to give a true city feel. Streets with lights, various buildings and businesses, and different particle and lighting effects were added to give it life.


Rooftop to rooftop combat.

The goal of the fast-paced and heavy combat between the two rooftops was to give the player a sense of power and accomplishment. A timer created a sense of panic in the player to prevent the enemies from coming across from the other building and overwhelming the player. The troika was protected to an extent, so the player could mow down enemies, but there was still a sense of danger even if it was artificially created.


A puzzle to slow the pace of the level.

The way to the landing pad was locked from the player. After the frantic and heavy battle with the troika, this slowed the pace of the level down a bit to give the player a bit of a breather. The design of the puzzle was simple in that the bridge needed to be lowered, and shooting various connections brought it down.


The final battle.

The final battle was a bit of a surprise to the player. A matinee led the player to believe they were done with the mission, when a boomer appeared out of nowhere and shot the first Raven down. This boss battle was designed to not just surprise the player, but also tease them with completion of the level. The rooftop was designed to give plenty of cover, and also the ability to hide and maneuver around the boomer to catch it unaware.

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