What happens when one thirty-something man puts the final “honey can you hang this up for me” nail in the wall of their newly purchased home and another thirty-something man kisses his long time girlfriend goodbye as she boards a plane for a two week long mother-daughter vacation? They lock themselves in their gaming rooms with a healthy supply of beer and chips and play Gears of War 3 multiplayer like they’re still in their early twenties! That’s what!

We’ve been having a blast, despite getting our butts kicked by late night Gears clans more often than not, but at some point the merger of Warzone and Execution modes into one randomly generated option really started to annoy us. Running around like a mad man with a shotgun in Execution mode can be fun, and it certainly may be the more popular choice between the two, but what if you simply want to hunker down behind cover in Warzone mode, shoot the shit with a friend, and play things out a bit more strategically from time to time?

Warzone is great for that type of approach because you can actually kill your enemy from a distance, where Execution, as the name implies, more often than not requires you to get up close and personal to finish your foe. Getting a headshot with a sniper rifle, blowing them up with the Boomshot or grenade, etc, are exceptions to this rule. We really started to wonder why this merger was made and if Epic had any plans on addressing it, so I reached out to Epic Games Design Director, Cliff Bleszinski, and he promptly put me in touch with their Senior Programmer and “Playlist Wrangler,” Peter Knepley, who had the following to say:

“We needed to add a Player’s Choice playlist so those without DLC could play on dedicated servers and we only have 8 playlist slots. We felt that the two event playlists (a rotating mix of Alpha, Zeta, weekend events, etc.) were needed due to community feedback so we’ve merged Warzone and Execution due to Warzone’s low player population and the similarity of the two game types. We’re working on possible solutions that will allow them to be separated in the future.”

This may have been addressed officially in the past, but I did some searching around and all I could find prior to contacting them was forum speculation. Armed with an official response, one could hardly argue that their reasoning wasn’t sound, and the admittance that they are working on a possible solution for future separation of the two modes brings a smile to my cover popping face.

That said, I still wanted some more answers. I was curious as to how they planned on addressing this while working within the 8 slot limit and dealing with the low player population variable. They could knock the event playlist down from two slots to one, but considering that option was put in place based on community feedback, I don’t think that would end up being a very popular move. The most logical thing to do, from a player satisfaction standpoint, would be to eliminate the Player’s Choice playlist and give everyone dedicated server access. Could Peter and the team be considering that option?

“We currently have no plans to release a booster pack like we did for the Horde Command Pack. We may provide playlists that are not Player’s Choice in the future for those without DLC to utilize dedicated servers, but it’s only in the discussion phase.”

Hey, it’s being discussed, and that’s better than nothing. Keep your fingers crossed.

Lastly, I wanted to key in and clarify the statement Peter made about the “low population” of the Warzone mode. What was this data based on? Currently the only way you can get into either Warzone or Execution mode is based on the luck of the draw, so does that mean that the low population data he refers to is based on a previous version of the game? The answer, no. Peter told us that the population numbers were strictly based on Gears 3, and that the data compiled was taken during the months of Warzone exclusive mode access that exixted prior to the release of Fenix Rising.

“Warzone was on its own playlist for months until Fenix Rising arrived, that is the data I was using to put it in War/Exe. The recent data is obviously biased, but there was no reason to believe the numbers would improve if left alone.”

Does this mean Warzone is the least popular mode in the entire game? No. The low population comment more accurately addresses the modes that feature the ability to respawn versus the modes that do not, and Warzone just so happened to be in the non respawn bucket and similar to another mode.

“All the gametypes that don’t allow respawning in Gears 3 seem to have low populations compared to the respawn types. Warzone is not the least popular overall I believe, but it’s still in the lowest tier. Making the War/Exe playlist made the most sense due to their similarities in rule sets. Merging Warzone and CTL doesn’t make sense since their rule sets are so different. Merging Wingman and Warzone is impossible due to the team setup in Wingman.”

A few quick points to take away here. One, a larger population of people enjoy respawning more than they do flying around the map in death cam mode, though I find the death cam especially entertaining when the only living participants are bots. Warzone is not the least popular mode in the game, it just so happens to not allow respawns and closely resemble Execution mode. Epic is currently considering ways to potentially separate Warzone and Execution mode once again. And most importantly, when your buddy’s girlfriend comes home from her mother-daughter vacation, his Gears gaming schedule will undoubtedly take a massive hit.

Share your thoughts in the comments section below: Do you like things the way they are currently set up with Warzone and Execution being merged? What do you think of the Player’s Choice playlist? Would you welcome more dedicated server options? Sound off!