Atat E3 today, it was announced that Gears 5 will be released on September 10.
But what else did we learn today about? We were shown 'Escape', a new three player co-op mode that seems focused on close quarters combat and survival. Looked pretty cool.
Other than that, we didn't get much more info on the latest entry into the legendary Gears of War franchise.
Hold up, what's Gears of War again?
Gears of War is the Xbox exclusive that was once just a humble video game -- a very influential video game that arguably helped define a generation of console games. Gears of War was a third person shooter where big burly men shoot subterranean reptilian hominids called "locusts" which erupt from beneath the ground. It was extremely cool and was originally made by Epic Games.
Epic Games was a studio best known for its Unreal series of online first person shooters before Cliff Blezinski and his team started working on the original Gears of War. It was a game that took inspiration from Resident Evil 4 and its over the shoulder camera gimmick, but pushed it to the absolute next level with high-end HD visuals and a killer aesthetic.
Gears of War was an incredible-looking video game. For years it was the benchmark. When subsequent video games like Heavenly Sword and the original Uncharted were released the question was asked: does it look better than Gears of War. The answer to that question was usually "no".
But Gears of War wasn't just pretty, it was visceral. It was grim. It had an art style that influenced an entire generation. Remember that five-year period when all video games were just a little bit "browner"? That was Gears of War's fault. Developers spent years trying to imitate the melancholy art that made Gears of War so memorable, and very few came close.
It wasn't just the visuals that made Gears of War magical -- it was the weight. Gears of War was about meaty men with gigantic muscles stomping around with oversized weapons killing bad guys. The best part: It did an incredible job of making you feel that weight. Gears of War was like Predator: The Video Game. It also had an incredibly tactile cover system and an "active reload" mechanic that made players feel like they were actually reloading weapons instead of just pressing a button.
Man, Gears of War was so awesome.
Gears of War 2 was also awesome, as was Gears of War 3 which finished off the main story arc.
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.
Then what happened?
Epic Games stopped making Gears of War games (eventually they would stumble across incredible success with Fortnite). Microsoft had another studio called People Can Fly help Epic out with Gears of War: Judgement -- which was essentially a spin-off focused on Damon Baird and Augustus Cole, two non-main characters from the original series. Critical reception was mixed and sales were comparatively poor.
Time for a reboot?
Yes, exactly! And that's what happened. Gears of War 4 began development with a brand-new studio and a brand-new concept.
Set 25 years after the events of the original Gears of War trilogy, Gears of War 4 follows J.D. Fenix, the son of Marcus Fenix, the protagonist from the original games. This game was better received than Gears of War: Judgement and is largely thought, among fans, to have gotten the series back on track.
Now to Gears 5
Gears 5 now has a shorter name (they got rid of the "of War" part) and it's a direct sequel to Gears of War 4. It's being made by the same development team (The Coalition) and that team is headed up by Rod Fergusson, who's been involved with the series right from the start. Long story short: the series is in good hands.
Now let's talk story. This is a bit convoluted so I'll keep it brief.
Since it was set 25 years after the events of the first game, Gears of War 4 established a new enemy: The Swarm, an evolved hivemind version of the Locust, who served as the bad guys in the first trilogy.
It's an interesting universe, a sort of post-apocalyptic space where insane weather events can influence the tide of battle. Gears of War 4 took full advantage of that with its well put together set pieces. We hope to see more of that in Gears 5.
In Gears of War 4 you play as J.D Fenix (son of Marcus Fenix, the main character in the first trilogy). But it looks like Gears 5 will focus on Kait, a female character who was pivotal to the plot in Gears of War 4. Gears 5, as far as we can tell, will be about Kait's story and her attempts to understand the origin of the Locust and the Swarm.
You can watch the full cinematic announce trailer here for a bit more context.
What can we expect in Gears 5?
The decision to make Kait the protagonist of Gears 5 was one that made perfect sense, according to Coalition studio head Rod Fergusson. He compares Gears of War 4 to Mad Max ($15 at Amazon): "It was really Furiosa's story, and Max was the side kick. That's how it felt in Gears 4."
So you can probably expect a greater focus on that character and her broader arc.
In terms of the game itself, most sequels of this type will focus on expanding the scale of the combat. Gears of War 4 was extremely dynamic in terms of its environments. We're hoping to see this expanded and hoping to learn more about this new, damaged version of Earth.
Upcoming E3 press conferences
Saturday, June 8
- Electronic Arts -- The game maker showed off 15 minutes of gameplay for its upcoming adventure game, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. It also announced new features for its free-to-download Apex Legends last-man-standing battle royale game, offering a new character and weapon to play with. The company also showed off a new paid update for The Sims 4, called Island Living, that brings the series to a tropical beach. Finally, the company did discuss drama over the mixed reviews for its Anthem action adventure game, saying it "learned a lot" and had more updates and features planned soon.
Sunday, June 9
- Microsoft / Xbox -- The gaming giant's biggest news was Project Scarlett, its next-generation Xbox, coming in 2020. The new device is up to 4x more powerful, the company said, and like the next-gen PlayStation it'll include a fast non-mechanical SSD hard drive, and it'll be powered by custom innards built with the help of chipmaker AMD. The company also announced that Halo Infinite will launch alongside Project Scarlett next year. Meantime, Microsoft is starting public tests of its Project xCloud streaming service in October, promising people the ability to play high end games on their mobile devices while away from home. While fans wait, Microsoft announced an update to its Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 as well as a slew of new games. And action star Keanu Reeves, fresh off the success of John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum, was on stage to announce his involvement with Cyberpunk 2077, which is coming next year.
- Bethesda -- 5:30 p.m. PT (8:30 p.m. ET)
Monday, June 10
- PC Gaming Show -- 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET)
- Ubisoft -- 1 p.m. PT (4 p.m. ET)
- Square Enix -- 6 p.m. PT (9 p.m. ET)
Tuesday, June 11
- Nintendo (livestream only) -- 9 a.m. PT (noon ET)