Gears of War 4's story is designed to lay the foundations for a new trilogy in the franchise and a whole new universe that can be explored going forward. Speaking in an interview with Game Informer, various member of The Coalition -- the Microsoft studio heading up development of the franchise -- discussed picking up where Gears of War 3 left off, and charting a new path for its heroes.
"For us it was 'OK, moving forward, how do we setup a foundation for not just a trilogy, but for a much larger universe," said Chuck Osieja, creative director of the sequel.
"We talked about things like alternate planets and things like that [but] we wanted to stay on Sera because we wanted to have the opportunity revisit old places and use specific weapons, to have these touchstones to the past." added studio head Rod Fergusson.
"That's when we decided 'let's go all the way forward, let's put enough time in and have a new generation of heroes and create JD Fenix, Marcus's son," he continued.
According to Fergusson, who also worked on the previous trilogy when it was developed by Epic Games, players won't begin Gears of War 4 as part of a larger COG army. Instead, it begins with JD and his friends operating outside of the military hierarchy after going AWOL.
"[They're outsiders], a sort of splinter faction for people who didn't want to live under the oppression of the new COG. I think you see the COGs as adversaries, I wouldn't say enemies as that's a little strong."
The story is set over the course of one night, starting in an afternoon and then finishing in the morning. JD and his squad must survive the night and find the mother of his teammate, Kate. It is described as a personal story about "three people being in the woods for one night," and as a result it draws upon the themes of survival and horror the the first entry in the series also did.
Interestingly, Fergusson also discussed his aspirations for the new Gears trilogy, saying he isn't aiming for it to be "the greatest story ever told."
"When you're dealing with a game type where the one interaction you have with the world is with what you shoot, it makes it really hard to tell the heartfelt story. Probably The Last of Us is the closest we've come to accomplishing that.
"I'm not sitting here saying we're trying to be the be all and end all of storytelling. For us it's about creating compelling characters, world, and doing cool s**t that we can go back to again and again."
As previously revealed Gears of War 4's co-op, which is a staple of the series, is limited to two players locally and online, and not four, as was the case with Gears of War 3.
The sequel's resolution and frame rate has also been confirmed, and The Coalition has teased that a PC version is "possibly" in the works.
Gears of War 4 will launch in full in fall 2016 and a beta will be held in April.