To move forward we must first look back. Know your past to learn for the future. First we are going to look at, Killing off the Gears of War cast - how Epic picked the trilogy's casualties
If you've yet to bludgeon, blast and curb-stomp your way to the end of the [Gears of War](movie:671276) trilogy, stop reading this first section now. The franchise is legendary for its habit of killing off main characters - sometimes to tug at your heart strings, sometimes just for giggles - from the reliably expendable Carmine brothers to Marcus Fenix's best bromancer Dom Santiago.
Many moons ago, after the launch of Gears of War 3, OXM spoke to Epic's then director of production Rod Fergusson about how the developer went about selecting characters for the chopping block. "I don't think we're as bad as Game of Thrones," he said.
Have a look at the casualty list and see what you can deduce about Fergusson's current project, a new Gears of War game for Xbox One...
"The part that's hard is there are characters we kill where in hindsight you think 'I would have loved to explore that character more'. Tai Kaliso is a good example of that. We created him for Gears 2 and then we killed him. Seeing him in comics and talking to [Gears 3 writer] Karen Traviss about him in the novels and stuff - he was such a cool character."
"We thought about killing Marcus, but there's more to him that we'd never revealed. We thought it was more interesting to have his father die, and have a 'I'm about to reconcile and now I lost it again' thing. The idea of having Marcus go away is kind of like when Halo put Master Chief in cryo-sleep, in case you ever needed him. It felt wrong to kill one of our heroes."
"Dom had such a huge role in Gears 2 when he was trying to find his wife, that the emotional part of his story had kind of been told. We felt like Dom was the character we'd tapped out the most, so he was the logical one to let go. And we thought 'how can we surprise people? Let's not do it at the end when people expect it - let's do it in the middle."
"At one point Jace Stratton was going to die. Jace was supposed to die when the ship blew up at the beginning of Gears 3. He was going to be the perfect cameo character, but then we ended up letting him live and do all the remaining sessions, and we had to bring in Michael B. Jordan as voice actor because it was a more intensive recording process than we were planning."
Hoff or not
"Colonel Hoffman was on the table for Gears 3 - he was supposed to come with you to get the submarine instead of Dizzy, and he was going to die when you sail off. But for Karen, Hoffman is one of the few people in the books that has a historical perspective - that can think about things before the war. She didn't want to lose him as a narrative vehicle for the books."
So, New Characters...
The story of Marcus Fenix and Delta Squad was a wild ride, but it is a story that had a beginning a middle and an end. The personal journey of Marcus Fenix wrapped up nicely by the end of Gears of War 3 and he may not be a character that needs to be explored much deeper although we don't expect him to be written out completely. Even Baird got his back story and motivations fleshed out a little bit in Gears of War: Judgment. As much as we came to love the four misfit heroes and friends, it may be time to look onto greener pastures.
The scope of the Gears universe is huge and there are many conflicting factions that may be ripe for character mining. Having a new set of protagonists from the likes of the Stranded or even the COG's old enemy from the Pendulum War, the Union of Independent Republics (better known as Indies), could be a refreshing take on the universe. Giving a different point of view on the conflict from one of these opposing groups is something that's been touched on in the past (with the Indie's being represented by Judgment's Garron Paduk and even Gears of War 3's former Stranded-turned-COG, Jace Stratton), but there's room to flush out the series in a big way by building upon the universe with additional characters and a new setting.
Will that lead to new Settings?
While on the subject of changing things up, a new setting may well breathe life into the the aging Gears formula. The Locust attack was a worldwide event that lead to the human race obliterating most of their home planet Sera. While the series has offered brief stints to other ecosystems, its story has often felt somewhat localized. Basing the next Gears on another part of the planet and seeing how other cultures survived in different countries and landscapes would be a nice way to mix up the tried and tested formula.
That is to say if the the game decides to stay on Sera. While space travel hasn't featured in the Gears of War universe yet, that doesn't mean that humanity won't go looking outward in the future - Especially now that their home planet has exhausted its natural resource, imulsion. It might even give humanity a new enemy to battle since the Locust horde has been supposedly quelled. It would also give familiar characters something new to do...
With next gen comes smarter AI (we hope)
While the Locust soldiers aren't meant to be the sharpest tools in the shed, their behavior in battle has always been fairly dimwitted, which is strange when you consider the race is full of hive-mind warriors. Too often in the series, players could hide behind a wall and just wait until the Locust got up and walked towards another piece of cover – completely leaving the beast vulnerable to a barrage of gunfire in the process.
Coming into a new generation, the capabilities to rebuild the A.I. system and give enemy combatants better analytical power is more than available to the developers at Black Tusk Studios. The Xbox One's processing capacity (and that of the infamous "cloud") could lead the A.I. to better read what a player is doing and respond in a strategic formation, be it falling back together or one enemy charging at you while another shoots.
That kind of adaptability could lead to more intense firefights as players are asked to think tactically about their position instead of waiting behind a wall until a Locust pops up his head up after a relatively short amount of time.
Gears on XboxOne artwork!
With the lack of Gears of War news even at E3 any news is good news, During a livestream on Twitch, Black Tusk Studio Manager Rod Fergusson “teased” the first concept art piece for the upcoming Gears of War for Xbox One.
Unfortunately the artwork was completely blurred out, and we don’t even really know if it was real or just a full blown joke, but you can still check it out and see if you can make something out from these splotches of colour. It definitely seems like environmental/city artwork, at least in my eyes. Thoughts?
At E3, Black Tusk Studios manager Rod Fergusson said, “It’s only been 100 days. I can’t go into a lot of depth about a lot of things. This isn’t going to be the place where I announce the name of the next game and all these sorts of things. Obviously it’s going to take some time to get to a point where we can do some stuff like that,” according to WarpZoned.
He said he’s happy with Microsoft’s current commitment with the franchise.
“We’re able to push a lot harder in a lot of bigger areas. The franchise can do a lot more now that Microsoft owns the IP; we can expand it’s breadth and do a lot more with it,” he added.
Ferugsson told OXM that players will be forced to make tough choices in the game and the theme of betrayal will be prominent in the fourth game.
“It’s the same thing with all sequels,” he told the magazine. “This isn’t a great way of phrasing it but I always talk about shipping a sequel to customers as ‘managing betrayal’. They want something new but they don’t want something so new that it doesn’t feel like what they want. But if you put out something that’s very familiar and is the same as the game they just had, then it’s like ‘I’ve already had this. This isn’t new enough."
So there you have it, as promised, our latest update for Gears of War on Xbox One.
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What would you like to see from the next Gears of War?