The Gears of War series of video games has long been one of the crown jewels of Microsoft’s Xbox line of consoles, dating back to 2006’s first instalment for the Xbox 360. With the most recent release coming in 2016, gamers have been anxious to learn what’s next for Marcus Fenix, his son JD, and the rest of their crew.
After a slight tease involving some Funko Pop action figures at the expense of the audience, Microsoft’s E3 press conference got right to the latest adventure in the Gears universe.
Certainly looks a little different, no? The Coalition – the studio behind the games – brought out their head, Rod Fergusson, at the E3 edition of ‘Inside Xbox’, who expanded a little more on the game’s protagonist, confirming that Kait Diaz (first introduced in Gears of War 4) would be taking centre stage.
“It was a natural choice,” said Fergusson. “When you play through Gears 4, think of it as Mad Max: Fury Road. It was really Furiosa’s story, and Max was the side kick. That’s how it felt in Gears 4, the whole game is about saving Kait’s mom, and really JD is there to help her.”
That’s an interesting comparison, especially after Fury Road not only was credited with reviving the post-apocalypse genre, but also walked away from the 2015 Academy Awards with six golden statues. Pretty heady stuff.
Another reason the Fury Road comparison is intriguing is the lines drawn between Diaz and Charlize Theron’s Furiosa. The Gears of War series on the whole is one that is infused by machismo – almost at an absurd level – at every turn, represented for much of the series by four gruff men wielding chainsaw-guns. In Gears 4, the story really gets going for the first time when the plot surrounding Diaz herself is introduced, and yet the entire game still focuses on the two Fenix men and their relationship, relegating most development for Diaz to the side.
In that sense, Gears 5 has a real opportunity here to take the story in a new direction, giving it to Diaz instead of continuing the narrative of Marcus and JD. The Gears universe is so broad – and the Fenix men aren’t going anywhere – so The Coalition might as well try something different. After 12 years of the same type of adventure, Diaz and her journey to discover more about her connection to the Locust should provide some interesting story beats, along with some absolutely breathtaking next-gen visuals (I can only imagine how this looks on the Xbox One X). Comfortingly, it certainly looks as though the rest of the series’ spirit will still be intact: big guns along for lots of mole people murdering.
However, if that’s not for you, fret not; Microsoft also took the opportunity to debut another Gears game – Gears: Tactics. More in the style of XCOM, Gears: Tactics is actually set 12 years before the events of the first Gears title, following the adventures of an entirely new squad as they hunt down Locust forces bent on wiping out human cities around the globe.
“It’s our take on the classic turn-based strategy genre, with a character-driven story, faster, more aggressive gameplay, a customizable squad and equipment,” said Fergusson. “Of course, it wouldn’t be a Gears game without massive boss battles.”
Of course – we all expect nothing less. Whether it’s via Gears: Tactics or with the latest full entry via Gears 5, Microsoft has definitely not neglected one of their biggest franchises, and it looks like it’ll be a lot of fun when these games drop in stores and on Xbox Game Pass in 2019.
Gears of War 5 is set to arrive on Windows PC and Xbox One at some point in 2019.
You can find Shoaib on Twitter at @SNSAlli for plenty of additional news and stuff. Occasionally about video games, sometimes about films. It’s really a grab bag with that guy.