At E3 2015 Microsoft and The Coalition lifted the lid on Gears of War 4 with a live gameplay demo by studio head Rod Fergusson.
The important take out for me was moving away from their traditional teaser trailers to announce games with and do a gameplay demo on-stage which I think was good move. People told Microsoft they wanted less CGI trailers after Crackdown, Scalebound and Phantom Dust at last years E3 so they showed gameplay and then people complain about what they see when it’s quite early, hilarious.
Black Tusk Studios as they were known when they took over the Gears of War franchise back in January 2014 have worked hard on the game and at E3 represented 17 months worth of development time (if the demo was finished in June) and if it launches in November 2016, it will have another 17 months left in development, so whichever way you look at it we’re pretty much dead on the halfway stage in development, The Coalition have also been working with Splash Damage on Gears of War Ultimate Edition which launches next month.
I largely suspect that this demo, which looked very polished was what they have shown the Microsoft executives and they decided to polish it up to show to the world, at this stage it’s incredibly unlikely that they have any big set-pieces ready to show off with development split between multiplayer and the campaign, if more of the game was complete it wouldn’t still have almost 18 months left of development. I think showing gameplay was a great move and showed a lot of confidence in the product.
A gameplay demo like that is infinitely more interesting (and probably 5 minutes longer) than a CGI or in-engine trailer would have been should they had chosen that instead.
The demo to me was very much setting the scene for the game as an announcement is intended to do: Introduce the main characters? Check. Hint at different gameplay mechanics? (Weather systems etc) Check. Show off art style, tone and graphics? Check. A bit of fan-service for popular elements of the previous games? (chainsaw usage, cover etc) Check. Tease the new threat? Check! It had everything I would have expected it to have and I thought it was a good first demo to show off the game.
We also have a lot of details left to find out, more enemy variants, more weapons, locations, story settings, new characters to introduce or maybe re-introduce? If its even still set on Sera so there a lot to come just from the campaign and we have the multiplayer beta which is hitting Xbox One in Spring 2016 so we can expect more new information and footage sometime before next Spring, personally I’m not anticipating much in the way of campaign information before next E3 although it’s not an impossibility.
The tone is dark to bring back that Gears of War 1 and 2 feel which was lost a bit in Gears 3, the characters are called JD and Cait and seem to be the new protagonists but as Gears of War 3 and Judgment had 4 player co-op I would expect they would keep that feature for the next one, looking at the armour on JD you can clearly see the symbol on it isn’t a COG, given the timeline of the game (a Gears of War 3 sequel) if its set on Sera this could be a new organisation they have founded or if its set elsewhere it will be a new group but it retains the frill outside of what was the crimson omen for the original quadrilogy:
The other big question is whether its set on Sera or not as I mentioned above. Ever since the opening cinematic of Gears of War back in 2006 had the Locust Queen refer to “the humans of Sera” I have always expected there to be some other planet (or planets) involved somewhere along the line which never happened. If they have moved the game off Sera it would give them the option to have as many differences or similarities between the two planets as it suited them, Gears 3 had a fairly definitive ending, unless they retconned something or just made Gears 4 on top of that I don’t know how interesting you could really make the story.
If imulsion was on all the planets causing a common theme we could see it cause different problems from turning the Locust lambent to have other effects, similar and different enemies, building architecture, weapons etc changes but similarities would be justifiable with this, giving them a free license to do as they please.
Its worth noting this picture just after the 1 minute mark which could be a hint too, the Gears wiki does mention Sera has many moons and the reference points to a Gears of War 2 level but it could still be a hint, Rod was rather coy on the subject at E3 too.
Gears is back courtesy of The Coalition starting in August with Ultimate Edition and following on to the release of Gears of Four (trademark pending), good time to be a Gears fan as Microsoft get going with their plans for the franchise