[Update: Several recent job listings at Splash Damage have set the rumor mill in motion, suggesting that work on Gears of War 5 is now underway.
Splash Damage is the studio that worked on the multiplayer side of Gears of War 4 and it's now looking to fill roles such as associate art director, storyboard artist, cinematic artist and cinematic lead.
Given that the job listings explicitly state the work is for the Gears of War franchise, there's good reason for fan hopes to be high. That said, it's not impossible that they could be for a non-numbered addition to the franchise, like Gears of War: Judgement.
At the very least, Gears of War fans using Xbox Game Pass will be happy to know that any future game in the franchise will be included on their subscription following Microsoft's confirmation that all first-party exclusives, current and future, would be included on the service.]
Gears of War is one of the biggest series on Xbox, with the Lancer and its chainsaw bayonet being about as recognizable as Halo’s iconic Warthog. There’s little doubt that Microsoft has plans to continue the series; Gears of War 4 certainly left enough loose threads with which to weave a sequel, and developer The Coalition has hinted that it expects to helm the potential Gears of War 5.
While no details of a sequel have been released, it’s most likely that the game would pick up where Gears of War 4 left off: 25 years after the original trilogy and with humanity facing a new threat, The Swarm, an evolution of the Locust, the aliens that plagued humans in the first three games. As in the last game, you’ll most likely slip back into the boots of JD Fenix, son of Marcus Fenix.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The fifth game in the main Gears of War series, potentially acting as the middle chapter in a second trilogy
- When’s it out? TBA
- What can I play it on? Xbox One, and PC (maybe. See below for more details)
Trailer and screenshots
Because Microsoft is keeping quiet on the development on Gears of War 5, not yet even confirming it is in fact being made, it hasn’t released any trailers or screenshots of the game. That would somewhat let the proverbial locust out of the proverbial hive, and if anyone knows how to keep locusts pouring out of hives it’s the publisher of Gears of War.
As to when we’re likely to first see the game in action, a safe bet would be at Microsoft’s E3 press conference in June. The Xbox One has a pretty light stable when it comes to exclusives, particularly after cancelling Scalebound and delaying both State of Decay 2 and Crackdown 3. It needs to make waves this year by revealing games it has planned for 2019 - Halo 6 and Gears of War 5 would be very strong candidates.
With Gears of War 5 not yet being announced any suggestion of a release date would be entirely guesswork. Though, we can take into account the fact that Gears of War 4 was released at the end of 2016 and developer The Coalition hasn’t discussed working on any other project since the game’s release.
Couple that with the fact Microsoft needs exclusives for 2019 and it would line up that a three year dev cycle on a Gears of War 5 would be wrapping up at the end of 2019, just in time for winter.
News and features
The only solid news on a Gears of War 5 comes from a statement Rod Ferguson, studio head of The Coalition, made eight months before the release of Gears of War 4.
Speaking to Digital Spy, Ferguson said “One of the things that's nice about Microsoft's investment is that we know, unless this does horribly, we're probably going to do another one. That's made it easier to design moving forward. In the past, when we were doing Gears 1, Gears 2 and Gears 3, there was a lot of doubt, we didn't know whether there would be another one, so we just had to get everything in right now. Here, we're able to look at it, recognize a great idea that doesn't quite fit right now, but it'll fit in the next one. It's made it a lot easier.“
Microsoft has been pushing its PC Play Anywhere program, that sees you able to take your Xbox games and play them on Windows PCs. Gears of War 4 made use of it way back in 2016, so there’s no reason why Microsoft would drop the service for a sequel. (Which is a nice change, considering Gears of War 2 and 3 never saw releases on PC.)
Gears of War 4 ended with an air of expectation. Rather than eradicating a threat, the game ended with the establishment of a new enemy: the Swarm, an evolution of the original trilogy’s locust. Everything was being set up for a greater conflict between this new race and the last vestiges of the human factions on Sera - the COG and the Outsiders, two groups that were at odds with one another.
Gears of War 5 would have to continue that conflict, revealing the larger aim of the Swarm and see the two human factions forge a union to combat the growing threat.
What we want to see
Gears of War 4 ended with JD and Kait fighting their way through the Swarm to try and save Reyna, Kait’s mother, only to find it was too late. Reyna wasn’t dead but the Swarm were trying to integrate her into their hive and removing her would kill her. But, at Reyna’s request, JD and Kait tear her away from the Swarm.
Before she does, Reyna teases a great mystery: she gives Kait a necklace that she says she was given by her own mother, Kait’s grandmother. The symbol is one Gears fans will recognize looks remarkably similar to one worn by Queen Myrrah of the Locust, your nemesis in original trilogy. A Gears sequel would have to explore this further – are Reyna and Kait descendants of the Locust?
There are hints that Adam Fenix, Marcus’ father, JD’s grandfather was close to Myrrah before the wars, so there’s a chance that Locusts and humans coupled but it would be new territory for a Gears of War game to explore.
Besides continuing the campaign story, we’d like to see more of the changed world we were introduced to in Gears of War 4. Taking place 25 years after the original trilogy, the sequel is set in a world where humans were forced to abandon fossil fuels and collect together in small martial law-governed encampments and violent windstorms sweep the land, tearing up anything left unprotected.
Gears of War 5 should explore that further, showing us how desperate humans are trying to fight off the Swarm on a planet that is trying to kill them.
The Coalition worked to make Gears of War 4’s battlefields more dynamic places, giving you the ability to pull enemies out of cover and leap forward with short range charges. A sequel should continue this, giving players greater freedom of movement and ways to break stalemates between human and Swarm forces.
The original Gears of War cemented the cover shooter as a subgenre, now its sequels have to rattle its foundations by taking away the safety of sitting behind a low wall.