Gears of War developer The Coalition is back with a new Unreal Engine 5 tech demo, giving us a fresh look at what Gears 6 could offer –and it’s rather exciting indeed.
Lasting for a minute (the footage begins at 0:47), The Cavern demo showcases movie quality assets that feature tens of millions of polygons that can be rendered in real-time. This results in a massive 100x leap forward in graphic detail, according to The Coalition. Featuring incredibly realistic visuals, we find the unnamed character holding a light crystal, as he faces down a fearsome enemy. Swap that crystal for a gun and it wouldn’t look out of place in a Gears sequel.
It certainly looks impressive, but that’s not all. During an interview with Xbox Wire, studio technical director Kate Rayner elaborated on The Coalition’s work with Unreal Engine 5. Advising that’s been ongoing for over a year – something we previously knew thanks to the Alpha Point demo – Rayner confirmed The Cavern was the team’s “first-ever cinematic in UE5.”
Asked about her initial impressions of Epic’s latest engine, Rayner said: “First, it was very exciting to get access, everyone at The Coalition was jumping in. That’s when we began the work to create Alpha Point. The biggest surprise to me was how finished the engine was, and how easy it was to bring UE4 content into UE5 seamlessly.” As for transitioning from Unreal Engine 4 to 5, Rayner calls this process “very smooth,” telling Xbox Wire “it only took us about two weeks to get the team switched over.”
Naturally, the questions didn’t stop there. Asked if there’s anything that made this transition smoother, Rayner explained how the engine’s architecture is “really quite modular, and we have embraced plugins as a structure to extend the functionality and modify the engine to our needs. Plugins being able to contain content – not just code – has been a revelation.” When working with Unreal Engine 4, she confirmed the team would make “a lot of changes to the engine over time, and so those integration costs would get higher.” Now, she calls those integrations much smoother, giving them more flexibility.
A glimpse of what's to come?
Unfortunately, we wouldn’t expect a Gears 6 announcement anytime soon. Gears 5 wrapped up post-launch support last September after two years with Operation 8 Drop 2, but when asked which Unreal Engine 5 tools their next project uses, Rayner simply states “we’re not ready to talk about our next game.” That’s unsurprising as in the previous update last May, the team advised “shifting to a new engine is a big undertaking, so we want to be clear that we will not be announcing any new projects or titles for some time.”
Previous rumors suggest Gears 6 will launch around 2024 “at the earliest.” However, that same report also suggested The Coalition’s working on a smaller, brand new IP first, one that’s aiming to release next year. Both remain unconfirmed by Microsoft and The Coalition but either way, we’re confident Gears 6 will eventually happen and if it looks anything like The Cavern, we’ll certainly be content.
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Henry is a freelance writer based in Bournemouth, United Kingdom. When he's not wandering in VR or burning through his RPG backlog, he's probably planning his next D&D session.