In late January, Microsoft acquired the rights to Gears of War and passed the juggernaut of a franchise to Black Tusk Studios who are now currently working on its next game. Black Tusk Studios has been relatively silent for the past three months until now; Studio Manager Rod Fergusson is asking the official Gears of War forum for questions about the upcoming game and will be answering them on a podcast—called a Rodcast—May 8th.
Gears of War fans’ questions are (of course) all over the map, but there’s a healthy amount of people pitching what they want in the next game. This, of course, got me thinking about what I want in the next Gears of War game, because I’m quite fond of the franchise and have both high hopes and expectations for its Xbox One debut.
Here are five things I want in the next Gears of War game.
One: A Look Backwards
Gears of War 3 ended the war and the main story for Marcus Fenix. There is no going forward, and any attempts at going forward would feel cheap. What Black Tusk Studios needs to do is look back, for Sera has a rich history to itself that I would love to play through.
To start, we have the Pendulum Wars which spanned seven decades as the two primary factions on Sera competed for natural resources. That’s a huge time span to play with and a tried-but-true conflict that still holds application today. I’d love to see how all of this went down.
Next we have E-Day, when the Locust hordes broke through Sera and began to wage their own war on the humans above. I would love to play that day. To see the shock and damage and absolute disarray of everyone would be brilliant.
There are also large time gaps within the original Gears of War series that can be filled and plenty of puzzles that haven’t been fully fleshed out. I’d personally like to know more about the Sires and that line of experiments.
Sera has much to offer, and all of it is in the past. Black Tusk Studios needs to play the role of archeologist for us; there’s plenty to unearth.
Two: Gameplay Variety
I feel like this shouldn’t need to be said, but Gears of War: Judgment happened and so here we are.
My favorite Gears of War game is Gears of War 2, and the dense gameplay variety is a primary reason for that. Above ground, below ground, giant worms, a crazy horror-inspired level, Reavers, tanks, and even a Brumak. The game moves along at a crazy pace, and though it devolves into silly at some points, it’s always fun and an absolute joy to play.
I want more of that.
Variety is the spice of life, and Gears of War: Judgment had no spice. Whatever Black Tusk Studios makes, I hope it is spicy.
Three: Less Machismo
This might sound like some kind of blasphemy given Marcus, Dom, Baird, and Cole, but I would really like the testosterone toned down in future Gears of War games. I enjoyed my time with the Delta Squad, but the over-the-top nature of Delta Squad made character development difficult.
Marcus Fenix is fun, but he only has two primary emotions: angry and really angry. There’s no real nuance to him, and a good narrative needs some nuance. Baird and Cole aren’t much different, playing their respective roles of snarky and enthusiastic, respectfully. Dom is the only character with any real emotional range, but even then, he spent most of his time being angry and really angry.
I want characters with a range of emotions, ones that are fleshed out and developed. In order for that to happen, the machismo will need to be toned down a bit.
Four: A Closer Look at the Locusts
There are two sides to every conflict. Gears of War thus far has primarily focused on the human conflict, but surely their foes should have a chance to speak. I want to know more about the Locust hordes. I want to know more about their people, their culture, their technology; in short: I want to know more about their society.
Propaganda paints the foe as evil, and the Locusts sure weren’t gentlemanly when it came to war. But evil for the sake of evil rarely exists, and evil for the sake of evil is boring. I don’t believe the Locusts were evil, and as Gears of War 3 shows us, they had their own reasons to fight.
I want to know more of that. I want to know what the life of a Locust soldier was like, what their Queen would say to inspire their loyalty and bloodshed, what they thought of their own giant worm or how they perceived the destruction of cities and their fallen.
There are two sides to every conflict. Epic gave us heads; Black Tusk Studios, why don’t you give us tails?
Five: A Focus on Anyone but Delta Squad
This is my most important wish and one that’s the least likely to happen due to the nature of franchises.
Gears of War 3 ended the war and ended the arc of Marcus Fenix and Delta Squad. Done. Over. Final. The end scene of Gears of War 3 is still one I find chilling: Marcus sits down and takes off his bandana and just looks absolutely defeated by everything that happened to him. It’s a powerful scene and gets to the heart of war. It cuts through the machismo and one-liners and feels real. It’s absolutely perfect.
To continue on with Delta Squad in any way, I think, would do a complete injustice to that ending. We saw them form and we saw them separate. Extra bits shoe-horned into the middle of that timespan would just feel lazy and uninspired, and anyways, none of those extra bits would matter. We already know the final ending.
Marcus deserves rest. So do Baird and Cole. Sera is a huge planet with a huge history, so let’s explore that. Black Tusk Studios has a chance to do something new with a well-established franchise, and they should take that chance and make Gears of War their own.
This means giving us new characters in new environments. Keep the backdrop of the Locust war if need be, but change everything else.
Ultimately, I want Black Tusk Studios to respect what Epic did. That means leaving Delta Squad behind.