Gears of War 4
Developer: The Coalition
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
Our wishlist for the inevitable sequel.
With Gears 5, The Coalition have put the Gears of War franchise firmly back on track, and it’s no surprise that already, may (ourselves included) are dreaming of a sequel. And unless things go horribly wrong – which remains very unlikely – there will be a sequel. But where would we like to see said sequel take the franchise? Gears 5 makes plenty of improvements to a tried and tested formula, but we have a few more suggestions for how things could be even better. In this feature, we’ll be going over a few of them.
Do note, that there might be some minor spoilers for Gears 5 in this feature.
With all that out of the way, without further ado, let’s get started.
CALL IT “GEARS OF WAR 6″
Okay, seriously though- let’s get started.
MORE MARCUS FENIX
Marcus Fenix instantly became one of the most recognizable faces in the industry with the original Gears of War, and with all the sequels that followed, his popularity only grew. With Gears of War 4, The Coalition introduced a new set of primary characters – who continue to be at the forefront with its sequel – which means that in spite of still very much being in the thick of things, Marcus and co. have been pushed to the sidelines. Its clear now that Kait and the other new characters The Coalition have created and developed are capable of shouldering the spotlight’s burden, but in Gears 6, we’re hoping Marcus Fenix has more of a presence than he did in Gears 5.
He was, to be fair, a pretty big presence in Gears of War 4 as it is, while in Gears 5, he’s still very much in the fold, in spite of being less prominent. But as this new saga continues to ramp up, we’re hoping that Marcus, too, will become a lot more prominent.
PLAYABLE MARCUS FENIX
We get that The Coalition are trying to establish the younger generation of Gears characters as the new primary protagonists, and honestly, they’ve been doing a pretty good job of it. We’re not saying we want Marcus to completely hog the limelight- I, for one, would love to see where Kait’s story goes. But it would be great, and an absolute treat for series fans, to be able to play as him once again. Even if it’s just for a single chapter, or an even smaller section of the game. Perhaps in a flashback? It could work!
MORE BACKSTORY FOR NEWER CHARACTERS
Getting back to the new guard though, The Coalition deserve credit for how well they’ve introduced a completely new set of characters. Gears of War 4 may have left something to be desired, but there’s no doubt that in Gears 5, Kait, Del, and JD all became significantly more compelling characters, while even the newly introduced Faz is sure to have made a lot of fans. So what should Gears 6 do with them? Well, the first order of the day should be to give us more backstory for as many of them as possible. It goes without saying that we’ll be learning more about Kait, but I’d love to learn more about the others as well. Gears 5 hinted at some very interesting stuff in the past for JD, Del, and Faz, and I think most fans would want to learn more about their COG days pre-Gears 4.
MORE NARRATIVE CHOICES
Gears 5 did plenty of stuff that this series has never done before- one of those things was to present players with a pretty major narrative choice at a crucial juncture. To avoid spoilers, we won’t talk about what that was, or when it happened- but we do hope we see more of this stuff. Having a branching narrative isn’t something that we ever thought Gears of War would do, but that moment in Gears 5 was a very exciting one. Seeing the outcome of that choice is one of the biggest reasons to be excited for Gears 6, and we’re hoping the series continues down this road by offering players even more opportunities to shape the narrative.
MORE DYNAMIC OPEN AREAS
Gears 5 literally blew things open by setting the bulk of its missions in open world-ish environments, and without a doubt, having the freedom to slow down the pace and tackle interesting side missions was something that added a lot to the proceedings. The only problem is, Gears 5’s open world areas were a bit… empty. Actually, they were completely empty. They were static, they had nothing to do, and they basically just served as places connecting several small and large mission areas.
There’s no doubt in most people’s minds that The Coalition should not abandon this approach with Gears 6. We’re just hoping that the sequel’s open world areas will be more dynamic, and offer more stuff. One particular section in Gears 5’s second open world area sees players sailing the skiff through a furious windflare- that’s the sort of stuff that would add a lot to these areas. Add windflares as dynamic weather rather than just static sequences, add random enemy encounters- anything to make the world feel more alive.
MORE BOSS/MINI-BOSS ENCOUNTERS
Gears of War has always excelled at throwing new and dangerous enemies at players, and Gears 5 was no different. From the terrifying Warden to the formidable Flock, there were constant encounters with harder-to-beat enemy types throughout the game, not to mention a couple of set-piece boss encounters that absolutely stole the show. So what do we want from Gears 6 in this area? More. Just more. Just keep doing what you have been doing. Introduce more new enemy types, and keep throwing them at us for even more thrilling and memorable encounters.
DOUBLE DOWN ON JACK
Of the many changes Gears 5 makes, the one that affects moment-to-moment gameplay the most – arguably even more than the open world areas – is Jack. The bot changes up combat considerably, and everything from upgrading him to looking for components to using his various abilities during firefights makes the game significantly better. Hopefully, this is something Gears 6 will double down on. Add more abilities for Jack to learn, add more variety to his upgrades, maybe even add branching upgrades to make things more interesting. Jack makes Gears of War’s already-stellar combat even better, and further improvements in this area should be a no-brainer for the inevitable Gears 6.
Other than Jack, there are a few other ways Gears 6 can improve Gears 5’s already-excellent combat. One more thing Gears 5 does to add some dynamism to its firefights is add the element of player choice, so that rather than being forced into encounters, players now often have the ability to start encounters on their terms. This more often than not means the ability to stealthily take out enemies who’re unaware of your presence- and it’s an area Gears 6 could do with some improvements in.
Gears 5’s stealth mechanics are functional, but that’s all they are, and while it would be more than just a little foolish to expect Gears 6 to turn into a full stealth game, one can hope for better stealth mechanics. Give us the ability to crouch, improve enemy AI during stealth, and have even more areas that are specifically designed to offer players paths that they can take to keep out of enemies’ vision for at least a little while.
Beyond stealth, there are still some other ways Gears 6 can take what Gears 5 does and expand on it- like using the environment to our advantage. For instance, there are multiple sections in Gears 5 that allow the player to shoot ice out from under the feet of advancing enemies to drop them into the water below for instant kills. More of that please, Gears 6.
CRAFTING AND UPGRADING
This is something Gears of War has never done, but if you think about it, it’d make things quite interesting. I’m not saying Gears of War would go into complete RPG territory and make players craft potions (of all things). But having the ability to craft better gear and armour, or having the ability to upgrade weapons might not be such a bad idea for a Gears game. I know a lot of the fun in a Gears of War game comes from constantly picking up new weapons that you find in the field- but Gears 5 allows you to store a couple of weapons on your skiff, and using something like that to leverage crafting and upgrading mechanics would be a nice way to strike a balance between these two approaches to handling weapons and gear.
4 PLAYER CO-OP
Gears of War 3 introduced 4 player co-op for its campaign, which was a decision that proved to be very popular, but it isn’t something the series has done again under The Coalition. Gears of War 4 cut that number down to two players, while Gears 5 offered a maximum of three players, with The Coalition not wanting to be restricted in terms of storytelling by how many characters were in a scene at any given time. While their justification is completely understandable, hopefully, Gears 6 will offer 4 player co-op in its campaign once again, and hopefully, The Coalition will find a way to make it work without having to sacrifice anything in the storytelling department.
OPTION FOR CLASSIC HORDE MODE
Horde mode was an absolute revelation when Epic Games introduced it in Gears of War 2, and it’s only gone from strength to strength since then. In Gears 5, with hero shooter elements and a great many other bells and whistles, it’s probably the best thing the game has to offer on its multiplayer side of things. But as good as it is, do you know what I really miss? That classic, vanilla Horde mode from Gears 2. Just you with four of your friends, fighting against wave upon wave of enemies with nothing else to think about.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Gears 6 should absolutely build on the improvements all Gears games since 2 have made to the Horde mode. Horde modes are a dime a dozen these days, and a vanilla experience by itself would be a bit of a disappointment. What would be the exact opposite of a disappointment, though, is having the option to play classic Horde matches. Hopefully, Gears 6 will improve upon Gears 5’s Horde mode, while also offering the option to play good old vanilla Gears 2Horde.