After the initial reveal at E3 last year, the team at The Coalition went silent about Gears of War 4. Thanks to Game Informer's cover feature by Ben Reeves, we now have a lot more information about the game. I do recommend getting the issue, as I will only cover some of the new information here.
The game is set to take place 25 years after the events of the Gears of War 3, and it features Marcus Fenix's son JD Fenix, alongside his old friend Delmont "Del" Walker and new acquaintance Kait Diaz. I say new because the game starts off with JD and Del going AWOL from the COG and seeking refuge with an outsider village, where Kait happens to reside.
The game will shift its focus from four player co-op and instead only feature 2 player co-op, but the campaign will still be entirely playable with a buddy (both online and local). The story will only feature these three characters as playable, but there are still plenty of interesting NPC's to meet along the way. Rod Ferguson, head of The Coalition, cited wanting a more intimate feel akin to the original game instead of the warfare on a larger scale inspired Gears of War 3.
Speaking of the three main characters, Ferguson elaborated on the team's approach in fleshing them out.
"With Gears 1, we didn't have a lot of time for backstory, so we had to default to a kind of shorthand with the characters. They became archetypes because you really had to understand them right away. Now, I think people are looking for much more nuanced storytelling. We were able to describe Gears of War 1's characters with a couple of words, but I find that it's much harder to do that with JD, Del, and Kait because there are a lot more layers to them. You can't pigeonhole them as, 'overenthusiastic pro-athlete.'".
As for who the main antagonist is, it comes in the form of a new faction called The Swarm. Ferguson and The Coalition spoke with some of the original designers at Epic to help come up with a new enemy that challenged the player in new ways but still felt slightly familiar.
"Because the Locust were me, Lee Perry, and Cliff (Bleszinski) all coming up with gameplay ideas, there is no inherent logic to them." I don't know if we ever sat down and though really analytically about what role everything plays. We knew it inherently because the games evolved over time."
In addition to the new weapons and close combat techniques, the weather plays a huge role in the land of Sera this time around, wind especially. Due to Sera's unstable climate, there are now four tiers of storms that can erupt throughout the course of your journey, and your gameplay habits will have to adjust according to how severe it is. For instance, if it is a category three, you will have to account for trajectories and what direction you are facing, as firing a bullet straight into the wind will have it zip right back at you. You can also use it to your advantage, utilizing the changing environment for cover or attempting to direct falling debris upon your enemies.
The series seems like it is in good hands, but hopefully, we will get to see more of the game in action at this years E3. There is plenty of additional information in the magazine, so make sure to give it a read.