Children, consequences, and Gears of War 4

Children, consequences, and Gears of War 4

That feel when Fenix has a kid with Baird


Okay, I’ve got to admit, when I saw the premise for The Coalition’s attempt to revitalise the Gears of War series with a fourth installment, I rolled my eyes. Gears of War: Gaiden. The Young Coggers. Young JD Fenix ran away from home to be a soldier and has now careered headlong into the newest threat to humanity. I’m kinda stuck wishing they’d taken another direction, because the theme feels way too familiar. I shouldn’t complain so much, though.

Ignoring the ‘last resort’ tone I’m taking here (keep in mind Gears of War is all about last resorts), this is a pretty good direction to take. Children have a habit of emphasizing the consequences of a character’s actions.

In the last game, Marcus Fenix blew up all of Sera’s fuel. That’s gotta have some pretty serious repercussions.

A topical sort of climate

When someone writes a story talking about a fuel crisis, it’s not hard to see how topical that is. Anything to do with the environment is going to be reminiscent of what we as a species are doing to the planet. If anything, the chaotic history of Gears of War could be seen as a grim reminder of what we might have to face when we finally run out of oil, coal – or more frighteningly, water. On Sera, we see a species caught up in war, and then moments after that’s over, facing a genocidal siege – and it’s all to do with fuel.

The plot of Gears of War 4 could be seen as an alternate future to what we might face, although it’s yet unclear how the people on Sera deal with the sudden non-existence of Imulsion.

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Thanks to a cover feature in Game Informer, we do know about the mass Locust graves – which remind me of the Plague and the Holocaust. It’s kind of a strange connection, because the Locust were only trying to survive when they made war on the humans. They were horrifyingly vicious in their pursuit of it, sure, but I’m not sure they were evil.

The mass graves would be a short term consequence normally, but with JD’s apparent theory connecting the Swarm with the Locust dead, we suddenly see that bomb coming back to bite the characters in unexpected ways – and all through its effects on their children.

Going back to the environment, there’s an equally topical theme in how the more fortunate of humanity gets to cower in walled cities from the now violent weather patterns of Sera, while the rest deal as best as they can in “Outsider” camps. It sounds a lot like the widening rift between wealth and poverty, which plagues us even in the present day. I wonder if the Outsiders are regarded under the same light?

These Outsider camps are, funnily enough, where we find our protagonists. Why would we start anywhere safe?

It seems we’ll never stop complaining about the weather.

With Gears of Wars 3 ending in such a drastic and world-changing decision, it’d be crazy not to follow the long-term consequences of the Fenix family’s decision. Although it seems that 25 years has been enough for humanity to begin to recover, destroying a major fuel source may have created more problems than it solved. Most notably, this can be seen in the “windflares” of Gears of War 4, the violent weather patterns I mentioned earlier which somehow result from the Locust War and the Imulsion Countermeasure Bomb.

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Basically, they’re giant tornadoes – with the contained force of a hurricane to boot.

Taking the idea of consequences and throwing them in the player’s face as well as our young protagonists, developer The Coalition apparently want to use this as a major mechanic in Gear of War 4. For the player, the wind can both be a serious asset and a deadly threat. For a few examples, being upwind might extend a grenade’s distance or increase your running speed. However, being downwind could find you running from a hail of your own bullets.

Considering that our newest threat “the Swarm” can also be affected by the weather, I’m imagining we’ll encounter a few flying enemies in that game which might be capable of terrifyingly fast charges that players might have to dodge. I’m sure the wind will also accelerate any leaps by the Pouncers we saw in the gameplay trailer at E3 last year.

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It’s good to see that The Coalition have kept the weapons and cover-based mechanics that make the Gears of War series what it is, and I’m interested by the inclusion of knife kills. However, I’m really looking forward to see where these windflares will take the game.

Clock’s ticking

It’s been revealed that Gears of War 4 takes place over the course of 24 hours. JD Fenix and his companions Del and Kait must survive a night in the forest while they hunt down the threat kidnapping the people in the village.

It’s kind of interesting how the game will be keeping to such a short timeframe. Tactics like that have a habit of hurling on the pressure of time, suggesting that some awful thing might come to pass when those 24 hours are up, and “we have to stop this before it’s too late.” Like defusing a bomb, or preventing an apocalypse, or something. Right now, the best I can think of is some kind of mass kidnapping – where whole villages will be taken at once, or maybe some kind of attack on the walled cities is being planned. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Damn, autumn can’t come fast enough. Time to replay the series, I think!

Jennifer Steiert
Jennifer aspires to world domination through the medium of narrative design, and is doing her best to worm her way into the profession. In the meantime, she's often up half the night on her Xbox One, or trying to finish BioShock. Otherwise, she spends the day knitting and writing.

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