The April 2016 issue of Game Informer has a 14-page cover story on Microsoft’s Gears of War 4, which delves into the history of new developer The Coalition, the state of the world of Sera after Gears of War 3, and offers a hands-on report with new weapons and cover mechanics.
Gears of War 4 is set 25 years after the events of Gears of War 3. The Emulsion weapon set off at the end of Gears of War 3 killed off all fossil fuels, and humanity has become an endangered species huddled in walled cities and seeking shelter from devastating windstorms—the result of the bomb and intense war aftermath—that radically change the field of battle. These windstorms are called “windflares,” and are described as a combination of hurricane and tornado.
The game features four categories of weather. There’s the heavy breeze where trees, leave, dust, and such begin kicking up, and that grows into three, more violent category windstorms that affect combat and weapon usage, where the main goal is to survive, dodge lighting strikes, and such. The Coalition wants you to think of the wind when fighting—putting wind behind you could help projectiles travel, for example, but fighting against the wind could send bullets back at you. Enemies are also affected by the weather.
The setting, including its forest, forts, and such, is heavily inspired by northern Italy. There are “Outsider” camps outside the Coalition of Ordered Governments.
Gears of War 4 aims to bring back the first game’s darker, horror-themed roots. Game Informer introduces three playable characters:
- JD Fenix (protagonist) – Marcus Fenix’s son. He joined the COG militia, and a classified incident caused him to unintentionally abandon his post.
- Del – JD Fenix and Del befriended each other and form a deep bond during boarding school.
- Kait – An “Outsider” and capable survivalist, who shares the Outsider perspective with Jand Del.
The story of Gears of War 4 begins when their Outsider village is invaded by a mysterious new force, and their people kidnapped. JD, Del, and Kait go searching in the forest, wondering why they were the only ones spared.
The new enemy of Gears of War 4 is known as “The Swarm.” After the war ended, there were too many Locust to bury, so many were tossed into mass graves—something JD, Del, and Kait believe may be linked to the threat. The first mission sees the trio in the forest, discovering giant cocoon-like pods, from which almost human-looking pale monstrous creatures called “Juvies” erupt. Juvies, seemingly the main enemy type, can evolve into “Drones” and are capable of using weapons.
The Coalition is also experimenting with new enemies, like the “Pouncer” shown during the E3 2015 gameplay demo. The Pouncer switches tactics based on the player. For example, running out in the open will cause it to shoot poisonous quills, while staying in cover will cause it to come after you.
There are new weapons, like “construction-based” tools re-purposed for combat. The Coalition also wanted to revamp the cover system, and now players can more easily mantle kick over any piece of cover and perform knife kills. You can also perform short distance shoulder charges to knock enemies off balance. Enemies can pull players out of cover and perform their own take-downs. The game uses dynamic cover, so you can shoot enemy pods from ceilings in an otherwise open area, for example.
There is a big emphasis on multiplayer. The Coalition says it wants to meet the needs of both recreational and eSports players, and acknowledges the love for Horde Mode and promises fans won’t be disappointed. Two-player couch co-op will also return.
For much more on Gears of War 4, pick up the April 2016 issue of Game Informer.