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Recent Articles: Gears of War 4
Microsoft is prepping another Xbox One System Bundle and its meant to honor the re-release of a classic coming out next month. Can you guess what it is? If you said Rare Replay, I like your style, but you’re wrong. Instead, Microsoft will bundle together a digital download of Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and an Xbox One system on August 25.
In addition to the game, the Gears of War: Ultimate Edition Xbox One Bundle will include a 500 GB Xbox One system, an Xbox One Wireless Controller (with a 3.5mm headset jack), “early access” to the Gears of War 4 Multiplayer Beta, the “Superstar Cole” multiplayer skin, and a 14-day Xbox Live trial.
As part of their 2015 Comic-Con presentation, Studio Head Rod Fergusson also unveiled a behind-the-scenes video documenting The Coalition’s work on remastering the game’s cinematics. The video is the first in a nine-part series detailing the game’s development, so expect to hear plenty more from Fergusson’s team before Gears of War: Ultimate Edition’s August 25 launch.
Microsoft gave fans their first look at Gears of War 4 during their E3 Press Conference. In development at The Coalition under the guidance of Rod Fergusson, the nearly seven-minute gameplay trailer embedded above introduces us to two new characters, JD and his unnamed female partner. They’re looking for something… before they’re attacked by something… and then they find something (which turns out to be slimy pods)… before the something from before comes back to bite them with its many teeth.
Aside from all the somethings, what we do know is that Gears of War 4 will feature incredible graphics and an arsenal brimming with fan-favorites (the chainsaw-equipped Lancer, the Snub Pistol, and the Gnasher Shotgun).
I wish I could say more, but the trailer is very dark and very mysterious. Which makes sense when you realize that Gears of War 4’s Fall 2016 release is still a year-and-a-half away.
“What’s next for Gears of War” will debut at E3 2015 as Black Tusk Studios changes its name to The Coalition
Black Tusk Studios is no more. From this day forward, the studio will be known as The Coalition (an allusion to the Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) from Gears of War lore). The name change is designed to better convey The Coalition’s dedication to the Gears of War franchise, much like the public links the Halo series with 343 Industries and Turn 10 with the Forza franchise. The Studio Head of The Coalition, Rod Fergusson, further explained the reasons behind the name change in the video above. He also introduced the developer’s new logo.
And speaking of the Gears of War franchise, over on the Xbox Wire, Microsoft has promised that “what’s next for Gears of War” will be revealed on Monday, June 15 during their E3 2015 “Xbox Daily” show at 7:00 PM (Eastern Time). We don’t know if they’ll be announcing the Gears of War: Ultimate Edition or Gears of War 4, but fans of the franchise are surely excited all the same.
The Coalition is actually the second name change for the former “AAAA” developer. Before it took on the Black Tusk moniker in 2012, the studio was known as Microsoft Vancouver. They’ve yet to release a game under any name, but it’s only a matter of time now.
Jack Felling, a developer at Black Tusk Studios, has given us our first look at the upcoming Gears of War 4. Apparently, the motion capture shoot for the Xbox One game just wrapped up, so Felling tweeted out a picture of an actor holding the game’s signature weapon, the chainsaw-tipped Lancer:
— JackFelling (@btjackfelling) March 28, 2015
Development on Gears of War 4 (which is currently a working title for the game) began in January 2014. With all the motion capture work done, Black Tusk has clearly made some decent progress on the game over the last 15 months, but it’s likely still a ways from completion. Who knows, maybe we’ll hear more about Gears of War 4 at this year’s E3 Expo…
Rod Fergusson, the Studio Manager at Gears of War 4 developer Black Tusk Studios, wants to reintroduce the Gears of War franchise to its roots. The developer relayed fears that the franchise has lost its way to Phil Spencer, the head of Microsoft’s Xbox Division, who in turn discussed the future of the series with IGN on their Podcast Unlocked podcast:
The Head of Xbox told IGN that, in discussions with Rod Fergusson, who’s in charge of Gears of War at Black Tusk Studios, he’s talked about Gears of War becoming “a parody of itself” over time. “Not for any horrible reasons,” but because managing success over time is challenging.
Spencer and Fergusson have also discussed “getting back to something,” he continued. “I think [about] the story and the setting and what they’re going through as a band. Gears of War, the name really meant something to what that game was about. We need to get back to that.” He also reiterated that the next Gears of War is not a reboot.
If anyone understands the soul of the Gears of War franchise, its Fergusson. Before leaving Irrational late last year, the developer was employed by Epic and contributed to the first three Gears of War games.
Development on Gears of War 4 (or whatever the next Gears of War game will be called) began when Microsoft purchased the rights to the franchise from Epic Games. But just how early in the development cycle is Black Tusk Studios? Studio Manager Rod Fergusson recorded the company’s first Live Podcast to tell us about it.
According to Ferguson, development on Gears of War 4 is in the “concept/prototype stage.” He further explained: “It’s only been 100 days. I can’t go into a lot of depth about a lot of things. This isn’t going to be the place where I announce the name of the next game and all these sorts of things. Obviously it’s going to take some time to get to a point where we can do some stuff like that.”
One takeaway from Fergusson’s first public address should be that Gears of War 4 likely won’t appear at this year’s E3 Expo in any capacity.
But he also sounded enthusiastic about the future of the franchise, saying that he’s a fan of the game’s universe, but that fun trumps lore established in books or comics: “I believe fun is greater than canon. That’s not to say I’m going out of my way to destroy canon, but if I get to a situation that may invalidate a comic book or a book, I’m going to make that fun decision.”
Part of this enthusiasm is due to the fact that most of the developers at Black Tusk have never developed a Gears game before. Fergusson is thrilled that they can bring a fresh eye to a franchise that is pretty set in its ways.
But the developer is also happy about Microsoft’s commitment to Gears, especially the monetary one: “We’re able to push a lot harder in a lot of bigger areas. The franchise can do a lot more now that Microsoft owns the IP; we can expand it’s breadth and do a lot more with it.”
Yesterday, Marcus Fenix and the rest of the Gears of War gang moved from Epic Games to Black Tusk Studios as Microsoft acquired the publishing rights to the long-running Xbox-exclusive series. But it’s beginning to look like this acquisition will kill Black Tusk’s in-development “AAAA” project, which was first revealed at last year’s E3 Expo.
According to the official “XboxJobs” Twitter account, Black Tusk and Microsoft executives are currently determining if the project will continue:
— Xbox Jobs (@xboxjobs) January 27, 2014
— Xbox Jobs (@xboxjobs) January 27, 2014
Also yesterday, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer told reporters, “I wouldn’t say things have been shelved,” implying that development on Black Tusk’s “AAAA” game would continue. Hopefully, the status of Black Tusk’s future projects will be announced soon.
While the Gears of War franchise has always been exclusive to the Xbox 360, the rights to the series, as well as all development, were handled by Epic Games. Today, Microsoft has ensured that Marcus Fenix and the rest of the Gears grunts will remain exclusive to the Xbox platform as the publisher has purchased the rights to the Gears of War franchise from Epic. Terms of the deal were undisclosed, but Microsoft now owns all intellectual property rights to the franchise, the right to republish or remake any previous title in the series, all development assets, and the right to produce original Gears games in the future.
Just as 343 Industries took over for Bungie when they gave up their claim to the Halo series, Microsoft plans to place the Gears of War franchise in the hands of Black Tusk Studios, their studio in Vancouver. Black Tusk is currently working on an unnamed “AAAA” game that is not based on the trailer they showed during Microsoft’s E3 2013 Press Conference. Phil Spencer, the Vice President of Microsoft Game Studios, referred to it as a “concept piece.” Whatever form this “AAAA” game eventually takes, a new Gears game will likely be produced in parallel with it.
And what kind of Gears game does Black Tush have in mind? Microsoft wasn’t ready to announce anything today, but Spencer told GamesIndustry International: “We’re not announcing anything right now, but I think if you look at what we did with 343 and getting them up to speed for Halo 4, you can maybe anticipate some things that are similar to that. But it does give me confidence knowing that we’ve done this once with 343.”
If you remember, 343 Industries famously produced Halo Anniversary as a practice run before development began on Halo 4. Spencer’s words are a very strong hint that an Xbox One remake of one or more Gears games is currently in development.
Rod Fergusson, a producer on the first three Gears of War games, has been hired by Microsoft to oversee the franchise’s future at Black Tusk. Hopefully, we’ll learn more about that future soon.