The next Gears of War chapter is right around the corner and, well, we know the story can get complicated.

Gears of War 4 follows JD Fenix, son of Marcus Fenix and Anya Stroud, as he works to contain a new threat hell-bent on destroying the remnants of humanity. In order to truly understand and appreciate the latest project, you’ll want to look back at the franchise as a whole.

(Worth noting: Gears of War: Judgment has not been included because it is not essential to understanding the the franchise.)

Gears of War

The first game kicks off fourteen years after Emergence Day, when the Locust Horde living beneath the planet’s surface rise up and attack COG soldiers and civilians.

Here, former soldier Marcus Fenix is freed from prison by close friend Dominic Santiago so that he can assist in the fight against the Locust. After regrouping with the other two members of Delta Squad, Anthony Carmine and Minh Young Kim, they are instructed to find Alpha Squad and recover the Resonator, a device which can be used to map out the Locust tunnel network beneath the surface so that a bomb can be delivered to collapse it.

Once they find Alpha and secure the device after suffering heavily losses, Delta is then sent to the Lethia Imulsion Facility to map the tunnel network with the Resonator.

Following a rough ride to the facility, Marcus and Delta Squad head into the tunnels and approach an optimal location for the Resonator to scan the entire network, but the data collected isn’t nearly enough for the bomb to be properly used. Baird is able to find a device with a near-complete map of the tunnel system linking back to Marcus’s father, Adam Fenix, which they intend to use to successfully deploy the bomb. With the map in hand, Delta Squad heads back to the East Barricade Academy to find that Adam left a complete map of the tunnel system behind, which they download while holding off a Locust onslaught before escaping with the data.

With the Lightmass bomb on a train and the proper data needed for a strike at the Locust, Delta heads towards the Tyro Pillar (the armored train) and is ambushed by a Locust force lead by General RAAM at the station. Fighting their way through the hordes of enemies, Marcus and Dom eventually run into General RAAM guarding the Lightmass bomb and defeat him, sending the train down into the tunnels with the bomb and escaping via helicopter. But, despite being severely crippled, the Locust Queen makes sure humanity knows they plan to retaliate.

Gears of War 2

Gears of War 2 starts off in a hospital located in Jacinto, one of the last safe refuges for humanity on the planet. During a brief training session, the hospital is attacked by Locust, forcing Marcus, Dom, and Tai to fight them off with the help of Ben Carmine, sending them into a full retreat. Following the assault, Chairman Richard Prescott rallies the remaining COG forces and informs them the Locust are back and hitting humanity hard, sinking entire cities into the ground. Humanity’s only option is to strike directly at the Hollow once again, the underground tunnel network used by the Locust.

After utilizing massive drilling trucks to dig into the ground and deploy soldiers into the Hollow, Marcus and Dom regroup with some friends and move through the area until they discover what was being used to sink cities:

Commanded by the Locust Skorge, a gigantic Riftworm was creating massive sinkholes — and so Delta proceeds directly into the Riftworm to kill it from the inside. With the giant worm dead, Delta Squad moves on to the New Hope Research Facility to find information on the actual Locust stronghold, called Nexus, and the location of the Locust Queen.

With the location in hand, the team heads to the Nexus and sends a signal for the rest of the COG forces to join them, only to find out the Locust are in a war with the Lambent (Locust who have been mutated from Imulsion exposure) and plan to sink Jacinto to flood them out.

Eventually, the squad reaches the Locust Queen who informs them of her plan and escapes to Jacinto with her forces. Marcus and Dom pursue her back to the surface after dealing with Skorge and work to defend COG headquarters. Following a dangerous battle, humanity manages to use a Brumak to sink Jacinto and flood the Hollow, drowning both the Locust Horde and the Lambent beneath them for good.

Gears of War 3

Gears of War 3 takes place after the sinking of Jacinto and the flooding of the Locust tunnels. 18 months later, the remaining humans have moved to the island of Vectes and start to rebuild once again.

After barely more than a year of peace, Lambent emerge from underground while the COG Head of State, Chairman Prescott, abandons his post and leaves everyone to fend for themselves. Those remaining behind take to the sea on the CNV Sovereign to avoid further Lambent incursions.

While aboard the Sovereign, Prescott arrives with a data disc showing Marcus that his father, Adam Fenix, is still alive. Despite being able to fend off the attack, both Prescott and the ship are lost, leaving Marcus with the location of a secret base called Azura where his father was being held. It’s protected by a large, man-made Maelstrom, however, and Delta Squad has to use a sub to enter.

Once in Azura, Delta discovers Prescott actually knew about Emergence Day before it happened and built the large resort to house the most elite members of humanity until the war was over. On the island, the team is contacted directly by Adam Fenix who needs their help to stop the Lambent. After disabling the the Maelstrom device and calling for reinforcements, Delta regroups with Marcus’s father.

With COG forces on their way, Marcus meets his father and the Locust queen atop the hotel where his father was kept only to learn that he had been working with Myrrah for 20 years but refused to let them help finish his plan because it would kill their race. And so, in typical Gears of War fashion, Marcus puts the Myrrah down and frees his father.

Following their reunion, Adam explains that Imulsion is a living organism which adapts itself to both Locust and human bodies to create the Lambent, evolving quickly to protect itself. His plan is to develop a type of energy wave, like a bomb, which would only destroy cells infected by Imulsion, but he needs their help to power it up.

With his father in tow, Marcus and his team heads up to the roof where his father’s device is located and fights off hordes of enemies while the machine powers up. Here, Marcus learns that his father is infused with Imulsion just as the machine goes off, killing his father and wiping the Locust and Lambent from the planet…leading directly into the opening of Gears of War 4 years later.

Photos via gearsofwar.com

Nicholas is a writer and content creator in Knoxville. He frequently covers video games and other consumer electronics. When he's not writing for Inverse, you can usually find him tweeting about Star Wars or streaming on Twitch.