SUCK PAVEMENT

Everything we know about Microsoft's fated Gears 6 release

A pivotal Gears executive departs, but the bloodbath must go on.

Gears 5 was a spiritual reboot to the 14-year-old Gears of War series that laid the foundations for a new generation of Gears games for many more years to come.

Besides the obvious name change seemingly inspired by The Fast and the Furious' reduction to Fast & Furious, Gears 5 shifted its focus away from JD Fenix to make Kait Diaz its protagonist, experimenting with an RPG element during a pivotal moment of the story. This change in direction, coupled with sharpened controls expected out of any modern sequel made Gears 5 the uncontested single best Xbox exclusive of 2019.

As such, there should be more installments of the gruesome franchise, but with the departure of the franchise's long-standing game director and producer Rob Fergusson in Februrary 2020, the future of Gears feels uncertain. Here's everything we do know about the inevitable Gears 6.

Fergusson announced on Twitter February 5, 2020 that he parted ways with Microsoft-owned studio The Coalition to head Activision-Blizzard’s Diablo franchise. He has played a pivotal role in every Gears of War game since the series’ debut in 2006. Microsoft has yet to announce whoever might replace Fergusson as the Gears 6 game director moving forward.

“I began working on Gears of War over 15 years ago and since then, it has been the joy of my life,” he wrote. “But now it’s time for a new adventure. I leave Gears in the great hands of The Coalition.”

Gears of War will almost certainly grind on, especially now that Microsoft’s Xbox Series X is less than a year away from launch. When could Gears 6 arrive, who will be leading it, and what else can we expect from the game?

'Gears 5' protagonist Kait Diaz gives her squadmates at thumbs up.Microsoft / The Coalition

What is the Gears 6 release date?

Microsoft has not confirmed Gears 6, so it lacks an official release date. Fans shouldn’t worry about whether or not there will be a follow-up. Gears 5 was declared Microsoft’s most successful first-party release since Halo 4 on Xbox 360, so a sequel is essentially guaranteed. When could that realistically happen, however?

Gears 5 hit shelves on September 6, 2019 almost four years after the release of Gears of War 4. Given that Microsoft might need to at least spend a few months hiring a replacement for Fergusson and four to five years developing Gears 6, don’t expect a new installment until 2024.

It’s possible that The Coalition has already begun developing Gears 6, but a release date even a 2023 release date seems overly optimistic. The average pace of Gears games in the past is about one entry every two to three years. As such, the most optimistic outlook for an accelerated Gears 6 release would be very late in 2022.

What consoles will Gears of War 6 be released on?

The Gears franchise has long been an Xbox exclusive that finds release on PC, seemingly only because parent company Microsoft also happens to make PC computers aplenty. There are no signs suggesting that Gears 6 will be any different, especially because Xbox has very few high-profile exclusives compared to its competitors.

The success of Gears 5 had on Xbox One makes it a pivotal title for Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox Series X console, so expect some kind of teaser or announcement for a new Gears game after the next-gen console is released.

James Dominic “JD” Fenix fends off a Swarm creature with his chainsaw-equipped machine gun.Microsoft / The Coalition

Who could replace Rob Fergusson?

A replacement for Rob Fergusson has not been named yet, but the lead designer of the original Gears of War trilogy, Cliff Bleszinski, has expressed interest in joining The Coalition as a consultant.

Bleszinski tweeted February 5, 2020 that he, Fergusson, and former Gears gameplay designer Lee Perry had brainstormed ideas for the series that had gone unused. Within minutes of his social media plug, Bleszinski replied to one of his followers who tweeted “careful now, don’t wanna make gears too ‘woke’” by saying The Coalition “kinda already did.”

There has been no indication that Microsoft is considering bringing back Bleszinski to the franchise, especially after he engaged in such public criticism.

Major Gears 5 spoilers ahead.

What is the plot of Gears 6?

Gears 5 leaves ample room for a sequel to continue the story of Kait and her squadmates. They only barely manage to fend off a brutal attack by the Swarm, a race of hivemind invaders that are the main antagonists in the series. The threat of this monstrous race still looms, as always, when the credits roll.

As Kait, Delmont “Del” Walker, and James Dominic “JD” Fenix enter the final battle of Gears 5, Kait is faced with an impossible choice: The team comes face-to-face with the queen of the Swarm, who happens to be a mutated tentacled humanoid of Kait’s mother, Reyna Diaz, who was captured by the creatures some time ago.

The Queen takes Del and JD hostage, and Kait only has time to save one of them. Kait frees whichever teammate players choose to save and is forced to watch in terror as the Queen snaps the neck of the other.

It’s possible that The Coalition will allow gamers to port their final save to the next Gears installment, similar to franchises like Mass Effect have done in the past. It's likely that The Coalition will establish some kind of "canon" ending where one of these characters survives and the other dies, which is usually the case with these types of endings. Either way, this cliffhanger is too big to let sit for too long.

Hopefully, we don't have to wait too long to find out.

Gears 6 remains an unconfirmed inevitability for an Xbox console at some point in the future.

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