Microsoft and The Coalition haven’t yet confirmed Gears 6, but here’s the possible release window for the next chapter in the Gears of War franchise.
The gloriously bloody Gears of War franchise debuted all the way back on November 7th, 2006 on Xbox 360, putting players into the boots of the grizzled soldier Marcus Fenix. The first three games in the iconic third-person shooter series dealt with the conflict between humans and the Locust Horde. Gears of War 4 brought in Marcus’s son J.D. as the protagonist in 2016 and received mixed reviews, but Gears 5 came back with a rebranded name and revitalized the franchise. It attracted three million players on its opening weekend, giving it the biggest launch week for any Xbox Game Studios title of its generation. Those numbers mean Gears 6 is almost surely going to happen.
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The way Gears 5 ended offers plenty of room for a follow-up. That game shifted to a new protagonist, Kait Diaz, who teamed up with J.D. and another franchise mainstay, Del Walker, to battle a Swarm Queen that’s revealed to be her own mother. At the end of Gears 5, the Queen forces the player to choose to save either J.D. or Del, and snaps the other’s neck. Exploring the ramifications of that decision would be a perfect start to the next game, whether it imports the player’s decision from a previous save or settles on a canonical version.
So far, neither Microsoft nor the Coalition have confirmed that Gears of War 6 will happen, much less when it might come out – but based on the development history of previous Gears games, it would probably be within the next few years. Gears games typically get around four years of development. Since Gears 5 debuted in September 2019, the earliest Gears 6 could debut would be 2023. But since Microsoft hasn’t yet announced the game, a four-year development cycle could mean a debut in 2024 or early 2025.
The Future of Gears of War 6 And Onward
One big question is where the Gears of War franchise fits within Microsoft’s overall plans, especially regarding the Xbox Series X console. Microsoft owns the Gears of War franchise and releases it exclusively on Xbox as well as PC. Along with Halo, the Gears franchise is one of the biggest draws for customers debating which console to buy. Gears 5 proved that the franchise is still an Xbox headliner, but it will also have more competition in the years to come. In September 2019, Microsoft purchased Zenimax, parent company of Bethesda Game Studios and owner of venerable franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and Dishonored. Microsoft hasn’t indicated whether Bethesda’s titles will now become Xbox exclusives as well. At the very least, all these acquisitions could divert resources from existing projects, including a hypothetical Gears sequel.
Another big question is, who’s going to oversee the project? In February 2020, The Coalition studio head Rod Fergusson announced that he was leaving the company for Blizzard, where he’s now supervising the Diablo series. Fergusson has been heavily involved in all Gears of War games so far. He was executive producer on the first trilogy, helmed the remastered version of the first Gears of War in 2015, and then guided both Gears 4 and Gears 5. He’s largely responsible for the series’ tonal shift away from the machismo in earlier titles and towards a grittier and more emotional style. He also has a reputation in the industry as a closer who can get difficult projects done. Finding his replacement could affect the timeline of Gears 6’s development, and whoever replaces him will have big shoes to fill.
At this point, it’s highly likely that Gears 6 will happen some time in the next few years. In the meantime, there’s plenty of recent and upcoming Gears of War content available. The spinoff Gears Tactics launched on Xbox One and Xbox Series X in November 2020, and although it’s a turn-based strategy game rather than a third-person shooter, it’s a worthy continuation of the series. Gears 5 will also be receiving periodic content updates, with the most recent being the Hivebusters DLC from December 2020. Gears 6 may be years away, but there will be plenty to chainsaw in the meantime.
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