Microsoft’s recent acquisition of the Gears of War franchise was a big step for the company as it seeks to tie down its core exclusives for the Xbox One and beyond. Fans might be wondering just what to expect from the series now with an almost entirely new team at the helm, but as Polygon explains, another key Microsoft franchise should help restore faith.
2012’s Halo 4 was the first brand new Halo title from 343 Industries, the subdivision created by Microsoft to manage the Halo franchise after its purchase from Bungie. The group had previously released Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary on the Xbox 360, but Halo 4 was the first real step back into the Halo universe for Microsoft and their new development team.
Fortunately, the game was a success. Launching a brand new trilogy (following a pretty definitive ending to the series in Halo 3) and focusing more on developing the two central characters of the Halo games, Master Chief and Cortana, the game took a bold leap away from the previous installments’ storyline, which was often criticized for being overly generic. It resulted in a far more emotionally driven game with improved visuals to boot, making an Xbox One sequel an inevitability.
What does that mean for Gears of War then? Well, clearly Microsoft is taking great strides to ensure that their new franchises will continue to grow and flourish, so hopefully we’ll see Gears receive the same treatment. Taking the same formula as applied to Halo 4 – making a game that plays exactly like the previous outings in the series while taking risks in developing characters and storylines – should work wonders with a series that was already pretty emotionally charged, despite the common perception of the franchise as overly masculine and butch.
It’s a critical time to re-invent the Gears of War series, too, with the lukewarm reception to 2013’s Gears of War: Judgment. Set as a prequel to events within the main storyline, it played out more like a side story than an important event within the game world. There were also changes to the gameplay of the series which were poorly received by the majority of the fan base. With that in mind, the timing couldn’t be better for a fresh look at the franchise. Plus, with the Xbox One still in the early stages of its life, a revitalized, refreshed Gears of War could be just the thing that Microsoft needs.