Perhaps you’re new to Gears of War and Xbox, and you are interested in picking up Gears of War 4. The only thing is, you probably don’t know much about the story, but don’t want to feel deterred. Sure, you can get all three backwards compatible (shush Judgment) main titles free with your pre-order but if you’re stuck for time and just want to play the new game, here’s a short summarised revision of the story. Expect some spoilers.
Gears of War is set on an Earth-like planet called Sera. On Sera, the world’s political power lies in the Coalition of Ordered Governments, or COG for short. You start the original Gears of War as Marcus Fenix, a detained and emprisoned COG soldier who failed to follow his orders and took off on a mission of his own accord; to find his father. Colonel Hoffman locked him up, and we learn that these two have quite the history.
Marcus is the quiet type, but an honourable man. He has few friends, and has a strange relationship with his father. His mother went missing when he was young, and for years, fans of the series thought that maybe she was somehow linked to the Locust. As for the Locust, well..
Sera isn’t the most peaceful planet. For over 70 years, a civil war took place between the COG and the UIR. We didn’t learn much about this war, known as the Pendulum Wars in the game, but a series of novels began with this story and it was extremely interesting. COGS fought in a civil war, with the opposing side possessing a scientist who was developing a super weapon which came to be known as the Hammer of Dawn. We’ll get to that shortly.
After this 70 year war, populations were low, damage levels were high, and people were beginning to return to normal life. Then, out of nowhere, the earth began shaking and out of the cracks, came a race of humanoid monsters and massive, clawed creatures. The Locust horde swarmed towns and cities and killed millions. With Sera at the horde’s mercy, the COG pushed the big red button, and launched a worldwide Hammer of Dawn strike to stop the Locust, killing anyone who was left out in the open.
It’s Hammer Time
The Hammer of Dawn, introduced to players in the first game, is an orbital strike laser. Using a handheld controller, players could ‘paint’ a target by pointing a laser at it for a number of seconds. This will charge up the Hammer and unleash a blast on the target zone. The strike against the Locust horde killed many of them, but in the long run, did more damage to the Sera population and its remaining beauty than anything else. Gears of War takes place 14 years after E-Day, the day the Locust first appeared.
Gears of War introduced players to Marcus, his best friend Dominic Santiago, and a few new characters along the way including the ever popular Augustus ‘Cole Train’ Cole, and Damon Baird. Together, the four characters, as well as Carmine, the running joke of the series fought through multiple cities and caverns to try locate the nest of the Locust and put an end to them, once and for all.
The Carmine brothers feature throughout all three games (excluding that Judgment game we don’t dare speak about), and in all but one of the games, they die in a grizzly manner, save for Gears 3. More on that later.
Using a specially designed ‘Resonator’, the device would send out signals and geographically map the tunnels underneath Sera. This way, the COG could target the largest population of Locust and wipe them out. We thought we were successful, until the ending cinematic introduced us to the Locust queen for the first time, hinting at this being just the beginning.
Roadie Run into Gears of War 2
Gears of War 2 picked up events in Jacinto, which saw the Locust only appearing in small attacks, and the COG being spread thin on the ground, tending to the wounded. Attacks were getting closer and closer to the city, so the COG knew they had to do something fast. We were then introduced to Chairman Prescott, who lead the Coalition, and with a long speech, set up the tone for Gears of War 2 and made it stand out as an exceptional story-telling experience as well as a gritty third person cover shooter.
The plan for the Gears was to drill down through the ground of Sera, and stop the attacks. Something down below was causing a lot of earthquake-like movement, and it wasn’t natural. In the meantime, we saw a lot more of Dom’s emotional side, who since before Gears of War 1 took place, had been looking for his missing wife Maria, who he lost during E-Day. His two children lost their lives in the attack.
We soon learned that the Locust were capturing and imprisoning humans, gathering intel from them and torturing them. We even see one of the Gears, Tai taking his own life only a short time after being introduced to him, who was seemingly captured early in the game’s campaign.
Eventually, we help Dom find Maria, and what follows is one of the most heart-breaking moments in Gears of War’s trilogy. Maria is left as a lifeless husk, literally falling apart in front of Dom and Marcus. Marcus encourages Dom to make the right decision, and Dom puts her out of her misery. His own wife. The poor guy.
Let’s just take a few minutes out to collect ourselves again.
As we return back to the main story, we learn that the Locust have a bloody massive worm that’s doing all of the digging and quaking underground. It’s definitely the biggest creature we have come across in the Gears of War series. Not even the Brumak comes close!
So, how does a group of 4 soldiers take out a giant worm? Well, you tackle it from the inside, and cut your way out, right? RIGHT?! It’s Gears of War 2 after all, and those chainsaw bayonets need to come in handy sometimes!
After a pretty miserable mission following the worm, that involved a secret science and research lab involving experimental creatures called ‘Sires’, we then return back to the caverns to do more killing, and find out some more information about the Lambent. In Gears 1, we came across this golden lava type liquid called Imulsion, which if touched, caused damage. It’s what powers most of Sera, but little is known about it. Apparently the Locust don’t like it either, and some of the Locust have even turned, and have created another faction under Sera.
This tells us that the Locust we know so well are in fact trying to escape the underground due to this ‘civil war’, and that above ground is the only place they can go. Can you see the three way battle taking shape now?
Gears of War 2 ends with a big last stand battle in the capital of Jacinto, and we learn that the Locust couldn’t attack it from below due to the convenient fact that it is built upon a solid foundation of rock that can’t be broken. What are the chances?! I know, right?!!
Again, we are introduced to the Hammer of Dawn in the most anti-climatic boss battle in Gears of War 2, or maybe all of the Gears series. A giant Lambent Brumak, and the Hammer. Jacinto is destroyed, with the Locust tunnels being flooded, all for the greater good. But is it really?
Jump Roll into Gears of War 3. Niiiiice!
Following on from a bunch of events that makes you wonder if inviting COG soldiers into your house is even a good idea, seeing as everything they touch gets destroyed, we’re now into Gears of War 3.
The game begins with Marcus having a dream sequence that resembles the opening of Gears of War 1, except that Dom is replaced with Anya. It’s surreal, but serves a purpose. We then see ourselves walking out onto the corridor of a ship, remembering that COG owned territory such as Jacinto had been sunk. We now live on a ship out at sea. With resources and food levels really tight, the Gears have to set out to resupply. The Locust are no longer a threat, not like they used to be. Now the danger ahead comes from the Lambent.
Gears 3 opens with a massive boss battle with a Lambent monstrosity and the introduction of the mech unit. the Silverback. The game also splits the player characters into two separate parties, so for example, we’re following Marcus and Dom for one mission, then Baird and Cole in another mission.
Marcus receives word from Prescott that his father, Adam Fenix is indeed alive, and is in need of help. Marcus manages to locate his whereabouts and a majority of the game is about getting to him. We learn that he is in a secret lab called Azura. To get to Azura, the Gears have to approach it under water as it is protected by a man-made hurricane generator. As you do.
First, the guys have to acquire imulsion to power the submarine they later acquire, so head off to Mercy. The Locust and Lambent nearly overrun the Gears, and Dom takes one for the team, sacrificing himself by creating a large explosion that wipes out all nearby enemies, buying Marcus and friends some time to escape alive. It’s all very sad really. The beard he wore in Gears 3 represented how much he had given up on life. Poor soul.
After more run-ins with the Locust, and a short visit to Aaron Griffin (voiced by Ice-T) in the ruined city of Char, the Gears make their way to the naval base to grab the submarine. Adam Fenix was developing a weapon which would eradicate all Lambent lifeforms (it turns out that imulsion is a living organism after all), but the weapon would also kill off the Locust.
We received a few hints that suggested that Queen Myrrah of the Locust was in contact with Adam Fenix long before E-day, with him trying to find a way to destroy the Lambent organism, but running out of time, the Locust emerged from the ground.
With an epic finale between Delta squad and Queen Myrrah, peacefulness is restored to Sera, and it’s only since the announcement of Gears of War 4, that we learned of Marcus and Anya hooking up and having a kid who we know as J.D, the main protagonist in the game.
Since I began writing this summarized story of Gears of War, The Coalition released a video showing the first 20 minutes of Gears of War 4, which fills players in on the Pendulum Wars, E-day, and the end of the Locust War. I hope you enjoy the Gears of War story as much as I do, as well as its finer details which I didn’t cover in this piece.
See you on Gridlock when the game launches publicly on October 11th!