While Epic Games may have moved on from the Gears of War franchise, the series has not been put to bed. Rather, the chainsaw-wielding, curb-stomping franchise will continue to live on at Microsoft, only with a new developer at the helm in Black Tusk Studios.
However, although Black Tusk could have easily “phoned this one in” and copied most or all of Epic’s work, they are apparently trying to carve their own path through the Gears of War franchise. As Microsoft’s Ken Lobb explains to EDGE, Black Tusk is innovating on the current formula in some “awesome” ways.
Without getting into hard specifics, Lobb reveals that the “concepts [Black Tusk has] been toying with are awesome.” This on top of claims that what Microsoft has with this new title is “innovative Gears of War.”
Clearly Lobb, who oversees all Microsoft-developed projects, believes in what Black Tusk is doing, but he admits that this is a low-risk proposition and will like be a “grand slam right out of the gate.” In other words, the fact that Gears of War sells so well regardless of the mechanics and story might allow Black Tusk to try some pretty bold things with their new game.
Unfortunately, the only real juicy detail Lobb was willing to put forward was that the Black Tusk devs have been working with Unreal Engine 4. On its face, the choice of UE4 makes sense considering past relationships, but it also means this next Gears of War will be a very pretty game. Moreover, unless Epic makes some big strides in the next few months, the choice of UE4 also likely tells us that Gears won’t be releasing this year.
See, when it comes to Unreal Engine releases Epic likes to release their new UE game first, and in this case that Unreal Engine 4 “launch” game is Fortnite. Unfortunately, we have yet to hear anything in the way of a release date for Epic’s tower defense/crafting/shooter hybrid.
As far as how Black Tusk might innovate, our guess is as good as anyone’s. On the one hand, that could mean that Black Tusk is building off Epic’s lead and refining the mechanics and modes of Gears of Wars past, or it could mean a radically different game. Gears of War 3 was arguably the pinnacle of the franchise – packing more content than most triple-A titles – so it’s hard to imagine how Black Tusk could innovate on top of that.
Instead, it might be a better option to go a completely different route, while still retaining the core Gears of War elements. If Microsoft’s plan is to establish that this is a new Gears of War chapter with a new studio, then that might be a good way to do so.
What do you think Lobb means when he calls the next Gears of War innovative? How would you like to see the franchise change for the next-gen?
Black Tusk’s Gears of War currently has no release date.