Gears of War is known for its bro-centric universe of bluntly pointed dialogue, over-the-top gunplay, and characters with necks as thick as a California sequoia tree. But it almost wasn’t meant to be this way.
According to Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski, the creators of the venerable Gears franchise had originally aimed for a Band of Brothers-inspired shooter – and, despite the hyper-machismoed world we’ve come to enjoy throughout the trilogy, it might still head that direction in the future.
Speaking to IGN in an interview taped during GDC, Bleszinski began dissecting Epic’s latest Infinity Blade mobile project. However, the discussion was soon parlayed into the Gears of War franchise and how its current vision evolved out of some substantially more grounded narrative roots:
“I didn’t always make these dude-bro games at Epic. The intent was to make [Gears of War] a lot more Band of Brothers and take it a lot more serious.”
For those who don’t remember, it’s been 11 years since Band of Brothers debuted on HBO in 2001. The World War II miniseries starred Damian Lewis (Homeland) as the noble but conflicted Major Dick Winters, tasked with leading the paratroopers of Easy Company from the pre-dawn raiding of the D-Day invasion to the end of the war over a year later. It’s considered by many to be a quintessential exposé on the human and moral trials of combat, blending visceral battle sequences with the haunting consequences of tough leadership choices (similar to Mass Effect - but with the markedly less controversial Hitler-dies-and-the-Germans-surrender ending).
So why is this likely the first time Band of Brothers has been aired in the same breath as Gear of War? Bleszinski went on to explain how the team at Epic wasn’t exactly sure how write such taught storytelling; they had the concept drawings of human bicep muscle Marcus Fenix sitting in their lap, and so they decided to roll with the looser style of the final game.
But, in addition to changing Marcus’ soul patch and the linearity found throughout many Gears levels, Bleszinski hinted that story-based drama was something future Gears of Wars (should they be made) would continue gravitating towards:
“If we get around to ever doing more Gears games, I hope we can continue to drift back more towards a Christopher Nolan type dialogue as opposed to a Tim Burton or Joel Schumacher Batman. But that’s way down the line.”
There’s no question the series has evolved in this direction already since Gears of War 1, but even the most recent installment, Gears of War 3 still held on to all the over-exaggerated, sometimes cheesy ’80s action-film quirks that’s made it so endearing with fans (Our Gears of War 3 review gave the game a 5-out-of-5.) A future Gears of War modeled after Band of Brothers would certainly be interesting, but it would also change a lot about series – and we can’t imagine what happens if anyone stops the Cole Train.
Ranters, where would you like to see Gears of War head in the future? Did Gears 3 hit it just right, or should it slide a bit further towards the Band of Brothers end of the storytelling spectrum?
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