‘Gears of War’ Has The Worst Writing in Games, Says ‘Dead Space’ Producer

Published 3 years ago by , Updated April 26th, 2012 at 2:06 pm,

Gears of War Worst Writing EA

It’s doubtful anyone looks to Gears of War as the pinnacle of video game storytelling. The bombastic, brotastic third-person shooter has all the tropes of a classic “shoot first, ask questions never” ’80s B-action movie, and even Cliff Bleszinski has acknowledged yearning for a greater Band of Brothers vibe.

But just how does it compare to the rest of the industry landscape? According to Dead Space story producer Chuck Beaver (Everything or Nothing, 007: Nightfire) – speaking in an official EA interview – Gears of War’s writing is ‘atrocious’ and represents the worst games have to offer. That’s that’s not all though…

In the same breath, Beaver explains how poor storytelling isn’t necessarily a detriment to many gamers, later proclaiming that writing in the original Dead Space was almost equally abhorrent. OK, now we’re lost.

In what has to be one of the stranger interviews you’ll hear (or read about) in a while, Beaver gnashes into Gears and its litany of literary shortcomings, but then seems to backtrack, admitting that he and the rest of the team in charge of the Dead Space series have their challenges as well:

[Warning: spoilers may lie ahead]

“Story can only ruin a game for those people who care about story, so it’s a conditional answer. For instance, Gears of War: It contains atrocious, offensive violations of story basics. Yet it doesn’t seem to ruin it for many, many people. It’s literally the worst writing in games, but seems to have no ill effects.”

When prompted on Dead Space:

“Oh yes! We knew so little about story back then, and overruled our writers on a lot. Dead Space was just a simple haunted house story that we later pasted a personal aspect on top of – a lost girlfriend who is really dead.

“Dead Space 2 was a huge challenge. All these elements from the original game that were poorly thought through, like the Marker Lore, Necro ecology, etc., had to move coherently forward into the next narrative. The first story we had was a wreck of unrelated events and broken structure, so we cut our teeth getting that into shape, and didn’t fully make it.

“Plus, we got lost a bit in complicated lore and plot elements that didn’t come through. And don’t even get me started on the final boss sequence that they put in without me in the meeting! That was fun.”

So what’s the moral of the story?

“Does everyone hate Transformers? Some yes, some no. Some people like brainless Michael Bay stuff, others hate it. The same thing will apply to us.”

Honest, careless, bitter for being left out of a meeting, the argument that Beaver seems intent on bringing up isn’t whether or not bad writing hurts games, but rather, when should audiences be discerning on such a principle? When does it cheapen the overall experience and when is it just fine that we’re only here for blasting off heads or ripping out spines? These are actually some of the seminal questions facing the industry today and are well worth debating; it’s unfortunate that Beaver couldn’t stay above the belt (He also cited Portal 2 as a successful blend of writing and design.)

Gears of War Worst Writing Dead Space

Consequently, the controversy sparked by Beaver’s comments over the week was so intense that it caught the ear of EA – who has now pulled the plug on the interview. Whether it was because they disagreed with the notion that Gears’ writing was ‘atrocious,’ didn’t appreciate the honesty about Dead Space’s own narrative merits, or were acting from a pure PR posture, it’s not quite clear: they’ve yet to issue a statement on the matter.

Ranters, if you read our Gears of War 3 review or Dead Space 2 review, you’d know that we thoroughly enjoyed each game – storytelling premise and all. So where do you stand on Beaver’s comments? Was he out of line? Is Gears of War truly a blight on game writing? Should some games get a pass if they manage to convey aspects other than a resonant narrative?

Follow me on Twitter @Brian_Sipple,

Source: EA – “Breaking into the Industry” [via Eurogamer]

TAGS: Dead Space, Dead Space 2, Electronic Arts, Gears of War, Gears of War 3

  • Cariannis

    At least GOW3 had a good ending compared to EA’s other game…

    • UnbuildTheGame

      I don’t know if this is my misreading, or your misspeaking, but GOW3 wasn’t published by EA.

      • Cariannis

        Dead Space 2 is made by Visceral Games, which is owned by EA. EA also owns BioWare who did Mass Effect 3. That’s the ending I’m talking about. GOW3 (I don’t own it just beat it) had a logical ending, ME3 did not. GOW3 might be 80’s like in its story telling but last I heard that wasn’t a bad thing.

        Plus I’d like to know what’s wrong with 80’s movies? I loved them. Then again I grew up in the 80’s.

        • Garrett

          I thought GOW3’s ending was worse. It closed everything off… But it was so unsatisfying in the way they did so. I’d rather have it a open ended (like ME3) than have them bundle it all off in a terrible fashion. I didn’t feel like GOW3’s ending or game in general topped off the rest of te trilogy. GOW isn’t a ‘story telling game’ either though, so it make sense why ME3 is under comparitively more fire.

          Either way, I still think that GoW was worse. I left more empty than I did with ME3.

          • The Illusive Ginger

            It most certainly did not close things off, in fact it opened up a lot. Myraah knew Adam Fenix? The higher ups knew of the Locust before e-day? The ending in my opinion opened the doors to a prequel.

          • Cariannis

            What’s wrong with closure? GOW3 had what BioWare hasn’t been able to figure out in the last two games, closure. GOW3 is not a story telling game and told a better ending story then a story telling game…that just sounds sad to me. Plus Chuck Beaver just sounds upset that GOW3’s 80s like story is getting better sells than Dead Space’s 6.47 million vs. Gears of War’s 17.77 million.

        • Jeff

          NEVER Played Mass Effect 3 or Dead Space 2. Gears of War 3 Story is Great. I didn’t get Gears of War games for its story, just wanted a Good Third Person Shooter. The Story is the last thing on my mind. Own The Gears of War Franchise.

        • other andrew

          nope its owned by microsft

  • UnbuildTheGame

    So, because Gears of War didn’t stick to the basics of storytelling, it’s a horrible story? I’m not sure about anyone else, but that game’s story affected me emotionally more than any game I’ve played in a long time, including all three Mass Effect titles.

    • Horseflesh

      Honestly most of the campaign story does suck for me , i think the whole gears of war series SHINES more on its multyplayer than anything else. Res evil 5’s campiagn is awesome, Mass Effect 2’s story was badass, but the multyplayer experience was either non existant or kinda crap. I played gears or war campaigns an the only good one was the 1st 1, just my opinion

    • Fiachra

      Uh, no?
      It’s story is horrible, because it’s a dogpile of tropes and cliche’s. It features unlikable, dumbass, one dimensional characters who spout one liners so bad, only people under the age of 17, or adults who wear their baseball caps on backward and still high five, could not cringe at.

      GoW’s story is so “by the book”, I expect a table of contents when I boot the game up.

      The attempts at tugging at the audience’s heart strings is clumsy, at best. Kind of like when every Adam Sandler movie, includes a sappy scene toward the end, to trick you into thinking the movie has a heart.

      • Garrett


        … There’s nothing wrong with high fives…

        • Androol

          Yeah! *high five*

    • Martin


      Me too, but Dom dying made me hate the series. The way I see it, Epic Games and Bioware didn’t give us a good (Dom) ending, but at least Bioware is changing theirs.

      • The Illusive Ginger

        Pretty much everyone thought that Dom would probably die after Gears 2. He really had nothing to live for anymore, so he sacrificed himself for the greater good. Plus the whole “Brothers to the end” slogan should tip everyone off to the idea that someone might die. I personally thought that all of Delta squad would die, so in that regard I am dissapointed that it was only Dom who died.

      • doc

        Bioware are not going to change the ending, as far as I can tell they will just add additional cutscenes or something like that.

        Sounds just like more of the same crap to me.
        They also refused to talk about the ending in interviews.

  • ExistentialistMe

    I agree with him on both Gears of War and Deadspace 2. Neither are pinnacles of videogame writing – that being said, I admire that he is so blunt about the way he feels and doesn’t try and sugar coat it. He’s saying “No, this was just bad, some people may enjoy it, but that doesn’t mean it was good.” And I admire even more that he’s able to criticize himself and his own work – it shows that he knows he can do better and is striving to do so. I too am constantly looking for better storytelling in videogames, but I think developers overlook it most of the time. If gamers want videogames to be taken seriously, then the developers need to focus more on the quality and care that’s put into games. Just like Michael Bay is the laughing stock of everyone who takes film seriously – Gears of War should be the same for those who take videogames seriously.

  • Ochimba

    He must only be thinking about Gears of War 1, there was little story in that game but it was still f**king awesome to play through. Im not saying the next 2 Gears games had perfect stories, but they were damn good.

    And whats wrong with 80s movies??? In my honest opinion those are much better than current movies, all special affects and no story….

    • filmmaniac111

      The only recent action film that reached up to their level was mission impossible 4. Simple story, but a great cast, incredible action and more practical effects than cgi. Other great ones are the Bourne films.
      Gears of War games arent story oriented for me, the action is amazing though :)

      • Jeff

        Gears of War Games does have some Good Great Amazing Action in it indeed.

  • CheatMaster

    I think Beaver was a bit out of line with mentioning non-EA games in an EA interview. But I do agree that the Gears writing is pretty sorry, it seems like a B-rate movie made into a game. Don’t get me Gears is fun and all, but storytelling not so good. However his comments on Dead Space may have been a bit extreme but not all wrong, they definetly did alot better job on Dead Space 2.

  • Sean “BlackJoker” P

    I liked how the story was in Gears of War. I also like how the story was in Dead Space but when I played DeadSpace for the first time I kept looking at the game “The THING”(They made a game after the movie that was a remake of a later movie) But in my opinion I think Chuck Beaver is just but hurt about Gears.
    But the bottom line is that it depends on the person if the story is good or not. Different people with different opinions and personalities. What might be “The Greatest thing ever” to one person might be “IT SUCKS” to another. I really like the vibe with Gears of War and I also love the creepy way DeadSpace was made. Even though I knew Isaac’s girl friend was dead from the start.(Just made sense she would be dead)

    • Kazzy

      Well said. It really is up to the gamer as to whether or not the game had a good storyline. (And a good set of characters and a little empathy doesn’t hurt either.)

  • Gooch

    The Beaver speaks the truth, most writing in video games is beyond bad, like high school freshmen bad, but it is only a part of what makes a game good. I would very much like to see a greater emphasis on story and it is slowly starting to happen. I love a good story, but I love a good game too, they are not mutually exlusive

  • CheatMaster

    Yeah Gears 3 didn’t end the trilogy very well. I haven’t encountered very many games with exceptional story lines and great writing to go along with it either. However I have encountered a few though, one of which was Crysis 2, the campaign was so epic. Another great set of games with exceptional writing is the Uncharted series.

  • Jeff

    I think The Gears of War Games has Good Writing in it’s story. I really don’t care for the story of a game. I like Third Person Action Adventure Shooters. I have Uncharted 2 & 3 because they are Good Action, Adventure Games, Didn’t like Uncharted 1 because it’s a Bad Game, I think. Didn’t care for the story of Uncharted, but No Complaints here. Storywise I like Gears of War because All the characters are lifelike, has a life, family etc. Also it’s The Best Military Spin-Off out there. Liked that Gears of War decided to be different than a Same-Old, Same-Old Realistic Military Game. Love Gears of War, Hope to see more, Sequals, Prequals, Spin-Offs etc.

  • Kazzy

    To be honest, no, Gears is not the best game when it comes to storyline, but I don’t think it was atrocious, and I think Beaver is a bit over critical here. If you want to get right down to it, what marks a ‘good’ storyline?

    Look at some of the gaming classics and you’ll realize that many of them were simple storylines with simple characters. Have we all forgotten the old ‘your princess is in another castle’ from Mario?

    And I think that the producers were brilliant to always cut the storyline at the most critical points in order to keep the gamers wanting more. Let’s face it, a game’s storyline, in this day and age, will be just another extension of something that was created in the past.

    To drive the point home, look at the movie, Avatar. The basic storyline of it is Romeo and Juliet. Two people fall in love even though they aren’t supposed to be together, in fact, they’re forbidden.

    It’s all too easy to critique a game and to critique your own game is just a way of saving your skin as Beaver has done here.

    I’m not saying he doesn’t have a valid point, because he does to some extent, I just don’t think it’d quite to the extent that he has pushed here.

  • WatchMeRage

    I believe the best story in a game would definitely be the Metal Gear Series. Mass Effect 3 I thought was also good (don’t think the story is done yet though). Gears I played through just to kind of play through, and nothing jaw dropping really happened in the story ***spoiler***(probably would have been more emotional if you saw everyone or most of the characters die off towards the end in an epic battle as appose to pretty much everyone surviving and watching the sun set pretty much saying hey we’ll be coming back to make a fourth game after we milk all of the back story for prequel games) I never had the pleasure of playing the dead space games yet and don’t know if I ever will. I have grown up on great games with compelling stories like final fantasy 7 and 10, metal gear, etc. The thing you will note is a lot of the games with a decent story didn’t have a multiplayer. I think some producers/creators lose sight of great story telling, and can get away with it because they have the multiplayer or in game action to make up for it. And if anyone tries to tell me that modern warfare was great story telling I’ll be forced to digitally slap them in the face. On the other hand some publishers try to drag out a story [cough Assassins Creed cough cough}. So I believe it’s about the balance of having characters we actually care about, plot twists, really compelling cinematics, and a great score. Don’t just throw repetitious action in my face (every time I walked up to a area with designated cover I knew the locust were coming in gears) and expect me buy the dlc. If anyone else knows of some great story telling games I’d like to give them a try.

    • Vermin

      metro 2033 (has no multiplayer)
      And the ever amazing Heavy Rain ( also has no multiplayer) should suit you

    • Androol

      I’ve always been quite fond of the Starcraft games’ stories. And this is an unpopular opinion, but I liked 2008’s Prince of Persia’s story a lot, too. There isn’t really very much to it, but I think it’s still pretty cool anyway.

  • Androol

    Never played the GOW series, so I can’t really comment on that, except to say that I kind of admire Beaver not pulling any punches, including the knock on his own work on Dead Space. However, it does seem like he might think too highly of Dead Space 2’s story. That was definitely a significant step up from the first game, but still not what I’d call a great story. Good, I suppose, but not so great that he should be gaming’s writer-tribune.

    And surely every fighting game that’s ever existed probably contains worse storytelling (if any at all) than Gears.

  • D

    One of the best things about Gears of war 3 was the story.

  • Mr Chr15topher

    I loved the story of GOW1 and 2, and I also liked the story of GOW3. However, the story in GOW3 did feel a bit disjointed from the narrative of the other 2 games.
    It’s not something that I can put my finger on, but something about it felt different compared to the previous GOW game’s story.
    It may have been something to do with the fact that we started fighting lambent instead of locust or maybe the introduction of characters who we have never met unless the books were read. But whatever it was stopped the story from feeling like a smooth progression the the previous games.

  • Graverobber

    If Gears of War story was atrocious, I wonder what this guy thinks of Dead Island

  • ATG

    Sorry guys the writing does suck. The story isn’t a plot, its an excuse to shoot things. Still a fun game though.

  • TaboriHK

    This is why corporations shouldn’t be in charge of art. No one can make it, and no one can have an opinion on it. Blech.

  • Tay

    I love the Dead Space series and yes, DS2 was a major improvement. Like someone said I’m not going to say the story was the greatest thing either and I don’t think he was implying that but the story was way better than GoW3. At the same time I think a lot of people play Gears for the action anyway (it was definitely fun) so yeah sometimes the story doesn’t matter. Regardless I can’t wait for DS3 :)

  • jak frost

    if chuck beaver knew what he was talking about he would shut the hell up. Because Gears Of war had a way better story than dead space I beat the first one got to the second disc on dead space 2 and took it back because i just did not care any more. it makes me sad that gears has ended it had an amazing story. as to where you just some guy who see’s his dead wife/girlfriend every five minuets and the maker.to me it seemed like there almost wasn’t any story line to dead space there were tid bits of stuff but not enough to keep me interested.