Gears Of War has been a genre defining franchise ever since its first installment was released back in 2006, with each entry topping the previous one in terms of action, story and gore. Over the course of five games, including a prequel, fans have gotten a verifiable host of background story, on top of the story that's playing out on screen. With everything that's going on on-screen, it's easy for even the most hardcore gamer to lose track of some of the facts and minor plot points that are casually passed around.
To make matters even more complicated, there's also an extensive run of comics set before, and during, the main games. Altogether, the comics cover everything from The Locust and their years long battle with The Lambent, to the build up to the Pendulum Wars, as well as how Marcus and co. proved their metal in the years, months, and even weeks building up to Emergence Day (E-Day).
With all of that backstory, character progression and history, there can be quite a lot for most Gears Of War fans to miss, especially if you're just a casual fan looking to go on an Imulsion fueled rampage against the Locust Horde. With that in mind, here are 15 facts you need to know about Gears Of War.
15 The Geist
With how the Locust look and act, most players would agree that 'Locust' is a pretty spot-on name for the horde of enemies; they normally appear as a swarm of enemies and they have somewhat of a bug inspired look. However, when the game was first planned, and already somewhat in development, developer Epic Games had another name in mind for the antagonists; The Geist.
Another word for 'Ghosts,' Epic Games had developed a lore around around The Geist as almost mythical creatures, similar to ghosts. However, developers n-Space released their first person action game Geist in late 2005, so Epic Games, fearing that it might be too much of a similarity, quickly decided to change the name, eventually deciding on the one that we all know and love today. Luckily, the game wasn't too far into development, so not much had to be changed in order to accommodate the last minute decision.
14 Six Week Peace
The Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) and Union of Independent Republics (UIR) waged a decades long war between each other, resulting in millions dead and only ending when the Locust eventually emerged from their Hollow, unleashing havoc upon the planet surface.
While it may have been fitting for the Locust, in all of their tactical savagery, to time Emergence Day to ensure that they caught humanity at its weakest, it turns out that E-Day didn't actually occur during the Pendulum Wars, and wasn't the cause of the COG/UIR battles to stop. As it turns out, E-Day actually occurred about six weeks after the COG and UIR signed a peace treaty, bringing an end to the Pendulum Wars. All in all, humanity only had these six weeks to recover and prepare for a war that they never expected.
13 New Generation Of Bayonet
When Gears of War was first released, the Lancer became an instant hit; fans fell in love with the Chainsaw/Machine Gun combo the moment they first started shooting and chainsawing, the Locust, and for good reason. Instead of having to switch between a gun and your run-of-the-mill combat knife, fans were able to cut through their enemies with ease.
What some fans might not know, however, was that the Lancer was first thought up by Epic Games' Design Director Cliff Bleszinski in the late '90s as the next generation of bayonet. Bleszinski took to the stage at Comic-Con 2012 alongside Production Director Rod Fergusson, voice actor Fred Tatasciore (the voice of Baird as well as "most of the Locusts") and writers Rob Auten and Tom Bissell, in order to talk about the original Gears release.
Talking about some interesting facts about the game, Bleszinski said of the design that he was working on a game at the time and asked what a new version of the bayonet would be like. At the time, the idea didn't make it very far, but it eventually made its way into Gears of War, thanks to a number of designers working on the idea and developing the Lancer.
12 Guantanamo Bay
It was only in the second entry in the Gears Of War franchise that players found out that people were being kidnapped and tortured by the Locust Horde, with Dom's wife Maria and Tai Kaliso being the two most notable examples of victims. The exact reasoning behind the kidnappings and torture hasn't been revealed, but what we do know about the torture is that it's pretty horrific.
When we finally meet Maria, she's been tortured extensively, looking famished and is covered in scars, with Dom being forced to put her at peace to ease her suffering. And Tai, previously a spiritually and physically strong warrior, has been reduced to suicide after only a few hours of being held by the Locust underground, the scars on his back being the only physical wounds shown. However, what fans may be surprised - or not so surprised - to find out is that the inspiration behind the kidnapping and torture was none other than Guantanamo Bay. As Cliff Bleszinski explained on Twitter:
The torture the Locust did in Gears was my thinly veiled statement about Gitmo...through a dudebro shooter with lizardmen. #GearsFacts— Cliff Bleszinski (@therealcliffyb) August 25, 2015
11 E-Day Avoidance
Myrrah, the Locust Queen, originally came to humanity with a proposition for peace when she first realized that imulsion was beginning to infect the Locust and turning them into Lambent. However, humanity didn't answer fast enough for her liking, forcing Myrrah to give the go ahead for E-Day so that the Locust could escape both the Lambent and the forced evolution caused by the imulsion. Had humanity not taken so long, E-Day mightn't have happened and the Locust could've helped rid the world of the Lambent, saving the lives of billions.
10 Karn The Mastermind
General Karn may not have turned up in Gears Of War until the second installment, but he was always working behind the scenes, even before the events of the main story. While Karn is an excellent melee combatant, being able to beat and kidnap Tai, as well as almost taking out both Dom and Marcus, what most people don't realize is that he's more of a tactical genius than a fighter.
Many people would have expected Queen Myrrah to be the mind behind E-Day and the Locust invasion, but it was actually General Karn who planned out the strategy to ensure that humanity was crippled in the days after E-Day, which should have lead to an easy win for the Locust Horde. It was only because of General Karn and his strategy that we don't see any aeroplanes - or any fixed wing aircraft for that matter - throughout the franchise. If it wasn't for the Hammer of Dawn and the COG's scorched earth defensive, then he may have been able to wipe out humanity within days.
9 Not Too Cartoon-y
The characters throughout Gears Of War are well known for being over-the-top when it comes to their size; Marcus, Dom and co. are some of the biggest men you'll see in any video game, even without their bulky armor. However, it wasn't always planned that way; Cliff Bleszinski explained on Twitter that he never asked for the characters to be extremely fit, and all-round huge.
According to Bleszinski, it seems that their size was determined when he wasn't at the studio. Two exceptions to this, though, are Anya Stroud and Chairman Prescott; and Bleszinski managed to get at least some input on the design of at least one of them. Explaining his input, the Lead Designer said:
Anya originally had huge boobs but I pushed back on Pete to make her less cartoony. Ironic, considering the guys. #GearsFacts— Cliff Bleszinski (@therealcliffyb) August 25, 2015
Cliff's got a good sense of humor.
8 Cause Of War Is Similar To Real Life
Humanity in Gears Of War has been at war with itself for decades in the game series' lore, with slightly different reasons for each of the continuous wars. The most recent of these would be the Pendulum Wars, of which Marcus and co. are veterans. The Pendulum Wars originally began after a small respite of peace caused by the discovery of imulsion; however, many countries' economies became tied to how much of the luminescent juice they could get their hands on.
Because of this, countries again began a new period of war with each other in order to gain access to more imulsion. Pretty much exactly how many countries in the real world vie for more oil. And that short period of peace? It was preceded by another war caused by, you guessed it, oil and gas supplies.
7 Not Exactly Earth
With all of the real world allegories, you'd think that the game series takes place on a fictionalized version of Earth (such as the Gitmo allegory and power supplies being a cause of war), and you'd be right, to a small extent. However, Gears actually takes place on Sera, a planet that's pretty different than Earth in a few ways. While Sera has a lot in common with Earth, such as fresh water, salt water and breathable air, there's also the extreme differences that are actually natural phenomena and not actually evolutionary mutations that took place over time.
So, you'd be half correct in guessing that the Locust are an alien race, but they're an alien race natural to the planet, who just happen to have preferred living underground with massive worms. And here I was thinking that Marcus had a girlfriend name Sarah...
6 Pendulum Wars
Other than the fact that Marcus and his team are veterans of it, you'd be forgiven for not knowing much about the Pendulum Wars; after all, the characters don't say much about the Wars, because, you know, Locust. However, the Pendulum Wars lasted 79 years and were waged between the Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) and the Union of Independent Republics (UIR).
Part of the reason that the Locust were able to gain a stronghold on the planet during E-Day was due to the fact that millions were killed during the Pendulum Wars and humanity was so focused on wiping itself out over imulsion that they quite literally didn't see the Horde coming, leading to the deaths of millions more. As another fan favorite game keeps telling us, War...War never changes.
5 Guerrilla Tactics & War Criminals
While the COG wasn't exactly saintly during the Pendulum Wars - no side in a war ever is - it seems that the UIR were the greater of two evils. Even though the Coalition of Order Governments had the greater firepower and better trained (and more) soldiers, the UIR were able to fight the COG to a standstill, chiefly because of their fondness for guerrilla warfare.
While that isn't a bad thing in and of itself, what really damned the UIR was the fact that they were fans of taking prisoners and holding them hostage, often torturing the POWs - similar to the Locust, but maybe not as brutal. The COG themselves had their various war crimes too, as the Hammer of Dawn can testify...
4 Hammering The Stalemate
As many people who've played Gears Of War: Judgement can testify, the Hammer of Dawn wasn't invented by the COG; quite the opposite, in fact. The Hammer was originally invented by the UIR during the Pendulum Wars as a way to turn the tides of war. Before they could put the Hammer into development, however, Baird and his team were able to steal the plans and tweak them in order to break the stalemate.
Much like the Scorched Earth defensive they utilized against the Locust, the COG turned the Hammer toward UIR cities and military bases, crippling the UIRs power and forcing their eventual surrender, not too long before E-Day.
3 Locust Descendants
Anyone who's ever played through the majority of the franchise know that the Lambent are direct descendants of the Locust, evolving after a certain amount of exposure to imulsion. However, the Locust aren't the only ones who are susceptible to this kind of evolution; the fact that humans can evolve due to imulsion exposure is shown throughout Gears Of War 3, with the result being human Lambent.
However, this isn't the only way humans can evolve; as it turns out, the original Locusts - the Sires - were human miners exposed to imulsion for too long, meaning that humans eventually mutated into Locust, who in turn mutated into the Lambent.
The fact that the Locust Horde isn't exactly an equal society may not be too much of a surprise to players - after all, the wretches and drones are always at the front lines - but there's a fully developed Caste system in place throughout the Locust culture.
Obviously, at the top we have Queen Myrrah with her Generals - Karn and Raam being notable examples - heading up about a dozen different castes, with the wretches being seen as worse than second class citizens in the eyes of many Locust, and a nuisance in the eyes of any Gear.
1 Calender System
Aside from their caste system, the Locust Horde comes across as pretty barbaric; they're uncultured warmongers who are only out to kill, at least as far as humanity is concerned. However, as the hierarchy goes to show, they're not as barbaric as they may seem. Another notable example of this is the fact that they've got their own version of a calendar, with 12 seasons, each based on how imulsion flows through the hollows. The seasons even have their own opposites, including: