Will Gears of War: E-Day have multiplayer? What about Gears 6? The Coalition gives us some hints at the future.

Gears of War: E-Day Dom and Marcus
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

I have returned from the Xbox Games Showcase 2024 in LA with a mountain of juicy new gaming info. 

Last week, Microsoft had its best pitch for the Xbox platform ever thanks to a bumper Xbox Games Showcase, 2024. With amazing trailer after amazing trailer, the showcase gave us a glimpse at Xbox's incredible upcoming Xbox games roadmap with titles like Perfect Dark, Fable, South of Midnight, Avowed, and many more. But, the headline act came from one of Xbox's most iconic, long-standing franchises. 

The Coalition emerged from its slumber with Gears of War: E-Day, aiming to tell the story of the Locust Horde from its very inception. Emergence Day is a notorious event in Gears of War history, with Gears of War 1 itself taking place 14 years hence. The game is shrouded in mystery and intrigue right now, leading with an absolutely spectacular Unreal Engine 5 trailer showcasing the game's gritty tone. 

To try and tease out more details, we caught up with The Coalition's Creative Director Matt Searcy and Brand Director Nicole Fawcette. Matt and Nicole offered insights into Gears of War: E-Day's multiplayer plans, the very essence of the game's direction, how it will keep things fresh, and more. 

Why Gears of War: E-Day?

(Image credit: Xbox Games Studio)

For fans hopeful to see the conclusion of Kait's saga from Gears of War 4 and 5, E-Day came as a bit of a surprise. Rumors swirled that we'd be getting Gears of War in some form at the Xbox Showcase, but I don't think I saw a single hint anywhere that it would be a Gears prequel, set during Emergence Day. 

E-Day is an event in Gears canon that is referenced often but, so far, is largely unrepresented in the franchise. Gears of War 1 takes place some years after civilization is effectively almost destroyed by the Locust Horde. The Locust as a subterranean reptilian race who "emerge" on E-Day, and devour entire cities by sinking them underground, leveraging gigantic creatures. The true nature of the Locust is revealed throughout the original trilogy (which you should definitely play), but E-Day will bring us back to a time of panic and chaos. E-Day took humanity completely unprepared, without the correct weaponry to fight this type of war, nor the tactics to match the ferocity of the Locust. Matt Searcy and Nicole Fawcette explained some of Gears of War E-Day's own emergence to us in LA this past month. 

The Coalition has been working on Gears of War for a decade now, and noted that running up to the pandemic, the team had shipped Gears of War 4, Gears 5, Gears Tactics, and an Xbox Series X update for Gears 5 during that time frame. After that, Unreal Engine 5 dropped, and it was time for something new. 

"By the time we were done with all that, we were well into the pandemic," Searcy recalls, "A lot of folks were reflecting. We knew we were going to Unreal 5, we knew this big tech update was coming. We wanted to build a bunch of stuff from the ground up again, and reflect on the franchise and what it meant to us at The Coalition. That's why we had elements of the Mad World trailer in here, those kinds of vibes are what we love about the franchise." 

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

While stripping Gears of War down to its constituent parts in research, The Coalition realized that so much of the story and even gameplay all comes back to E-Day, an event which takes place 14 years before Gears of War 1. 

"E-Day is an origin story," Nicole Fawcette continued, "it's the origin story of the bond that defines the franchise, which is Marcus Fenix and Dom Santiago's friendship. When you first meet them, they're not the same Marcus and Dom you know. In Gears 1, they've already spent 14 years fighting the Locust." 

In Gears of War: E-Day, Marcus and Dom are just returning from the Pendulum Wars, which was a global resource conflict between two of Sera's primary super powers. Millions were lost in this conflict, and the development of insane weapons like the orbital laser Hammer of Dawn emerged during this conflict. Humanity enjoyed barely two months of respite after this war, before E-Day occurs. 

"Peace was declared on Sera, and they had a hopeful future in front of them. There's also trauma and grief from the Pendulum Wars, stemming from the passing of Dom's brother Carlos. Carlos was Dom's brother, but he was Marcus' best friend. So, Marcus and Dom are not the best of friends that we know of, yet." 

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

"So, the trailer set our emotional tone, as well as our visual tone," Nicole continued. Indeed, we learned over the past week that the trailer for Gears of War: E-Day was entirely in-engine, using in-game assets and lighting, and should be a good representation of the kind of quality players can expect when the game launches. It should be a good representation of the horror, too. 

"You can see that we've wanted to reposition the Locust drone as actual scary, terrifying creatures. People remember Gears of War 1 of having these high moments of horror, and being scared. We're going back to that darker, grittier vibe that people have in their mind when they think about the franchise." 

Nicole emphasized that while they are ramping up the horror, they aren't abandoning the franchise's emotional hooks, recalling some of the game's most painful sequences involving Dom and his wife Maria from Gears 2, or the climax from Gears 3. "That's in our DNA. The cool thing about Gears is that it can straddle both of those things. You can tell dark, and horrific stories about human suffering, but also offer hope, and what it feels like to have a squad at your back. And then, having moments where you chainsaw a Locusts' head off. And have it feel so fucking good." 

How will Gears of War: E-Day differ from its predecessors?

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

One question I got a lot of on social media this past week was "Will Gears of War: E-Day have multiplayer?" I personally found the question surprising, but we do live in weird times of subverted expectations. Every single Gears of War has competitive multiplayer in some form, and more often than not, a PvE multiplayer mode in Horde. Still, I sneakily asked Matt Searcy if players can once again expect Gears' frenetic multiplayer combat to return. I say sneakily, because the team really weren't ready to get deeper into the weeds on gameplay modes and things like that, but Matt did have some reassurances for those concerned. 

"I would say, this is the next mainline Gears game," Searcy emphasized, "Gears has a pretty clear DNA for gameplay modes, so you can probably anticipate where we'll be going with E-Day."

Indeed, there are some things about Gears that will never change, like competitive multiplayer, but I was also curious how E-Day will subvert expectations. It's true that we've never experienced E-Day itself, but fighting Locust in a crumbling city does at least sound pretty familiar. I asked Matt and Nicole how they'd find ways to bring something new, while also heading into the past. 

"I agree, there's a lot of stuff we can do. On the story, there's a 14 year gap between E-Day and Gears 1. Even Gears Tactics was a few years into the war. E-Day isn't a world that's destroyed. It's a beautiful world, with people who are in a time of peace. We see the Locust introduced through the eyes of people who have never seen them before, and don't know what's going on," Matt explained. "We're also going to change up gameplay stuff as well. We've worked on the franchise for ten years so we've got experience with revisiting enemy types, but also adding new weapons, and maybe even new enemies as well. We'll do all that stuff." 

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Nicole chimed in with hints about the evolution of Gears' most iconic weapon, the Chainsaw Lancer. Which, indeed, was a product born of necessity in the E-Day era. "E-Day is the origin story of many things, including the Chainsaw Lancer. We'll see the Chainsaw Lancer was actually built after the fact, since there were no weapons that could pierce their super thick hides. We'll tell the story of how that came to be, and yes, you will get to use it too."

The Coalition duo were adamant that they weren't ready to talk about the finer points of Gears of War: E-Day, but I couldn't resist bringing up some of Gears 5's more "experimental" elements. The fact it went a little wider with side missions in very wide-linear areas, the fact you could "upgrade" and spec Jack out for extra abilities, and so on. I tried to tease out of them if Gears of War: E-Day will simply go back to the Gears of War gameplay design, or if it'll do something new. 

"We think we have a pretty good handle on what makes Gears feel great, but that doesn't mean we have to return Gears to it's simplest possible version. There's some things we tried that didn't work great, and some things we tried that actually turned out pretty good. We know that there's this core, linear 'against all odds' thing that flows through it, but there's room for us to play with that. We've got a whole city to play with." Matt continued, "Gears of War: E-Day is going to feel like a fucking kick ass Gears game, like the one people have in their head. But it's going to feel like a new game too. It's going to have a new feel, it's going to feel fresh and good at the same time."

Is Raam going to show up? I ask. "We're not really answering story questions right now ..." the duo say, exchanging smirks. 

A return to Gears of War

Gears of War: E-Day | Official Announce Trailer (In-Engine) - Xbox Games Showcase 2024 - YouTube Gears of War: E-Day | Official Announce Trailer (In-Engine) - Xbox Games Showcase 2024 - YouTube
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I asked Nicole, as brand director, why they went back to 'Gears of War' after two games titled simply 'Gears.' "It's a return, right?" She says, "we're returning to our roots. That's really the answer." 

I asked if Gears of War: E-Day is starting off a new trilogy. It does take place 14 years before Gears of War 1, after all. That's a lot of story you could pack into that decade and a half. "We're focused on this and pouring everything we can into it right now, what the next game is will be for us to decide in the future." Matt said, with Nicole chiming in, "We're not retreating from the stories of Gears 4 and 5, though. We just spent time thinking about the stories we want to tell, and we can flex the franchise from both sides. We're excited about telling this story, and hopefully, fans will love this story too." 

As of writing, the Gears of War: E-Day trailer has 1.3 million views. That's a lot of Gears fans. Gears of War is one of Xbox's biggest franchises and most iconic, and The Coalition has taken its place as one of Microsoft's most important pillars within its gaming org. The Coalition joined Playground Games and effectively carried the Xbox One generation, shipping mountains of content in a short space of time. The Coalition has also been credited for its technical expertise, helping elevate other Xbox studios using Unreal Engine, from Ninja Theory to Undead Labs. 

I'm incredibly nostalgic about the Gears franchise, but I'm also eager to experience a fresh take on the series. I enjoyed the new features Gears 5 explored, and don't doubt Gears of War: E-Day will take a similar approach to changing things up. After all, we're not exactly expert Locust-hunters in this one. 

Gears of War: E-Day has no known launch window, but you can expect it to hit Xbox Series X|S and Windows PC, via Xbox Game Pass, in the coming years. 

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • fjtorres5591
    Gears: E-Day release date isn't official but everybody who knows the franchise, can (acurately) guess it'll be November 7, 2026.
    20 year anniversary.
    And likely release title for the next Xbox.

    And that right there explains the reluctance to offer details about gameplay.
    While everybody focuses on the awesome graphics they won't be wondering how the game leverages the next xbox new (AI) capabilities.

    Wheels within wheels.
    (They're setting the stage for the fall announcement of the new box and its launch lineup. Think of all their unannounced ongoing projects we only know by code name and/or rumor.)