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Gears 5 represents something of a change for the shooter series in that its campaign mode features levels that are “more open and expansive.” That’s according to The Coalition boss Rod Fergusson, who explained to GameSpot that while Gears 5’s levels will be larger, the studio isn’t aiming for a true open-world experience that’s similar to what you might find in the Red Dead and Far Cry franchises.
Some people who worked on Gears 5 previously developed open-world games in the Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry franchises. They’ve taken those learnings to Gears 5, but the game is doing something different.
“We just knew that we weren’t trying to be another Red Dead or Far Cry or Ghost Recon,” Fergusson said. “We were just saying, ‘How can we take Gears and make it feel more open and expansive without trying to go toe-to-toe with Ubisoft?’ Because that’s not really what this game is. We just wanted to take inspiration from genres we love to give a bit more freedom and that idea of player choice.”
Making Gears 5 less linear than previous Gears of War games has been “one of our biggest challenges,” Fergusson said. That’s in part because of the unique dynamic of The Coalition.
The studio took over development on the Gears of War series after Microsoft bought the franchise from Epic. The team made its first brand-new game, Gears of War 4, which was more linear. With Gears 5, the studio ramped up its ambition further, and this wasn’t easy.
“The unfortunate part is once you figure something out, you have to go down to where you truly understand it,” he said. “So we had a team that didn’t make Gears before, so we made Gears 4. We were feeling pretty confident. ‘Okay, we know how to to make a Gears game, we know to do all this stuff,’ and then this little thing called ambition gets in the way and you start creating new ideas that nobody has a clue how to do necessarily. And it makes an interesting challenge again.”
Gears 5 also differs from previous Gears of War games in that it has some light RPG systems that provide branching narrative experiences. However, Gears 5 is not an RPG at heart. In playing a section of the campaign, GameSpot’s Mat Paget speaks about how Gears 5 still feels like a traditional gun- and action-heavy Gears of War game.
Looking ahead to the future, Fergusson said he struggles to see how The Coalition can top itself with a potential Gears 6 in terms of size and scale. Not only that, it seemingly remains to be seen if future games–which have not been announced–will continue to include new elements like larger levels and RPG elements.
“I have trouble imagining a bigger game than Gears 5,” he said. “It’ll be interesting to see how people react to some of the changes. I don’t know how people will react to the RPG-ness, how people will react to the larger levels … “
Gears 5 launches on September 10, but the game unlocks four days early for people who buy the game’s Ultimate edition or subscribe to Xbox Game Pass. The game is available to pre-load right now, and you can see GameSpot’s rundown of the Gears 5 server start times, launch maps, and more.
For more, check out GameSpot’s new preview of Gears 5: Gears 5: Huge, Open Levels And Creative Combat Deliver Big Changes