For a decade, the Gears of War franchise has enthralled gamers with its combination of engaging storyline and addictive multiplayer. It would be easy to dismiss Gears of War as a series of games about grizzled soldiers fighting monsters with absurd weapons. Let’s face it, a chainsaw bayonet would be a ridiculously awkward weapon to wield. But scrape away the surface and the underlying Gears of War story is the tale of a civilization on the brink of extinction. It explores the relationships between friends and brothers, fathers and sons, and what the human race would do to survive when faced with the end of the world.
In anticipation of the release of Gears of War 4, here is an overview of the Gears of War story so far. From the discovery of Imulsion and the Pendulum Wars, all the way through the events of the Locust War, here is everything that has happened leading up to the events of Gears of War 4.
Note that all dates are designated as B.E. (Before Emergence Day) or A.E. (After Emergence Day).
What Is Gears of War?
Gears of War takes place on the planet Sera, a world like our own but distinctly different. It tells the story of humanity’s struggle against the Locust, inhuman monsters from below the planet’s surface. The Gears of War franchise spans four games (Gears of War, Gears of War 2, Gears of War 3, and Gears of War: Judgment), five novels (Aspho Fields, Jacinto’s Remnant, Anvil Gate, Coalition’s End, The Slab), and a twenty-four issue comic book series from DC Comics.
The Discovery of Imulsion
The nations of Sera relied on traditional sources of energy, and the rapid consumption of resources led to a burgeoning energy crisis. A new substance called Imulsion was discovered below the surface of Sera while drilling for oil. At first, Imulsion was little more than a scientific curiosity until Doctor Helen Cooper invented the Lightmass Process. Cooper’s process converted Imulsion into a cleaner, more efficient energy source.
However, the Serans did not know that Imulsion was actually a parasitic lifeform. It had the ability to feed off and infect other lifeforms, mutating them into new lifeforms. The true nature of Imulsion would not be uncovered for almost 100 years,. Its discovery would guide the fate of Sera.
Those nations with Imulsion fields within their borders quickly began to profit from its extraction and refinement. Financial speculation on Imulsion stocks led to national currencies being tied to its value. Eventually, low Imulsion prices led to a large economic collapse. Military action followed, as Imulsion-poor nations began to war with their richer neighbors.
The Pendulum Wars (80 B.E)
The resulting war to control Imulsion became known as the Pendulum Wars. During the Pendulum Wars, two great superpowers rose to prominence – the Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) and the Union of Independent Republics (UIR). The Pendulum Wars raged on for years, with whole generations of Serans knowing nothing but constant war. However, the conflict soon became the norm, and life continued on unabated. Large territories were untouched by the ongoing war, and life continued as normal for many citizens.
The Pendulum Wars shaped the lives of many of the main players of the Locust War. During this time, Lieutenant Victor Hoffman defended the walled city of Anvegad during the Siege of Anvil Gate. In doing so, he earned the COG’s highest honor, the Embry Star. Major Adam Fenix saw the horror of war firsthand and resigned his commission. He took up a position as a weapons designer, envisioning a network of orbital satellites capable of holding the high ground and reducing the number of casualties on both sides.
The Rise of the Locust
In the early years of the Pendulum War, Imulsion miners began to develop a condition known as Rustlung from prolonged exposure. The health implications of Imulsion exposure was covered up by the COG, and sufferers were studied at the New Hope Medical Facility. The sufferers developed an early form of Lambency, mutating into mindless savages dubbed the “Sires.” The children of the infected were eventually taken by scientists to Mount Kadar. There the society and species known as the Locust would eventually take root and thrive. The Sires were sealed in cryogenic suspension and the New Hope facility was shut down and quarantined.
But the Locust soon found that Lambency infected them and turned their own people against them, resulting in a civil war. For years, the Locust fought the Lambent underground, and Queen Myrrah came to the conclusion that the only way to give themselves breathing room was to attack the surface and claim it for their own. Myrrah soon came into contact with Adam Fenix and they entered into an agreement. If Adam could find a way to kill the Lambent, then the Locust would not invade the surface. Adam kept the existence of the Locust a secret and began working on a way to kill the Lambent.
In 3 B.E., COG Intelligence obtained information that the UIR were close to developing a first strike orbital weapon codenamed Hammer of Dawn. The UIR were developing the weapon at Aspho Fields and a mission codenamed Operation Leveller was drawn up to capture the data. What should’ve been a simple commando raid turned into a full-scale battle after UIR troops were alerted to the mission and reinforced the area. One participant in the raid was Marcus Fenix, son of Adam Fenix, and the Santiago brothers, Dominic and Carlos. All three earned the Embry Star for their actions in the battle, including Carlos posthumously.
With the data taken from the Aspho Fields raid, Adam Fenix was able to complete his own orbital weapon design. The weapon was used to destroy the UIR Third Fleet at the Battle of Bonbourg. The use of the Hammer of Dawn forced peace negotiations, and the COG claimed victory in the Pendulum Wars seventy-nine years after its start. Only the Republic of Gorasnaya refused to sign the peace accords.
A mere six weeks after the COG claimed victory in the Pendulum Wars, the Locust declared war on humanity. With the Lambent pressing the attack in the Hollows, and Adam Fenix unable to find a way to defeat them, Queen Myrrah gave the order to attack the surface. In a coordinated assault, the Locust horde emerged from underground in major cities across the globe. Initial reports were frantic and confused, and many believed that the Pendulum Wars had erupted again. However, it soon became clear that the aggressors were in no way human. The day became known as Emergence Day, and the initial assault left a quarter of Sera’s population dead.
In the wake of the initial attack, COG forces became stretched across the planet as the Locust were able to strike anywhere by tunnelling up through the surface. The Locust also employed warbeasts such as the Reaver and Brumak, strange amalgams of animal and technology that were effective combat and terror weapons. Social services started to collapse, and the refugee crisis became almost unmanageable. Faced with an unpredictable enemy that fought an unconventional war, the COG floundered in their efforts to combat the Locust Horde.
People began to rally to the cause, however, joining the armed forces or helping in relief efforts. The famed Thrashball star, Augustus Cole, lost his family on Emergence Day and immediately joined the military.
The Battle of Halvo Bay (Gears of War: Judgment)
Locust General Karn, the mastermind of Emergence Day, assaulted the COG city of Halvo Bay early in the Locust War. Kilo Squad, led by Lieutenant Damon Baird, fought Locust forces throughout the city. Learning of a Lightmass Missile at the classified Onyx Point facility, Kilo Squad went against orders in an effort to use the missile to kill Karn. Their actions led them to their trial in a military court by Colonel Ezra Loomis. Karn attacked Kilo Squad and Loomis during the proceedings and killed him. Kilo Squad were not punished for their actions, although Lieutenant Baird was stripped of his rank.
Hammer of Dawn
With Locust forces encroaching across all of Sera, COG Chairman Richard Prescott made the decision to use the Hammer of Dawn to deny the Locust territory and resources. Prescott ordered all COG forces to retreat to the Jacinto Plateau, which the Locust were unable to tunnel through due to its large granite bedrock. The COG ordered all civilians to head to Jacinto. However, they intentionally made the announcement only three days before the planned strikes. This was so as not to tip off the Locust to the COG’s plan. The COG also knew they could not house Sera’s population in Jacinto. Essentially, the COG were sacrificing a large portion of the population to deny the Locust the upper hand.
The Hammer of Dawn strikes targeted cities across Sera, destroying them and throwing up a cloud of ash and debris that obscured the sun. Raging firestorms caused massive environmental damage. The Hammer of Dawn killed a large portion of Locust, but it also wiped out much or Sera’s population. However, some managed to survive the strikes and lived in the ruins of Sera. They became known as the Stranded and they despised the COG for their actions.
A Son’s Love
Ten years into the Locust War, the COG were barely holding their last stronghold on the Jacinto Plateau. As Locust incursions increased, Chairman Prescott found out that Adam Fenix had known about the Locust prior to Emergence Day. Prescott arranged to have him kidnapped and moved to Azura, a secret island installation manned by the COG’s top scientists. However, during a Locust offensive, Adam thought that the Locust would overrun his position. He called his son for what he believed would be the last time.
Marcus, in an effort to save his father, assaulted his commanding officer, Colonel Hoffman, and left against orders to try and save him. In doing so, he took a vital piece of targeting equipment with him. Without it, the COG was unable to use the Hammer of Dawn to stop the Locust advance, and they lost Ephyra.
Convicted of insubordination and treason, Marcus was sentenced to 40 years in The Slab, Jacinto’s only maximum security prison. He believed his father was dead, although Adam had successfully relocated to Azura. Dominic Santiago spent years trying to find a legal way to free Marcus. Eventually, Dom gave that up and began planning a prison break. Once Locust started to breach the prison, that was Marcus’ chance for escape. This kicks off the events of the first Gears of War game.
The Lightmass Offensive (Gears of War)
The COG came up with a plan to destroy the Locust in their tunnels. Using a device known as the Resonator, they would map the Locust tunnels beneath the surface and then use a Lightmass Bomb to detonate the Imulsion reserves underground. Dominic Santiago and Marcus joined Delta Squad under the command of Lieutenant Kim. They led the search for Alpha Squad, who had the task of deploying the Resonator. While joining up with Alpha, the Locust cut off their extraction route. General RAAM then killed Lieutenant Kim.
Marcus was promoted back to the rank of Sergeant and given command of the reformed Delta Squad. The new team included himself and Dom from Delta Squad, and the survivors of Alpha Squad, Augustus Cole and Damon Baird. Delta Squad managed to deploy the Resonator in the Locust tunnels, and then fired the Lightmass Bomb after killing General RAAM. The resulting explosion killed a great many Locust, and also wiped out the flying, flesh-eating species known as the Kryll.
Operation: Hollow Storm (Gears of War 2)
The Lightmass Bomb did not have the desired effect of killing all the Locust. As a result, the COG authorized a full-scale invasion of their home, the Hollow. Hundreds of Gears descended into the Hollow to take the fight to the Locust. During the invasion, Delta Squad found that the Locust were using giant worms to sink cities on the surface. Delta Squad managed to kill the Riftworm, but then had to divert to the New Hope Medical Facility. There they encountered the Sires and then infiltrated Mount Kadar to find the Locust capital.
During the mission, Dom found his wife, Maria, who had been missing for years in a Locust prison. The locust had tortured and abused her, and Maria was basically a walking shell of a person. With little choice – he could not care for her, or risk the mission – Dom killed her out of mercy. Delta Squad later encountered Queen Myrrah and learned that she planned to sink Jacinto to flood the Hollow and kill the Lambent-infected Locust.
Evacuation of Jacinto
Flooding the Hollow seemed like a sound idea to kill the Locust, so the COG resolved to do it themselves by detonating a Lightmass Missile in an Imulsion field beneath the city. However, they needed to evacuate Jacinto first. A massive Locust assault on the city sought to delay the COG’s efforts. Delta Squad prevailed by hijacking a Brumak and using it to create a breach in the Hollows to allow the missile to be deployed. The Locust downed the King Raven helicopter carrying the missile. However, the Brumak — exposed to a large amount of Imulsion — began to mutate into a Lambent state, one that just so happened to have the side effect of making it extremely explosive. Seeing his chance, Marcus used the Hammer of Dawn to detonate the Lambent Brumak, sinking Jacinto and flooding the Hollows.
An Island Nation
Now without a home, the COG ended up on the island of Vectes. The island had a native population of COG citizens who had been cut off from the mainland since the Hammer strikes. These people had never seen a Locust. Establishing a presence on the island, the COG attempted to rebuild while also dealing with Stranded pirates and isolated Locust. The COG also made contact with the remnants of the Republic of Gorasnaya and formally ended years of war between them.
On Vectes, it soon became clear that Lambent activity had increased, probably due to the detonation of the Jacinto Imulsion field. Lambent Leviathans and stalks began to assault Vectes. Eventually Chairman Prescott left the COG, relocating to Azura to oversee efforts to kill the Lambent. However, since he kept Azura and his knowledge of the Lambent secret, he appeared to be abandoning the COG in its time of need. Vectes became more like a prison than a refuge. Consequently, the COG decided to evacuate the island and attempt to resettle on the mainland in small groups. Hoffman led a group to Anvil Gate. Meanwhile, a rapid reaction force including Delta Squad remained aboard the COG’s last aircraft carrier, Sovereign.
Brothers to the End (Gears of War 3)
Several months after the breakup of the COG, Chairman Prescott arrived on the Sovereign. He told Marcus that his father was still alive and gave him a computer disk. The Lambent attacked and destroyed the Sovereign. This forced Delta Squad to trek across Sera to rendezvous with Hoffman at Anvil Gate. Decoding the disk, Delta Squad learned of Azura and how a Maelstrom Generator protects and hides the island by creating artificial storms. Reaching the island necessitated obtaining a submarine and fuel. In the town of Mercy, Delta Squad found that Lambency was starting to infect humans. In a three-way battle between Delta, the Lambent, and the Locust, Dom – still grieving the loss of his wife – sacrificed his own life to ensure Delta’s survival.
Part of Delta Squad infiltrated Azura by submarine and deactivated the Maelstrom generator. This allowed reinforcements led by Cole and Baird to land. Adam Fenix explained the entire nature of Lambency to Delta. It was somehow evolving and preparing to wipe out all non-Lambent life on Sera. With Delta’s help, he activated his Imulsion Counter Weapon and destroyed all living things with Lambent cells. This included the Locust, the Lambent, and, unfortunately, himself. Marcus personally kills Queen Myrrah during the battle. With the war finally over, Anya Stroud told Marcus they finally had a tomorrow.
Tomorrow (Gears of War 4)
25 years after the Locust War, the COG are beginning to rebuild Sera. Marcus and Anya have retired to raise their son, JD Fenix. The Locust are gone, and mankind has at last found peace. But peace never lasts long on Sera, and soon a new threat starts kidnapping entire colonies. JD Fenix has to carry on his father’s legacy as he faces an all-new enemy threatening mankind… The Swarm.