The fifth Gears of War game and first to be developed on Xbox One. Gears of War 4 is set 25 years post-Gears of War 3 and stars new protagonist JD Fenix, the son of previous series protagonist Marcus Fenix, alongside two new characters Kait Diaz and Del Walker.
There are three playable characters in Gears of War 4, however the cooperative player count is limited to two players. Player one will always take on the role of JD Fenix, though player two can choose between playing as either Kait Diaz or Del Walker.
Fans who bought the original Gears of War's Ultimate Edition re-release new gained early access to Gears of War 4's multiplayer beta, beginning from April 18th 2016. The beta was then made available to all from April 24th and wrapped up on May 1st.
Microsoft announced the acquisition of the Gears of War franchise and the development of a new game in the line on January 27, 2014. The Coalition will be handling development, though they were originally working on a completely new shooter IP. Microsoft gave the studio a choice between continuing with their new game, which had already been worked on for a year and a half, or lead development for the next Gears game. After some deliberations amongst the team, they decided on Gears of War and their original project was shelved.
Come E3 2015, The Coalition's new Gears game was officially unveiled as Gears 4 during the Microsoft conference. Outside of its stylized logo, the publisher refers to it under the proper title, "Gears of War 4."
While still including cooperative gameplay, the story now reverts the player count back down to two as opposed to four, as seen in Gears of War 3 and Gears of War: Judgment. Rod Fergusson stated that this was because they wished to get back to the more intimate nature of the original Gears of War, and to try and establish a more horror-orientated aesthetic.
During development, there was an increased focus of effort directed towards the multiplayer of the game. Whereas the ratio of time spent between story and multiplayer was summarised by Fergusson to be '90/10' respectively for the original Gears of War, for Gears 4 the ratio was said to now be more of a '70/30' split. Splash Damage Ltd were brought on board to provide assistance with the multiplayer components of the game also.
The creators of the Gears of War series, Epic Games, had actually been working on their own Gears of War 4 for six months before deciding to then sell the IP to Microsoft. Certain aspects of Epic's vision for Gears 4, such as Marcus Fenix's son existing in the game and being called JD, was carried over into The Coalition's build.