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Gears of War’s Cliff Bleszinski hopes it can “get back to the fear”

Former Gears of War design director Cliff Bleszinski tells PCGamesN he'd love to see the series go for a "monster in the closet" vibe.

Gears of War fear Cliff Bleszinski

With the next Gears of War somewhere on the horizon, we don’t know what to expect from the future of Xbox’s flagship third-person shooter just yet. Since it started in 2006 we’ve seen round-based horde modes, multiplayer, up to four-player co-op, robots, a sprawling narrative, and a whole lot more. What does former Gears of War lead designer Cliff Bleszinski think should come next? Well, I asked him.

I spoke with Bleszinski, design director of the original Gears of War trilogy, about a lot of things. His love of karaoke, the rise of games like Palworld and the ever-shifting live service market, reading books in the pub, his comic Scrapper coming to hardcover, and a whole lot more. More on a lot of that soon, but I had to ask him about where he’d love to see the co-op games he helped pioneer go next, since he left the series behind for other things.

Bleszinski suggests that the series “Get back to the fear,” saying it was “Phil Spencer’s point when [Microsoft] bought the IP, he told Rod [Fergusson], ‘get back to some of that scariness’. That’s the thing, I’m a big believer in the cycle of fear and then empowerment.

“Do a game on Emergence Day where you’re maybe Marcus or maybe somebody in the COG and you’re dealing with the chaos and f***ing up Locust, but then alternate between that storyline and [one where] you’re just a kid without any weapons.”

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Bleszinki adds that it could be a “monster in the closet kind of vibe” amid the chaos from Emergence Day. “I think that can be really compelling. Kind of like if Joel and Ellie were completely split up, you know, during The Last of Us.

“That’s a couple of ideas for free, Microsoft,” Bleszinski jokes. “The first one’s free.”

I was also told by Bleszinski that Gears of War Judgement, the spin-off from People Can Fly and Epic Games, was originally pitched as the series Halo 3: OSDT.

“I pitched the idea, I wanted to do our Halo ODST,” Bleszinski tells me, adding it was going to have four Onyx guards with high-tech tools the original trilogy’s squad never got to use. “You know, night vision, thermal vision, lasers, all that stuff.”

Bleszinski left Epic Games and the Gears of War series behind in 2012, before forming Boss Key Studios in 2014 to make LawBreakers. In 2018 Bleszinski said LawBreakers “failed to gain traction” as Boss Key closed its doors. He’s since worked in theatre and the restaurant business, written his memoir called Control Freak, and released the limited comic series Scrapper.

If you’re yet to read Scrapper, the Bleszinski comic about a superhero dog in a post-apocalyptic metropolis is out now, with a hardcover of the six-issue miniseries set to launch on Tuesday, April 23.

In the meantime, we’ve also got all the best FPS games you should be playing alongside some great free Steam games.

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