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Gears of War is a video game franchise created by Epic Games, developed and managed by The Coalition, and owned and published by Microsoft Studios. The series focuses on the conflict between humanity, the subterranean reptilian hominids known as the Locust Horde, and their mutated counterparts, the Lambent & the Swarm. The franchise consists of five third-person shooter video games, which has also been supplemented by a comic book series and five novels.
The first installment, titled Gears of War, was released on November 7, 2006 for the Xbox 360. The game follows protagonist Marcus Fenix, a soldier in the Coalition of Ordered Governments tasked to lead a last-ditch effort to destroy the Locust Horde and save humanity. Two subsequent titles, Gears of War 2 (2008) and Gears of War 3 (2011), continued Fenix and humanity’s ongoing conflict with the Locust Horde and Lambent forces. In 2013, Epic Games and Microsoft released Gears of War: Judgment, a prequel to the series’ first title, which instead focuses on Damon Baird, one of Fenix's squad-mates. Gears of War: Ultimate Edition was released for Microsoft Windows on March 1, 2016. The series' third sequel, Gears of War 4, is set 25 years after Gears of War 3 and follows Marcus Fenix's son, JD, as he battles a new resurrected Locust Horde that once again threaten humanity.
Gears of War was developed by Epic Games. Cliff Bleszinski, who has previously worked on Epic’s Unreal Tournament games, served the series’ lead game designer for the first three installments. He was inspired by gameplay elements from Resident Evil 4, Kill Switch, and Bionic Commando. The series was also guided by Rod Fergusson, the executive producer and director of development of Epic Games until 2012. The first four installments of the Gears of War series used a modified version of the Unreal Engine 3 engine. On January 27, 2014, Microsoft acquired all rights to the franchise from Epic Games. Canadian studio The Coalition developed Gears of War 4, which was released on October 11, 2016 for the Xbox One and Windows 10.
Gears of War became one of the best-selling franchises for the Xbox 360. The series is well known for its emphasis on cover-based combat, in which players can use objects to avoid gunfire or safely engage enemies. All five installments in Gears of War featured several multiplayer modes that allowed players to compete against each other or team-up to battle AI opponents on Xbox Live. The Gears of War games have been amongst the most popular and most played titles on Xbox Live.