The violence of Gears of War 4 is meant to be “absurd, rather than disgusting”

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Come-and-see-the-violence-inherent-in-the-system

We live in a funny world. A planet whose populace abhors violence yet glamorises it through various mediums, such as films and games. And when it comes to escaping reality, there’s a certain satisfaction at play when you’re interacting with various pixels in front of you in ever-increasingly violent ways. Back in the early 1990s, people were shocked at the violence inherent in the systems of DOOM and Mortal Kombat (BLOODY PIXEL PEASANTS!).

These days? Said violence is a joke when compared to visual fidelity of games today that offer all manner of peas and frames per second when players rip their opponents to shreds. Back in the mid-2000s, Gears of War was revolutionary for the new breed of Human on Locust death and destruction that it spawned with the Lancer chainsaw rifle and various other grisly send-offs.

Kait Mid Shot

Those fatalities got ramped up with each successive sequel, eventually becoming a trademark of the series. And that’s a fine line to walk for Gears of War 4 developer The Coalition, as horrific violence can be so over the top that it becomes properly silly. “We do walk a line where, as the fidelity of video games increases, as it has with every game I’ve made, there’s a point in the development process where somebody proposes a feature that forces us to have a conversation about where are we going with this,” Gears of War 4 boss Rod Fergusson said to Polygon.

You always have to test yourselves to find the line. If you chainsaw somebody and they pop like a balloon, do you say “haha” rather than “I have to go throw up in a bathroom” — I think that’s the line we walk. You always have the conversation. You can push things really far if you want to with the visual fidelity you can achieve today, but we want to go back to the fun version rather than the realistic version.

And that line is drawn between “making it absurd, rather than disgusting,” creative director Chuck Osieja added. “When we were doing focus testing one of the brand identifiers that kept coming back was “brutal.” People love that it’s brutal,” Fergusson explained.

Kait Knife Battle

So, OK, that’s a good thing to know. And our game doesn’t look like any other multiplayer game, with our executions and the gibs and all that, that’s Gears. Let’s not shy away from it. It’s avoiding where it’s nauseating or gross. We don’t want to do the eyeball dangling out of the head.

And I’m down with that. When it comes to violence, there’s a certain thrill over seeing moments of pure crimson gushing out at the player in extraordinarily over the top money-shots. It’s not about desensitising an audience, but about shocking them in the right way. Something that Gears of War has always excelled at.

Last Updated: June 21, 2016

Darryn Bonthuys

Word-slinger at Critical Hit. Inventor of the macho Swiss gym chocolate known as Testoblerone. That's...that's about it really.

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