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From Lancers to Lambent: Our Favorite Gears of War Moments

Xbox One Backward Compatibility is bringing some of the most iconic Xbox 360 experiences to a new generation of players on Xbox One, and today we’re taking a look at one of the classics: the Gears of War series. Fans who own any of the previous Gears of War games on Xbox 360 will receive them on Xbox One via backward compatibility when it launches on November 12, while fans who play Gears of War: Ultimate Edition on Xbox Live through December 31 will unlock all Gears titles for free via backward compatibility starting on December 1. For all of the information on the Gears of War series in Xbox One Backward Compatibility, hit the Gears of War Official Site.

We’re also pumped for the upcoming Gears of War 4, scheduled to release next year. We thought the timing was perfect to look back at the past decade and remember our favorite moments as the franchise comes to Xbox One in a whole new way.

And consider this your only warning: there are spoilers ahead, so tread carefully if you haven’t played the games yet!

Gears of War: The Chainsaw Bayonet Changes Gaming

Before the first Gears of War released back in 2006, lead designer Cliff Bleszinski teased that the game’s chainsaw bayonet – the deadly attachment for the Lancer Assault Rifle that could slice through thick Locust hide – would be like nothing players had ever seen in third-person shooters before. We thought it sounded cool… but would it really change the game and redefine the genre as we knew it? As it turns out, yes. From the moment players took on the role of bandana-clad Delta Squad leader Marcus Fenix and confronted onrushing Locust foes not with bullets, but with up-close brutality, they knew they could never go back. The word gets overused in gaming, but if anything could be described as “visceral,” it’s the Lancer’s chainsaw bayonet.

Gears of War: Evil Has a Face: General RAAM

When players began the original Gears of War, they found a terrifying, unrelenting foe in the form of the lizard-like Locust, a brutal enemy that overwhelmed the Earth-like planet Sera in a matter of hours on Emergence Day. But it wasn’t until Xbox 360 owners encountered the cold, calculating – and, above all, cruel – General RAAM that they realized these weren’t just mindless drones bent on destruction. And, of course, developer Epic Games did a dastardly job of increasing the hatred when General RAAM killed Marcus Fenix’s buddy Minh Kim right before his eyes. A game is oftentimes only as good as its villain, and Gears was in capable hands with General RAAM right from the start.

Gears of War 2: A Bittersweet Reunion

You don’t normally associate love stories with third-person shooters, but Gears has always been in its own class. Dom Santiago’s love of Maria permeates the narrative, so it was a heartbreaking moment when the two were finally reunited in Gears of War 2 – only to find that the Locust had brutally tortured Maria and turned her into a shell of her former self in a prison camp. Dom had no choice but to end her suffering, and after the roller coaster of spending two games searching for her, players were hit with a sudden, horrifying shock. And, like Dom himself, we never really recovered. Perhaps no Gears of War character has faced more hardship and heartbreak than Dom, and this scene was emblematic of his tragic narrative arc.

Gears of War 3: The Cole Train Takes the Field One Last Time

Marcus Fenix leads with intensity, and Damon Baird offers his sarcastic, unfiltered opinions to anyone who’ll listen… but Augustus “Cole Train” Cole might be the most relatable member of Delta Squad. It’s partly because he cracks wise jokes, but it’s also because we recognize what he used to be before Emergence Day: a star athlete. And in Gears of War 3, as Delta Squad finds itself in Cole’s old, now-dilapidated stadium, he gets to strap on his thrashball helmet one last time, run out onto the field, and hear the cheers of his adoring fans. It’s all in his head, of course, given that the stadium now lies in ruins. But it’s a taste of what he once had, even just for an instant – and it gives a clear reason for the sacrifices he now makes as a member of Delta Squad, hoping that one day, it can be like that again.

Gears of War 3: The Ultimate Wingman

Dom was always the perfect wingman, which made it appropriate – albeit heartbreaking – when he did what any good soldier would do in Gears of War 3. He sacrificed himself for the good of the squad, ensuring that Marcus Fenix and the rest of the crew could make it to safety after they found themselves surrounded. And, of course, he did it in the most hardcore way possible, ramming a vehicle into a fuel pipe and taking out any and all Locust and Lambent unlucky enough to be engulfed by the towering inferno.

But is it possible that Dom somehow survived the fiery blast? It seems impossible, but characters have come back from the brink in Gears of War before. We’ll have to wait until Gears of War 4 to find out for sure, but in the meantime, you can relive Dom’s moment of sacrifice – along with so many other iconic Gears sequences – when Gears of War, Gears of War 2, Gears of War 3, and Gears of War: Judgment hit Xbox One Backward Compatibility on November 12.