Gears Of War 4 marks an ambitious attempt by both Microsoft and developer The Coalition to kickstart the series once again, taking it in a new direction with a fresh cast of characters while simultaneously getting back to the more horror-focused elements of the first Gears of War game. We recently took a trip to The Coalition and came back with a bloody sack filled to the brim with details and images of the game in action, like the creepy church above, which was the setting for an intense firefight we saw early on in our demo. If you want a full-size version of any of these images, you can click on them to access it.

Windflares are devastating storms that rage across the surface of Sera during Gears 4's campaign. Not only can they fry combatants into crispy bacon but their fierce winds fling objects across the environment, turning anyone unlucky enough to be in their path into bloody smears. During the demo, we saw that the player could use this to their advantage by shooting signs and barricades that hold cars and boulders in place, sending them flying into enemy soldiers. On a gruesomely amusing note: yes, corpses and dismembered limbs are hurled about in the wind as well.

Juvies are one of the Swarm's more deceptive units. On their own, these little buggers aren't too hard to handle, though their speedy movements and slimeiness make them pretty creepy. However, as a group, they can take you down easily if you let them get close enough to gang up on you.

If you're tired of the classic Lancer chainsaw finishing move, Gears Of War 4 is bringing a host of new, gory executions courtesy of a handy combat knife. The execution animation changes depending on where your character is standing in relation to a dazed enemy, but all of them are vicious and reminiscent of the brutal stealth executions in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor...just with a lot more brain matter. [Note: the image above is technically a render and not a screenshot but it looks pretty close to the execution animations we saw in the two demos.]

One of The Coalition's primary goals for Gears Of War 4 is to make cover combat exciting again.The vault kick, a feature new to the series, is designed to let players slide over a piece of cover and kick an enemy in the face. This move stuns the enemy, leaving them open for an execution if the player is fast enough.

Be sure to return to our Gears Of War 4 hub throughout the month for more information on the new weapons and enemies, the history of The Coalition, and a roundtable with the game’s voice actors. You can access the hub by clicking on the banner below.