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What would have been different in the original Gears of War if your co-op partner, Dom, had been Dominique instead? It turns out that players almost had that very option and, all these years later, that extra little bit of gender diversity is finally being plugged into the series.
In the OG Gears, players got to know a lot about the character Dom and his beloved wife, Maria. Their relationship became a pretty big part of the Gears of War series which, according to Fergusson, is why players were not given a choice over Dom's gender in the original game.
When I first joined Epic, one of my first ideas I had for Cliff [Bleszinski] was 'Hey, how about we get to pick the gender of your co-op player,' so there's Dominic and Dominique and you get to pick whether you want to play as male or female. Cliff laughed at me and we never did it.
Fergusson goes on to explain that such a switch from male to female would have had a pretty significant impact on the first trilogy, as Dom's story arc would have had to be rewritten. You've got to remember that the idea of a Dominique being wed to a Maria probably would not have gone over quite so well a decade ago. Sad but true.
On top of having to write a separate version of the story for Dominique, the ability to choose the character's gender would have then had an impact on the story of the games that followed, which would be a whole lot of extra work that the developers likely had no interest in piling onto their plate. On top of all of that, you either have to stick to gender neutral references or record two versions of a lot of dialogue which, again, would have meant a lot of extra work.
Apparently the team is willing to put in said work these days, as one of the options for Gears of War 4 will be to have a female cooperative character known as Kate Diaz along for the ride. The team is also more experienced at crafting Gears games at this point, so they can likely shoulder any extra work of diversifying the roster without feeling the weight. I mean, we know that female avatars are super tricky to build and all, but this isn't an Assassin's Creed game we're talking about.
According to Fergusson, the Gears 4 script is actually about 30 percent bigger thanks to the ability to choose between a male and female cooperative partner. Depending on how they handled the character, that might mean Gears 4 is worth plowing through twice, if only to learn more about both the male and female partners.