You just can’t keep a best-selling franchise down. The Gears of War series by Epic Games has been the flagship franchise for the Xbox 360, and many thought that 2011’s Gears of War 3 would be the conclusion to the series. Indeed, the ending seemed rather final. However, when continuing the main story is not an option, backpedalling to the time before the series started is a good fallback. The rumor has it that the next Gears of War installment will do just that.

These whispers stem from a solitary image that has been release, showing a shadow-draped character, who looks a lot like Marcus Fenix, being led through a corridor in handcuffs by two figures with glowing eyes. A glimpse of the background through the entrance of the corridor shows chaos and destruction, with burning buildings and alien gunships running amok. The idea that this foreshadowing a prequel to the first Gears of War is a logical conclusion to reach, as the series began with Marcus in prison for crimes unknown. As the series has progressed, the reasons for his incarceration were revealed, however there is ample back story that can be filled in. A prequel would help flesh out the character even more, while still staying consistent with the core trilogy.

For their part, Epic Games has confirmed that another Gears of War is in the works, however nothing beyond that has been revealed (including which studio will be developing the game). The image definitely hints at the series delving into the back story of Marcus Fenix and his past exploits, but it could also go in a completely unexpected direction. This is part of the pleasure of reading about games in advance of them being announced, as it allows us gamers to speculate and imagine what will come next.

More information will be reveled at Microsoft’s press conference at E3 on Monday, June 4 and we will report any new information as it becomes available. For any Gears of War fan, this is definitely a day to look forward to.