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"Anya, it's a giant worm! They're sinking cities with a giant worm!"
—Sgt. Marcus Fenix to Lt. Anya Stroud after witnessing the Riftworm sink Ilima City.

The Riftworm is a Hollow creature. Reaching a maximum confirmed length of over ten miles, it is the largest animal known to have ever existed on Sera. There are two other known subspecies of varying appearance and size, and is possibly related to the Rockworms and Krakens.

One of the oldest known creatures, semi-intelligent and capable of century-long hibernations, the Riftworm created the Hollow, a complex underground network of tunnels, by burrowing through the crust of Sera. Leaving a rich manure in its path, the Riftworm fertilized the subterranea and created the diverse ecosystem within the Hollow.

The Riftworms were viewed as Gods by the Locust Horde, a race of mutated humans created in part from the Riftworms, for being givers of life. Thus, their main religion was known as the Trinity of Worms. During the Locust War, one was awakened and used by Ketor Skorge as a weapon of mass destruction, capable of sinking entire cities. This Riftworm was killed in 14 A.E. and was the last Riftworm seen by humans.[1]



Riftworms were gargantuan, worm-like creatures that could grow ten miles in length. They burrowed through the crust of the planet, devouring everything in their path and leaving behind a nutrient rich manure. This manure would then fertilize the tunnels, later termed the Hollow by humans, and created life underground. An ecology of plant and animal life evolved in the Hollow, with many of these creatures being reptilian in nature, like the Riftworm. Among many of the lifeforms created in the Hollow by the Riftworm's manure there was also Imulsion, a parasitic fungus that was capable of infecting, mutating, and possessing any living organism. At some point, the Riftworms went dormant in the Hollow, and remained so until the Locust War.

Pendulum Wars[]

The Imulsion created from the Riftworms would eventually become a fuel source by the humans, who were unaware of Imulsion's true nature. The mining and refining of Imulsion led to many of its miners and their families infected with a fatal condition known as Rustlung. The Coalition of Ordered Governments, a relatively new global superpower due to their occupation of Imulsion, feared the reaction from the public if it was discovered of Imulsion's health effects. Thus, the New Hope Research Facility was opened in secret to house the sick children of Imulsion miners and treat their Rustlung.

The Director of the facility, Doctor Niles Samson, began administering regular doses of Imulsion injections to the children to study its effects. He discovered that while Imulsion caused immediate cell stress, it also led to possible point-mutations. Regular biological countermeasures failed. It then came to his attention when a female child named Myrrah had high doses of Imulsion but no ill-effects. Rather, she benefited from Imulsion exposure with it strengthening her immune system and decelerated her aging by 50%. Dr. Samson attempted to replicate Myrrah's immunity but had no success.

Imulsion proved, however, to carry out genetic engineering through its mutagenic nature. Dr. Samson theorized that the indigenous creatures of the Hollow were genetically immune to Imulsion, due to their proximity in nature and showing no ill-effects. According to the Trinity of Worms, Dr. Samson discovered the Riftworms. He extracted their genetic material and combined it with Imulsion to mutate the children's immune system. The children instead were transformed into genetically unstable, distempered, sterile, and aggressive creatures Dr. Samson called the Sires. He then believed that the Sires were the next step in human evolution and could even have military potential to help end the Pendulum Wars.

Eventually, his unethical experiments were discovered by Chairman Monroe and was shut down. However, a shadow government within the COG believed in Dr. Samson's work and relocated him, his subjects, and his remaining loyal scientists to another facility hidden in Mount Kadar. In the facility, he continued to perfect the Sires by making them genetically stable, healthy, and able to reproduce. He then used the embryonic stem-cells of Myrrah with the DNA of the Sires to create the Locust Horde. Myrrah later had a human daughter named Reyna with scientist Dr. Torres, but was led to beieve that Reyna died when Dr. Torres fled the lab with her.

Locust Horde[]


The three Riftworms according to the Trinity of Worms.

In Myrrah's grief, she used her telepathic control over the Locust, known as the Hivemind, to rebel and slaughter the scientists. Myrrah, taking the role as the Locust Queen, led her people into the caverns of Mount Kadar to build their own civilization: Nexus. The Locust learned that their evolution was due to the genetics of the Riftworm, and that they were sustained by the life in the Hollow also created by the Riftworm, and thus saw the Riftworms as gods. As they created their civilization, they build a religion around the Riftworms known as the Trinity of Worms. The architecture of the Locust was also based on worms in tribute to their deity.

During the Lambent War, many of the Locust came to believe that the Trinity of Worms never existed or were long dead and unable to help them.[2] During the Assault on the Temple of the Trinity, Vold Karn suggested awakening the Riftworms to aid them against the Lambent.[3]

Locust War[]

In the fourteenth year of the Locust War, after the Lightmass Offensive, a single Riftworm was awakened by the massive explosion of the Lightmass Bomb. High Priest Skorge would use their god as a living weapon of mass destruction to begin a campaign on destroying Seran cities on Jacinto Plateau. For several months, COG outposts and two cities along the plateau vanished, forcing the COG to venture into the deepest areas of the Hollow to kill every single Drone to end the war.[4]


The Riftworm consumes KR One-Nine along with Delta Squad onboard.

With the assault on the Locust tunnels in the Inner Hollows, Delta-One was ordered to investigate seismic activity near, and beneath, the city of Ilima. After Delta assisted a Gear squad by killing the Locust's mortar crew and using their position to attack the Locust, Marcus, Dom and Carmine noticed that the "wall" was moving, and they realized that whatever was moving was the source of the seismic activity.

After getting through Locust defenses and opening a gate, Marcus, Dom and Carmine took cover as they noticed the "big shot" ride a Hydra and scream unintelligible language. The Riftworm then appeared and began sinking Ilima, and the Gears learned of its name and deduced that it had also sunk Montevado and Tollen several months ago.

The Riftworm would circle around the Ilima sinkhole, continuing to destroy it. Later, as Delta-One rescued Baird from Processing, they managed to signal a King Raven to pick them up. As the King Raven picked them up and began to leave, the Riftworm burst out from the ground and swallowed it.


The Riftworm busting out of the ground after having its final heart severed.


Main article: Destruction of the Riftworm
"First we kill it, then we cut our way out!"
—Marcus Fenix, deciding to kill the Riftworm from the inside before escaping it.

After recovering from the crash/swallowing, minus a missing Carmine, Delta battled their way through the worm, in an attempt to find its heart and kill the creature. Narrowly avoiding the many digestive systems in the Riftworm, they found Carmine but they were too late, as his stomach was already eaten by the Riftworm's secondary digestive system, the Nemacytes. In anger, Cole shot wildly, which resulted in the Riftworm sending a wall of debris down.

Delta Squad narrowly avoided getting crushed by the debris, and passed through several lethal obstacles that were part of the Riftworm's systems. They later encountered the heart and severed its arteries, but the Riftworm still continued. Baird deduced that there was more than one heart, and the Gears followed the sound of the remaining hearts and severed them.

After severing the third heart, the beast erupted out of the Seran crust a mile into the sky from a heart attack and massive loss of blood. It roared as it spat out gallons of blood and crashed to the ground dead. The Locust's advantage in the war was destroyed.

Delta cut their way out of it with their chainsaw bayonets, and were shot out in a stream of the creatures blood, narrowly avoiding drowning in it.[5]


Following the death of the Riftworm, the Locust plan was delayed, but not completely foiled. During the Siege of Nexus, Queen Myrrah could be heard broadcasting that even though the Riftworm is dead, the Locust plan to sink Jacinto continues.

If there were any other remaining Riftworms in Sera, their fate remains unknown after the flooding of the Hollows and the Imulsion Countermeasure Weapon's activation. Its possible that they drowned in the flooding of the Hollows since they wouldn't have been awake to escape.

After 17 A.E., following the end of the Locust War, a group of Outsiders, people who reject the new COG, built a village within the skeletal remains of the Riftworm calling it Riftworm Village. It later came under siege from the Swarm and was defended by several members of Delta Squad, the very people who killed the Riftworm in the first place.



A complete view of the Riftworm.

Behind the scenes[]

  • The Riftworm makes several appearances before its debut when sinking Ilima. The Riftworm is first seen before the first encounter with the snipers, as the Riftworm slowly moves on the left side of the tunnel filled with yellow fumes. It is seen a second time after saving the Gear squad from the heavy mortar fire, across the cavern.
  • Inside the Riftworm, Delta Squad comes across the bodies of four Gears and one civilian, not including that of Benjamin Carmine.
  • In the Riftworm's gizzard, Dom will ask if the large hanging organ in the area is the heart, to which Baird doesn't believe it is. If shot at, the Riftworm will moan and shift. After Cole's excessive shooting at it, a wall of debris follows through the Riftworm's digestion system, meaning the hanging organ is the uvula.
  • Due to its continuous internal organ system and multiple hearts, the Riftworm anatomy may be based on the anatomy of real-world Earthworms.
  • The Riftworm being a gargantuan, prehistoric creature in dormancy and then being awoken by the Lightmass Bomb is very similar to the monster Godzilla, which is also a gargantuan, prehistoric creature in dormancy and was awoken by the atomic bomb.

See also[]


Hollow and Enemy Creatures
Locust Horde
Berserker (Matriarch) · Boomer (Butcher, Flame Boomer, Grinder, Mauler, Mauler Elite, Savage Boomer, Tremor) · Drone (Beast Rider, Bolter, Cyclops, Disciple, Flame Drone, Grappler, Gunner, Miner, Savage Drone, Savage Hunter, Savage Marauder, Sniper, Spotter) · Grenadier (Flame Grenadier, Grenadier Elite, Hunter, Hunter Elite, Savage Grenadier, Savage Grenadier Elite, Ravager) · Kantus (Armored Kantus, Savage Kantus, Zealot) · Rager · Sire · Theron (Cleaver Theron, Palace Guard, Savage Theron, Theron Elite, Theron Sentinel)
Hollow Creatures
Bloodmount · Brumak · Corpser (Shibboleth) · Digger · Gas Barge · Heart Leech · Kraken · Kryll · Leviathan · Mangler · Nemacyst (Ink Grenade) · Nemacyte · Reaver (Assault Barque, Hydra) · Riftworm · Rockworm · Rock Shrew · Seeder · Serapede · Siegebeast · Tempest (Shrieker) · Ticker · Torture Barge · Wretch
Former · Lambent Berserker · Lambent Brumak · Lambent Bull · Lambent Dog · Lambent Drone (Lambent Drudge) · Lambent Grenadier · Lambent Gunker · Lambent Leviathan · Lambent Polyp · Lambent Stalk · Lambent Theron · Lambent Wretch
Canker · Carrier · DeeBees (Bastion, Reject, Stump) · Drone (Elite Drone, Grenadier, Elite Grenadier, Hunter, Elite Hunter, Imago, Sniper, Elite Sniper) · Flock (Leech) · Hive Beast · Juvie (Screamer, Popper) · Kraken · Locust (Drone · Matriarch · Sire) · Scion (Armored Scion, Heavy Scion, Scion Elite, Warden) · Snatcher (Pouncer) · Swarmak
DR-1 · Shepherd (Deadeye) · Tracker (Shock Tracker) · Watcher (Guardian, Sentinel)
The Weapons and Equipment of Gears of War
Melee Weapons Chainsaw Bayonet · Combat Knife · Commando Knife · Machete · Powersaw
Rifles Designated Marksman Rifle · EMBAR Railgun · Enforcer Submachine Gun (Shock variant) · GZ18 Markza Sniper Rifle (Marksman variant) · Hunting Rifle · Musket · Longshot Sniper Rifle · Mark 1 Lancer Assault Rifle (Police variant) · Mark 2 Lancer Assault Rifle (Custom variant) · Mark 3 Lancer Assault Rifle (GL variant) · UIR Belt-fed Machine Gun
Shotguns Gnasher Shotgun · Overkill Shotgun · Sawed-Off Shotgun
Sidearms MX8 Snub Pistol · Talon Autopistol · Zapper
Grenades Beacon Grenade · Bolo Grenade · Cytostatic Gas Grenade · Flashbang · Incendiary Grenade · Molotov Cocktail · Shock Grenade · Smoke Grenade · Stim-Gas Grenade
Heavy Weapons Auto-Turret · Booshka Grenade Launcher · Buzzkill · Chain Gun · COG Machine Gun · Cryo Cannon · Dropshot Munitions Launcher · Laser-Guided Rocket Pod · Longspear Rocket Launcher · Mortar · Mulcher · One-Shot · Rocket Launcher · Salvo Rocket Launcher · Scorcher Flamethrower · Silverback Rocket Launcher · Stomper · Tripwire Crossbow · Tri-Shot Chain Gun · Twin-Barrel Turret · UIR Machine Gun · UIR Minigun · Ultra-Violet Turret · Vulcan Gatling Gun
Super-Heavy Weapons Asp SAM Turret · Ball Turrets · Brader · Defence Missile System · High Velocity Main Cannon · Flechette Guns · Fortress Artillery Cannon · Industrial Staple Gun · Kestrel Missile Launcher · Mega Mech Gatling Gun · Naval Gun · Pariah Cannon · Railgun · Torpedo · UIR Artillery Battery · UIR Anti-Air Turret
Weapons of Mass Destruction Hammer of Dawn · Imulsion Countermeasure Weapon · Lightmass Bomb · Lightmass Missile · Nuclear Missile · Venom Bomb
Equipment Adrenaline Injector · Barrier · Blow Torch · COG/UIR Ammo Crates · Cloak · COG Armor · COG Tag · Fire Extinguisher · Gas Mask · Gut-Puncher · Propane Tanks · Pulse · Remote Targeting System · Stim · UIR Armor · UIR Tag
Other Bow · Flash · Hijack · Shock Trap
Melee Weapons Butcher Cleaver · Breaker Mace · Combat Knife · Crystal Tooth Bayonet · Dual Chainsaw Staff · Explosive Flail · Serrated Knife · Staff · Tremor Hammer
Rifles Breechshot · Claw Light Machine Gun · Hammerburst Assault Rifle (Gorgon variant) · Hammerburst II
Shotguns Elite Sawed-Off Shotgun
Sidearms Boltok Pistol · Gorgon Submachine Gun
Grenades Bolo Grenade · Ink Grenade · Kryll Grenade
Heavy Weapons Boomshot Grenade Launcher · Canker · Digger Launcher · Multi-Turret · Nemacyst · Reaver Chain Gun · Torque Bow · Troika Heavy Machine Gun (RAAM's variant)
Super-Heavy Weapons Brumak Rocket Launcher · Wrist-Mounted Chain Gun · Brumak Rocket Mortar · Corpser Mine Layer · Hydra Missile Pod · Hydra Rocket Pod · Locust Defense Tower · Reaver Rocket Launcher · Siegebeast Catapult
Weapons of Mass Destruction Riftworm
Equipment Boom Shield · Imulsion Explosive Canister · Imulsion Injection Harness · Immune System Booster · Locust Ammo Crates · Locust Armor · Locust Emblem · Swarm Armor · Thumper · Torture Pod
Other Ticker
Easter Egg Weapons
Melee Weapons Elemental Cleavers · Fish Stick
Rifles A Real Gun
Shotguns Raging Buccaneer
Sidearms Despicable You · Memento Mori
Grenades Dom's Toms
Heavy Weapons Cluckshot · Trackshot
Other Relic Weapons