- "Guys, that sounded like there were dozens of em'. Hundreds. Like a... like a Swarm."
- —Delmont Walker, dubbing the term during the ambush in Fort Umson.
The Swarm is a race of creatures created by the surviving members of the Locust Horde. The Swarm appeared on Sera in 42 A.E., twenty-five years after the end of the Locust War. The creator of the Locust, Dr. Niles Samson, genetically engineered the Locust to be able to withstand generational conflict. Their DNA was designed with the ability to evolve in order to adapt to new environmental conditions. This genetic trait was triggered in 17 A.E. by the Imulsion Countermeasure Weapon, a targeted radiation device aimed at killing cells colonized by Imulsion. Before the Locust could be killed, the Imulsion residing in their cells were expelled from their bodies and crystallized to form an impenetrable cocoon shell. Inside the shells, the Locust Horde evolved into Scions twenty-five years after their hibernation.
Seeking to continue their previous war with humanity in order to conquer the surface of Sera, the Scions created the Swarm as a bio-organism capable of transforming any organic life into a new species of creatures connected to the Hivemind, allowing the Scions full control to command their new army. The Scions also sought to restore Queen Myrrah as their leader by capturing her daughter, Reyna Diaz, and instilled her with Myrrah's consciousness. Unlike the Locust, who primarily waged war on humanity in order to escape the Lambent, the Swarm intend to finish what their predecessors started on Emergence Day: to kill all humans in order claim Sera as their own. The Swarm outbreak initiated another globe-spanning conflict between the Locust and humanity known as the Swarm Invasion.
After the Imulsion Countermeasure Weapon was deployed, it was thought that the Locust Horde had been wiped out. With the war finally won, the COG Army initially intended to destroy the bodies of their fallen enemies via burning. This ultimately became impossible as all of the Locust bodies had somehow become encased in an incredibly dense crystalline structure composed of Imulsion that protected their remains. Unable to destroy the remains, the newly reformed Coalition of Ordered Governments decided to dispose of them in several underground caverns and abandoned facilities that they had converted into burial sites. Despite general belief that the Locust Horde was gone forever, they had actually managed to survive the Imulsion Countermeasure by going into hibernation within their crystalline shells over the next twenty-five years.
In 42 A.E., the Locust finally reemerged and hatched from their cocoons. The Locust Drones grew in strength and size and outgrew their original scales. Other Hollow Creatures began to reemerge as well, such as the newly evolved Brumak. However, the Locust realized they were still low in numbers and were still missing a Queen - as one is needed to help them for growth and guidance. By unknown means, the Scions figured out a way to use biological masses produced in the burial sites to connect living creatures into a neural biological network and transform them into a whole new species that would follow their commands. These burial sites would become strongholds known as Hives. Snatchers were created to capture humans and put them in pods within a Hive where they would undergo the transformation process. Myrrah, with her consciousness still alive within the Hivemind, was able to somewhat lead the Swarm, but relied on the Speaker to lead the army and find her long-lost daughter, Reyna Diaz, in order to inhabit her body and become Queen again for the Swarm. The Swarm then began to kidnap Outsiders, patrolling Gears, and other survivors outside the Settlements. The Coalition of Ordered Governments accused the Outsiders, a group of humans formed from the Stranded who refused to live in COG jurisdiction, of stealing their people.
- "Guys, that sounded like there were dozens of em'. Hundreds. Like a... like a swarm."
- —Delmont Walker to Kait Diaz and JD Fenix, after an attack on their village
The Outsider Village known as Fort Umson was one of the first Outsider Villages to be raided. The Swarm, led by Myrrah's consciousness in the Hivemind, located her daughter, Reyna Diaz, as the leader of the village. Desperate for the next in line to become Queen - the Swarm raided the village and captured Reyna alive. Reyna was placed within the Hive at the Tollen Dam as the rest of the village was podded and transformed into the Swarm. Only a few members survived the raid: Reyna's daughter, Kait Diaz, Reyna's brother-in-law, Oscar Diaz, and villagers James Dominic Fenix, Delmont Walker, Mackenzie, and Eli. During the raid, Reyna managed to cut the hand off the Speaker. James observed that the hand and the Imulsion crystals on it resembled a Locust within its shell. Delmont, believing it to also be Locust, convince the group to take it to JD's father and Locust War veteran, Sgt. Marcus Fenix. Traveling to the Stroud Estate, Marcus recognizes the crystal and accompanies the group to the osmium mine below Fort Reval to confirm his suspicions.
In Fort Reval, the group encounters the Swarm biomass and pods, realizing they are harvesting humans to create an army. Sgt. Fenix is suddenly captured by a Snatcher as JD, Kait and Del find themselves in a frantic battle against the Swarm. Navigating Fort Reval and combating the Drones of the Swarm, the three arrive in the osmium mine and discover that the Swarm were created and led by the Locust, that the Locust survived, evolved, and emerged from their shells to become the Scions. They also manage to locate Sgt. Fenix's pod and rescue him before he was killed and transformed. Sgt. Fenix was able to provide intel that Reyna was being held at the Tollen Dam Hive when he was placed within the Hivemind. Needing reinforcements, Sgt. Fenix sent a message to his old friends for help, requesting that they meet at the abandoned town of Speyer. Kait then encounters the Speaker and kills him in battle. Damon Baird, Samantha Byrne, and Augustus Cole arrive to assist in storming the Hive and killing the Hive Beast. The group finds Reyna, but discover she is connected physically to the Hive and will die if disconnected. By her mother's request, Kait disconnects and supposedly euthanizes her.
Unknown to the group, Reyna had survived. However, her mind was too weak as it was disconnected from the Hivemind, preventing Myrrah to possess it. Myrrah then planned to either possess the next in line, her granddaughter Kait, or have Kait awaken Reyna in order to possess her daughter. Kait then began experiencing hallucinations and nightmares as her connection to the Hivemind grew. The Swarm then continued to grow in their army, taking more outsiders and transforming them. The surviving Outsiders then join the COG army to help assist in the fight against the Swarm. While Delta Squad and First Minister Mina Jinn debate the reactivation and use of the Hammer of Dawn against the Swarm - the Swarm begin their invasion of Settlement 2. Many are killed and captured, but the majority of Settlement 2 is evacuated. During the last round of evacuations, the Hammer of Dawn was used against an oncoming blight of Swarm. However, the Hammer of Dawn began to malfunction and fire wildly, killing and wounding many humans. The rest were able to evacuate while the Hammer and the Swarm destroyed what was left of Settlement 2.
Needing to reunite humanity to fight against the Swarm, the COG began to recruit Outsider Villages to evacuate in COG Settlements, join the army, and fight the Swarm. Cpl. Kait Diaz was sent on the recruiting missions due to her former status as Outsider and her parents being the founders. Within the next four months, nearly all the Outsider Villages were rescued by the COG. However, Cpl. Kait Diaz's connection to the Hivemind grew even further, tormenting her with horrific visions and images. Among the last Outsider Villages to recruit was Riftworm Village, led by her uncle, Oscar Diaz. Upon arriving, the Swarm began to siege the village. Cpl. Diaz was captured by a Snatcher and finally connected to the Hivemind. Myrrah then guided Cpl. Diaz to control the Swarm army to kill all the humans, resulting in the death of Oscar Diaz. Reinforcements of the COG managed to arrive and defend the village, but Cpl. Diaz's grief finally caused her to admit her visions and possible connection to the Locust Horde. Sgt. Marcus Fenix then offered to help by helping her find the truth and guided her and Lt. Delmont Walker to the New Hope Research Facility.
Cpl. Diaz and Lt. Walker found the New Hope Research Facility and learned its secrets within, as well as intel locating a second facility inside Mount Kadar. Cpl. Diaz and Lt. Walker then navigated the Kadar Valley, activating radio towers to locate the facility. After triangulating a signal from the Mount Kadar facility, they managed to find the lab under the frozen lake. Entering the Mount Kadar Laboratory, they were greeted by Niles Samson in the form of an artificial intelligence robot. Dr. Niles Samson revealed to Kait Diaz that her grandmother was Queen Myrrah and her stem-cells were used to create the Locust Horde, which were genetically designed by Niles to survive by evolving and hibernating to endure generational conflict, explaining why the Locust evolved into the Swarm instead of dying. Realizing she was next in line to be Queen of the Swarm and could be used to strengthen the Swarm, Cpl. Diaz demanded that she be severed from the Hivemind. Niles Samson instead used her link to awaken Reyna, whose body was then possessed by Myrrah - finally giving the Swarm their Queen. Cpl. Diaz was then able to sever her link to the Hivemind by killing the Matriarch, the first Locust Drone that amplified her connection.
With the Swarm now with a Queen, they became more organized, intelligent, and methodical. They grew in greater numbers and in strength and become to industrialize their own weapons and armor. In order to now fight the stronger Swarm, Delta becomes more convinced to reactivate the Hammer of Dawn. Damon Baird then directs Delta Squad to the desert of Vasgar, where an old space facility, OZP-11, contained satellites for the Hammer of Dawn and targeting beacons created by the Union of Independent Republics. Led by former UIR soldier, Garron Paduk, Delta Squad was able to launch the new Hammer of Dawn satellites. With the COG now in possession of the Hammer of Dawn, Queen Reyna pushed to New Ephyra by invading the ruins of Old Ephyra. The COG planted the targeting beacons and began to use the Hammer of Dawn, but all three were destroyed by the Kraken, a massive Swarm beast. As the Swarm neared New Ephyra, JACK used its own targeting beacon to destroy the Kraken, which then destroyed Old Ephyra and the surrounding Swarm army - saving New Ephyra.
The Drones were the foot soldiers of the Swarm army. Drones originally come from humans who were placed in pods by Snatchers. While in the pods, the bodies of the humans dissolved and reorganized into Juvies. By surviving the early stages or entering a nest, the Juvie eventually would grow into a Drone.
The Matriarch, while singular and not originating from the Swarm, was the original Berserker and mother of the Locust Horde, from which the Swarm evolved. Like the subsequent Berserkers, the Matriarch had natural armor plating and had myopic vision, relying on sound and scent to navigate. Unlike the Berserkers, the Matriarch had a spiked back. In order to kill her prey, the Matriarch would pull off one of her spikes to throw and pin her targets. Her back was vulnerable due to when she escaped her containment module and the cables attached to her back plating tore it off. Being engineered from Myrrah's embryonic stem-cells and Sire DNA, she had an an enhanced connection with the Hivemind. Within close contact, the Matriarch strengthened Myrrah's connection to the Hivemind and her abilities to control the Locust Horde. This connection was passed on to her daughter, Reyna Diaz, and her granddaughter, Kait Diaz. The Matriarch was responsible for enhancing Kait Diaz's connection to the Hivemind, and was killed by Cpl. Diaz in Frost, 42 A.E. in order to sever her link to the Locust and Swarm.
Carriers are large Swarm creatures designed to protect the Hive. Slow and lumbering, the Carriers are incredible in strength and can easily destroy any obstacle. Carriers also can launch biological projectiles called Cankers. It is possible that Carriers are female, and Cankers are juvenile larvae of Carriers and Snatchers - thus acting to not only protect the Hive but to reproduce for it.
Swarm DeeBees are DeeBees that have been possessed by the Swarm Hivemind, usually from Leeches or Pouncer quills, and act as security devices for the Swarm by acting on their original functions. DeeBee Shepherds are transformed into Rejects that stand guard until alerted and attack intruders. DeeBee Guardians are transformed into Bastions that can project kinetic, impenetrable shields for its allies. DeeBee DR-1s are transformed into Stumps that fire the large weapons once armed by the DR-1s, as well as launching electric attacks and releasing Leeches to attack enemies.
Hive Beasts were enormous creatures that protected Swarm Hives and responsible for the reproduction of Snatchers and Carriers.
The Kraken was a singular beast possessed by the Swarm. A gargantuan beast similar to the Riftworm, it was once native to the deserts of Vasgar. At some point, the Swarm possessed it as a large weapon capable of burrowing and destroying entire military installations. It was killed by JACK using the Hammer of Dawn in Frost, 42 A.E.
Leeches are small Swarm creatures that are capable of possessing other creatures into becoming Swarm. When in contact with DeeBees or other artificial intelligence, the Leeches can override and hack the system - allowing the Hivemind to control the machines. When in contact with a living organism, they burrow and devour their prey from the inside before bursting out, similar to a Heart Leech, or they will explode on contact. Leeches are also capable of flight. When in a group, the Leeches act as one organism - called the Flock.
Snatchers are the most common and important creatures in the Swarm. They are large creatures that capture humans in their bellies to form pods and place them within Hives to transform the humans into Drones for their army. Snatchers can launch a large quill from their tails to incapacitate its prey in order to "snatch" them. Snatchers are able to climb walls and leap great distances. Their defenses including regurgitating acidic fluids on their enemies. Juvenile forms of Snatchers are called Pouncers. They too can leap long distances, but lack the ability to snatch their prey. Their tail also shoots five, smaller quills instead of one large quill. Pouncers will often leap on top of their prey and devour them.
Swarmaks were once Brumaks and, like Scions, evolved when the Imulsion Countermeasure Weapon was deployed. The Imulsion in their cells were expelled from their body and created an impenetrable crystal shell, preserving them for twenty-five years. Swarmaks, unlike Brumaks, were then connected to the Hivemind. They were also covered in Imulsion crystals, making them almost invincible. Blisters from where the Imulsion crystals once were are the only vulnerable spots. Bursting the blisters on the Swarmak causes it to bleed to death and is one of the only ways to kill it.
Behind the scenes
- The idea of the Swarm existed as early as Epic Games's original version of Gears of War 4; at least one Swarm monster type existed in this version. The Coalition retained the name of "the Swarm," but the nature of the faction itself changed between developers.
- The original idea for the Swarm was that some of the Locust avoided the Imulsion countermeasure and spent twenty-five years in hiding to rebuild their army. Despite the fact that some Locust did manage to avoid the Imulsion countermeasure, this idea was scrapped due to it lacking originality and being too repetitive of the Locust surviving the three previous games. Rod Fergusson explained that there needed to be a reason for the Locust surviving in order to explore more of the series, and so it was written that the Locust had evolved when exposed to the Imulsion countermeasure.
- The Swarm have their own race-specific execution in multiplayer, consisting of smashing a COG's face into the ground multiple times before a final head smash that bursts their head.