Gears of War 4 is currently in the hands of thousands of gamers in the form of a closed beta. The very early look at the game has been promising, offering a lot of the classic gameplay that fans expect from a Gears game. However, underlying all the familiar pieces of blood, guts, gore, and mayhem is a hint of the newness that this entry presents.

Gears of War 4 is the first brand new title from The Coalition, the in-house Microsoft studio setup to manage all things for the franchise. Their previous game was the very well received Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, remastering the original classic that set the Xbox 360 fanbase on fire. Now they are looking to make their own mark on the series, and it’s looking like they might be up to the challenge.

I say this because at PAX East 2016 I got to chat with the Studio Head for The Coalition, Rod Fergusson. Fergusson is a Gears veteran, having worked on the previous games in various major capacities. His team might be new to the series, but they have a firm grasp on what fans expect.

In terms of the story, Gears of War 4 is a definite new beginning, with new characters and a new enemy to take on. Fergusson explains in the interview that these new characters offer a lot of opportunity for future stories, with GoW4 being the starting point for more to come.

But the campaign is just one half of the Gears experience, with multiplayer taking up what some might say is the more important part. Here the team has tried very hard to maintain the brutal action of past games, but still expanded things into new territory. And the story does have an impact here, with the Dropshot specifically being cited as a consequence of the loss of the Locust as enemies.

Gears of War 4 also shifts how maps will be distributed to players. All maps will be free, at least as long as you are playing publicly. Levels will rotate in and out of the playlists as the team decides, and if you want to keep playing after a map is set to be removed you can just go ahead and buy it, and then play with your friends as long as just one of you own it.

There’s tons more to hear, so check out the interview below.