Since 1994, the Heavy Gear universe has captured the imaginations of gamers and sci-fi enthusiasts alike. Developed by Canadian publisher Dream Pod 9, Heavy Gear extends its influence across various gaming platforms, including a tabletop tactical wargame, a role-playing game, and the lesser-known combat card game, Heavy Gear Fighter. The universe's depth and complexity are also evident in PC games published by Activision, animated TV series, and an extensive collection of books and game accessories.
The Unique World of Heavy Gear
Overview of the Game Universe
Heavy Gear's setting is a meticulously crafted universe with an intricate background. The narrative spans millions of words spread across over a hundred books and game accessories, creating a rich and continuous storyline. This epic tale evolves chronologically, offering enthusiasts a dynamic and immersive experience with each new publication.
The Mecha: Gears and Striders
At the heart of Heavy Gear's appeal are its humanoid combat vehicles, known as 'Gears' and 'Striders.' These mecha, typical of the Real Robot anime genre, play a central role in the game's military forces. Unlike traditional armored vehicles, Gears serve as special forces units, adding a unique tactical dimension to the gameplay. The designs draw inspiration from the Real Robot anime genre, reminiscent of those in Ryousuke Takahashi's 1983 Armored Trooper Votoms.
Plot and Setting
Terra Nova: The Futuristic Battlefield
The action unfolds on Terra Nova, a fictional planet set around 4,000 Earth Standard Years from now (AD 6132). Once a prideful United Earth Government colony, Terra Nova faced economic collapse, leading to abandonment by the UEG centuries before the game's timeline. City-states emerged from the ashes, forming national unions called Leagues, which later allied to create powerful superpower blocs dominating the planet's temperate regions.
Terra Nova's unique geography features a scarcity of open water, with deep underground water reserves and a massive mineral-rich desert belt known as the Badlands around the equator. This harsh terrain, marked by bandit groups known as Rovers, stands as open territory.
Terra Nova: A World in Flux
Terra Nova, a planet of both promise and peril, serves as the backdrop for the captivating Heavy Gear universe. In the 6th millennium, Earth colonized this Earth-type planet, envisioning a new frontier for humanity. Once a jewel in the crown of the United Earth Government's colonies, Terra Nova's fate took a dramatic turn with an economic collapse that reverberated across the cosmos. The aftermath left the planet abandoned and plunged into a dark age, setting the stage for a profound transformation.
Rise of City-States from Ashes
As Terra Nova emerged from the shadows of abandonment, resilient city-states rose to prominence. These bastions of survival, forged through treaties or tyranny, found common ground to unite under the banner of national unions known as Leagues. The Leagues, driven by the complex dynamics of cooperation and coercion, would further consolidate into formidable superpower blocs, each vying for dominance in the temperate regions of the planet.
Unique Geographical Features
Terra Nova's geography presents a stark departure from Earth's familiar landscapes. With an absence of oceans and large bodies of open water, the planet relies on deep underground water reserves to sustain life. The Badlands, a vast and mineral-rich desert belt encircling the equator, stands as the single dominant land feature. This inhospitable territory, devoid of allegiance to any specific political group, becomes a haven for bandit groups known as Rovers, creating a volatile and open expanse.
Diverse Ecosystem and Terrain
The planet boasts a diverse ecosystem, with flora and fauna adapting to its distinct conditions. Animals, predominantly reptilian in nature, include the bison-like Barnaby, utilized as livestock, and the prolific Hopper, Terra Nova's equivalent of Earth's rabbit. Most inhabitants seek refuge in the northern or southern polar regions, where temperatures align with human comfort.
Beyond the polar regions, Terra Nova unfolds into a tapestry of terrain types, including expansive forests, sprawling grasslands, mysterious swamps, and untamed jungles. These diverse landscapes shape the experiences of those navigating the planet's tumultuous political landscape.
The true north and true south poles of Terra Nova harbor small ice caps characterized by arctic conditions and glaciers. These polar extremities stand in contrast to the vibrant and often hostile environments found elsewhere on the planet.
In the wake of Earth's abandonment, Terra Nova becomes a crucible of political intrigue, military strategy, and survival. The echoes of its tumultuous history reverberate through the ongoing conflicts, where the fate of city-states, Leagues, and superpower blocs hangs in the balance. As players immerse themselves in the Heavy Gear universe, Terra Nova unfolds as a world in flux, offering both challenges and opportunities in the quest for dominance and survival.
Polar Regions and Diverse Terrains
Most inhabitants reside in the northern or southern polar regions, where temperatures are more suitable for human life. The planet boasts diverse terrains, including forests, grasslands, swamps, and jungles. Small ice caps with arctic conditions and glaciers characterize the true north and true south poles.
The Focus on Military and Weaponry
Given its role as the backdrop for strategy, role-playing, and video games, Terra Nova places a significant emphasis on military and weaponry. The spotlight shines on Heavy Gears, towering 12- to 18-foot-tall bipedal combat units. These Gears, while less heavily armed and armored than main battle tanks, provide a versatile mix of capabilities, focusing on maneuver warfare rather than raw firepower.
Wars and Alliances
The War of the Alliance
Multiple major wars unfold over time, with the War of the Alliance standing out. A dictatorial Earth government attempts to reclaim its former colonies by force, leading to intense battles against hover tanks and genetically enhanced GREL super soldiers. The conflict results in cooperation between the North and the South, fending off the Colonial Expeditionary Force and giving rise to the Port Arthur city-state.
As of 6132 AD (TN 1936, local calendar), the Confederated Northern City-States (CNCS) and the Allied Southern Territories (AST) are in the process of recovery and rebuilding from the War of the Alliance. Despite facing common adversaries, the polar superpowers harbor fear and animosity towards each other, reminiscent of the real-world NATO and Warsaw Pact dynamics. Meanwhile, independent City-States in the Badlands strive to survive the ongoing crossfire.
Heavy Gear's expansive and intricately detailed universe offers a compelling blend of science fiction, military strategy, and immersive storytelling. Whether engaged in tabletop wargames, role-playing adventures, or exploring the animated TV series, enthusiasts find themselves drawn into the dynamic world of Heavy Gear, where humanoid combat vehicles reign supreme, and the fate of Terra Nova hangs in the balance.