Aliens: Colonial Marines will help fill-in some of the story holes present in the film Aliens 3, according to Gearbox.
"There were two itches that needed to be scratched," said Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford. "Anyone who has seen the Aliens movies shares these itches. The first one is, there was some story you felt was supposed to happen after that first movie, and Aliens 3 was not it. Once we knew that universe is larger and there were colonial marines, we wished for a bigger, wider experience. We never got that.
"The other itch is, the opportunity to become a character in the movies in a video game medium, to be a hero in this place... We want to be colonial marines. In a video game we can live the fantasy of being one of these guys and living in this situation, filling the gap in the story that should have been filled after Aliens.
"That became the nut we needed to crack. If you love the Alien films, there's a lot of tension. The fun of being in the boots of these marines isn't always having the alien in your face, but feeling that sense of exploration and discovery.
"You're in the movie, and you control the camera—you're like a virtual tourist in these sets."
The game's lead writer, Mikey Neumann, said the team's goal in creating the game was to merge the canon with something new.
"We thought, what if this was really big, what if we made it really huge?" he said. "We really go to war in this game. We really push back. We're the guys carrying the Aliens torch now.
"We wanted to make sure we found the right promises to fill."
Design director John Mulkey said during the panel that the team wanted to "do high action like nobody's business," with moments in the game gradually leading up to more high octane encounters.
"This is not a two-hour experience, you've got 10-plus hours to explore this universe," Mulkey said. "And you're going to want to turn the lights back on."
Certain parts of the game will also pay fan service to the movie. During the panel, footage of the game was shown and the character of Newt was mentioned.
"If you've seen the film it's fan service, and if you haven't seen them it's content," said Pitchford. "I like that approach. Playing with that sort of dissonance between the two entry points, whether you have previous information or you don't, and making it work for all minds was a trick."
Aliens: Colonial Marines is out in February 2013 on PC, PS3, Wii U and Xbox 360.