Speaking to Game Informer about Gears of War: Judgment, Epic Games director of production Rod Fergusson says that the teams at Epic and People Can Fly are working to "push a lot of the story into the level" and "get rid of the friction of cinematics" in order to keep players engaged.
Epic brought in a story director from Pixar to do a one-day workshop detailing how the film studio creates its stories. That might sound odd, but I'm immediately reminded of these tips from a storyboard artist at Pixar. Fergusson says they've been trying to improve on storytelling "since they started."
I don't know many people who play Gears of War exclusively for the narrative, but perhaps that can change with time; the Gears universe is certainly an interesting one. Either way, it's wonderful to see a studio attempt to better itself in this way.