- Game: Gears 5
- Consoles: Xbox One (reviewed), PC
- Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
- Developer: The Coalition
A Gears 5 review code was provided by the publisher.
The main conflict at the heart of Gears of War seemingly never ends. Thankfully for us, that’s a great thing. The cover-based, third-person shooter than revolutionized the genre as we know it has been increasing in quality since 2006. And since then, fans have embroiled themselves in the ongoing struggle between man and beast. More specifically, the COG and the dreaded “Locust” horde. Gears of War 1-3 followed the exploits of Marcus Fenix and his crew as they found a way to exterminate such a menacing threat to the human race. Several years later, Gears of War 4 introduced players to his offspring and a new class of young soldiers who set out to defend humanity from a new menace known as the “Swarm.” With the release of Gears 5, The Coalition continues the franchise’s story in epic fashion and introduces a slew of major changes that are sure to please longtime fans.
A few complaints were thrown at the previous entry’s campaign – fans lamented the journey’s all-too safe feel and were a bit let down by how it didn’t truly differentiate itself from previous campaigns. It’s more than evident that The Coalition took these criticisms to heart based on the content and overall structure that make up Gears 5’s campaign. This time around, you take control of Kait as you dig ever deeper into her connections to the Locust army and discover more information about her family’s origins. The story beats that are delivered through each mission are eye-opening and should be a special treat for longtime Gears of War diehards. Throughout the satisfying campaign’s acts, you’ll watch certain characters develop from unlikable blowhards to trustworthy allies and come into contact with fave series regulars. The seriousness of it all is backed up by the usual gamut of one-liners and funny quips from Gears 5’s varied cast, which is a plus.
Gears 5’s pushes the series forward in an evolutionary way with the introduction of open-world mechanics. While the linear mission layout is still intact, you’ll also get the chance to explore varied locales full of side content. As soon as you set foot on your brand new transport vehicle and set off to random spots on the map, you’ll come to appreciate such a nice change of pace for the Gears of War franchise. Along with this welcome campaign mode change comes a bigger focus on everyone’s favorite robot, Jack. Jack is no longer just a tool that’s used to deliver lighthearted moments and door hacking assistance – he’s now a more active member of your team. Jack can be used to take control of enemies, activate a shield, turn you invisible and perform several other helpful abilities. There’s a ton of fun to be hand as you thoroughly explore each hub to pick up more component pieces and extra upgrades that make Jack an even more useful ally.
As fans have come to expect, Gears 5 features a suite full of addictive competitive and co-op multiplayer modes. On the competitive side of the coin, players are treated to a slew of familiar match types, an updated rendition of “Escalation,” and an entirely new mode called “Arcade.” Arcade’s usage of character roles, active/passive skills, and a currency system used to obtain more powerful weaponry change things up in a positive way. For those of you who’ve been scared off by Gears of War’s tough online skirmishes, Arcade Mode presents a more approachable way to play amongst the more casual crowd. As for the traditional group of competitive multiplayer masters, Gears 5’s mode offerings don’t abandon anything you’ve come to enjoy for so long.
Gears 5’s main co-op mode is joined by a three-person spin on the formula with “Escape.” You and two other “Hivebusters” willingly enter the heart of a Swarm hive and attempt to wipe out whatever’s inside with a “Venom Bomb.” Once it’s active, all three players must contend with rabid foes and keep a close eye on their limited ammo supply all the while. Escape is a pretty cool concept that maintains its appeal long after repeated playthroughs thanks to the ever-changing hives you’ll explore and the ways in which you get to apply each character’s active ability. Thanks to the addition of a custom “Map Builder” mode, Escape has the potential to become infinitely replayable thanks to the creativity of the Gears of War community.
As for the final piece of Gears 5’s multiplayer mode offerings, “Horde” mode is still a blast to play. In addition to all the changes introduced in Gears of War 4’s version of the longtime mode, Gears 5’s rendition throws in a few wrinkles of its own. Health bars are now visible over your enemies, which is something this reviewer is surprised wasn’t in from the very start. Players are now encouraged to be more offensive and move from their safe spots now that controllable areas pop up around the map. Players can also purchase personal stat boosters between each round. And finally, the inclusion of characters attached to certain classes who can dish out “Ultimate” abilities is both a blessing and a curse. This mechanic is beneficial since each character is no longer just a switchable skin. But it still would have been nice to be able to select your preferred character, attach them to any class you desire, and still be able to utilize their signature ability when the time comes. Even with this slight issue, Horde mode maintains its high replay and fun factor.
Gears 5 Takeaways
The Coalition has simply knocked it out of the park with Gears 5. A more-open ended campaign, the introduction of Arcade and Escape, and the cool changes added to Horde mode stand out as this sequel’s finest aspects. All of this worthwhile content is made even better thanks to the always enjoyable cover-based shooting mechanics and varied weapons locker Gears of War is known for. Gears 5 weaves an awesome tale and makes sure to keep you entertained long after the credits roll. A minor annoyance in the game’s version of Horde mode still won’t be enough to push you out of the ongoing COG vs. Swarm conflict.
Our Gears 5 Review Score: 9.5 out of 10
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