REVIEW: Gears 5
It has been three years since we have gotten the chance to play a new addition in the long running Gears of War series. The recent struggles of Microsoft in the first party releases for Xbox One had mounted the pressure on a title many had mixed expectations towards. Read on to see if it has lived up to the hype.
The Coalition along with Microsoft Studios have brought us Gears 5, the eighth instalment of the franchise, including the newly released Gears Pop on mobile. The series that originally started back in 2006 has come along way since then and is now a fan favourite for the Xbox console along with P.C.
Gears 5 continues on from the story driven Gears of War 4 and sees us team up once again with J.D., Kait and Del. Although you will spend most of the game trying to discover the reason behind Kait having these strong visions and headaches which seem to be linked with the locust (The bad guys from the Gears of War series) symbol given to her at the end of Gears of War 4. Going against direct orders from command, you will set off through differing landscapes and locations to get to the answers that Kait so desperately seeks.
Some people have already been slating Gears 5 as a write off because the gameplay is the same as the previous games in the series. I beg to differ here as it is the cover system, third person genre that Gears 5 nails down perfectly and has improved certain aspects from Gears of War 4 along the way.
The introduction of three player co-op makes it even more entertaining to take on missions with your friends, as one of you now can control your flying robot sidekick, Jack.
This also comes along side the newly added weapons and enemies that you will encounter throughout the game. I feel this freshens up the series and makes you realise that Gears 5 is not simply an expansion of Gears of War 4.
One of the first things to note when playing this game is just how good it looks. The visuals during the game are up there with some of the heavy hitters in terms of graphics, such as God of War and Uncharted 4. Both of these being PS4 exclusives makes Gears 5 stand out even more as it does not seem to have any major competition on that front when it comes to other exclusives on Xbox, albeit Forza is a stunning looking game but in a different genre.
I had the good fortune to play Gears 5 on a 4K display through an Xbox One X so the processing power really helped make the game visually jaw-dropping at times. It’s here where you can notice how the past three years of development have been spent to make it look this good.
The campaign itself has some interesting set pieces but it is the introduction of free play elements that many fans will be excited about. Without giving away too much, you will get the option to complete side missions and discover hidden locations at your own ease. This is a welcome change in the Gears of War franchise from what is known to be a more or less linear gameplay experience.
Even if you are not a fan of the series or have never played it before, I would recommend just to play through the campaign at least, so as not to miss out on what is not just an impressive looking game, but also one that tells a good story that actually plays on your emotions. This is as a result of some characters making what seems to be their last appearance in the series and many will be left in anticipation as to what Gears 6 will have in store.
The online multiplayer side of Gears of War has always been its more appealing feature to many fans. This time around they will be spoilt for choice as Gears 5 has added some new game modes to their already busy roster of the usual suspects, such as Team Deathmatch, Guardian, King of the Hill and Execution.
The main addition is a game mode called Escape, this sees three new characters, Keegan, Mac and Lahni almost playing the role of the trojan horse by infiltrating the Locusts Hives from within and planting gas bombs to try and destroy them for good. The mission starts after the bombs have been set and it is up to you and your teammates to try and get out in time, all the while battling waves of locusts on your way towards the exit.
After playing Escape a couple of times, It’s definitely an enjoyable addition and can be a challenge depending on what difficulty level you choose. This mode also comes with a map building option so you can create and publish a Hive that any other Gears player can try to escape from. This in turn means that you can also play a number of other maps made by other community players. This is a good way to keep this new game mode interesting in the long run, as if it was just an option of one or two Hives to choose from, it would get repetitive very quickly.
By successfully escaping a Hive you are rewarded with power ups and coins. These can be used to improve your characters abilities and weapons, allowing you to try the more challenging Hives.
Horde Mode is also back in Gears 5 and has always been a fan favourite. Take on up to fifty waves of enemies with ever increasing levels of difficulty with up to four other players trying to gain bragging rights and rewards for surviving the Horde.
All the above modes play towards another new feature called the Tour of Duty. This is a way of replacing the now maligned loot crates and rewards players with various skins and aesthetics for your character and weapons. This is done by completing differing tasks such as get ten kills as J.D. or revive five downed teammates. These are then refreshed daily so the more you play, the more you are rewarded with. I like to see games developers moving away from loot crates and rewarding gamers by simply focusing on how much you play the game, not how much you can spend on it.
This has been the lifeline that Microsoft so badly needed after seeing its main competitor Sony run away with the majority of the games awards for 2019 so far. Now Microsoft at least has the opportunity to upset the trend for the remaining three months of the year.
Gears 5 is a well polished game that has improved upon its previous edition, along with setting standards for visuals on the Xbox One. It has kept true to its fanbase and introduced new features without losing anything that makes a Gears game feel like a Gears game.
The multiplayer has enough variety to keep gamers interested and then with the inevitable waves of DLC that will be coming down the line, I think that Gears 5 will be many peoples game of choice for a while to come.
Review done by TheEffect.Net contributor, Mark Reilly.