Gears 5 Review
Officially releasing next Tuesday, Gears 5 is the latest installment in the Gears of War franchise and the second title to be released since Microsoft acquired the rights to the franchise from Epic Games in 2014. With Gears of War 4 receiving mixed reviews, fans of the franchise (myself included) were holding their collective breath, if not their high hopes, to see what time of experience we could expect out of Gears 5. Let me tell you that I couldn’t have seen it coming in a million years.
Having been a fan of the Gears of War franchise for many years, and joining with the community in the general air of disappointment that surrounds Gears of War 4, I tread softly into Gears 5. As I peered tentatively into the campaign, I could not have been more surprised by what rushed up to meet me.
Part of what I saw was the golden Gears of old, chainsaw assault rifles, bulky armored soldiers, monstrous enemies and gratuitous gore. The combat in Gears 5 is the epitome of the franchise – a cover-based tactical shooter where your timing and tactics play just as important a role as your weapon choice and firing accuracy. The weapons feel as good as they ever have and the tactical movement is smooth as you like.
The second half of what I witnessed is what truly impressed me. These were the changes that The Coalition had made to the series, and each of them, big and small, felt like well-calculated and perfectly-executed additions. They range from the groundbreaking utility now offered by your robot, JACK, to the subtle expansion of many areas that feel significantly more open and often reward those who go poking around.
Speaking of JACK, possibly the biggest shift in the game’s playstyle is that your robot buddy now has assault, support and passive skills that can be leveled through a skill-tree. The currency for these upgrades is Components that you must collect as you progress through the campaign. These are often stashed in dark corners or out-of-the-way locations, and offer real reason to explore each level thoroughly.
And boy, do the levels in Gears 5 have a leg up on its predecessor. I cannot overstate how beautiful the environments are in this game, we are talking easily Top 5 most visually impressive games ever. More than just improving the quality of each surface and lighting effect, the elevated graphics work seamlessly to create a more immersive experience for the gamer. Gears 5 also provides players with the opportunity to actually explore these levels, dipping their toes into the open-world waters without diving in fully.
While this may not seem like a radical step, it was still a risky one, and one that I wholeheartedly believe paid off – big time. Breaking away from the totally-linear design also breaks up the monotony that can sometimes creep in to games that are too one-dimensional. The ebb and flow of intense gunfights contrasted by a mild but not infuriating search for an objective truly adds enough diversity to revitalize the shooter franchise.
Finally, Characters to Care About
Gears 5 also has a greater focus on storyline and character development. You can tell that they really tried to flesh out much of the backstory that had been hinted on in other titles and the main protagonist, Kait, in particular has a gripping storyline. The movement towards character interaction elicits a real emotional response and gets you heavily invested in a previously lukewarm plot.
Sadly, the campaign itself feels like it ends too early and it certainly leaves us wanting more. That in itself is a major accomplishment for a franchise that has been steady but not truly exciting for the past few years. Luckily, for its part, Gears 5 also offers many additional game modes to fulfill that craving. Through a variety of PvP and Co-op multiplayer modes (that will be covered in an upcoming article), the Gears action keeps going as long as you want it to!
Overall, Gears 5 is a phenomenal step forward for the series and manages to create perfect harmony between the gritty, blood soaked roots of Gears games from the past and the evolving, depth-craving gaming landscape of today. Gears 5 officially launches on September 10th and trust me, this is not a game you want to miss.
Learn more about Gears 5 here: https://www.gears5.com/