After the decline of Halo, Microsoft has had to put all its faith in the Gears of War franchise and the newly formed Coalition studio (formerly Black Tusk) with fore fronting the Xbox One in its uphill battle to remain relevant in a console generation that is engulfed by the PlayStation 4, and rightly so in my opinion.
But anyways we’re getting off topic, we’re here to talk about Gears of War 4.
Anybody that knows me will tell you in great confidence that I fucking love the Gears of War franchise I own a shit load of memorabilia for Gears of War ranging from T-shirts and comics to both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One Gears themed consoles, so I won’t be offended if you take my review with a grain of salt.
Let’s start with the most defining factor of the Gears of War franchise, the gameplay. This game definitely feels like a Gears of War game, which is nice to hear when you consider Cliff Bleszinski, creator of the franchise and main man in charge is no longer involved. The gameplay is enough to feel familiar as well as adding new mechanics to spice up the gameplay, like giving the player the ability to grab an opponent on an opposite side of cover and executing them with a knife and the ability to hurdle cover like an olympic athlete whilst performing the roadie run helps make the game more fluid, even though performing said task is rather awkward pressing up and B but once you get the hang of it, it can give you the edge in a multiplayer match especially.
There are new weapons, in the Dropshot, which is a bazooka which shoots a bomb out and drops on your opponent when you release the trigger, the Embar, a sniper rifle which cross hair only appears when you charge up the beam and fires when you release the trigger, The Overkill, a shotgun which fires two shots one when the trigger is pressed and one when the trigger is released, the enforcer is another machine gun and there is a new grenade called the Shock grenade which releases static electricity in a confined area slowly damaging the enemy. The new weapons are cool, they add to the games strategy and there is no sign of the sawed-off shotgun, which was a huge fucking mistake.
The campaign in Gears of War has always been a stepping stone to get started in the multiplayer, it’s just what I go to Gears FOR (pun intended). The story starts 25 years after the events of the third game, you follow a group called the outsiders, which has Marcus Fenix’s son, JD a character called Kait who’s a member of the outsiders and her mother is the “leader” if you will of them and Del, JD’s best friend. The COG are still around and they are still corrupt as ever.
The game play of the campaign is still there, running and gunning with all the stuff added I previously spoke of, new enemies which draw the line of both terrifying and familiar which are basically just The Locust, EXCEPT there is a 2nd enemy introduced in Gears 4 who are called the Deebees, a sort of robot soldier developed from a cleaner developed by the COG.
The story/campaign does suffer from pacing issues and there are horde sections which feel shoehorned in but the pay offs to me, a hardcore Gears fan is worth it and it’s by far the best ending in the Gears of War series, you feel as though you’ve accomplished something and the dangled carrot which is the cliffhanger to me is a great way to bring all four games together.
The online multiplayer is where it’s at in Gears 4, the classic modes are here in Warzone, King of the Hill, Team Deathmatch and Horde and there are some new modes to spice it up, Dodgeball and Arms Race to name a few.
Bounties are in Gears 4 which is basically a target to reach like ‘get 5 headshots’ and if you reach that target in a game you will get an XP boost or earn some credits, credits are the Gears of War 4 in-game currency which you can buy Gears packs with (I’ll get to these in a minute).
Horde mode is again, fucking awesome in Gears 4 as expected. There are class systems this time, like a scout, a heavy, a soldier and so on… Each class has a different load out and it’s a blast, the problem is it’s only online… Which nonsense, me and my girlfriend were trying to play and I could only play the 2 of us offline, the fact there is no bot filling is a joke. The state of video games in the current day really makes me worry sometimes. I can only play Horde with my friends, I don’t mind playing with randomers like I would Team Deathmatch and King of the Hill but it really benefits from communication and we’re in a time where barley anybody talks on the mic anymore. Which is a shame.
From launch there are 9 maps in total, which doesn’t seem like a lot but when The Coalition say they will add two maps a month for a year that’s 33 maps this time next year, which is arguably too many, the only classic map to be added now is the legendary Gridlock, but you assume there are classics coming, at the time of writing Checkout and Drydock both from Gears 3 have been added and feel great. The Coalition have done a good job on the new maps, the best Gears maps are the ones that are symmetrical and they seem to have kept up that trend with every map being that way.
I feel all skill levels are looked after in online multiplayer with a grading medal system (bronze, silver, gold etc.) and there is a pointless level system which doesn’t seem to do anything, in previous Gears games, there were an incentive to level up to acquire new character skins and banners and all that but with Gears of War 4 they’ve gone with the pack system found in Counter Strike and more recently Rocket League. WHICH I FUCKING HATE. If you don’t know what I mean, basically, there are a lot of cool skins available and if you could earn them genuinely in game (by levelling up) or even by outright buying them but oh no… You have to buy these Gears packs and you may or may not get what you want. I hate this. For example I really want the Day of the Dead selection of skins and I’d happily earn them through playing or buy them but I have to buy these packs, which for the elite packs is £20 for 5 packs.. Outrageous, the silver lining is that you can earn an in game currency to get these packs but again, the elite packs are 3,500 credits. To put that into perspective, depending on how many kills you get if you win a game of King of the Hill you earn about 120-150 credits, there are cheaper packs but they include bounties and banners and stuff, which is frustrating and in a way out of order, I spent £400 on an XBOX ONE S Gear of War 4 edition and I’m still getting nickled and dimed for my troubles. I know, “I don’t have to have the fancy skins, it doesn’t make the game better.” I feel it just adds personality to buy generic Gears of War characters.
If you’re new to Gears and interested in playing I think this is a good place to start, because you get all the others backwards compatible with Gears 4 (including the awful Judgment), but if you don’t like Gears I’d swerve, I don’t think there’s enough here to make you reconsider, which I don’t think is a bad thing.
An solid campaign and awesome multiplayer is keeping me coming back for more in a winter which is full of games I want to play, I really like this game and I’m intrigued in where the Coalition are taking the series.
The Gears packs can go to hell as far as I’m concerned and I can’t believe there is no Wingman in this game (2v2v2v2).