The Evolution of a Franchise – The Gears of War 5 Review

Reviews Slider Xbox One
8.5

Great

Boom, baby – you feelin’ that?!  – August “Coletrain” Cole

There is only one word that comes to mind to describe my first impression of this game. Wow! I played Gears 5 via early access through Ultimate Game Pass. If you kept up with the launch of the game at all, then you will know that the “wow” factor at times was both exhilarating and ironically frustrating at times too. I will get into why the game can be breathtaking and action-packed and then suddenly frustrating during my first sittings in this extensive review of the game. Fortunately, since this review started there have been updates to the Coalition serves that have improved stability.  As always, stay tuned to Mulehorn Gaming because this review is currently in progress.

I’ve Been Waiting For A Girl Like You – Foreigner

I am a firm believer that video gaming creates the opportunity for lasting IRL (in real life) relationships. I am torn on if I should go into describing for you how exactly how much this franchise means to me. For the sake of brevity, let’s just say I have very fond memories of playing split-screen co-op through the original Gears of War while dating my wife in 2007. We’ve played each one since, even Judgement. We love this franchise and want it to succeed in every way possible.  

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Here’s Looking At You, Coalition

Perhaps, it is for this reason that I was so frustrated with the game when multiple bugs and crashes were present at the launch.  To say the least, the Coalition has done a great job addressing issues present at launch and is continuing to address questions coming from the community. The gameplay experience is much more stable than it was and the Coalition will be releasing a video this week to explain weapon damage.  

Love On The Battlefield

Speaking of love, the Coalition, the game’s developer has been showing their players some love. In a kind gesture, the Coalition has thanked their fans for their patience while patches are inbound with fixes for their most urgent grievances.

The Coalition has also been very forthcoming with communication around the fixes that they are working on; showing that they are responding to player feedback. I believe this is the biggest reason that the community has been so eager to enjoy the high-quality game and overlook the few bugs and networking issues that are still present.

To Start Things Off, Approachability Is Key

In my opinion, this has been the most approachable Gears game yet. Immediately following a “Previously In Gears of War 4” cutscene, the player starts off with a short boot camp “training” mission. There is an option to skip it but because it was so abrupt, I felt like I needed to play it to see if there was any story to be gleaned from it. Also, I am glad I did because some buttons configurations have changed. We’ll come back to this. 

Know Your Surroundings

Heads up!  In the next section, I will cover the Boot Camp training that the Coalition promotes to start off the game as well as the first mission which serves as an introduction to the game. There are light spoilers but nothing that would give away the plot of the game.  If you desire to go into the campaign blind; skip down to the General Campaign Overview section. There are no spoilers from that point on. 

Boot Camp

You will play this as Del who is helping out Baird as he is upgrading the AI on his DBs. (I still think it is hilarious the arrogant bastard named the bots after himself, Damon Baird.) Baird leads you through various exercises that are familiar to the experienced player but are useful and serve as a refresher course. These cover all the basics, roadie run, mantling over cover, taking cover, exiting cover, a gun range, reloading your weapon, grenades, reviving and being revived, etc. 

Then comes the melee piece.  While in cover you’re instructed how to pull an enemy across the barrier to you for a finisher or melee. Melee sits on the “B” button where it has traditionally been found. Most executions or finishers are still triggered by the “B” button. Then you find that the chainsaw on the lancer has moved to the Right Bumper.  I am a fairly flexible guy. This didn’t bother me until it did. 

The Chainsaw Melee And Active Reloading

I suspect that later in the game you will discover how frustrating this is as you curse along with Marcus, Kait, JD, or whomever you’re role-playing. It is very easy to jam the lancer when going for the chainsaw rev. That is because both reload and the rev are both on the RB. Not only that, but there is a bug allows a reload attempt even when the magazine is full. As Marcus would say, “Ah damn it! Come on!”

The Silver Lining

As of yet, no patch has been announced. I suspect that we can count on either being allowed to create a different button configuration or at least the full magazine reload bug to be fixed. As of Sept. 30th, neither have been addressed by the Coalition. The network and stability issues are the top priorities at the moment. Besides, this bug is a two-edged sword because it allows for an additional chance to actively reload the weapon and receive a damage boost. See. There’s the silver lining. 

A Different Point of View

So, I am torn as to whether or not I want to include the last three sections. I have had a change of mind on the assignment of secondary weapon actions on the RB button, which is where the chainsaw action sits. The weapon does not jam near as easily as I was experiencing at the game’s launch. Perhaps, this was due to me busting the rust off or becoming used to the new controller configuration. Either way, I am fully aware that I sounded like a pansy previously. Still, I am sure that someone else has felt similarly about the chainsaw’s action movement and I want to show that it isn’t horrible but It takes some getting used to. Also, here’s an example of an old dog learning new tricks.  

“Well, we’re not here to sell cookies.” Marcus, Gears of War 2

Ain’t that the truth?!  We are not left to think otherwise as we are right back into the action in Gears 5. Below is a synopsis of the first mission.  Warning! There are some spoilers here but I will only give a general overview of the rest of the campaign. 

Immediately after boot camp, we are greeted by a gorgeous prologue featuring the story as it continues from Gears of War 4. I was awed by the James Bond-like cinematic opening featuring developer credits and leading into Kait’s nightmarish realism that she was, like her mother, captured by the Swarm.

Kait awakens on a King Raven transport helicopter to a concerned Marcus Phoenix. Kait still has the necklace she was given by her mother before she died, which has a Locust symbol on the back of it. Phoenix, an old war dog himself, likely believes that she is having nightmares and losing sleep due to losing her mother and village, or the battles they have faced together. Also, Kait is suffering from near debilitating headaches. She is counseled by her concerned team members to seek help. It is hard to know if Kait is keeping her squadmates at arms reach because she is afraid of how they will view her, or if she just does not want to accept their help out of hubris. 

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Baird’s Half Baked Plan 

The squad has been sent on a secret mission by Damon Baird. He has dispatched them to a ruined COG base that has been abandoned for twenty-five years, one that is located in Azura. The cinematics here are really breathtaking as these scenes are the first panoramas the game offers. They are pristine on the Xbox One X. As the helicopter descends towards their landing area; which is basically the base of a waterfall, the trees really whip around and the water becomes a mist that is just spectacular to watch. The character models have seen a huge improvement over the prequel. The textures look really polished where they need to and very refined and detailed in others. Everything just seems so fluid running at 60fps. This is one of the first console games that has really pushed the One X to it’s potential.  

Into The Fray

Before the team can repel down from the King Raven, Kait asks who will repel down first. Del exclaims that she would be the last to go and then points out that she isn’t tethered to the Raven. Kait is taken aback that she has made such a huge mistake that could have cost her her life. The mission goes on with JD as the squad leader and Baird running as control. It appears that this is not an authorized mission. The team is running this under the radar, one that First Minister Kim likely will not approve of. This particular mission requires the Gears to launch an old Hammer of Dawn prototype satellite into orbit. 

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Half Baked Plans Are Better With Robotic Company

The mission continues through the rubble of the ruined base. It turns out that Baird learned about the site from Marcus’s father before he died. It is fortunate that the squad is accompanied by the Dave bot. This is a loaner bot that Baird has graciously lent the squad for their mission. The bot is actually quite handy in Gear 5 and even functions as a playable character. We’ll dive into this in detail later in the review.  For now, I will say that the bot brings an RPG feel to the game in single-player mode. It can be upgraded using parts found hidden throughout the levels. There are skill trees that use the points to craft and upgrade the bot to develop it into the tool that you want to use. Because I am playing my first playthrough, as always, on co-op split-screen with my wife, I am leaning on her impressions since she is playing as this character. She has really enjoyed it so far even though she was hesitant to play this character. She really likes that she can bring weapons to me during a firefight while cloaked. Or even electrocute locust until they pop. 

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Welcome To The Jungle

From here on the mission does not throw a whole lot at the player in terms of new mechanics, guns, or other surprises. It seems that they opted to save those for later on in the campaign. Do not worry. The story has some huge moments and the new weapons are extremely fun. What this first mission does do is really show off the Coalition’s ability to create a story and a world that is truly immersive. I am eager to see the concept art of this early mission because it is really beautiful. The player winds through ruins that have been overtaken by jungle while other parts are overrun by the hive. There are areas where the sun’s rays are really spectacular leading to bright and open areas for gunfights. Then there are areas where the squad is wading through a dark dank sewer fighting off a swarm of Juvies. 

Know Your Gun

The Coalition does a great job of letting the player choose from a plethora of weapons. Hold onto your horses though! A good assortment of guns from Gears 1-4 are available in the first mission such as the Boomshot, Buzzsaw, Dropshot, Lancer, Retrolancer, Gnasher, Boltok, Hammerburst, and more. However, do not expect the Coalition to throw all the fun at you right off the bat. They do tend to tease us and save the new guns for later. I have to wonder how a player that is new to the franchise would feel picking up some of these guns for the first time. Some of them can be a little tricky, such as the Dropshot, but very rewarding. Especially when dropped right into a Swarm Grenadier’s skull. Wow! One addition to the arsenal that is available in the first mission is the explosive ammo crate. These will contain ammo for an explosive type weapon and grenades. I am in love with these already.  

Take Cover!

You continue to work your way through the rocket silos, eventually finding one that is functional but also infested with locust.  This leads to a fun firefight but it is one that is easily handled if played conservatively. The biggest challenge with this room is the sheer number of enemies in it. Pick up a Boomshot or Dropshot from one of the Boomers and go to work with it. Shortly after cleaning the room, the squad discovers that the silo bay doors are jammed.  

Technical Difficulties

Baird advises the team to abort the mission as they are not safe behind the blast wall from an exploding rocket. JD does not heed Baird’s advice and takes Del and Dave with him to ascend the silo and attempt to open the bay doors. Along the way, there are more locust to fight and segments of the grating have to be lowered by Dave to progress. All throughout this, the rocket is going through the countdown phase and seems to need to test burn the thrusters sending plumes of fire up in all directions. 

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“It’s A Long Way To The Top If You Wanna Rock ‘N Roll” – AC/DC

Once the ascent has been made there is a final skirmish with juvies just after the bay doors have been opened causing tons of rock and debris to fall. The walkway gives out and JD, Del, and the bot fall back to the ground level. Del and JD rush for the blast doors to keep from being incinerated but a juvie assaults the Dave bot, ripping and smashing it. Del has a soft place for the bot and attempts to go after him but is stopped by Kait saying, “It is just a bot!” Luckily, Dave frees itself from the Juvie and comes crashing through the blast doors just before they seal.  

The robot and the team are both safe behind the blast doors in the command room. Dave is very much smashed up but functional.  Later, you will receive a replacement bot from Baird. JD is not spared from his father’s disappointment. It is obvious that Marcus believes that JD’s actions were reckless and he is angry that he did not heed his warning and that his leadership is out of line. He put himself and Del in unnecessary danger. The team returns to the chopper and the mission ends as a success. Be prepared to receive an ear full from the COG brass.

General Campaign Overview (No Spoilers)

Gears 5 makes tremendous strides over what Gears of War 4 did for the franchise. The previous title, while great, did not really have the same punch that the previous games had. Gears 5 brings those huge wow moments that the prequels have. The characters in Gears 5 are relatable and well written in every aspect. There are those that you will love and empathize with. Then there are others that you will scorn and then maybe come around to forgiving by the end to the title. The story writers introduce new characters and bring back some of the old fan favorites. Then create some interesting interpersonal dynamics with the new generation of characters. Some old alliances are fractured and new ones are formed.  

Boom Baby! – Coletrain

The action is non-stop! That is unless the player decides to take off on the skiff to explore the side-missions. However, even in these lulls, the writing team did a great job developing the conversations that the characters have with each other. It is a great use of time. We literally see some of these characters trying to work through the experiences that they have shared together leaving them scarred and even angry with each other. This was absent in the prequel.

Often times the dialogue did not match up to the situation or was cheesy. There is one particular line JD yells out that I will let you experience for yourself in Act III after the squad is reunited. It is hilarious! I mentioned this earlier but I play every Gears of War game on split-screen Co-Op with my wife, even going back to when we were dating. There have been multiple moments that we just looked at each other with “did that just happen expressions”.  

Walking The Line Between Old And New 

The Coalition is very deliberate in where it deviates from the traditional formula of a Gears of War game. In most instances, the game feels very true to the spirit of Gears of War. Progress the story by clearing the room and move on to the next point. That is not inherently bad. I am having some of those same blown away instances that were present in Gears of War and the sequels. Still, it is refreshing to have new things such as side quests and large areas to explore. It helps to not make the game feel so linear. It also helps that the player can control the pace of the game. When there is non-stop action in most of the main quests, it can be nice to take the skiff and go explore a side-mission lead and obtain more weapons and components for Jack. There are often some contextual storylines that go with these as well. Some of them even lead to an Ultimate level upgrade for Jack. 

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These ambitious moves take away the weight to the argument that the Coalition is not evolving the game. The writing team shares the ambitions of the game’s developers. There is a certain couple of characters that will not be named because of spoilers. Because of their idiotic actions in the story; I refer to them as The Assholes.  It becomes quite hilarious when my wife argues to not take it so hard on them after they strive to make amends. Nope, I have not moved past it yet. The writers did too good of a job making me loathe these two despite their do-good attitudes.  Perhaps, I will come around eventually but right now, no. 

Hello, Beautiful!

The game is gorgeous on the Xbox One X. The Coalition has done a superb job making this game into the most stunningly visual masterpiece that it can be. The game runs at 60 fps and will run the cut-scene cinematics in-game. The result is a seamless experience with no load times in between real-time action and story-driven content. It feels truly amazing in the opening moments of the game to see characters that look so pristine and defined in a cutscene to all of the sudden be repelling out of a helicopter as one of those characters. 

Not only does the Coalition go above and beyond by building on the foundations of games past; they also built into Gears 5 new elements and game modes. Gears of War 4 was criticized for playing it too safe, a true to form success that did not move the franchise forward. In short, a missed opportunity in the age of looter shooters and live-service games. Gears 5 takes that feedback and builds on it in several ways.

A Man’s Best Friend

The first is to expand on the support role of Jack, the fan-favorite robot that has been around since the start. Jack has been upgraded by Daimion Baird with the latest toys and gizmos. He can now be commanded by the player to do things like fetch ammo, guns, etc.  Let’s not stop there though. He also now has abilities and even comparable skill trees. The bot can be upgraded using components found in the campaign in the same fashion that collectibles are found. This aspect brings a sense of urgency to the collections piece of the game. I have always sought these out as a player of the originals but this had my wife stating, “Hold up! I need to check this room”.  

Also, Jack is a playable character. Back to that sense of urgency, my wife was feeling. She enjoys playing a support role. Naturally, she wanted to try out playing as Jack. In this instance, only she can control or upgrade the bot. Therefore, it is essential, to her, er I mean both of us, that she finds these components so that she can upgrade Jack. Jack is also playable in Horde.  

Brick by Brick

Gears of War 4 set the foundation for the current cast of characters. It introduced to us the newly minted mainstays such as JD, Del, and Kait but it also built a worldly and political setting and gave us touchpoints with fan favorites such as Marcus, Baird, and Cole. The predecessor did well creating this intro, but it did not excel at making us love these new characters in the way that we are connected to the previous lineup. Playing through Gears 4, I was constantly worried that Marcus was about to be killed off to create an evolution of JD. This was mostly because I just was not connecting with him.  

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Gears 5 proves that the Coalition writers can create meaningful and dynamic moments with these characters and brings Kait’s story to the forefront while driving the player to make choices on the emotions that they have had throughout the game with these characters. That’s right. Choices. The player is enabled to make these. The storyline is packed with moments that will either make the player love or hate the characters. Eventually, the player is faced with a decision that will drive the storyline and ultimately leads to an alternate ending.  

Gears 5 Multiplayer Is Amazing

The multiplayer in Gears 5 is true to form. There have been a few adjustments but this aspect of the game has been so polished that so little was expected in that regard. Despite this, Gears 5 multiplayer really excels in the minutiae of their improvements over previous games. These seemingly small changes do not seem extraordinary on their own but together though they push Gears 5 over the top and make it the best Gears multiplayer experience thus far. 

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The Classic Versus

The versus mode doubles down on what is classic about Gears and strengthens the game’s place in the eSports arena with the return of the Ranked playlist. Despite the fact that any serious Versus player will be using a headset running Dolby Atmos; the Coalition has added a communication wheel that can be used for either emoting or tactical responses such as “Group up!” The maps are great. The Coalition leans in on some classic Gears maps while sprinkling in some new ones as well. The fact that the new maps are not all focused on Escalation 2.0 with large open spaces is a huge improvement over Gears of War 4. Let’s hope that maps continue to be developed of this quality. 

Bad Omens

The new omen is far better. For newcomers, the omen sign has served as an indicator of damage taken. As the opacity of the image decreases then the less health you have. Reverse omen allows for the player to better identify where the enemy player is firing from. In Gears of War 4, it was particularly difficult to find someone if they did damage to you first.  

Recoil Patterns

Gears 5 has established set recoil patterns for the weapons. This feature is extremely welcomed as it enables the players to learn the weapons rather than just spray and pray. In the past, weapon accuracy could be extremely aggravating when there was little control over the weapon’s behavior outside of controlling for the fire bloom. Now each weapon has a certain feel and utility to it that was not as developed previously. Recoil patterns add a level of depth and standardization that was not present before.

Active Reloads have been updated in the new game. In previous games, the active reload would only give a damage boost to each gun. This seems simple but it could be very frustrating in multiplayer. For instance, it would be difficult to identify if your opponent is running a Gnasher loaded with a damage boost. This changes the range of lethality of the weapon. In Gears 5, the Gnasher’s active reload in Versus increases the magazine size. Therefore, the damage drop remains the same, creating some standardization.  The player now knows the weapon behavior and how to react in close range situations.  

Aiming Reticles Have Been Improved

The ADS system has seen an update in Gears 5. The Coalition approached tier eSports champions in the Gears arena to seek feedback on these new designs. The players unanimously agreed that the Coalition had made positive strides with these changes and that the retooled weapons sights would not negatively impact the game. There are no options to use classic sights. For the most part, the changes have been welcomed by the community. To be honest, I have barely noticed the change.  

Arcade Deathmatch

This new game mode is a ton of fun and it adds new life to the classic versus mode.  The pace is so fast but it allows players to experience gameplay outside of the run of the mill gameplay that is inherent in the Ranked playlist where Gnashers and Lancers reign. This is a great way for players to experience new and hard to get weapons in Deathmatch. Each elimination earns skulls that can be spent on various weapons, even during the match. The skulls are not streak based, so they cannot be lost.  Also, characters have various passive abilities such as anti-flinch, increased mobility, improved marking, etc. Characters can be changed during the match and are mirrored by the Swarm.

Eyes Up And On Your Guardian

The Guardian game mode is back. In this mode, both teams fight to eliminate the other team’s leader who is played by a randomly assigned player. Squadmates respawn as they are killed unless the leader is killed. If the leader is killed then all kills are final.  Whichever team eliminates the other team first, wins. This game mode has always been one of my favorites. I enjoy running this with a group of buddies with voice comms so that call-outs can be heard. My wife gives me hell if I cannot protect her. Gosh, I’m trying! 

Escalation 2.0

There are several modes in addition to the classic versus mode. These are Escalation, Elimination, and Arcade. Escalation is the classic Domination but with some twists. Players fight to control three zones. Whichever team controls the majority of the zones for the longest amount of time will win the match. Each zone held earns the team one point per second. 250 points earns a match win. Or does it? The match can be won if a team can hold all three zones for a short period of time. A game can also be won by eliminating the other team of all their lives. Each team member is allowed five lives. A new life is added at the end of each round. The player chooses to use a life when a respawn is initiated. If the player feels that the match is going their way; then they may choose to sit out the final moments of the match. This requires the team to budget their lives according to the flow of the game. As the game progresses the respawn time is reduced. Between matches, players vote to place weapons on the map. These are swapped out for the default weapon and placement is chosen from weapon plates on the map. The center lanes are where the most powerful weapons can be placed. The game is won by the team who wins seven matches first. This mode is being championed as THE game mode by the Coalition for the eSports arena. 

Deescalate Escalation 2.0

I am somewhat skeptical of this for several reasons. One of the most deterring factors that may keep the general public from watching eSports is approachability. A person just off the street with no knowledge of Gears of War needs to be able to watch the tournament matches and be able to have a general knowledge of how the sport is played fairly quickly. 

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I do not feel like Escalation 2.0 enables this. I was lost as to how to place the weapons on the map or how to determine who’s turn it was to control placement. Secondly, the flow of the game is interrupted each match while teams choose where weapons will be placed next. Thirdly, the addition of multiple ways to win the game, while fun for hardcore players, leads to many various strategies. Yet, with this dynamic, the game could be hard to identify what strategy is being played making the game hard to follow. I feel like all of these dynamics could be fun to learn and difficult but rewarding to master as a casual Gears player. As a newcomer who might be watching a tournament on ESPN 2, this will be a hindrance to eSports and Gears.  

For The Horde!

Horde mode builds on what has been fleshed out in the previous games. The updated title allows for a player to play as Jack. The addition of Jack is very beneficial as he can use various abilities to shock enemies, revive players, cloak, etc. Jack may function in a support role but I consistently have seen this character as the MVP of multiple matches. Also, bots are added to the game if players drop out or lose connection. Some of the newly added bosses are truly dynamic, especially since some of the Swarm bosses are now airborne and can ignore some of the barrier fortifications. Then there are some minibosses that require a team effort, such as Wardens. We were constantly forced to decide whether to engage a Warden that could easily rush through our fortifications or just leap over them. We chose to fall back and clear out adds, running and gunning, leaving the Warden for the end. I for the record did not scream like a little girl having to leap and dive around the Warden in close quarters. By the way, the execution with the Warden’s hammer/sword is epic! 

Escape is new to the franchise. It draws on some of the elements from Horde and the ever-popular battle royale genre while it leans slightly into some RPG elements. This makes the game feel trendy but I feel like it is a mainstay. It really seems polished to me as the levels are rather large and time management is key. The essence of the game mode is that a strike team of four players insert themselves into a Swarm infested facility by submitting to a Snatcher. You are then attempting to escape from the facility after arming a toxin bomb that will kill the Swarm but will also kill you. The toxin works like the fog in a BR game pushing you forward and requiring the player to make decisions based on a speed run. Do I clear that supply room or do I go on with what I have. Which path do I run? What characters are most beneficial this week or to this team? What skill builds should I utilize? The characters all have various Ultimates that can create some interesting synergy. 

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The Challenge Escape rotates weekly. The levels are built using blocks so that they can be randomly generated leading to a new way to Escape each week. There are various levels of difficulty and the higher difficulty drops the rarest skill cards. Also, the weekly challenge mode will offer a chance at unique skill cards. Each character has an ultimate and skill cards that can be leveled by playing the game mode. There is also player customization and cosmetics that can be earned in this mode. The game mode features quite a few characters to play as but the newcomers are Keegan, Mac, and Lahni. Also, there are several DLC characters such as Sarah Conner, Kat, and Emile that can be played outside of Keegan, Mac, and Lahni. 

These three have some really great Ultimate synergy though and should not be discounted just because they are the default game mode’s launch characters. Keegan’s ultimate replenishes ammo to the squad which is SUPER useful when you are starting off with a pistol and farming kills for more ammo. Lahni has a DPS Ultimate that allows her to use knives to take down her enemies. Mac deploys an energy shield that only allows only your squad’s bullets to pass through it. This shield floats in front of Mac which allows Mac to continue to fire when it is deployed. I have seen several Master completion guides that suggest using these starting three. In order to do the Master level, you need high-level cards. In order to complete the higher difficulties, you need duplicate skill cards to rank up your low-level cards.  

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My only concern for this playlist is that the community seems to be struggling with the strategy of completing the Escape. Traditionally, Gears PVE has always been a clear room game. This is true for Horde and Campaign. In Escape, there is not enough time or ammo to eliminate everything. It is important to stay together and sneak when possible. Executions save on ammo and sneaking past enemies saves time. 

The higher difficulties require me to be more social with my Gears friends or LFG. Solo queuing is not really an option outside of the Beginner mode for my low-level characters, at the moment. There seem to be many quitters for this game mode. I assume that it is because of the lack of familiarity with the game mode and that there is little to no deterrent for dropping out of a match. As with most games, I have really enjoyed the matches I have played with friends and some of the most frustrating matches have come from being abandoned on a rather achievable win as a team but just out of reach completion solo. The game scales the number of enemies based on players. I have seen this when players join my match. However, I have not really experienced it scaling down when players leave. If this function was either available or tweaked be more impactful then having openings in the squad would not be so painful.   

Escape Map Builder

The Coalition has deemed the Gears of War community worthy with their Map Builder for Escape. Essentially, the builder uses configurable tiles that the player chooses to lay out the map. The builder can then place ammo drops and enemies to control the difficulty. The player controls the size of the map and can decide if the mode is a one or two-act level by using the sanitation areas. The player can control how the venom behaves. Such as when it deploys and how fast it moves. Lastly, the creator will want to place the extraction zone. The further away from the Swarm nest or insertion point will determine the difficulty. This works much like Halo’s forge in that the player creates maps that can be shared and played between friends or found by the community through a browser.

Gears of War 5: The Evolution

Gears 5 overall is an excellent addition to the Gears of War franchise, possibly the best one yet. Still, there are areas for improvement for the Coalition. Despite the ambition that has been so widely praised, it would have done well to see the RPG elements fleshed out in a more significant and influential way. For instance, players can easily respec Jack at any time. Therefore there is little to no detriment to the player when abilities are missing. Also, it would have been great to see more depth to the side quests. These can be overlooked altogether in terms of the main plot.  Although, I do not recommend doing this as Jack’s Ultimate abilities will be missed. Other than the feature of side quests being included and built out, there is not much creativity past this point as the old formula of clear the room of baddies is once again defaulted to. With so much space being used to create these areas; I really would have liked to see a horde mode of sorts in some of the expanses that were created to house these “open-world” side quests. I think it would have been uniquely fun and exciting to fortify ruins in these areas and repel waves of the Swarm in a campaign fueled romp.  

Gears 5 excels in the minutiae of building a story and a game that is exhilarating and hits the player right in the feels. It takes the building blocks from its predecessor and pushes itself up and over the top to be the high-quality game that fans wanted in Gears of War 4. The story sets up the characters and plot for longevity and finally establishes the sense of connection that players wanted to feel towards the new generation of characters in the predecessor. Gears 5 does a great job sidestepping what fans may have been predicting from the plot in this title in clever ways creating adrenaline-filled and emotional moments for our cast that have not been experienced since the original trilogy. 

The graphics overhaul and the continued embrace of Dolby Atmos create a game that provides a stellar performance running on the Xbox One X and PC. Cross-Play enables players to play anywhere. This is huge for the PC community that did not quite materialize with Gear 4. Gears 5 is thriving on PC because of the inclusion of anti-cheat software and because of the game’s inclusion in Steam.  

The game provides great value at $60.00 USD when one considers the replayability of the campaign due to the fact that there are multiple difficulties and alternate endings. The game also has an extensive catalog of multiplayer modes. The value is further appreciated by those who access it through Xbox GamePass or the Ultimate Version. Both of which have been experiencing sales.  As of late, first two months for $2 for Game Pass Ultimate. Soon the game will be included in the pilot of XCloud which will further expand its playability.

Good

  • Top Quality AAA Campaign
  • Revamped multiplayer containing a plethora of content
  • Ambitious new features
  • Included with Xbox Game Pass and the XCloud Pilot
  • It runs in 4K 60 FPS on Xbox One X

Bad

  • Open world and RPG elements are welcomed but beg for more depth.
  • The chainsaw moved to the bumper?! It takes some getting used to.
  • Not enough new weapons

Summary

Gears of War 5 propels the franchise into the future with a stellar graphics upgrade. The Coalition responds to critical fan feedback calling for an evolution of the franchise by including new game modes.  The Coalition delivers a top-tier action-packed campaign that showcases a strong female character in Kait who is struggling to deal with her demons and resolve where she fits in the world of Gears and her squad.  Relatable supporting characters support Kait while some stand in the way. Alternate endings that stim from choices made in the campaign create opportunities for replayability. This is the Gears game that will be talked about for years as it harkens back to the tonality of the original trilogy of games for pace and impactful plot twists that leave the player astounded. While the Gears community has raved about Gears 5; most agree that the Coalition would do well to further develop the new game modes and features included in this title.
8.5

Great

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