Gears of War 4 is everything that I could have wished for from The Coalition.
Gears of War 4 continues with the main staples that created the iconic Gears franchise, and offers an exciting campaign that follows the events proceeding Gears of War 3 and Marcus Fenix’s Son “JD”, as his team embark upon a journey to uncover the latest mystery which threatens humanity.
The gameplay retains a familiar feel to it, however, it has been finely tuned to present an honest Gears of War experience on Xbox One and Windows 10 PC, allowing for very fluid controls, epitomised by the superior aiming on PC, while both platforms offer alternative means to suit all.
As this is Microsoft’s first internal approach to the Gears of War series, following their acquisition of the former developers Epic Games, there were several questions asked about the direction the company would take with this beloved franchise, so let me get something out of the way before we begin.
If you are looking for a complete reinvention of the Gears formula, this won’t be the ambitious, new exciting game you are looking for. This is simply the Gears of War franchise we all know and love, but with new weapons, new enemy types and a new story to follow, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The series harks back to its original roots, and by that I mean Gears of War has been able to successfully recreate its terrifyingly iconic scenes, which leave you in an aura of action orientated violence, fearful of the unknown, while still offering the same engaging plot and gritty landscapes we have come to love from this series.
In addition to this, it is also worth noting that it’s nice to see a Gears of War game implement new enemies, other than the standard locust variants we have grown accustomed to. Without going into much detail, in order to leave enough suspense and surprise for those looking to tackle the game's campaign spoiler-free (which I am all for), the variety of enemies available in the game is truly stunning, and as a result forces players, including myself, into thinking tactically when selecting their ammo and weapon choices throughout the campaign.
Gears of old were always criticised for its enemies as you could, in theory, stay in the same place and kill everything in sight. However, now, that is not the case, as your cover no longer protects you from distinct enemy types, who will pile the pressure on you and your rag-tag team.
New, new, new...
The visuals in this game are immense. Granted, I was playing it with a 1080 graphics card but even on my original day one Xbox One, the graphics were still superb. Admittedly, they were not as eye-grabbing as the original Gears of War and many other Xbox Launch titles but nevertheless, during my initial play-though I found myself looking at the finer details of each area, more so than the enemies shooting at me. A distracting problem for those wanting to complete the campaign, but breath-taking all the same.
Gears of War 4 is graphically immersive and I commend the design team for what they’ve put into the game and what they get out of the hardware.
On the topic of new, I believe it’s also worth our time to discuss the new weapons, as most of them are available to use from the get-go, especially, if you’re looking to jump straight into multiplayer.
Firstly, the designs of the weapons seem to perfectly fit into the lore and the world of Gears of War and its surroundings, with the overall aesthetics visually pleasing to the eye. Here is a quick detailed synopsis of the new weapons and what they are capable of;
The Buzzsaw: Fires high-speed saw-blades that instakill foes.
The Overkill: A short-range double barrel shotgun that packs a punch.
Enforcer: A short range SMG like weapon that bursts down.
EMBAR: No-scope rifle that has a charge shot.
Drop shot: A drill-like a weapon that falls as soon as it's fired. Aim for the head and watch it drill into the skulls of your enemies.
In addition to new weapons, you will also find fresh features within the games fantastic campaign. Again, without trying to spoil anything for you, the Gears of War 4 campaign offers more structured variety and execution than previous instalments, implementing the games over features, such as mini horde like missions, to ensure the player never feels bored.
As a whole, the campaign took me around 9-10 hours to complete, however, that was at a leisurely pace. Personally, I found myself enjoying the scenery far too often and therefore I did not rush through the story. If you are someone who prefers to smash through the campaign and skip over any collectables, Gears of War 4 can be completed in an approximate 7-8 hour sitting, depending on difficulty.
In preparation for the campaign, the one piece of advice I would share with you is to make sure you play smart. In addition to this, if you are new to the Gears franchises, there is no reason to be concerned, as The Coalition have produced a great way for people to get invested in the story, regardless of whether they have played the previous instalments or not. The starting “tutorial”, as I would put it, takes you through the history of the Gears universe and provides you with a strong understanding of what happened before everything went to hell.
Gears of War has always gifted us with a great multiplayer experience and this game is no exception. Both Versus and Horde have evolved and reinvented for the new generation of hardware and the addition of competitive gaming as a whole has been a welcomed sight.
Through the inclusion of more customization and a loot like element in the form of chests, players can now unlock various content, including characters and weapon skins, allowing for a truly customizable inventory.
With 10 maps and plenty of modes that are true to the Gears library of multiplayer content, players will have a lot to look forward to in both a casual sense and the overwhelming amount of detail that has gone in to creating Gears of War 4 eSports.
The multiplayer segments have been created to allow you to play as you please and as a result, it is where I imagine I will be spending most of my time post launch, while we await the launch of the first piece of downloadable content.
In regards to Horde itself, from what I was able to play, and more importantly survive as a one-man army, it seems to focus more upon the collecting of resources from dead enemies in order to build more structures to defend yourself. Due to its weapon and money management system, it does have a slight Call of Duty Zombies feel to it, which will no doubt have players fighting over resources.
With all this in mind, Gears of War 4 gets the royal stamp of…
It’s a true Gears experience and brings me hope for the future. It truly does pass the Lancer on to the next generation of kick-ass action
Image and Game owned by Microsoft
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