Gears 5: An Okay Sequel

Some cover art for Gears 5.

Gears 5 or really should be called Gears of War 5 is the sequel to Gears of War 4 and the many previous Gears games developed by The Coalition and released on September 6, 2019. Gears 5 is a third-person shooter that takes many years after the first game where the Locust have been reborn into the Swarm. The main character, Kait, is having visions related to the said Swarm and the game is about finding out why this is happening. Kait and her group are apart of the group called the COG that has been at peace for about 20 years due to the Locust going dormant. However, they awoke as the Swarm back in Gears of War 4. You and the rest of the cast of characters will go through many different environments and locations to discover the past of Kait and the Swarm.

Playing as James in a city under attack by the Swarm.

Let's start off by discussing that the game, did not do too well upon release. The game released with very few maps, an okay campaign, a really messed up multiplayer, and a really small cast of characters. I am happy to say that now a few of these issues have been rectified. Campaign has gotten a new game plus mode that allows for skins in-game but the story is still half-baked. Multiplayer has seen a lot of issues with weapons fixed but I don’t play it that often. And my favorite mode, Horde, is extremely fun right now. There is another mode called Escape but I will get more into that later.

Kait looking upon a vast desert.

Campaign is fun but the story is not anything crazy. Gears of war 3 to this day still has the best campaign to date and I’m not sure anything will match it. However, there are some nice strong points about the campaign. The campaign is split up into 4 acts with a total of 15 chapters. Act 1 and 4 are linear where you just need to get from point A to B. However, Acts 2 and 3 are both semi-open world. That means you can go from just point A to B but there are many side objectives you are able to do that usually give your robot companion called Jack, new abilities. Jack is able to learn many different abilities throughout the game and can be improved by doing these side objectives. A big ability he gets is mind control where he takes over a mind-controlled enemy for a short time. Upon the end of that duration, the enemy is set free and continues to attack you. However, if a certain side objective is done, the enemy will instead explode at the end of the duration. There are also other ways to improve Jack with these collectibles called components and they are scattered across the many different areas you explore.

Speaking of collectibles there are many others to collect as well. Different little posters, journals, cog tags, and weapons. The weapons, in particular, are a nice touch, there is a variant of every weapon called a Relic that is hidden on every level. For instance, the Relic Longshot has an interesting feature that if hit a perfect reload you will get an extra free shot. A normal Longshot for instance would only get one shot no matter the perfect reload. A short explanation of reloading in Gears is that there is a certain window during reloading that will allow you to reload early and do increased damage or just reload fully faster. There will be a white bar called perfect reload, and then a longer grey bar called active reload respectively. Should you miss both those windows you will jam the gun and have a longer reload time. The gunplay is a pretty big part of Gears and still holds up even now and the campaign overall is okay.

Screenshot of an in-progress horde game

My favorite mode, Horde, is truly something else. Horde is a 50 wave survival where every 10 waves a boss comes and the enemies are made harder with higher accuracy, health, and damage. The biggest part of horde is being able to build fortifications to help defend against the enemies. In the picture above, I have a sentry shooting at the DeeBee and a spiked barrier that slows down enemies walking through it. The floating energy signs are called power that is dropped from dead enemies and is required to build fortifications and upgrade your character. There are also 19 different classes in the game to choose from ranging from assault, tank, support, and promotional. Each class has a unique ultimate ability that usually does a lot to help the team, in the picture my ability is able to summon a mech suit called a Silverback that can be mounted with heavy weapons. My favorite class is called the Combat Medic that has the ability to pick up all downed allies from any point on the map and he can even do it while downed himself, unlike most other abilities. Each class also has cards they can earn from leveling up and playing games that give great benefits to characters. Combat Medic for example can gain the ability to also repair fortifications when using his ultimate. Horde can be played with up to 5 players and can either pick different classes or even have everyone pick the same class. It is quite a blast to play and enjoy it a lot.

Screenshot from the Escape mode.

Escape is a mode where you have to get through a linear level to reach the end and close the hive you are stuck in while also trying to get out fast enough to escape the poison slowly following behind. You also get to use the same classes as stated before in horde but without the building. Most escape games start you off with a pistol and you progressively find ammo and weapons along the way. I find this to get quite repetitive though. Instead of 5 like in horde it is now 3 here and escape always feels the same no matter how many times I play it. Escape is missing something that horde has that I just don’t quite get as horde can be just as repetitive. I also find escape to be extremely hard on higher difficulties compared to horde and some of the classes are completely useless in escape compared to horde. Engineer characters usually focus on building and repairing but playing them in escape is useless as they have little to no damage and can’t build. I just find escape to be overall not that fun compared to horde.

I want to end this off on an issue I’ve had with many games recently and the one I have here. Microtransactions. They are quite big in Gears with many cosmetics costing real money. Luckily two updates ago they made it possible to unlock a lot of cosmetics with earnable in-game currency but you still have the option to buy them with real money. I hate microtransactions, the only time I feel it is acceptable is in a free game, but Gears 5 was a full $60. With all this knowledge in mind, this game gets a 7/10. I absolutely love playing this game and haven’t missed an update but there is a lot holding it back and I feel The Coalition does not like to listen to their community on these issues. Overall, an alright game.

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