Gears of War 4 is a third-person shooter that was released on October 11th 2016 exclusively for Xbox One and Microsoft Windows. It was developed by The Coalition. It is the fifth entry in the Gears of War franchise, the first of which to be developed by a company other than Epic Games.
Our story begins approximately 25 years after the events of Gears of War 3. For new players, we are treated to a brief prologue featuring three key events from historically significant events, this includes E-Day, and Anvil Gate which you should already be familiar with if you have played previous entries.
Unfortunately, the campaign kind of throws you in at the deep end early on. Even as a ‘seasoned’ player of the Gears of War games, it’s initially difficult to really wrap your head around the quick succession
of information you have thrown at you. You have an almost-entirely new cast of characters (though fam
iliar faces do turn up). It isn’t until the end of the first act that you’ll start appreciating the new characters and settings to their fullest.
Your key squad of characters consists of three new faces, these are; JD Fenix, Kait Diaz and Del Walker. This harks back to the formula we saw in the first two Gears of War titles, where the focus was on Marcus and Dom as lead characters, with more characters in supporting roles. A step up from Gears 3, which was really all over the place. It puts an emphasis back on couch co-op, which assists in engaging with the characters on a more intimate level. Something that is sorely lacking in todays market.
Gears of War 4 feels like it has been cut from the same cloth as its 3 numbered predecessors. Thankfully negating much, if any influence from Gears of War: Judgement. At its core, Gears of War places much significance on tactically using cover in order to defeat the opposition.
The core gameplay incorporates several elements that were dropped from Judgement, as well as introducing plenty of new ones. Most notably a whether system that can impact your means of play. Extreme wind for example can redirect a thrown grenade, sometimes right back at you! Your character can carry two primary weapons, a secondary weapon and grenades at any time. New weapons offer a rather broad spectrum of new options such as the new Saw-Blade flinging gun, the Buzzkill, and the close-combat new shotgun-like weapon, the Overkill. Of course, everybody’s favourite assault weapon, the Lancer is back!
There are three key modes of gameplay: Campaign, Horde Mode and Online Multiplayer.
Horde mode pits up to 5 players on one team in 50 waves of Locust killing action. ‘The Fabricator’, a new addition to the mode is pivotal in being successful. It allows you to build your base and defences anywhere on the map. This differs from previous entries, where your base and defences were static. If you don’t choose wisely, then you’ll struggle in later stages as the waves get progressively harder. You are also treated to a special boss-battle every 10 waves.
This mode sees a new class-based system that gives you predetermined weapon loadouts. This unfortunately means that gone are the days of weapon spots in these stages, or the customisation of your own preferred weapon loadouts.
Online Multiplayer mode consists of a wide variety of gameplay options. Including a traditional Team Deathmatch, or more quirky modes like King of The Hill. A five vs. five layout, COG vs. Locust is standard across the board. The stages include old and new, including fan favourites such as Gridlock.
There appears to be an issue with this mode presently, as every attempt I made to play it left me with a painfully glitchy experience. Though I found Horde mode ran perfectly.
Gears of War games, with the exception of Judgement have always done an excellent job in conveying interesting environments and settings. Gears of War 4 is thankfully not another exception. With environments taking inspiration from Northern Italy, you’ll be experiencing a vast array of interesting locales in the campaign mode.
Graphically, Gears of War is conflicting. The character models and surroundings are all perfectly fine, but some of the effects are ridiculously terrible. The kind of terrible you’d see on a Playstation 2. The worst offender of this I found was in the game’s prologue, when you use the Hammer of Dawn. Almost as if these effects were placeholders that someone forgot to replace.
The characters, although perhaps not as great as Marcus and Dom were, are endearing and will eventually win your admiration. The music sets the tone of the game perfectly, but I’ve never found the soundtrack in Gears to be anything to write home about.
Overall, the game is delivered in a solid package, with easy to navigate menus. Accessibility is not an issue here.
Gears of War 4 makes huge strides in reverting to its glory days, but perhaps falls short of the excellence found in its best entry, Gears of War 2. The changes made are mostly for the better, though some feel less like improvements and more like restrictions.
This is a must-have title for any fan of third-person shooters, military games and Xbox owners. Gears of War 4 has cemented itself as thus far the best that the Xbox One has to offer.
|+ Restructuring of the formula, bringing back much of what made the original Trilogy work.||-Questionable graphics|
|+ Fun/Dynamic new weapons||-Glitchy Online|
|+ Re-shifted focus to couch co-op|