Developer: The Coalition
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Platforms: Xbox One
Release Date: September 6, 2019
Gears 5 is a monster of a meal to chew on, but not every course is as tasty as the rest.
Gears 5 is a full course meal for fans of the franchise; however, not all of those courses are as savory as expected. The campaign does a stunning job of diving into the relationship of the new generation of characters while also giving players unexpected choices.
Multiplayer has more options than ever with Versus, Horde, and the new game mode, Escape, being available to all players. Each of these areas of multiplayer gives players a different kind of playstyle which only broadens the scope of the audience for this massive game.
Gears 5’s story is a fantastic sequel from what we previously played in Gears of War 4. It sets Kait front and center of the character-driven story. She deals with the recent loss of her mother, painful headaches, and the stress from others around her. These stressors make her a relatable character in the greatest of ways. She is the driving factor of this next chapter.
Unfortunately, there are some who wish to hold her back. Del is not one of those characters. Kait’s relationship with Del becomes a more significant role in the Gears 5 story. The two bond over being together for some time, but it also creates a player bond with the characters, which comes into play later on in the story.
Enemy variety is sprinkled throughout with a few interesting surprises along the way. I never got bored with the enemy I was killing, but the weapons were a part of that. The addition of a few new weapons such as the Claw, Breaker Mace, and Lancer GL made the experience of killing swarm enemies so much better.
Finally, Gears 5 dropped a bombshell of a decision on me that really shook my core. The implications of the choice make me really crave what is in store for the next installment but also frightens me for what they will ask me to do later on.
Horde mode returns and is just as good as always. Gears 5 has done an excellent job at changing the way Horde mode is played. Players now need to pick up points dropped by killed enemies. Points are spent on weapons, fortifications, or personal skills for your character. I found these personal skills exciting to spend points on because they became crucial in later waves. Players are also able to deposit points into the fabricator for others to purchase equipment with, but I found myself doing this less often because of the personal skills I could improve.
Another great aspect of Horde mode and subsequently the other multiplayer options is the addition of ultimates for each character. Even the preorder bonus characters have their unique ultimates, so that was fun to play with. Synergizing ultimates was a great way to work against enemies in Horde mode. Even though it has not changed all that much since the last game, it remains a great multiplayer option.
Versus has also seen a return and I would argue it is better than in past games. It has significantly receded back to its roots of Gears of War multiplayer in that shotguns are not the king to rule them all. The time to kill is fast, but not too fast that makes it feel unfair or tough. I needed to utilize cover more than before and I couldn’t hop from cover to cover as much. These slower-paced movements made me enjoy the multiplayer more than Gears of War 4’s multiplayer.
Escape is the newest multiplayer mode for the Gears franchise. Three players must escape a hive before the poison they have planted reaches them. Players only start out with a single pistol and must collect weapons and ammunition along the way of their escape. This task serves to be very difficult as most enemies require a large portion of ammo to take down. I struggled a lot of the time to keep ahead of ammo consumption, but depending on the difficulty you are on, it proves to be a challenge.
Escape is meant to be played fast. Run, kill enemies, collect what you can, and move on. Unfortunately, the game mode doesn’t fit the Gears formula. Having to rush to the next section made the game less enjoyable because a large part of the fun is killing the swarm.
The best part of the Escape mode for me was the map builder. I lost hours to creating maps with various different tiles, weapon pick-ups, and enemies. The intuitive map builder makes it exciting to create because of the many options I had at my fingertips.
Gears 5 is bigger than any other game within the series. The campaign is heavily character-driven and really surprised me with where it went. It leaves me craving the next chapter already, but I can keep those cravings to a minimum with great Versus and Horde. These two modes have been updated with a handful of new qualities that make them feel fresh, and in some ways better. Escape, the newest game mode in the series doesn’t fit all that well into the Gears 5 formula, but trying out the map creation is a must. Players have a lot to chew on in the Gears 5 meal even though one course is not as tasty as the rest.