Chainsaws for every type of player.
I will admit that Gears multiplayer took a pretty long time for me to get interested in. After beating the traditional, but still pretty interesting campaign, I spent a very steady amount of time in the well known Horde mode. A mode that doesn’t require a sense of competitiveness between two teams, but instead focuses on staying alive with you and four other fellow gears soldiers. After the release of the big Horde update for Gears of War 4 in Summer of 2017, I did give Gears of War 4’s multiplayer a chance and after a couple of matches, I was finally able to make that click. I was finally motivated to invest a lot of time in the Gears PvP mode.
Now, two years later in July of 2019, Gears 5 is set to release and the time has come for a technical test. Not only was I really excited to see some big refinements to the Gears 4 formula, but I was also pretty interested in what The Coalition had planned for their most ambitious Gears game yet. The three big new changes to Gears 5’s Versus are first and foremost it’s brand new “Arcade” game mode, a tutorial-like experience called “Bootcamp” and a big update to the well known Escalation competitive game mode.
Before I go more in-depth on my experience, I want to get several things out of the way first:
- Since the purpose of this tech test was to test the servers, I won’t be going in-depth on the issues I had with servers or issues related to the things that Coalition was planning to stress test. I had no issues however with either the game kicking me out of a match and I gladly enough waited on the well known queue issue that made people pretty salty during it’s first five hours of the tech test.
- I will be focusing on Bootcamp and Arcade in particular. While i did try out Escalation and King of the Hill, i spent most of my time in Arcade and that’s the mode that stuck out to me with the most potential to be a success when Gears 5 eventually comes out on September 10th.
Starting off with the bootcamp mode and I immediately noticed something both very familiar but also pretty important for the overall Gears 5 experience ranging across all game modes.
This is probably the best playing Gears of War game to date. The controls not only feel amazing, but the newly added changes such as the melee attacks or smaller changes to the controls scheme like revving up a lancer via the RB button make the game feel a lot better to control. The fluidity of both movement and gunplay are definitely amongst the best feeling third person shooters of this generation.
The bootcamp mode itself is a pretty good way to start things off if you have not that much knowledge on how a Gears game plays. Accompanied by well known Gears of War character Damon Baird, a robot drone named Dave and Baird’s custom designed AI robot waifu called Iris, you’ll be going through this parkours (that you’ll recognize in the MP map “Training Grounds”) to get some calibrations for a new version of DeeBee drones.
You will be performing basic actions such as shooting, running, vaulting, tossing grenades at innocent robots and lead a robot army to victory. While not as in-depth as for example the Dojo mode from Killer Instinct, it does teach you the basics of Gears in a fitting environment with some funny banter from Baird and co. The bootcamp tutorial can be finished in around 10-15 minutes.
A new era for Gears Versus.
After bootcamp, I decided to check out the new Arcade mode. This would also be the mode where I spent 90% of my playtime in and in particularly the gamemode that has potential of getting a huge portion back of people who dropped out .
In Arcade, people have the chance to try out five different characters on each side with their own unique advantages and weapon loadouts. Arcade however stands out from the other Gears PvP modes because of it’s more character-based balancing but also because of its possibility of buying weapons during the match with points that you earn from getting eliminations. On paper, it sounds like a dream combination of Counter-Strike and the hero-based shooter aspect known in games like Overwatch.
On the COG side, the playable characters were JD, Kait, Del, Marcus and last but not least Fahz who is also probably my favourite new addition ever since The Coalition took the Gears mantle back in 2014. On the Swarm side, most of the characters are very familiar to the ones that you played in Gears 4. These include Swarm drone, Swarm hunter (with a sick looking hood), Swarm sniper, Swarm grenadier and the Scion. I’m really curious what other possible heroes we will be seeing as future additions to Arcade. Well known Gears characters like General Raam, Onyx guards or new characters related to the Gears 5 campaign could make their entrance in this gamemode via post-launch updates.
The fact that every character has a different load-out makes up for the complaint of Gears being the “gnasherfest” that the multiplayer has been known for ever since it’s debut back in 2006. The gnasher shotgun is still in Arcade, but during my playtime I’ve encountered a way smaller amount of people who did run around with the gnasher. The weapon balancing finally felt right where you encountered way more people using different weapons varying from starter weapons like the lancer or hammerburst, up to power weapons like the longshot or the buzzkill.
The weapons that you can buy vary from character. Del (and on the Swarm-side) Scion for example buys mostly heavy weaponry like the buzzkill or the salvo rocket launcher. JD (and the Swarm drone) don’t have a fixed set of weapons that they can buy, but instead they have the possibility of buying random weapons. However when you buy something, this is something visible for both your teammates but also (when marked) your enemies. This adds a nice level of strategy in where you could buy a pretty nice looking Salvo rocket launcher and mess up some enemies by flanking them and attacking when they don’t expect it.
Gears has never felt this great. The tech test felt like a taste of what could be the most approachable and ultimate Gears multiplayer experience. While it still feels very true to it’s core gameplay, it manages to feel fresh which was needed for a franchise that will soon cross the next-generation gap. The fifth main installment for this epic franchise will launch with a huge amount of content. You can look forward to the Horde news in August and right before launch you can expect info on the singleplayer campaign. Gears 5 launches on September 10th on Xbox One and Windows 10 and will launch on Xbox Game Pass. If you have a Game Pass Ultimate subscribtion, you can play the full game four days early on September 6th. Same thing counts if you have bought the Gears 5 Ultimate edition. If you’re interested in more Gears-related stuff, make sure to stay tuned in for more Gears articles on the XboxERA website.
More Gears 5 info on https://www.xbox.com/en-us/games/gears-5