The additional phrase of a huge step forward being taken is there for a reason. The Coalition have experimented a lot with the new Gears of War 5. Frankly, I think this experimentation went for the better honestly. Gears 5 is a refreshing, innovative take on the franchise. It’s particularly sweet after how unambitious and boringly routine the last Gears was. Gears 5 is a perfect blend of something new that retains the charm of the old simultaneously.
Note: This review is still work in progress as we haven’t yet been able to try out multiplayer, horde and escape mode yet. We will update the review once we have invested sufficient time in it.
Gears 5 Campaign Review
Gears 5 for one, is also a step into the next generation of Gears protagonists. That’s by putting us in control of Kait Diaz, a fresh young-blood who’s heritage is the focus of her story in this game. It’s a good refreshing take and doesn’t at all feel forced. In fact, her role into being the main playable protagonist has been written in really well.
The Gears lore is also something that I always felt the franchise didn’t take proper advantage of. Gears 5 dives pretty deep into it, however. Admittedly, it can feel a bit like a drawn out exposition with some of the characters though. You know what I mean, stories being narrated and explained by characters instead of being witnessed or cleverly relayed to us and all. Still, I think they did a good enough job. The humor tried its best and sometimes it was pretty good. Most times it was just kind of meh. Though it was consistent with how the humor in the Gears franchise has always been.
The writing of the game regarding Kait’s heritage and the environmental storytelling overall had a pretty refined feel to it. It’s not something I’ve expected from an FPS game for a very long time so it’s a nice surprise. Furthermore, there were a few twists that I didn’t see coming and while they weren’t exactly jaw-dropping, they weren’t so bad either.
One of the strongest plot points of this game surrounded the main antagonist which I obviously will not spoil for anybody out there. I do have to say that I didn’t see it coming, and Gears 5 even allows a new mechanic at the very end of the game. Play it to find out.
Finally, on the topic of the setting, I loved the old Gears style coming back in heavier form once again. The post-apocalyptic swole squad with their big melee hybrid guns and overall Mad Max vibes in the atmosphere are always a treat to see and experience.
Now then, let’s move onto the gameplay of the campaign itself. Like any Gears of War game, there’s obviously a campaign attached to this one. That’s something the Coalition hasn’t decided to abandon just as yet.
It’s a pretty well structured journey as well, being divided into parts. Two halves is how I saw them. I’m not determining these halves by the way the story played out either. No, I’m determining these halves by how the gameplay was dynamically changed.
The first half was classic Gears. Now this half was fun but admittedly, it didn’t catch my attention from a gameplay aspect. This is because it was the same as all its predecessors. A sort of heavy, third-person style shooter that had players moving from cover to cover, powerhousing through their enemies. I’m glad to see that Gears 5 still retains its over the top violence and blood chunky galore.
Obviously the gameplay was more defined and graphically advanced as well. However, it wasn’t anything we haven’t seen before. Literally the only new mechanic was having your robot companion with you, a companion who had a skill tree of their own that you could upgrade. Other than that, same old Gears.
The only thing that had me invested for the first half really was getting to know Kait, who she was, what she fought for, all the usual.
However, the second half of the game is where shit gets real.
The second half unexpectedly opened up into massive area exploration. Open-world, basically. I’m not talking Witcher style open world but think more of Monster Hunter World expeditions, just a little bit more open than those. This open bit of the game was what really let me appreciate the environmental and artistic design that the Coalition possessed. It was also a nice change of pace from the linear hallways style corridor gunfights. In fact, this was the first time in Gears 5 that you could just kick back and explore the wasteland instead of shooting 24/7.
The exploring was mostly done on a transportation device known as the Skiff. It’s kind of hard to explain just how exactly the Skiff worked. But if I could sum it up, it was a surf-board that traveled on the turbulence of air instead of waves of water. Trust me, it’s just as fun as it sounds. The pacing of the game after this halfway point was really reminiscent of how Breath of The Wild managed its campaign. You were still going to be destroying monsters, but not all the time.
The open world did vary a little bit in areas. You had a barren desert, icy tundra and the occasional thunderstorm. I loved the blood red tint of the sandy deserts which is what added to the whole Mad Max vibe for me to begin with. I also liked how you could use the environment at times against your enemies. Little details like those are pretty easy to miss putting in your game. When they’re put in, however, they make all the difference.
The only complaint I had for this half of the game is that there isn’t much to do besides the story. The world you explore is kind of a barren wasteland really, with nobody to find/interact with. There’s not much to explore either outside a handful of exposition landmarks and a few bonus mundane side quests. The main brunt of fun within the open-world exploration was within the use of the Skiff itself.
Finally, the gunplay still felt as solid as ever. Getting close and chopping your enemies to death also had an immensely satisfying feeling as always. Lastly, the fireteam vibe was done really well. Minus a very few forced jokes, I loved everybody’s interactions. Especially with how they were integrated into the lore of the game itself.