Platforms: Xbox One, Windows 10
Reviewed On: Windows 10/ Xbox One
Developer: The Coalition
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Distributor: Prima Interactive
Release Date: 11 October 2016
We were concerned about Gears of War 4 when we played the beta in April. The game felt too much like the same thing, and when we reviewed Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, we had the same feeling about it. With 5 games in the series, the gameplay, story, and characters started to get a little tedious. All we hoped for was a refreshing new take on the game, and thankfully, Gears of War 4 is just that. Although it suffers from a few plot holes, Gears of War 4 managed to reboot the series with an introduction of new characters, guns, and enemies, and all powered on the gorgeous Unreal Engine 4.
Set 25 years after Gears of War 3, in Gears of War 4 the war against the Locust is over, but the aftermath of the emulsion weapon, which was used to defeat them, has had some severe repercussions on the planet Sera. Natural resources were depleted, and millions lost their lives. This is where COG has come in, an organization in Gears of War 4 that has been building new cities and controlling maternity in society to guarantee a prosperous future. Things are not what they seem In Gears of War 4 when JD Fenix, son of Marcus Fenix, and his fellow rebel friends Kate Diaz and Del Walker, stumble across a new breed of creatures.
The biggest question throughout Gears of War 4 is the mysterious threat that you are now facing. Are the Locust dead, or are these creatures something completely new? The campaign in Gears of War 4 takes place over a 24-hour period, where JD Fenix and his friends now need to venture into the nest of these creatures, in search for answers to these questions. The plot in Gears of War 4 is extremely strong. Although there are some plot holes, and some cheesy character scenes, it manages to set a new tone for Gears of War 4 enough so to make it feel refreshing. We mentioned that up to now, the series had started to feel boring, as all the action and surprise, was exhausted by the time the second game came around. Gears of War 4 however, brings that all back.
Running on the Unreal Engine 4, Gears of War 4 is gorgeous. Every chapter of the 5-part story, takes you to new locations, that either show off the abandoned side of the planet, or the rebuilt one, thriving under COG rule. Enemies look epic in Gears of War 4, and environments and animations, are all polished up perfectly. We played three chapters in Gears of War 4 on Xbox One and moved over to Windows 10 to play the other two. Both platforms played Gears of War 4 extremely well, with Windows 10 however, offering the edge in visuals thanks to the performance boost. New Guns in Gears of War 4 feel great, and they add new ways to tackle combat zones. The Embar is a COG weapon, that lets you charge your shot for a high-powered kill, and the Overkill is a new two-burst shotgun that packs power.
Taking the new weapons, and the new environments hand-in-hand, adds a refreshing take on Gears of War 4’s highly acclaimed cover-based mechanics. Certain areas in Gears of War 4 let you tinker with the surroundings, to add new cover opportunities, and even drop objects onto enemies to kill them. The new grab cover attack lets you reach in front of you and pull an enemy who is on the other side of the cover, to assassinate it instantly. You can also now run and leap to cover, which speeds up movement times greatly. Without spoiling too much, we did feel that the new enemies were fun to kill, but at the same time, they were not overly difficult. The same tactics can be used from previous games, to eliminate a bunch of them at once, without batting an eyelid.
There has also been a new wave-based mode introduced into the story mode, which both plays host in the main game, and it has its own multiplayer co-op mode called Horde 3.0. These sequences see you surviving waves of enemies, by building turrets and weapons from a machine called the Fabricator. These sections can get a little tough, as your AI teammates do not help with the building or movement of the built weapons. We had to be extra careful to make sure we could cover it all by ourselves. The good thing about the AI teammates is that they are on point with revivals, and we seldom died by bleeding out before they came to resuscitate us. Your friends are also very helpful in combat. It is however, best to play the main game with friends as it supports co-op like all past games.
Gears of War has always had a stellar multiplayer, and Gears of War 4 follows in those footsteps. You can now create a unique persona in Gears of War 4 that runs across the online game modes. Select a skin and weapon skins, and head into the online game modes. Horde 3.0 sees you and four friends fighting for your lives as you face waves of enemies. You will get points for killing them, of which can be used to purchase turrets and weapons in the Fabricator. Things get a little more interesting thanks to the class system in Gears of War 4, that sees each team pick a class from a Scout to an Engineer. Each class has its own weapon loadout and leveling system.
Horde 3.0 is tough, and the class systems might be there for you, but starting off on level 1 classes, you really do not feel the difference of your class. The Scour for example, can pick up extra energy, the currency used in the Fabricator, but it is not until a higher level, that you really feel the difference.
We then have the multiplayer in Gears of War 4, which is the normal PvP, squad-based experience you can expect from a Gears of War game. Other than the new cover attacks, a handful of new weapons, and the new modes Dodgeball, Escalation, and Arms Race, you will not find anything new here. The maps look great in Gears of War 4, but it still feels like a shotgun ridden pit of blood. Something we hoped would have changed from the beta to the full release of Gears of War 4. One thing is for sure, if you like the Gears of War multiplayer previously, you will love it in Gears of War 4, as it almost replicates every past game’s PvP experience.
The online game modes work on a new Halo 5 Req inspired system. You get packs by leveling up and buying them in Gears of War 4. When you open them, you will get new weapons and character skins, as well as bounties and class card for Horde 3.0 mode. This lets you really create a unique persona online, as the wide variety of character and weapon skins, to the emblems, all give you something to continue fighting for.
Gears of War 4 has enough going on in it, to make it feel like the much-needed facelift, was worth the while. Its new story mode is probably the game’s shining star here, as it finally moves away from all the loud and arrogant characters, to new humble beginnings. The new setting makes the game’s past seem like a bad dream, and the future seems like something we want to be part of. As for the multiplayer, well, it is still trying to break through the roof. At least we have the Horde 3.0 mode to keep us busy.
Are you excited to play Gears of War 4? The game releases on 11 October 2016.