After a lot of hype, Gears of War 4 is finally here, bringing a whole new chapter to the Gears Universe, including an introduction to new enemies and protagonist. So does Gears of War 4 live up to the hype? Read our review below to find out..
Being an avid Gears of War fan, I had high hopes for Gears of War 4, surely following on from Judgement the Gears franchise could only get better right? Well, I wasn’t let down, The Coalition has done a fantastic Job of creating a stunning looking game that doesn’t make it unrecognisable from the rest. It still looks like Gears, only better. The biggest example of this I can give is the Gridlock multiplayer map. It still looks like Gridlock, only better. There’s a lot more detail to the environment and I couldn’t help but take a little jaunt around the map checking it out and comparing it to the memories I have of playing it on the original Gears all those years ago.
Anyway enough of me reminiscing, The story in Gears of War 4 is a tricky one as it’s at a crossroads in the story. Now without spoiling anything you get to play as J D Fenix, the son of Adam Fenix the original protagonist of Gears of War. He’s a young fella with an air of Lt. Baird about him (a bit cocky) He was once a member of the COG, but deserted to become an Outsider (a group of people who live outside of COG cities) The pace at the beginning of the game is quite slow, but serves as an introduction to the new characters and how they interact with each other.
Speaking of which, Kait Diaz and Del Walker are the 2 main characters that are with JD throughout the story seeing these three together and the way they interact was like seeing Adam, Dom and Baird for the first time in Gears of War. The Coalition have done a good job of putting forward a new era of characters in the series, including a new set of enemies.
The story plays out well and there’s some different elements of gameplay introduced throughout at times you’ll find yourself defending a certain area with a mini Horde mode, and there’s also a scene in which you are riding motorbikes at high speed, having to dodge through rocks and trees. The campaign mode reverts back to two player only, with JD and Kait being the two playable characters. In summary though, the campaign was really enjoyable, like I said above it’s at a crossroads in the Gears story, and for me The Coalition have done an amazing job of delivering a story that takes the right path at these crossroads, introducing new characters without forgetting the rest of the Gears universe.
There’s all the usual collectibles to find throughout the campaign, in the form of COG tags and other little bits such as posters, photos and old toys. These add a little bit of replay value if you’re into 100% completing the game, You can of course play back through on the Insane difficulty if you didn’t from the get go.
Multiplayer is where the longevity of Gears has always been, this time around there’s a few new additions as well as changes to the gameplay. First and foremost, Gears has always been renowned for its competitive multiplayer, and for some this was off-putting. I’ve played Gears since the first one and have always tried to get some friends to play that don’t feel comfortable enough to jump into the online portion of the game. In Gears 4’s co-op versus mode, you can team up with 4 others to play against bots. This is ideal for newcomers to get used to how multiplayer works on Gears, you can also increase the bot difficulty once you feel you’ve ‘mastered’ each difficulty. Now as I was saying I’ve tried getting friends to play but they have always been reluctant, this time though I was able to persuade them to play in the versus co-op mode and it was great to finally get a game with them.
In the ‘main’ multiplayer there’s also two variants, Competitive and Core. with competitive having a few tweaks to the gameplay such as reduced weapon damage and aim assist. New game modes are also present. Arms race, which is a team variant of the Gears of War Judgement game mode, Master at Arms. Dodgeball, a 5v5 mode similar to Warzone, but with the addition of being able to respawn team mates by getting a kill and surviving for 5 seconds, and Escalation, I’m not sure if it’s named after the Gears map, but a game mode similar to domination in other games, take control of the three rings and it’s a round win, at the end of each round a player from each team gets to place a weapon on the map. There’s a ‘half time’ too, where all weapons are removed and rings change location. First to 7 wins.
Horde mode is also back, as Horde 3.0. You get to choose one of five classes, Engineer, Heavy, Scout, Soldier and Sniper. At the beginning of the game you have to locate the fabricator and move it to a location you feel is right for defending, as this will be your base of operations so to speak. As you kill enemies they will drop ‘power’ which must be deposited in the fabricator. Power is used for building defenses and weapons. Here is where you need a good team and good communication as playing with randoms can lead to a fabricator with empty provisions as one selfish person can hoard (no pun intended) all the power for themselves buying weapons and defenses as they see fit.
Of course the objective is to finish wave 50 to complete the mode, This time though Horde definitely feels the most brutal of all, even on casual difficulty. You can level up each character class. With each of them having card slots that open up at specific levels, (I’ll get on to cards a little later). So may be best to play and upgrade your classes before attempting Horde on higher difficulties.
So the aforementioned cards, a little controversial as these are essentially in-game packs that give bonus XP for certain things, along with skins for guns, and as purchasable with real money can be seen as a pay-to-win microtransaction. You can buy these packs without real money, as you earn credits for playing multiplayer and horde mode, that in turn can be spent on buying packs, although it takes a little longer to get enough credit together to buy them that just using a credit card on your account. Anyway, as I said previously these packs give random cards that range from XP boosters (known as bounties) to Horde character cards and weapon skins.
Visually, It’s Gears only with lots of polish, as I said earlier there’s some recognisable bits from previous Gears games that just look absolutely stunning now. The audio, again just what you would expect from Gears, the epic soundtrack and fantastic voice acting are all present and correct.