After a multiplayer beta that hinted that Gear of War 4 was still in the same vein as its predecessors, our takeover of the single-player game at Gamescom confirms it: the game promises to be a worthy heir to the old sequel, and doesn’t claim to revolutionize the franchise, with a few exceptions.
Gears of War will return on October 11th on Xbox One and PC, and early fans have every reason to expect it: while the character generation is changing – JD, the hero, is none other than the film by Marcus Fenix, the main character in the first three games – the gameplay is almost exactly the same as the recipe for the success of the franchise.
Although the Epic Games studio has given way to The Coalition, the developers have made no attempt to reinvent the wheel. However, there has been a very slight refinement of the hedging system, which is still very effective, and which now makes it possible to move more smoothly from one hedge to another. For the rest, we find all the mechanics, from the automatic straight line race at the touch of a button to the lightning reloading of the weapons and the use of the Lanzor chain, which is always a real carnage.
New with lots of old
If the threat is no longer called the Locusts, but the Essaim, the enemies we have met in this solo demo are still very reminiscent of those we can face in the first Gears. If, at the beginning, we face humanoid creatures with animal behaviour (the Juvies), we quickly end up coming face to face with enemies capable of handling weapons, and who are furiously reminiscent of Locust drones. If the demo ends with a confrontation with three mini-bosses, who are new and disgusting creatures, we advance largely on known and almost conquered ground throughout the 20 minutes of the experience.
The only real novelty we could discover during a presentation with the developers of The Coalition: the DeeBees, a new “race” of enemies. These are robots created by the Coalition of Ordered Governments originally intended to perform certain tasks deemed too dangerous for humans. But in the game, he is a major threat to JD and his teammates.
The DeeBees take many forms, from the humanoid robot to the flying machine, through a kind of ball that crashes into the heroes. When a robot is “killed”, it explodes and can injure the players. Once a DeeBee has been defeated, it is possible to take his weapon: all robotic weapons are new and range from the huge Machine Gun to the sniper rifle
The stuff of new heroes
Due to its gameplay, Gears of War 4 doesn’t show any obvious willingness to question the achievements of its predecessors. A few new weapons are nevertheless going to be fun to use, such as a kind of discusher whose projectiles bounce (ouch). And then there are some interesting subtleties of level design , such as more destructible scenery, and the possibility to drop big cocoons of the Essaim on the ground to use them as a cover – temporary, as they are easy to destroy.
Where the new is felt is in the atmosphere between the three protagonists, JD Fenix, Del Walker and Kait Diaz. If the game is playable solo or in duo, the group of heroes is made up of three characters with interactions that promise to be fun and varied. The fact that they are younger and less hard-boiled than the original Gears quartet also promises another group dynamic, especially since they display different motivations here. Nevertheless, when it comes to shooting down very ugly enemies with big guns, everyone answers the call. You should also know that Marcus Fenix joins JD’s team at some point, but it can’t be played co-operatively: the second player has the choice between playing as Cait or Del, which is a novelty in the franchise that didn’t leave this choice in previous games.
In short, the times are changing, the characters and the platforms are changing, but a Gears remains a Gears: so we can’t expect a game that will revolutionize the game, but a resurrection almost carbon copy of a franchise that seems to consider that it has little left to prove.