Since the very first episode developed by Epic Games (another era) and released on Xbox 360, the Gears of War saga is intimately linked to the brand dear to Microsoft. Passed under The Coalition flag, she is now on her fifth canonical opus – baptized Gears 5 and available this September 10, 2019 on Xbox One, Windows 10 and Steam. For the Redmond-based firm, this is an exclusivity on which to build to strengthen its market position in the face of the armada deployed, with each generation, by Sony (and Nintendo).
Gears 5 // Source: Microsoft
Nevertheless, we have to admit that the Gears of War have entered a form of routine: with each opus, we knew more or less what to expect. For Gears 5, The Coalition has decided to shake up the experiment by leading it towards some avenues to be dug for the future. And while we thought we were playing a Gears of War like the others, not without having the usual fun, we ended up playing a little bit more than that.
As an exclusive quality, Gears 5 is a production made to shine. On the Xbox One X, it materializes this observation. From the very first seconds, one is captivated by the amount of detail displayed on the screen and the precision with which the characters are modeled (they wear the armor for). Featuring eye-catching visual effects and ideal light management with the HDR10, Gears 5 is a clean, eye-catching, all-weather show. It is to Xbox One X what Uncharted 4:is to Xbox One X. A Thief’s End and God of War at the PlayStation 4 Pro: a technology showcase. On Microsoft’s console, the most powerful on the market today, it is the equal of aForza Horizon 4.
A technological showcase
As a bonus, Gears 5 can rely on a framerate at 60 fps, which drops only at very rare moments and adds even more visual comfort to the experience (on Xbox One X and well-equipped PCs). The definition is not always native 4K but adjusts accordingly depending on the situation (it’s imperceptible unless you take out the magnifying glass). We’ll just be able to report a few unwanted collision bugs and scripts that are not working (to the point of forcing the game to restart).
The slap inflicted by Gears 5 is not just visual. Microsoft and The Coalition make it a standard-bearer also for the ears thanks to a Dolby Atmos rendering that can be enjoyed by those with the right installation. The gain in immersion is palpable: as there is always something going on, the 360-degree performance is pushed to its limits. A happiness that quickly becomes addictive.
Gears 5 // Source: Microsoft
The previous Gears of War can be summarized as follows: third person shooter (TPS) games of type cover shooter (you spend a lot of time hiding to shoot). The universe is deliberately Neuneu and revolves around a war between humans and warlike creatures (the Locusts). The strokes are deliberately forced to support the second or even third degree of frankness. Don’t look for an ounce of subtlety and don’t forget to smile when faced with certain improbable situations.
Gears 5 does not depart from the foundations of its predecessors. However, it benefits from a slightly finer handwriting, already seen in Gears of War 4. For the first time, too, we play a woman with a past that’s closely tied to the bad guys and who no longer really knows which side she’s on. From then on, we keep the DNA of the license – a silly and nasty war – while exploring more and more the lore set up. Playing a third hero in five games proves that the universe is more important than the people who live in it.
The Coalition varies the situations sufficiently
Side gameplay, Gears 5 starts out as a classic Gears of War, with a few minor adjustments and a handful of new weapons and enemies. Then, in the second act, it takes an unexpected turn by becoming an experience in the – small – open world. Players then have all the time in the world to wander around the map to continue the story or complete a few optional quests (to the narration forgotten along the way). They are of interest to evolve the other big addition to Gears 5: the little robot, formerly autonomous, that can be given orders to take advantage of its powers (e.g. distract hidden enemies). You certainly don’t have to stop at his cute BB-8-like noises as he adds a hint of tactical effort to the clashes.
To top it all off, The Coalition varies the situations sufficiently to not fall into simple repetition. We think of well imagined bosses or certain environments that can be used to one’s advantage to triumph over enemies more quickly (spoiler: don’t hesitate to shoot at the ice floors). Gears 5 also invites contemplation as he takes us on a journey from an island paradise to snow-covered steppes, through a desert of red sand. All this with references to SF culture that will speak to the purists (Predator, Terminator…).
Gears 5 // Source: Microsoft
The Gears 5 single-player campaign is obviously playable with up to three players (even if the third one takes control of the robot). In cooperation, whether online or locally, the game makes sense. We laugh, we advance, we kill a lot of enemies, we laugh… It takes about ten hours to complete all the chapters, a lifespan that takes into account the additional objectives. Fans will be sure to repeat the adventure in the highest difficulties.
To prolong the fun, Gears 5 has a host of multiplayer modes – without giving in to the call of the Battle Royale. In addition to the unstoppable (death match, team death match, King of the Hill…) and its Horde sessions (waves of enemies), the title introduces Escape which pushes three players to complete a suicide mission. All in all, there is plenty to do, especially since The Coalition promises post-launch content.
Finally, the efforts made by Microsoft in the area of accessibility options (listed in a separate tab from the main menu) will be highlighted. Colour-blind mode, aids for aiming or contextual actions requiring repeated efforts, subtitle size, attenuation of gory and/or coarse effects, or special stick configurations: Gears 5 is open to a maximum number of players and is in line with the policy of the multinational company that wants to bring gaming into every hand. An excellent argument to boot.
Indicative note : 5/5
The name simplification — Gears 5 rather than Gears of War 5 — wasn’t just for form’s sake. By opening up its environments to free the saga from the corridor in which it has overly locked the gamer, this fifth opus asserts itself as one of the best games of the Xbox One. The counterpart of an Uncharted 4: In Thief’s End.
With its uncommon beauty, technical comfort and everything but scanty content, Gears 5 is more than just Gears of War. He may be the one who will pave the way to a brand new and more ambitious formula. Because change is now.
- Beautiful to cry
- Small gameplay additions
- The beginnings of a revolution
- You need an Xbox One X (or a big PC)
- Writing still a little silly
- Some finishing defects