The fourth main installment to the Gears of War game franchise, Gears of War 4 has been out for several weeks now since its simultaneous release for both the Xbox One console and Windows PC. It’s quite special since it’s the first installment that is not from Epic Games, but from The Coalition, a Microsoft-subsidiary that was tasked with developing Gears of War 4.
Note that Microsoft bought the rights to the franchise Gears of War early in 2014.So has the Vancouver-based game developer nailed this latest Gears of War installment? Or has Microsoft and its subsidiary failed to follow up on what Epic Games started? Find out in this Gears of War 4 Review.
The new third-person shooteris set two and a half decades after the Imulsion, along with the Lambent and Locust, was wiped off of Sera by the Imulsion weapon that was set off at the end of Gears of War 3. However, the Imulsion countermeasure also destroyed all fossil fuels and caused windstorms, known as Windflares, to pop up all over the planet.
With the humans estimated to number in just the hundreds of thousands, cities were walled off and COG declared martial law. Refusing to subject themselves to COG’s iron grip, a number of survivors, who call themselves “Outsiders,” opted to function outside of the coalition’s jurisdiction. As you may have guessed, Marcus Fenix and Anya Stroud are part of this group.
Naturally, the Outsiders have more freedom to do what they want. But this comes at the price of not being able to enjoy the giant robot police force’s protection that guards the rest of the populace.The game opens up showing more peaceful times. This is also reflected in the new protagonists who appear to be relatively more laid back compared to the main characters in the previous game installments.
Speaking of characters, Gears of War 4 centers Marcus’ and Anya’s spawn, J.D. Fenix, alongside Kait Diaz and Delmont Walker. Del and J.D., who departed from COG after disagreeing with policies set by First Minister Jinn, steals a special fabricator from a COG settlement. Jinn then pins the citizen’s disappearance on them and launched an attack using Deebee robots on the Outsider village to which they retreated to. The group repelled Jinn’s forces only to be attacked by a new non-human threat known only as the “Swarm,” which, by the way, brings Starcraft’s Zerg to mind.
The Swarm took Kait’s mother, Reyna, and her uncle Oscar, a war veteran. The trio sets out to track down the Swarm and rescue the two with the aid of Marcus, who has a bitter taste for his son’s decision to join and leave COG, which invited a lot of trouble. As Polygon notes, J.D.’s strained relationship with his father gets explored, using perspectives from both parties, as the story progresses.
As with the previous Gears titles, Gears of War 4’s campaign can be played with a partner via splitscreen or online co-op. However, GoW 4 limits it to two players instead of retaining the prior setup that allowed for 4.
Everything feels familiar with Gears of War 4 with regards to campaign gameplay. Sure, you’ll be dealing with two new enemies, the Swarm and COG’s Deebee robots, that are well-armed and eager to kill everything in sight. However, the method at which the players deal with them – finding cover and popping up to fire off rounds – does not change. Nonetheless, with this installment, everything feels more refined. Jumping over obstacles, reloading and aiming while sprinting seems a little faster in GoW 4.
But while many expressed their love for the familiar campaign gameplay, some see it as the game’s negative point. PC Gamer’s Wes Fenlon, in his Gears of War 4 review, details how he was hoping for Gears of War 4 to surprise him with some new gameplay mechanics and less predictable set-pieces. Unfortunately, that never came to him. He describes GoW 4 as a well-made, expensive-looking toy that will be forgotten in months. The game’s campaign is stuck in 2006 he says.
Note that the entire campaign takes roughly 8 hours to finish. However, for the first hour, it’s kind of sluggish since much of the action is packed into the remaining 7. It starts slow but once it gets going, most would probably want to continue playing.Once the campaign is done, players will be brought to true highlight of Gears of War 4, the multiplayer.
While the campaign and its gameplay are receiving mixed reactions, everyone seems to love Gears of War 4’s online multiplayer gameplay.
GoW 4 offers two different styles of online play. First is Versus, which is straight up PvP (player vs. player) combat where players can compete for the most kills. For Versus, the Deathmatch and King of the Hill modes, which were staples from previous GoW titles, were retained. Moreover, two new modes, Arms Race in which players will be given a new weapon for every three kills and Dodgeball, which is akin to a team deathmatch where, when players die, they stay dead until a team member kills an enemy. Each enemy slain equates to a teammate respawning. Dodgeball is a lot of people’s personal favorite.
The other online multiplayer play style is Horde. Unlike Versus, it does not promote competition. It requires cooperation. Players will be put on a team that faces 50 waves of enemy attacks. Think of it as a shooter version of Tower Defense. Warcraft III anyone? No? Okay.
The multiplayer experience is stellar. It’s almost perfect. In fact, the only real problem is the microtransactions. $20 for a pack? Really Microsoft?
If you love the first three Gears of War titles, then you’ll probably love this one. Aesthetically, it’s very pleasing. And while the campaign mode may not please everyone, the online multiplayer provides tons of fun.If only you spent that $60 on this game and not No Man’s Sky.