To begin with, Gears 5 is an amazing game. Gears 5 encompasses the best of the franchise and elevates to new standards, this game shows that the franchise is in very good hands with The Coalition. While the first game was indeed very dudebro, it grew into something much more that has placed itself into the annals of history. Gears 5 pushes that even further with pushing the boundaries of the franchise and comes out on top.
To begin with, Gears 5 is a technical achievement, gracefully hitting native 4K resolution with 60 frames per second on the Xbox One X across all modes. The art direction for Gears 5 is superb, Mount Kadar and its snowy peaks are jaw-dropping and the desert wastelands of UIR territory is gorgeous to look at as sandstorms and wind flare lightning strikes strike up across the barren wastes. It is simply stunning to look at with no loading times that create a seamless experience, one that keeps you glued to your screen at every moment and keeps you in the action.
In terms of story, Gears 5 is a step in the right direction and is a step up for the franchise. Gears 5 begins right on the heels of Gears of War 4 as the tension between the Swarm and the humans are beginning to escalate. Kait has been recruited into the COG as a Corporal while JD and Del have been reinstated keeping their ranks as Lieutenants and things are looking bad, Gears 5 begins very traditionally and opens up much later on with the player taking the role of Kait as she explores her lineage to the Swarm and what’s her relation to the now extinct Locust horde. Without delving into story spoilers, the story is truly the best story in the franchise since Gears 2 and Gears 3 with moments that are truly emotional.
The franchise’s signature moments are back with harrowing and tense moments that will give you goosebumps. Old characters return, new ones are introduced, and certain characters fates are in your hands which sets up the finale to this new trilogy. The Coalition has gone even further to fill in the gaps within the lore via collectibles and a massive revelation that flips everything that we know about Gears on its head on top of exploring UIR territory which fleshes out parts of the Pendulum Wars, the Pendulum Wars was a 79 year global conflict that was waged by the COG and the UIR. Gears 5 is perhaps one of the most lore-heavy games I have ever witnessed, it pretty much stresses that you must play the older games in order to understand the massive revelation and the references alongside the events. If you want to play Gears 5 then you must play the older games in the series.
Moving on to gameplay, Gears 5 injects some much needed refreshment into the very tired Gears formula and this is where the game truly shines. Even if it is the much needed refreshment that the franchise, the mechanics are very rudimentary and a proof of concept more than something set in stone. Gears 5 is an experimentation of what can be expanded upon in the final game in this new trilogy. The new gameplay mechanics are really nice and is a welcome breathe of fresh air. No matter how rudimentary they feel, the mechanics seem to be tied down and constrained by the franchise which is fine and I love the direction that this game is headed towards too.
The gameplay is just as classic Gears as it gets and it’s better than ever. The gunplay has been tuned nicely and tightened up where it needed to be tightened up, each weapon feels unique including the Gnasher and the Lancer alongside some new ones like the Claw and the Breaker mace alongside a brand new revision of the Lancer that comes equipped with a Grenade Launcher that launches heat-seeking Grenades. To complement the return of classic Gears gameplay, the Coalition has done something brand new which is the introduction of RPG mechanics and open world systems and quest related systems.
These mechanics work well but their first iteration is rudimentary and proof of concept, these open world segments aren’t truly open world but wide-linear paths much like Metro: Exodus, these wide-linear paths lets you explore the world of Sera and allow you to collect upgrades for Jack in side-objectives. The side objectives are hard to miss, which will allow you to return to the game for another playthrough, but these side objectives offer another additional several hours of fun and exploration. Most of these side objectives takes place in mini-dungeons and arenas. In order to gain access to these side objectives, you travel on a skiff which is really great to handle and satisfying. It’s a nice first step.
Exploration is semi-deep due to Jack’s upgrades. The road to Jack becoming fully upgraded is very linear and you can respec him at any time which takes away from the RPG side of it but I get that the Coalition was making things approachable which is fine. The gameplay in Gears 5 is a very very strong start to something great and is a strong basis for growth of the franchise.
By the end of Gears 5, I’m very excited for the future of the franchise and for Gears 6. It feels like The Coalition is ready to take the franchise out of the shadows, stepping above and beyond to secure the franchise’s future and secure the longevity of this iconic franchise. The future of the franchise is very bright and this is the evolution the franchise needed despite room for improvement. Definitely recommend.
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