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Gears of War 4 is a remarkable entry from The Coalition giving fans exactly what they want, and at the same time retouching a few gameplay features to make it more enthralling.
Game – Gears Of War 4
Platform – Xbox One, Windows 10
Developer/Publisher – The Coalition/Microsoft
Release date – October 7th, 2016 / October 11th, 2016
Platform reviewed: Xbox One
Price – $59.99/69.99€/£49.99
MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD – YOU HAVE BEEN ADVISED!
Gears of War 4’s story picks up 25 years after the events of Gears of War 3 on the planet Sierra, with the main character James Dominic Fenix, son of the original Gears hero Marcus Fenix, and his companions – Del and Kait. The trio have been branded as Outsiders, deserters of the Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG), due to a disagreement Jinn’s policies. They then join a raid group led by Reyna, Kait’s mother. Your gameplay starts in a nearby under-construction COG settlement with the goal of stealing a special fabricator and to bring back to your village. Upon reaching that location, the studio prepared a mini “horde mode” for players to get a taste of the real deal, which I did enjoy, making me even more crazy to play Horde Mode 3.0. After successfully dealing with COG’s threat to the village, J.D. Fenix and his group start repairing the Fabricator in order to power the whole place. Suddenly, unknown creatures raid the village, capturing everyone, including Reyna, who locks J.D., Del, and Kait inside the power station to protect them.
This is where the journey to meet Marcus Fenix begins, as the group asks him for help to fight the Swarm and rescue Kait’s mother. I won’t go into much detail about the plot as you should go through all of the campaign without getting spoiled, but despite some major outlets giving a disappointing campaign score, I really enjoyed my playthrough. The characters we were presented with made me care about them, and a terrifying new threat presented itself in the Swarm.
Whether you’re a new fan to Gears or an old fan coming back, the gameplay will feel natural to you if you play shooters regularly. In Gears 4, not much has been changed but enough was built to keep it refreshing, fun and addictive. The new Combat Knife allows players to perform executions by grabbing enemies behind cover and executing them with various beautiful animations. The Coalition also introduced an array of new weapons such as Buzzkill, which shoots ricocheting sawblades, Dropshot, that fires explosive drills, Embar, which acts as a railgun, and much more. It’s a welcome addition to the weapon sandbox feeling balanced throughout the PvP mode.
One particular game feature that you’ll find and probably enjoy is the weather system, mainly the violent windflares that can impact your overall gameplay.
A new feature introduced in Gears 4 that got me very thrilled is the possibility to trade your weapon with a companion, like in the Halo franchise. It adds more depth to the game making each character supportive in the fight by giving them a specific type of gun for a specific type of situation. One small but noteworthy improvement The Coalition made was to your friend’s AI. They now are more reactive and revive more quickly in the campaign. Aside from all that, it’s your traditional Gears gameplay, but slightly improved blending the fan favorite Gears of War 3 and Gears 1 Ultimate Edition.
Moving to the graphics department, this is where the game truly shines. Having gone through all the campaign, most of the areas you step into will blow you away! The studio in Vancouver put a lot of effort into small details, like leafs, trees and buildings. Running at a rock-solid 1080p/30 FPS (Campaign, Horde) on Xbox One, I can say the performance holds up very well throughout the entire game only having a minor framerate dip in certain situations.
Here are a few of my favorite screenshots of the game.
DigitalFoundry did an in-depth analysis which I recommend anyone to give a look.
Running at 1080p/60fps, matchmaking and Skill Ranks improve the Versus Multiplayer experience by combining like-skilled players together in ranked matches, giving beginners the chance to play against beginners and more skilled players a tougher challenge. The Coalition has also added new modes such as Dodgeball, Arms Race and Escalation to provide new ways for players to enjoy Versus Multiplayer, each with a different set of rules and twists. It also runs on dedicated servers putting an end to the host advantage.
- Team Deathmatch
- Dodgeball (new mode featuring 5v5 players with epic clutch moments and high intensity respawn).
- King of the Hill
- Arms Race
The highly popular PvE mode is back once again. Horde pits you and up to four friends against 50 waves of enemies in a fight for survival. You’ll need to build defenses – called fortifications – to aid in your survival and work together to come out alive. Every ten waves you’ll face a Boss Wave, which includes the hardest, largest, and most badass enemies in the game. One of the main focuses of Horde 3.0 is the return to emergent gameplay. You can build fortifications where you want and when you want, and move those fortifications at any time during gameplay. This is all unlocked via the Fabricator, a new device in the Gears of War universe that is a riff on a 3D Printer. The Fabricator must be placed at the start of the game wherever you choose. It acts as the hub of your defenses, and you can move the fabricator to any location at any time throughout the match.
Classes and Skills
Classes in Gears of War 4 provide bonuses to the way you want to play without forcing you to play the role in a specific way. It’s up to you to decide how much you want to play into your Class and Skills throughout each game. Any Class can use any Character in the game, pick up any weapon in the game, and build any fortification in the game. Each class has different starting weapons, but you can switch those up with any weapons you find on the battlefield.
Starting Weapons: Enforcer, Gnasher, Snub
Passive Ability: Start with free Repair Tool
The role of an Engineer is to give emphasis on fortifications – they can build more than any other class due to their discounts, make their fortifications more effective and repair fortifications quicker and at a lower cost. The downside of the Engineer is their lack of personal weapons. They have no skills that increase personal damage and rely entirely on Energy to keep their impact on the fight at its most effective.
Starting Weapons: Retro Lancer, Boomshot, Boltok
Passive Ability: Start with free Boomshot
The role of the Heavy is all about dealing big damage to enemies through the use of a more powerful and explosive arsenal, including heavy weaponry or turrets. The downside to the Heavy is the focus on bigger, slower weapons. While the Heavy class can deal large hits of damage to enemies, you’ll need to make sure you’re consistently stocked with ammo to have the most impact.
Starting Weapons: Retro Lancer, Gnasher, Snub
Passive Ability: Double Energy pickups during combat
The role of the Scout is to grab Energy mid-fight from across the battlefield, capitalizing on its passive bonus of Double Energy when picked up during combat to get resources back to the Fabricator. Combat wise, the Scout’s Skills focus on close quarters shotgun combat. The downside to the Scout is the inherent risk that comes with the role. While powerful in the early stages, the Scout has a much tougher time gathering Energy in later waves when multiple poisons are active. The Scout needs to be played smartly, looking for chances rather than haphazardly charging out into the battlefield without careful surveillance.
Gear Packs are the main way to obtain cards in Gears of War 4. These packs hold a number of cards – usually randomized – that delivers you with a variety of unlocks based on the theme of the Gear Pack. Everything you do in Online Multiplayer earns you Credits. Whether you’re battling it out against the Swarm in Horde, or taking on human opponents in Versus, simply playing the game online in either mode will reward you with Credits.
In short, Cards are the new way to unlock new customization content in Gears of War 4 that represent a diversity of items – from player customization, to Horde gear and abilities, and Bounties that task players with completing challenges for added rewards. However, the studio thought of the competitive balance in Gears of War 4, so no cards have any gameplay impact for Versus Multiplayer – only Cosmetics and Bounties apply in Versus modes.
If you’re a massive Gears of War fan, and you were waiting for Rectify’s review first, I say pick it up right now! The Coalition made great improvements to the Gears formula which you will appreciate more than any other Gears game. I have logged dozens of hours into Gears of War 4 and I feel like I want to stop everything in my life and play 24/7 until the next title comes out. Complementing the game very nicely is Horde 3.0, letting you battle against swarms of enemies. Multiplayer PvP is as good as Gears of War 3 blended with Ultimate Edition with the good old Gnasher and cover, but now with a twist to it. Overall it’s an amazing game in a day where I personally cannot say that too often.