The shooter franchise returns with its most ambitious instalment yet.
It’s fair to say that cover-based third person shooters as we know them today simply would not exist if it weren’t for Gears of War. And sure, the series’ popularity has tapered off with time – especially after Epic Games stopped working on it – but it’s still an incredibly important Microsoft franchise that Xbox players – and now PC players as well – look forward to with a great deal of anticipation.
Gears 5 promises to be the most ambitious game in the series, and though we’re yet to see just how well it’ll live up to those promises, we don’t have to wait too long to find out. The sequel is out very soon, and in this feature, in anticipation of its impending release, we’ll be looking at fifteen vital pieces of info that you need to know about it. So without further ado, let’s get started.
Gears of War 4 was the beginning of a new chapter in the Gears saga, and the upcoming sequel is going to jump right into the aftermath of that game’s events. After the corruption of The Coalition’s army by the Swarm, the world of Sera is taking a hammering and faces imminent extinction. In Gears 5, we take on the role of Kait Diaz, as she sets out to uncover her connection to the enemy, and the origins of the Locust.
BIGGEST CAMPAIGN IN THE SERIES
Gears of War has always managed to strike a very good balance between its solo and multiplayer offerings, and it’s looking like Gears 5 will do just the same. In fact, as per the developers, Gears 5’s campaign is going to be the biggest this series has ever seen, and will be a lot more ambitious than what we saw in its predecessor. The game’s world, too, is being touted as the largest and most diverse in the series’ history, while it’s also supposed to have open world elements to spice things up.
Co-op has always been a huge part of the Gears experience, and so it will be in Gears 5 as well. After supporting four player co-op in the original trilogy, the series dialled things down to two player co-op in Gears of War 4. That number is increasing once again with Gears 5, which will support three player co-op in its campaign.
The campaign is not the only place where you’ll be able to mess around with three player co-op shenanigans. Gears 5 is also introducing a new co-op multiplayer mode called Escape, where three players will play as members of the Hivebuster squad, fighting against Locust and the Swarm while trying to escape the map – as the name suggests – before a deadly gas bomb detonates.
Escape will have another additional wrinkle that is promising to be very enticing- a map builder. In Escape mode, players will be able to build their own maps by connecting room tiles from various available options. Customization options for other variables in the map will also be included, such as the enemy types you’ll be facing, the venom threat, the ammo and resources that’ll be available, and more.
Gears of War 4 introduced the new Escalation mode to its suite of multiplayer options, and it’ll be returning in Gears 5- with a few changes. Co-ordination between teammates is going to be a lot more important this time around, and with new rules such as a cap on lives for each player per round, and respawn times, promise to make it a much more intense experience. There are some question marks over how all of it will effect balancing and the meta, but if handled correctly, all of it could certainly turn Escalation into an extremely compelling competitive team-based mode.
Gears 5 will also have a dedicates tutorial mode to help players – both new and old – get into the groove. Called Bootcamp, the mode is intended as a primer for the mechanics that you need to learn before jumping into online multiplayer. Bootcamp will be set on the Training Grounds map. Also, here’s a fun fact- Microsoft recently officially released the Achievements list for the game, and for finishing Bootcamp, you get an Achievement called “My Body Is Ready.” Reggie would be proud of you, Gears.
Escalation isn’t the only new multiplayer mode on offer in Gears 5. There’s also Arcade, which is being billed as a mode that those inexperienced with PvP can use to ease themselves into the competitive experience. Players select between various characters role, based their loadouts and on their passive and active abilities, on top of character-specific bounties that yield in skulls. Skulls are also earned by racking up kills and assists. Skulls, in turn, are used to upgrade your character. Be careful though- if you die, you lose the weapon that you’ve been upgrading.
Gears 5 is launching simultaneously on Xbox One and PC, and it is, of course, supporting cross-platform play. But if you’re a PC player who’s concerned about getting matched with someone playing with a controller – or vice versa – well, don’t worry. Gears 5 will give players the option in its Ranked Mode to opt in or out of cross-platform matchmaking.
HEALTH BARS AND WEAK POINTS
Among the many very visible changes Gears 5 is making is the addition of health bars to enemies. Yep, enemies will now all display how much health they have remaining- don’t worry though. These are not tacked on RPG mechanics. Health bars have been added to let players make decisions for when to perform executions or when to take down which enemy in a more tactical manner- and you can turn them off whenever you want.
Another new element is weak points, with your shots dealing more damage based on how you’re aiming. Your reticle will change its colour based on that as well- it will be white for body shots, red for headshots, and gold if you time a perfect reload.
Gears 5 is also introducing a new recoil system to its weapons, which should have some interesting effects on competitive play. Core and competitive tuning sets are being done away with in Gears 5, and the game will now have a single tuning set for both core and competitive play. According to the developers, the new tuning works well across both, core and competitive gameplay, and brings a much higher skill gap by bringing the tuning sets for core and competitive play into a single system of tuning.
NEW DIFFICULTY OPTIONS
Gears 5 is also changing the names of its difficulty options. While previous games in the series had you choosing between Casual, Normal, Hardcore, and Insane, now thee options will be called Beginner, Intermediate, Experienced, and Insane. The Beginner difficulty, interestingly enough, will have lock-on aiming, which will be a first for the series.
The Coalition and Microsoft are also making changes to how they will be monetizing Gears 5 (thankfully). For starters, the season pass is a thing of the past- any and all maps released for the game post-launch will be free. Meanwhile, also gone are the loot packs, or as they were known here, the Gear Packs. That said, there will still be microtransactions in the game.
Cosmetic purchases will be available in Gears 5, to no one’s surprise, but players will also be able to purchase Hero characters in the game using real money. The Coalition says that none of this will be RNG-based, and players will know exactly what they’re buying when making the purchase- but it’ll still be interesting to see how this affects multiplayer, especially Arcade, which is a mode that is centered on Hero characters and their abilities.
XBOX ONE X ENHANCEMENTS
Major releases featuring Xbox One X enhancements is taken for granted these days, and even more so when that major release is a Microsoft first party title. Gears 5 is looking to do the same in very impressive ways. On Xbox One X, the game will not only support HDR, it will also run at 4K and 60 frames per second- yes, simultaneously. When playing split-screen co-op, though, the frame rate will be knocked down to 30.