Gears of War 5 or whatever the next game is going to be called, needs a refreshing change.
To say that Gears of War is a long-standing staple of the Xbox ecosystem is a massive understatement. Gears of War has been synonymous with the Microsoft platform for well over ten years now and so far we’ve seen four great games come from the franchise. Which isn’t a bad number, and has kept their releases frequent enough to maintain their popularity yet not so often as to fatigue their fanbase.
Taking place on a fictional Earth-like planet where human civilization has maintained itself long enough to end up in a long conflict that potentially spells danger for the species. Thankfully some major scientific advancements and a cultural renaissance has brought humanity a new energy source, Imulsion, which has helped solve many problems but also breeds a certain amount of inequality as those with access to Imulsion prosper, while other nations do not. As if the disparity and conflict that arises from this development isn’t enough for humanity to deal with, what is referred to as the “locust horde” has decided to emerge, adding a new side for humanity to fight against and now we have our universe for a game series to take place in.
"Other than a remastered version of the first Gears of War, Gears 4 is the only Gears of War release intended for the Xbox One so far, so its probably safe to say we’ll be seeing one more before this generation is through."
The Gears of War series largely plays to its strengths throughout its four games, cover-shooting mechanics, brutal action, nice graphics, and an emphasis on co-operative play wherever possible. These basic tenants for the series have largely never failed to help Epic Games deliver fun third person shooters that have satisfied their audience for years and has even wielded a fair amount of influence over the third person genre with many games like Warhammer 40000: Space Marine and others, borrowing certain aspects like the camera angle, visual style, and overly testosterone-infused tone of the game play. Which is interesting as Gears of War is itself a combination of themes borrowed from classics before it.
Even still, Gears of War has carved out its own space in a relatively crowded genre with its crimson omen being a recognizable icon to those who don’t even really play games. That being said, the series is now looking down the barrel of its fifth game which is all but certainly on the way, and even though the sequels have evolved in some small ways over time, some long-time fans are starting to rumble about the mechanics and gameplay needing a more major overhaul.
This is understandable, as most franchises tend to feel a little stale at around this point in their lives, and especially when very few changes have been introduced throughout. Other than a remastered version of the first Gears of War, Gears 4 is the only Gears of War release intended for the Xbox One so far, so its probably safe to say we’ll be seeing one more before this generation is through. But what what will it be? So far very little is known. We do know that it will be on Xbox’s game subscription service along with the next halo and forza games, but as far as content we are still, as of this recording, in the dark.
"From a game play standpoint, on paper, the new God of War has less in common with its predecessors than most expected it to, yet, still maintains the DNA of what makes it part of that franchise."
One thing that I would say, as somebody who has enjoyed the previous games quite a bit, even the fourth one despite its lack of evolution, is that the series is definitely in need of some major changes and modernizations to its mechanics if it hopes to have a prayer of competing with the action adventure games Sony will be cranking out in the twilight years of the current generation. The most logical step to me seems to be for them to take a bold step and completely start over with the mechanics, leaving in what still makes sense and doing away with what no longer holds up. Much like the way Sony Santa Monica Studio has approached dealing with the new God of War. From a game play standpoint, on paper, the new God of War has less in common with its predecessors than most expected it to, yet, still maintains the DNA of what makes it part of that franchise.
This has lead to unquestionably positive results as reviews are largely 9’s and 10’s, and the game is sure to bring in a handsome profit for sony and possibly even spawning a new trilogy of its own in its new world. I think Gears of War 5 would greatly benefit from this same strategy, granted, Gears of War fans aren’t clamoring for major change as much as God of War fans were, probably because God of War had been relying on its formula for far longer than Gears has, but it’s certainly on the same path, and changing things up sooner would be better than later, before fans become too disinterested and turned off.
There are a lot of interesting directions the franchise could go, as the characters and the world do hold plenty of potential for growth and depth, despite some of their two-dimensional nature. Hey, if Kratos can turn into somebody relatable and interesting, than anybody can. This is probably the most improvable area of the Gears games. These characters were fine ten years ago, but if they want to continue to be considered a superior experience to others in the genre, we’re going to need at least a little more variation here. Also, While Gears 4 was by no means bad or boring, it did highlight that the basic game mechanics and level designs that the series has so heavily leaned on all these years are in need of some sort of update.
"If Gears of War 5 releases on the Xbox One in, say 2019, and nothing is different from 4, what reason will fans really have to drop another 60 bucks on it when they could just grab Gears 4 for a fraction of the price?"
Whether its something small more verticality like we got in Uncharted 4, or more radical changes like what we’re seeing from the New God of War, something has to be done to prevent these games from bleeding together more than they already do. If Gears of War 5 releases on the Xbox One in, say 2019, and nothing is different from 4, what reason will fans really have to drop another 60 bucks on it when they could just grab Gears 4 for a fraction of the price? One thing that has worked well for the series and hopefully doesn’t go away is the online functionality. The Horde mode that many fans dump more time into than even the main campaigns, must be preserved and built upon. In fact, if they were to just focus on delivering the deepest, most varied horde mode they’ve ever made in the series, while forsaking all other online modes, I think most fans would be more than happy to dump hundreds of hours into it and it could give Gears 5 legs way beyond The Xbox One and well into the next generation.
There is also something to be said for not fixing what clearly isn’t broken. The fans that are getting tired of the Gears formula would probably still enjoy more of the same to an extent, and I would understand if The Coalition while developing Gears of War 5 wants to play it safe, and not upend the whole thing. There’s an argument to be made either way, but the risk of playing it safe is shutting everyone out from what could be, while the upside of taking creative risks and updating mechanics is potentially greatness, and greatness is something the Xbox library desperately needs right now.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to GamingBolt as an organization.