Gears of War 5 - Stripped
Updated: Mar 27, 2020
Prequel to Review
Gears 5, the latest installment of Gears of War now produced by The Coalition came out a few weeks ago. Due to the sheer level of Nostalgia I’ve carried since I was a teenager making heads explode in the original trilogy, I decided to pick up the Gears of War themed Xbox One X that dropped with the release of Gears.
Unboxing the Xbox fueled my bloodlust for the gears series. I immediately started downloading all the Gears games in order, from 1 to 5 so I can do a mass playthrough of the classic campaigns. As I cranked through the nights with energy drinks and Jimmy Johns I relived that nostalgia. After Gears 3 I was ready to have my mind blown by Gears 4. I had never played it before but figured now was the time with Gears 5 out.
As the game starts, I realize why I had never even heard about Gears 4. The gameplay was decent, and there were some strong improvements over 3 in that regard but the story was awful, and I absolutely hated the new characters. The only saving grace was seeing the old gang still up and kicking ass.
I tried to set the feelings about 4 behind me as I went into 5. Surely they would have realized the mistakes they made and went about correcting them for 5. They had to, I needed them to. This is an emotional review.
I feel the on-foot gameplay and mechanics of the game are the main selling point of Gears 5, mostly. Everything is fluid and works well together. I’ve read from other players that they are experiencing bugs and mechanical flaws. I’m going to assume those have all been patched already because the game worked just fine for me.
Combat still felt like Gears. Crouch running up to Locust with a Gnasher turning them into bits n’ pieces still felt incredibly rewarding, popping heads with the Longshot sent waves of nostalgia crashing into me, and the beautiful sound the Lancer makes when it cuts through the Locust encouraged me to make bad decisions trying to chainsaw every drone.
When you make it to Act II and III the game forces you into a pseudo open world area. The areas are small, with mostly dead space that you traverse on a skiff, which is like a little sleigh powered by a sail. There are a couple side quests that have a little bit of lore in them and give rewards in the form of Collectibles and Components that power up Jack.
It pains me every time I see a game series with a working formula decide they need to do Open world because it was successful in another game. Gears is not the Witcher 3, It’s not Breath of the Wild, it’s not Skyrim. It does not need to be open world. Give me the linear RPG filled with gore galore that I know Gears is supposed to be. I don’t need dead time exploring an icy tundra or a red sand desert. It’s wasted space, that bloats playtime simply due to having to traverse the world to get to the quests which I want to do.
Gears 5 was touted to have the longest campaign out of all other Gears games. I’m not so sure it would be longer than Gears 3 without the stupid amount of time I spent sliding around the fucking ice.
Horde is pretty fun and has nice additions from Gears 3. I didn’t play it in 4 so I can’t give an accurate review on improvements or the lack thereof from it. It’s still a good time that I enjoy. The worst part is just how annoying some of the new enemies are to fight. Fuck Pouncers, and fuck that they’re named Pouncers.
Escape feels gimicky and wasn’t fun. After doing several I decided they aren’t worth any time.
The multiplayer is where you would expect it, in Versus. Versus still feels like classic Gears. Running around with Gnashers trying to get the special weapons first. After finishing the lackluster campaign, this and Horde is where Gears 5 holds all it’s worth. The worst part about the Multiplayer is lack of playable characters, and the fact that they added fucking the fucking Terminator into it. It drives me nuts seeing a T-800 running around with gnashers blowing my god-damned head off. But that’s mostly a personal pet peeve.
The Characters and Story
I’m sure it’s been beaten to death already with Gears 4, but since I didn’t do a review on Gears 4, let me get it out there. The new crew is fucking awful! I hate them. I hate Del, I hate JD, and I hate Kait.
The dialogue is just awful. Gears feels like it was babied down for 10 year olds. There are constant awful jokes, banter, and just a really childlike atmosphere. These might be young adults, but their adults at war for their species survival with creatures that threatened humans with extinction one generation ago! Why does the game feel so god damn happy when they’re in a fucking warzone with constant death and turmoil?
The original Gears 1-3 felt grim and dark, with occasional humor. That’s how it should be. The characters don’t feel at all relatable. There are only a few moments in Gears 5 where the characters act appropriately to the situation they’re in.
The story had amazing potential and has the skeleton of a good story. It's got a normal human skeleton but looks like a fucking Sire. The main plot points give us the lore we’ve really been longing for in a Gears game. Several scenes had me at the edge of my seat waiting to see what happened next. Niles being the catalyst behind the creation of the Locust was something I’ve always wanted to know after seeing the Sires in Gears 2. Was Myrrah actually human or not? These questions get answered, but I felt the Coalition missed out on some amazing character development and literary intrigue in the way they handled these plot points.
JD actually has an amazing opportunity in Gears 5 to shape his character into something better, and The Coalition squanders it by removing him from a large part of the game, and returning him later with a different look and the same stupid attitude as before.
In my opinion playing as Kait through the game is a mistake on The Coalitions part as well. Her story and connection to the locust could have been more impactful and intriguing had she not been player controlled and shoe-horned into being the boring faithful defender of good. Her being of Locust ancestry is a risky play with lots of head room to do great things. The Coalition decided they didn’t want to do anything fun with her story and gave you a basic protagonist whose dialogue is incredibly annoying. Her only saving grace is that she is more interesting than JD or Del.
At least they didn’t do anything to fuck up Marcus.
While I don’t think the story was good. It could have been as bad as Gears 4, so at least there was improvement. It’s not the improvement I wanted, but it still gives me enough hope for Gears 6. Let’s see where they take it.
There’s not much to say on the Visual front. The game looks great. I played on the Xbox One X pushing it to 4k on my TV. The game was smooth, didn’t have any lag, and the cut scenes look pretty fantastic. There’s a strong level of detail in the characters and world both. If you’re worried about how the game is going to look, don’t. It’s definitely strong there. I imagine it would look even better on a well equipped PC with the right monitor.
Overall I’m disappointed with The Coalition, but it’s my fault for not playing Gears 4 and seeing what happened after the franchise was taken from Epic. They had a fantastic formula to follow, but they decided to take the 343 Industries route and fuck shit up. Definitely wait to pick this game up on sale if you’re in it for the multiplayer or would like to be disappointed by the awful characters and story.
BNG sadly gives Gears 5 the score of 5/10