Gears 5 One Step Forward from Microsoft Exclusive
Compared to their rivals Playstation and Nintendo, the exclusive catalog from Microsoft is far behind this generation. Not only is the quantity smaller but the quality of each game released often raises questions. Not that all their exclusives are bad, but still when compared to its competitors, Microsoft looks like an underdog.
Gears of War is one of Microsoft’s mainstay franchises since the Xbox 360 era, 13 years after the first game was released, the game has now been held by a new studio – The Coalition. Making the old franchise relevant and according to modern industry standards is not an easy task. But with Gears 5, The Coalition has modernized the cover-based shooting gameplay typical of Gears of War with a few new little touches, some successful and some not very. What is Gears 5 like and can Microsoft prove that they can exclusively compete with their competitors? We will see it firsthand.
A more personal story
Focusing on Kait as the main character, Gears 5 offers a personal story to the character with the war against Swarm driving the story.
Gears 5 continues the story of Gears of War 4 which ends in a cliffhanger. In this game, the story is focused on Kait Diaz’s character, after releasing the departure of the mother’s figure, Kait tries to find out the mystery behind her family, its relation to locust and overcoming psychological disorders that continue to haunt her. With the help of his colleague JD, Del and Jack who are robots like R2-D2 from Star Wars, Kait is adventurous looking for answers to the problems he faces.
At the same time, humanity was again attacked by a new creature in the form of “Swarm” – the successor of the horde Locust in the previous 3 games. His attacks are becoming increasingly aggressive and creatures created more vicious, Gears team reunited with one reliable solution, the Hammer of Dawn. Unfortunately the deadly weapon has been deactivated for a long time, so Gears returned to action to find satellites that could revive the Hammer of Dawn to attack Swarm’s troops.
Character development is better, making each important moment more heart-hitting players.
Through this fifth game, The Coalition prefers personal stories rather than the big war and havoc in the previous series. Not only that, it was clear that Coalition wanted to deepen each character especially the new generation trio – JD, Del, and Kait that they had introduced since the fourth game. Each protagonist is now presented more 3-dimensionally. Each is described as a hero who is imperfect and has his own trauma. The easiest example is JD Fenix’s character since he was first introduced he is shown as someone who is so confident and often refutes commands, but through this game, his character changes completely because of events that he considers to be a mistake of overconfidence.
Overall, the Gears 5 story is better than Gears of War 4, but of course, not everything is perfect in this aspect of the game’s story. After the main conflict was introduced, the developer seemed to forget to continue the conflict until it was really the end of the game. A little diversion is not bad especially so the game lasts a little longer, but in the middle of the game, the story slowly shifts from the psychology of Kait’s character and his efforts in finding the truth behind him into a fetch mission where Kait and his trio share jokes while being shot by Swarm. Gears 5 seems to offer their best parts only at the beginning and end of the game but don’t know what to do in the middle, so the developer throws the filler as much as possible before returning to a conflict that is indeed interesting.
Bigger does not mean better
Open-world, yay ??
Gears of War already has a solid concept, not much can be presented anymore in the cover-based shooting formula that was introduced by Epic Games 13 years ago. But the Coalition is still trying to keep the franchise fresh so they present some new ideas that are practically hit-or-miss in execution.
Gears 5 is marketed as “the biggest Gears at the moment” and as you might think, the game has added an open-world element to it. Now you can go around large areas using Skiff vehicles which are basically a combination of ski and boat. In this open-world, you can do various side missions which often give you a new upgrade for Jack which we will discuss later.
Like God of War or more precisely Metro Exodus, Gears joined the “big map” trend by adding a semi-open-world session in the middle of the game. This session is basically a large hub area containing several locations to be explored. But unlike Metro Exodus where the addition of this large hub is reasonable to see the context of the game as well as being done as an effort to improve world-building, the vast area in Gears 5 is more like an increase in the duration of the game artificially. Games might reward you with cool upgrades to navigate the map, but there is no impression left from exploring the optional area. The execution carried out by Coalition seemed too basic and instead felt forced to be added because the game next door also added a similar open-world system.
I am happy when the game is made a long time ago and I am happy when the game has a lot of content to explore, but when the execution is so cliched and hundreds of other games have been done, open-world like the one added by Gears 5 is more like a checklist and doing so makes me bored with games faster .
There is nothing more fun than pressing the W button for 5 minutes before moving on to the next story’s progress.
The point is Gears’ open-world session seems pointless and even boring to do. But on the good side this aspect is made optional and it is not mandatory to continue the progress of your story.
Still the king of Third-person gunplay:
Gunplay Gears 5 is still as good as you remember, even better.
Cover-based shooters have been carried out by dozens to dozens of developers, but Gears of War is still the king of this kind of gameplay. Gears 5 refines the main design that was built 13 years ago in various ways. The simplest is the animation, starting from shooting, reloading, picking up weapons and taking covers, the animation from Gears 5 is probably the smoothest of the entire game series. It feels so satisfying to shoot enemies, move from one cover to another, and execute them because of the combination of animas and sound design that is so neat.
New experimental ideas were also added in this series. Do you still remember the Jack I mentioned before? Jack acts as a sidekick robot in this game. He not only can make a door or access a computer, but also plays a role in combat through a variety of gadget utilities he has
You now have Jack’s new sidekick which can ease a variety of situations with his skills
Jack has 3 types of skills – Assault, Support and Passive. Assault gives you Jack aggressive action against enemies to make it easier for you to kill them such as flash, shock trap, control. Support provides a variety of important utilities to help you with things like shields to keep your immune longer, sensors to make it easier to find objects, and invisibility to make you able to do flanking or escape more easily. Whereas passive, as the name implies, will give Jack a variety of abilities that benefit players indirectly such as being able to transport heavy weapons, or allowing Jack to electrocute enemies with a larger radius, and so on.
Each skill possessed by Jack can be strengthened through upgrades using components. This component can be found in various areas whether it is hidden or openly visible. This encourages players to explore more often in every corner of the level because the upgrades that can be given through this component are so massive and make Jack more useful during combat.
Components can be used to strengthen each skill from Jack
Jack’s implementation into the game might not change drastically the Gears playing pattern, you will still be dominant in playing the game like the previous series, but its presence makes the Gears 5 gameplay more dynamic and adds a little tactic element to make it easier for you to overcome the challenges the game offers. You can complete the game without using Jack during combat, but it never hurts to use him while he is still there to help you.
Complete multiplayer package
Rushing online is still fun in multiplayer Gears
Gears 5 presents 3 multiplayer modes – Versus, Horde and the new Escape mode. Versus is a standard multiplayer Gears that presents a collection of game types ranging from Death Match and Capture. There’s not much to explain from this mode, if you’ve played Gears or multiplayer games in the last 10 years, then you know what Versus mode looks like.
Horde is a wave-based mode where you and your team are required to survive 50 waves of swarm attacks that become increasingly crowded and difficult. To facilitate the action, you will collect points to build better defense objects and weapons. This mode is the mode that takes the longest time but is also very exciting with the increasingly chaotic attacks from Swarm in each wave.
Escape as the name implies is a mode where players are required to be free from Swarm’s headquarters as quickly as possible and also avoid toxic gases that continue to spread widely around the map. In this mode, you must be good at using every ammo you have because it is very limited and the enemy is very aggressive wanting to finish you off. The easiest way to get ammo is from the enemy you killed, but again you are forced to save with the ammunition you have.
Gears 5 presents an interesting new mode to try, unfortunately, the content still seems limited at this time.
If you love the old Gears multiplayer mode, then Gears 5 will definitely satisfy you. The only criticism I can convey in this multiplayer game is that the number of levels that the game has is very limited, making the game most likely only last a few weeks before it becomes boring to play. The loading problem also seems to stand out in multiplayer, at least for the PC version, this can be fixed via patch but still, I have to say because it’s quite disturbing playing satisfaction.
If you are looking for a long-lasting competitive game, Gears 5 is not your goal game, but if you are just looking for a stainless fun to pass the time especially with a coop session with friends, then Gears 5 might be the right game.