When Gears 5 was first announced, I couldn’t have been more excited. Not only was it an Xbox exclusive, narrative based, third-person shooter game, but it was also one that would finally put a female Gears character front and centre. In addition, there would be several modes to suit the play-style of all gamers, including DLC characters that were bound to impress.
Gears 5, developed by The Coalition and published by Xbox Game Studios, is the sixth installment in the Gears of War franchise, despite being titled Gears 5. The game continues the story of Gears of War 4 and follows Kait Diaz as she, along with J.D Fenix, Delmont Walker and fan favourite, Marcus Fenix, work to uncover Kait’s heritage and her connection to the Locust, the main antagonists in the Gears of War franchise.
Gears 5 comes with several game modes to suit every kind of gamer, including a Campaign, Escape, Versus and Horde mode. Having such a variety of gameplay modes is one of my favourite aspects of Gears 5, which not only allows for gamers of all levels and expertise to enjoy the game, but also promotes the longevity of the game as a whole, giving players an opportunity to return to try out different play styles.
In this review, I explore the campaign mode, which is by far my favourite mode in the game. The other modes will be explored in a separate review.
The Gears 5 campaign mode can be played alone, as a single player, or with up to two others in a three-player split-screen co-op. The campaign is essentially the lifeblood of the game, with players able to follow the characters through the narrative of the game’s main plot. It is through playing the campaign that we learn about Kait’s true heritage and are able to understand the world of Gears of War better.
Building on the narrative of Gears of War 4, Gears 5’s story is gut wrenching and simply, magnificent. The emotional undertones are kicked up a notch, allowing players the ability to connect with the characters and story on a much deeper level. The compelling nature of the game’s narrative is what truly encourages players to power through a merciless campaign, one filled with blood, gore and at times, death. The notion of camaraderie is highlighted throughout the game, however, therein lies the problem, as tough decisions and painful sacrifices must be made.
The gameplay mechanic is one that is easily adaptable to suit all levels of experience. With different difficulty levels to choose from, and the option to not only play as the lead characters, but also as Jack, the hovering drone that assists the team, all gamers are able to enjoy Gears 5. It’s important to note that there is a Bootcamp tutorial mode prior to the campaign where new players are able to learn the game’s mechanics and controls prior to jumping in to the main game.
The ease and simplicity of gameplay coupled with engaging combat styles and weaponry make playing through the campaign a great deal of fun. The weaponry, in particular, will be of interest to different kinds of gamers, with players being able to pick up bigger and better guns at each turn, as the campaign progresses. Not only that, but players are also able to explore more of the world in Gears 5, allowing for more gaming time, as well as some fun manoeuvres using skiffs and other vehicles. I’ll admit, I spent a lot of time on my skiff, gliding through the snow capped mountains, and exploring the environment around me, just a bit too much.
Considering that I tend to lose interest in long campaigns quite easily, Gears 5 managed to hold my attention and had me coming back for more each time. While the story and exciting gameplay mechanics were a draw card, I must attribute some of my excitement to the brilliant dialogue and character development in the game, which was conveyed through the talented acting of the voice cast.
The dialogue was especially well-written, incorporating humour and familiarity between characters to seal in the notion of the bond these characters share, whilst also offering an insight into the evident strained relationships that are present as well. Couple this with breathtaking visuals and you have yourself a game that will knock your socks off.
The graphics were incredibly well done, in a way that stands a class above that of Gears of War 4, and done so on a much larger scale. You can learn more about the visuals in my interview with The Coalition’s Technical Art Director, Colin Penty. It was exceptionally challenging to not take a moment to stare, mouth agape, at the stunning scenery of the game or be wowed by the intensity of the battle scenes. If I had a penny for every time I exclaimed “wow” while playing through the campaign, I’d be a rich woman.
Gears 5’s campaign mode is one of the most gratifying action and emotional narrative experiences I’ve had in a very long time. Not only is it a title that is available to beginners and seasoned gamers alike, it included a summary for gamers new to the franchise as well, making it a Gears of War title that is accessible to all.
In addition, the compelling narrative intertwined with fantastic gameplay, epic visual aesthetics and captivating characters, makes it one of my personal favourite Xbox games of this generation. And that’s without even talking about having a female character front and centre.
With Kait Diaz being the focus of the game, The Coalition and Xbox Game Studios have taken the commitment of gaming for everyone and diversity in gaming to new heights, with more girls, like myself, being inspired to delve into the franchise, possibly for the first time.
Here’s to the team behind Gears 5 for making a game that has truly surpassed many of my personal favourites, to become one that I would highly recommend to all.