I quickly jump into cover, nailing an active reload to get my Lancer back at full ammo with bonus damage. My squad takes up a defensive position, trying to destroy an enemy force of COG mechs that are pushing into the mansion we are trying to escape from. It’s a teeth grinding experience, and as the firefight ensues bullets, chainsaws and oil flies everywhere. We win the skirmish and move on to a set piece moment, launching out of the area on motorcycles to take on an enemy aircraft. Once I take a break after the harrowing experience, I breathe a small sigh of relief. Gears is back, and in spectacular fashion I might add.
The story is set 25 years after the events of Gears of War 3 and now features a new cast of characters, with some of the old companions making an appearance as well. A new threat emerges right before your eyes, and it is up to you to save the people taken from you. The campaign took me a little over eight hours to complete, and overall it was a fun time. However, there were a few things that in my opinion held it back from greatness. First and foremost, your A.I. companions are either spot on or completely useless. While you won’t have to kill everything yourself, there were several times I died simply because they just sat in cover while a Snatcher carried me away. The campaign also just felt like it just ended after dropping a huge twist, clearly setting up for a sequel.
However, these are minor complaints in the grand scheme of things. While it did get a little formulaic at times, enemy attacks often vary and keep you on your toes. Some enemies, like the Juvees, will jump over cover, knocking you out of it. Scions are massive meat shields that will boost the health and damage of nearby units and need to be focused down quickly. The challenge is definitely there, especially on harder difficulties. Some throwbacks to the original trilogy were present as well, such as a little sound that clarified the end of a firefight. The cast is likable for the most part as well, with JD, Del and Cait taking the lead with some genuinely well written wit. Set piece moments are full of adrenaline and amazed me with just how fun they were as well.
From my time in multiplayer, I can attest there is a learning curve. Dodgeball mode was hands down the most fun though and adds a twist to the standard team deathmatch formula. Teams of five on five fight, and if you have a teammate down and get a kill, they will respawn. It adds a new dynamic that can drag matches out and are overall the most intense. Standard modes are present as well, such as team death match and king of the hill. There is also a mode that is similar to Call of Duty‘s Gun Game mode, with teams having to secure a number of kills with a certain weapon to move on to the next.
Horde is better than ever, with classes that change your starting loadout and offer different ways to play. You can move around the Fabricator, which is what is used to create your defenses, so if one area isn’t as fortified as you would like you can always relocate. The furthest I ever got was to wave 30 in one go and I was ready to jump right back in. While coordination and communication are key, it is also possible to do well if you are observant enough. Every 10 waves is a boss wave, which adds in increasingly difficult enemies to take down, forcing you to really focus up.
Overall, I’ve had a great time with Gears 4. While the campaign ended on a strange note, I look forward to playing it again and really sinking my teeth into getting all of the collectibles and as many achievements as possible. It feels good to be back, and I look forward to seeing where the series goes from here.
Final Verdict: 9/10
Feature image of The Coalition and Epic Games.