Gears of War 4 Review (Xbox One)

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Developer: Coalition Studios
Publisher: Microsoft

Main Review

Review Context: I have played the first three Gears of War games fully and part of Gears of War: Judgement.
Date of Playthrough: October 7, 2016

With the army of Locust dead and the planet Serra now at peace, you would think everyone would have a happy ending. Well, for twenty-five years they did, but Gears of War 4 picks up with new characters, new threats, and a new adventure to be enjoyed once again.

Following up the adventures from the first three Gears of War games is a hard task to undertake. The Coalition, the studio who made Gears of War 4, took the challenge and they delivered. Everything from the campaign, to the multiplayer, to Horde Mode 3.0 has been taken and enhanced without breaking the Gears of War formula that players have come to enjoy.

To start everything off, the game looks and sounds great. The original series had a very mute color palate; Gears of War 4 is very colorful and it’s a very welcome change. The sound and music have always sounded great and hearing the revving of the chainsaw on the classic Lancer is satisfying to the ears. I did have the game crash a couple times during the first few days of release.

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The campaign is probably the mixed part of the entire game. While the gameplay remains in tack and the new elements are fun, there are things that bring down the experience. The story works, it gives a great opening and gives you a good blanket of the original trilogy without retelling the whole story for those who have played before. The new characters, JD, Kait, and Del, are highly enjoyable and give a humorous touch to the series that the original games really didn’t have. This new humor brings a nice contrast between the old games and new game to stand out as its own game. They give great nods to the original series and we get to see what happened to our favorite COG soldiers after twenty-five years.

The problems lie with the pacing. There are certain enemies that come up every so often that feel more like padding to the game.Elements of Horde Mode 3.0 also show up in the campaign that really stall what would be great pacing to a halt. Those have good reasons to be what they are though. The wind flares, a big new weather feature, feels very off. They give no reason why there are these massive devastating storms and they, again, are put in for padding to stall out the game. While these storms do shake up the gameplay by changing bullet trajectories, it doesn’t add much to the game. New weapons make their debut and they are very fun, but ultimately I found myself sticking to the classic Lancer/Shotgun combo and not being interested after the first time I used the newer weapons. Gears of War 4 introduces two new sets of enemies. The DEE-BEE units, that act as the “New COG” soldiers, are robots that use electric based weapons to attack. There purpose is made clear on why they are there but it is not well explained why they are attacking. The Swarm are the interesting, mysterious new enemies that slowly creep up from the shadows. They both act like Locust when attacking, so their movements tend to be predictable. Overall, the story is great but the unneeded padding bring it down. The appealing co-op can be played online or local with a friend. Unfortunately, I did not get the chance to try out the co-op.

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The multiplayer is exactly what you would expect from Gears of War; a fun, intense multiplayer mash-up. New modes include Escalation, a thirteen round match that drags on for way to long. Then there is Arms Race, which is a fun mode where you have to eliminate players with each different type of gun in order to win. I have had a very smooth experience with the multiplayer. There were a few times at the start of matches that there was a small amount of a slow connection, but after that it was fine. Voice chat came through clear and end of game leaderboards give you overall detail of how well you and your team did, as well as what is normal in multiplayer of showing overall rank progression and allowing for votes on what map to play on next.

Horde Mode 3.0 is probably the highlight of this game. The traditional Horde formula of fighting waves of enemies for ten rounds ending with a boss battle while preparing fortifications. Horde Mode 3.0 takes that and forces more teamwork into the mode by introducing classes. There are five classes that go to the benefit of the team. Every enemy killed drops material to collect in a fabricator that will be used to build new fortifications. Everyone collects the material and pools it to build more while fighting through waves of Swarm and DEEBEE units.

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Gears of War 4 is a sequel done right. It brings new elements without taking away the classic formula. There is something for everyone who plays the game. I completed the campaign in 7 hours and played 4 hours total between Horde Mode 3.0 and multiplayer. Coalition Studios left me wanting more, and with this being their first Gears of War game, I can’t wait to see what they have in store for the next installment. Until then, Horde 3.0 will keep me coming back, as well as the co-op. Gears of War has always provided. If you have an Xbox One and enjoy shooting games then this game should be in your library, and if you haven’t played the series before, then jump in and enjoy an excellent game!

Similar Games Liked:
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition (Xbox One)
Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360)
Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360)

Similar Games Disliked:
Gears of War: Judgement (Xbox 360)

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