Gears 5 - Primed to be the Pinnacle of the Series - PreviewBrandon J. Wysocki , posted on 06 September 2019 / 3,245 Views
Perhaps I’m projecting a bit, but the Game of Thrones or Westworld-esque opening credits for the Gears 5 campaign suggested a high-quality product. It felt indicative of a certain comfort, confidence, and professionalism from the team behind the game – and everything I’ve experienced beyond those opening credits has only reinforced that initial impression. Now, in time, we will deliver our full review of the game, but with the early release of Gears 5 for Game Pass Ultimate subscribers and Ultimate Edition owners today, it seemed appropriate to share some early impressions of the game.
So far, I’ve been pleased across the board. As the 6th major entry in the series it’d be easy for the franchise to feel stagnant. However, the nearly 3-year cycle between new entries, along with obvious efforts to refine established elements, as well as add new ones, has proven beneficial and that’s especially evident in Gears 5.
While online multiplayer matches have proven difficult to come by prior to the early access release, I’ve dipped my toes in all of the different modes. For those returning to the series, the staples are all there, but the notable addition is Escape. Contrary to Horde mode, Escape tasks three players (each with unique and useful abilities) with racing through a Hive location, blasting through enemies while outrunning the toxic bomb you plant at the start of the run.
With modifiers available for each map, map creation (and sharing), as well as some ability to level-up the available characters, Escape feels like a perfect complement to the game, which altogether offers about as comprehensive a package as a shooter can.
The other fronts are what you’d expect – at least from what I’ve been able to experience of them. I will say that the campaign gets off to a particularly strong start. It’s still the same smashmouth cover shooter, but it manages to - as the series has in the past - have a certain charm and depth that its muscle-bound characters, frenzied action, and excessive gore belie.
The pace of the content has been well balanced too, and the writing and acting genuinely enjoyable. A nice feature is the ability for a co-op player to control the helpful floating robot companions. It feels a lot like the second player option in Super Mario Odyssey and Galaxy, where someone of any skill level can participate and at the same time sincerely contribute.
To me, it seems that The Coalition has done a fantastic job with the game. It stays true to what I expect out of the series yet feels fresh and, dare I say it, primed to be the pinnacle of it. A nice selection of game modes, gorgeous graphics, smooth performance and gameplay, and tight writing and acting (that provided me and my son with at least one genuine laugh out loud moment fairly early on) makes it hard to criticize much about the title.
Everything I have experienced has been excellent. However, a caveat of early coverage of a game is that you risk being in the “honeymoon” phase with it. Yes, that potentially undermines any (p)review, especially one that is provided close to the launch of the game, but we all know how something (or someone) can seem nearly flawless early on, only for time to expose imperfections and redundant or repetitive characteristics that lose their lustre. Really, it’d be interesting to see follow-up reviews of games for exactly this reason – see how they sit with critics after a year or so. In the meantime, I’m curious to see how our full review compares with my glowing first impressions.
These impressions are based on a digital copy of Gears 5, provided by the publisher.