Photo: Xbox
Photo: Xbox

Gears 5 review: A step up from what we’ve come to expect

  • Gears 5 brings a female character to the series for the first time
  • It is the sort of game that you won’t regret buying but you may not play again and again

You know those mindless yet fun movies we all watch at times? Gears 5 is that but in the gaming space, and honestly, that’s great.

You would be forgiven if you’re going into Gears 5 not expecting much. While the series has created a space for itself in the history of gaming, it’s often been criticised for linear gameplay and weak storylines. However, Gears 5 in many ways is a step up from all that, while still being disappointed in some.

If you’re approaching this game with low expectations, Gears 5 will exceed them. How you feel about this game will really be decided on which aspect of it you focus on. It has its ups and downs, but it’s a game that’s very well put together in the end.

Gears 5 brings a female character to the series for the first time. You start off a male character, but shift to Kait quickly enough. And that’s perhaps the best decision The Coalition (the game’s developer) has ever made.

Kait’s story gives Gears 5 a fresh new outlook and it provides some much needed depth to the campaign. In unraveling Kait’s backstory, Gears 5 not only developers some of its other characters, it tells you more about the game’s lore and the history of the Locusts/Swarm (the game’s antagonists). If you haven’t followed the series so far, a quick wiki lookup will make things really interesting.

But while Kait’s story gives you reason to soldier on through each Act and Chapter, it all seems to end rather quickly, abruptly and even disappointingly. The Coalition created a cliffhanger of an ending, but it’s an extremely safe cliffhanger. The story is written well enough that you want more levels, but the ending kind of dampens the fun you had in getting there.

You’ll end the story with a “Really? You’re rolling credits here?"

On the other hand, the gameplay is pleasantly different too. While Gears 5 follows the run-and-gun gameplay mechanic of yesteryears, its level design is quite different. The linear gameplay we’re used to is gone, replaced by large open spaces. It’s surprising at times, predictable at others, and even overwhelming sometimes.

But much like the game, there’s no space to stop and enjoy the open world. You keep wishing there was more to do and more locations, items, people and monsters to interact with. There aren’t enough side missions, collectibles or even interesting sights to explore.

Essentially, the open world is a hoax and you actually end up playing inside a sandbox. It’s a huge sandbox, but it still has its limits.

Your companion drone, which was more of a passive part in the forward marching team earlier, is now an active member. It has abilities that you unlock in an RPG-type mechanic, adding yet another level to the gameplay. It has upgrades, abilities and there’s even some strategy involved with how you use the bot. You can run into battle using the bot for cover, possess an enemy to use them against their team and so on. In the game’s co-op mode, one person on your team will actually be the bot, which can be quite fun.

If you’re not a fan of the take cover and fire gameplay mechanic that Gears is famous for, Jack the bot gives you some much needed relief.

But campaign aside, Gears 5’s other levels are pretty regular. The game’s battle royale style Escape mode is fun the first few times, but it gets old really fast. The Horde mode is basically a take on survival, which doesn’t really contribute much towards replayability.

In the end, Gears 5 is the sort of game that you won’t regret buying but you may not play again and again. The fact that there’s room for improvement actually keeps us excited to find out how the next version will turn out.

It’s a sure step up for the Gears of War series and the fact that there’s room for improvement actually keeps us excited about what’s to come in the next version.

If the story excites you more in games you play, Gears 5 has something for you. However, if you are a fan of exploring open worlds, you may find this game disappointing.