Gears of War 4 is another example of the UWP and the play anywhere promise that Microsoft is trying to push for their Windows 10/Xbox One ecosystem. Developed by The Coalition and published by Microsoft Studios it’s the start of a new storyline following the end of the war with the Locust after Gears of War 3. Warning this review contains spoilers of the plot
Set over 20 years after the war with the Locust Gears of War 4 starts with a brief prologue section that shows a small segment of the war from the perspective of a generic Gear. Jumping to a post war world you take on the role of JD Fenix whom along side his friends Kait and Del. They are raiding the construction site of a COG settlement for a fabricator to help their village. Later that night they are awakened to the horror of their friends and family being taken by the swarm, an at this time unknown force.
Upon returning home JD meets up with his dad Marcus to help him and his friends rescue Kait’s mom and the other villagers if they can. Shortly after this Marcus is captured by one of the swarms snatchers and is brought to a nest deep in a mine, the same mine where the Locust bodies were buried. As they rescue Marcus they discover the truth that the Locust never actually died and that the snatchers were collecting humans as genetic material to rebuild the Locust swarms. They rescue Marcus and move to rescue Reyna, Kait’s mother but the swarm nest is far too entrenched.
Marcus calls in the help of Cole, Baird and Sam to help them reach the nest and rescue Reyna. Tragically they were unable to save Reyna as she had been integrated into the swarm nest. Kait at the behest of her mother kills her and inherits her amulet, with implications that Reyna may have been the daughter of the Locust queen. The ending being clear sequel bait we should expect a Gears of War 5 to be announced soon.
In all the story is serviceable, well paced and well told. Not a story heavy game, but it really doesn’t need to be story heavy. This is the kind of game where you can shut off your brain and enjoy the violence. The voice acting is serviceable as well and many of them are easily recognizable. In all the setting, plot and acting is far from perfect but this game properly as the kind of dumb fun you would see in a movie like Commando or Rambo.
Outside of a few bad textures on some wall I found the graphics of the game to be what you would expect from a game produced in 2016 and this game truly shows the power of Unreal Engine 4. It also runs well on the highest settings it rarely dipped below 60 fps even in some of the flashier scenes I was able to maintain 60+ fps. While not a technical marvel or even the best looking game I have ever seen the graphics are nice and the art style is cohesive.
From a mechanical standpoint I found the controls to be tight and responsive. The accuracy with keyboard and mouse is as good as it should be for a shooter. The xbox controller is also a decent option however it comes with the caveat of aim assist that you see with controllers and shooters.
As far as other modes are concerned I found the multiplayer to be well balanced, though I spent most of my time outside of the story with Horde Mode 3.0. The classes are a welcome edition here, though led into my only gripe; micro-transactions. In the newest variant of horde mode there are classes and each class excels at different things, the soldier gives you the classic horde mode feel, the marksman gets a bonus to head shot damage and eventually can cause head shot kills to make enemies explode. The engineer can build barricades and turrets. The scout gets bonuses to melee and movement speed making them great at flanking. Finally the heavy which excels with explosives. The classes can have their skills upgraded via a card system.
The card packs are the micro-transaction, while you can buy them individually for a certain amount of points, you can also buy them with money with bonus packs if you buy the larger crates. This system is my biggest gripe with the game as it encourages spending money over spending time in the game and given that this game launched with a DLC season pass just comes across as a blatant cash grab from the developer.
In summation the plot is good enough, though its the pace and action that keeps you playing. The controls are as good as they could be for a PC port. The game modes are what you would expect with the horde mode changes being welcome for the most part. Despite the micro-transactions and season pass which I find to be flaws I have no problem recommending this game to people that like shooters. I give Gears of War 4 a final verdict of buy it.