Gears of War 4

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, but with more slime, writes

Hyper - - EDITORIAL - An­drew White­head

A lot has changed with shoot­ers since Gears of War first hit the scene. So the big ques­tion is: how does developer The Coali­tion evolve the se­ries and keep Gears of War 4 rel­e­vant with­out los­ing its per­son­al­ity? Easy. By not do­ing too much of any­thing.

“At The Coali­tion we talked about do­ing it right be­fore we do it dif­fer­ent,” says Matt Searcy, Lead Cam­paign Designer. “We went 25 years af­ter the end of Gears 3 in or­der to give our­selves space and have new char­ac­ters, new set­tings, a new con­flict and a whole new en­emy.”

Af­ter some lengthy hands-on time with Gears 4, I can as­sure you Matt is right. This is the Gears you know right down to your chain­saw-cross­ma­chine-gun Lancer and your trusty Gnasher shot­gun.

“But that doesn’t mean we didn’t do any­thing new inside the game,” says Matt. “We have a lot we fo­cused on, but [we fo­cused] es­pe­cially [on] the story. We went 25 years af­ter the end of Gears 3 in or­der to give our­selves space and have new char­ac­ters, new set­tings, a new con­flict and a whole new en­emy.”

The story takes place over the course of one night as three sol­diers, in­clud­ing JD Fenix, son of Mar­cus Fenix, go in search of their miss­ing friend. In my short time with this band of mis­fits I ac­tu­ally found them pretty like­able and be­liev­able, more than the Mar­cus and his pals. There’s still a hint of melo­drama but they’re also more hu­man.

“We tried to take back a lit­tle bit of that in­ti­macy from [the first Gears of War],” says Matt. “It’s a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent to the Gears of the past where you were dropped into the mid­dle of a war … It’s more about the jour­ney of these three char­ac­ters, and a few other char­ac­ters as well.”

Along the way you’ll be tear­ing through your new en­emy, the Swarm, who stepped up af­ter the Lam­bent and Lo­cust were wiped out at the end of Gears 3. Yet de­spite be­ing a new breed of bad­dies, there are a few fa­mil­iar classes within their ranks. A Ham­mer­burst-wield­ing sol­dier, a gre­nadier, a sniper; it’s the usual sus­pects. There’s even new Wretch­like en­e­mies called Ju­vies.

One all-new en­emy I en­coun­tered was the Pouncer. Think of it as an Alien-like Xenomorph on steroids. Leap­ing around the bat­tle­field, these nim­ble bas­tards re­quire you to stick close to­gether, keep mov­ing, and take them down one blast at a time.

There’s some­thing re­as­sur­ing about how Gears of War 4 fits into the cur­rent shooter land­scape. It’s the same, but dif­fer­ent. Thank­fully, The Coali­tion hasn’t added jet packs or an open-world de­sign. They’ve stayed true to the se­ries roots, and the game is bet­ter for it. It may feel anachro­nis­tic, but it also feels gen­uine. It's an unashamed gore-filled, cover-based shooter that won’t win any new fans, but will cer­tainly please ex­ist­ing ones.


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