Gears 5 is now the 6th game into the Gears of War series and another one riddled with issues. Some of the points in here will inevitably (you’d hope) be fixed but for the purpose of the review I’m writing this raw and a few days after launch, as I do with most reviews because this is the game they’re selling us at this moment in time.
Gears has always been one of my favourite series because I enjoyed the multiplayer, campaign and horde, I think each was done solidly until GoW: Judgement. Gears 1-3 has a great campaign and told a compelling story of which I had interest in. It wasn’t just Marcus who was important, it was just as much Dom’s story too and it was told beautifully.
Gears of War 4 (I’m not even going to mention Judgement) was very average. The online multiplayer was an absolute pain to even just get into a game, campaign didn’t hold my interest at all and horde was good but the card system was clunky and overly complex. The game was built around microtransactions and though I don’t want to say it was specifically to blame, it seemed like the part of the game that got the most time.
The tech test was a bit rocky but I expected that. The gameplay was good though and it felt a lot more fluid, with a little bit more refinement than the previous entry. I was happy with this and again excited to get into the thick of things. The new game mode called escape (a 3 person escape from a swarm stronghold) looked interesting, campaign seemed a lot more interesting, horde looked streamlined and the multiplayer once again had me hooked. It was setup to be a solid entry into the series and I was ready to get back into the Gears series proper.
All of the above is fine – if you can find a game. I wasn’t really around for the GoW4 launch, I played a few games here and there but I don’t remember too many issues. This, however, is absolutely ridiculous. People can’t complete the campaign in co-op, games will randomly disconnect you or your team in horde, escape and multiplayer. It is absolutely full of issues and 6 entries in, it’s not good. People are praising The Coalition for trying to fix it but they shouldn’t. Some people paid money for this and they can’t even do the most basic of things like play a story mode together.
Each Gears game has its own issues, some were just gameplay ones and I can half deal with those because at the very least I can get a game. What was the point of the tech test? I understand a large portion of the player base will be from Game Pass but they should know this and be prepared for this. They’ll have the numbers and know that the servers will be battered so they should have been well prepared for the mass number of players. It’s not good enough, if this game wasn’t ready for this kind of player base – delay the PC release in order to prepare properly!
I find the new game type incredibly interesting and this is something which I think is a big positive. Each characters unique ability feels like they all need to be worked and coordinated strategically for the more difficult escape maps. I like that they can be created, updated and each one works differently. This should ensure a fresh stream of content and keep this mode interesting.
Horde seems streamlined and a lot easier to understand. It doesn’t feel like a chore sorting out all the cards and again, it feels like it’s important that all the characters have abilities that compliment each other. The new modifiers look like they’re going to make both game modes a massive challenge and that is exciting.
Not that this is a massive positive but the campaign has me interested, which is more than I can say about the last one…
As I said above, the server issues are just not good enough. This feels like it’s just going to be one point but I could go on forever about it. I just can’t believe they weren’t ready for this. They will have figures from Microsoft about the amount of Xbox and PC players in the Game Pass scheme and from there, you should be able to make a realistic guess as to about how much the server can manage. If it looks like it’s too much, and quite obviously it is, then take the game away from PC temporarily. Explain that until we get a stable connection on console, the PC release will be delayed until they’re 100% sure that the experience will be pleasant for all.
People will have a lot more respect if a developer comes out and says “Look, we’re not ready, we’re sorry. We want to do the absolute best by you, the people who fund us and our industry so we’re taking this action”. Too many times do we get broken releases or games that just aren’t finished and it isn’t good enough. What takes priority here because the only thing that properly works in Gears 5 is the store? Even the Gears POP! game is riddled with server issues!
I am largely going to base this on how I feel about the game overall and make the assumption that the server issues will eventually be resolved. The experience I’ve had so far, when I actually get into a game, is good. The gameplay is fine, the new game modes are fun and I like what they’ve done with horde. The maps are going to be released for free and the fact there is enough to keep the game fresh going forward is a big positive. Let’s just hope the experience to find a game doesn’t end up like GoW 4 because that still didn’t end up particularly great.