A coherent single-player chiến dịch and excellent online options bring this Xbox stalwart right bachồng into lớn the battle


Depending on your outlook, the fourth title in this muscle-bound sci-fi series could easily look lượt thích an anachronism. It’s a single-path third-person cover-shooter that pays no heed khổng lồ modern demands for open worlds, & belongs lớn a franchise that has looked somewhat jaded over the last few iterations. But Microsoft has cannily brought in a new developer, the Coalition, & it has administered a much-needed injection of fresh ideas, without compromising the core appeal.

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After a brief nostalgic prologue, Gears of War 4 takes place 25 years after the Locust were (apparently) finally defeated in Gears 3. The planet Sera has changed massively in that quarter-century; the COG have sầu become the baddies, exercising fascistic control over the populace with the help of a robotic army known as DBs, even though the authoritarian female first minister (remind you of anyone?), Jinn, begins by paying lip-service to lớn Marcus Fenix at a commemorative rally. You play as James “JD” Fenix, son of Marcus, who has gone Awol from the COG and hooked up with a bunch of “outsiders” living off-grid in a country village. Along with sidekichồng Del và Kait, the franchise’s first properly central female character, JD embarks on a raid of a COG establishment with the ayên ổn of stealing a Fabricator – essentially a 3 chiều printer with knobs on, which can make weapons and fortifications.

The merry bvà – moving through a world which, at last, hasn’t been entirely constructed using a colour palette of blachồng, brown & grey – take on wave after wave of robots, using disappointingly weedy new weapons. But a change-up soon occurs: after returning to the outsider village & fending off a major COG assault (which seamlessly introduces the changes the Coalition has made to lớn Gears of War’s legendary horde mode), a new enemy, which JD and company dub the Swarm, appears, kidnapping Kait’s mother, village headwoman, Reymãng cầu, & the rest of the village’s inhabitants.


Gears hero Marcus Fenix bonds with his son JD in the only way he knows how: over a massive sầu machine gun Photograph: MicrosoftSo JD và his cohorts embark on another world-saving quest – và the first stop involves approaching the now-grizzled (but still gung-ho) Marcus Fenix who, rather unexpectedly, has opted for bucolic retirement in a country pile. Luckily, Marcus has his old COG gear, so at last you can reacquaint yourself with the trusty assault-rifle-cum-chainsaw Lancer và the Gnasher shotgun.

In the quest to find Reymãng cầu and discover the truth about the Swarm, Sera’s harsh climate occasionally intervenes: ‘windflares’ often strike, pairing beyond-hurricane-force winds with deadly localised lightning. In those sequences, impressive physics let you take out swathes of enemies by bringing the environment inlớn play, và often add a puzzle-solving element. The Coalition has also thrown in some on-rails sequences, which are less successful, though: they simply feel too on-rails.

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There are, of course, boss battles, và the various forms of the Swarm force you lớn take a more tactical approach than in the past – although you still have sầu to lớn fill them full of unfeasible quantities of lead, albeit in a much less indiscriminate manner. So-called Juvies, for example, are quiông chồng and elusive sầu but unarmed, so they will melee you if you stay behind cover while, entertainingly, Snatchers will swallow you up if you let them get too close, rendering you helpless until a team-mate shoots you out of their stomachs (you can play the campaign cooperatively, although the AI, controlling bot-based team-mates, is pretty good). Overall, the single-player campaign offers a much more varied, flowing experience than previous Gears of War games. It isn’t the longest, though: those in a hurry could finish it in about nine hours.

The game’s real meat, however, lies online, with two major pillars in the form of versus multiplay and Horde 3.0 (the name reflecting the Coalition’s desire khổng lồ register that the much-loved survival mode has been extensively revamped). In versus, Gears of War’s existing multiplayer modes make welcome returns, so you can plunge inlớn warzone (team deathmatch with a single life per short-but-sweet round), team deathmatch (in which each team has an allocated number of lives), king of the hill & guardian. Plus there is the intriguing dodgeball, in which every time you kill an enemy, you allow a dead team-mate, consigned lớn a queue, lớn respawn.


The new horde mode adds an array of features to lớn the co-op multiplayer favourite Photograph: MicrosoftAnother new mode, arms race, is likely lớn inspire either fanatical devotion or total indifference, as it forces you lớn cycle through all the game’s weapons: every three kills, your team will swap to a new Model. It’s a great idea (one that we have sầu seen variations on in the Call of Duty series, aước ao others), but it also means you have sầu to lớn use the new DB weapons, which are vastly inferior lớn the original COG ones. Escalation, meanwhile is a new mode which has e-sports firmly on its agenda: it involves teams capturing three areas và ramps up respawn times at the over of each round.

Social playlists allow you khổng lồ jump into lớn the multiplayer and sample various game types at a time, with the ability to lớn vote for the next bản đồ and mode. There’s an XP. system which extends across both Versus và Horde 3.0, which is good, và a Gears Pack system which provides cards that bring some pretty appealing cosmetic enhancements for use in versus, along with bounties (which are specific challenges), & some really useful perks & buffs that can be applied in horde mode. We played the multiplayer side of the game extensively pre-launch, and things progressed pretty smoothly – matching problems won’t arise as the game can strip in bots where needed – although we did experience one catastrophic crash at the end of a round.

Gears of War 4 will kick off with 10 maps (all of which are impeccable) and more will be provided for miễn phí via DLC. Frame-rate issues và lag, mercifully, were completely absent. But you can never tell whether Microsoft’s server network will be able lớn take the strain when everyone jumps online. If you’re nervous, watch và wait before purchasing.

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Horde 3.0 chiefly benefits from the new mechanic provided by fabricators, which let you build things lượt thích electrified fences, automatic turrets and various levels of decoys. You can move your fabricator crate khổng lồ whatever strategic place you feel you can best defend from the waves of incoming enemies, và the whole exercise adds a welcome new cấp độ of strategy lớn proceedings. But there is a caveat: Horde 3.0 also introduces classes, và you have sầu lớn be very careful which you choose, as your class determines your load-out. You can, of course, pick up weapons from dead enemies, but pichồng the wrong class and you’ll be forced to use the weedy DB weaponry, which is annoying. And the game doesn’t offer anything like as much explanation of that as it should.

Overall, Gears of War 4 may adhere lớn a seemingly old-fashioned template but, in practice, it feels anything but archaic. Its single-player chiến dịch is much more varied and engaging than those of its predecessors và the online mode is exhilarating, catering for all shades of gamers, from the less adept to those with pro-game thủ aspirations. The horde thoroughly deserves its 3.0 designation nâng cấp & as a whole, the fourth iteration gives the Gears of War template the rejuvenating shot in the arm it sorely needed.