Gears of War 4 is exciting and makes returning to this franchise a total blast. The characters are interesting and the world they inhabit is new and deep. With a new threat and the options you have to fight them, the series continues to make shooting over cover a great time. The campaign is full of fun set pieces that easily drive you forward. Though the story ends abruptly, the fantastic multiplayer modes will keep you satisfied. This is a very promising beginning to a new trilogy.
At the core of this, we are still dealing with a Gears of War game. Your character is huge and they snap to cover over and over in order to safely shoot bullet-sponge enemies. Gears of War 4 doesn’t rewrite the book but it does add in a good assortment of new ideas to keep things fresh. The story is set years after the last game and we get a look at how society has changed. Cities are filled with robots and an oppressive government has forced some of the remaining humans to live out in the wilderness. There is a strain on the population and you find yourself stuck between all this and a new threat. The setting is quite different from the last games and it’s exciting to learn about as you go.
The story’s excitement is matched by the vast number of set pieces throughout the campaign. The humans of this world continue to live in the worst climates; this time adding giant tornadoes that shoot lighting. You’ll come across these many times - both in and out of combat. Horde mode has even been infused into the campaign by having several sections requiring you to bunker down and hold off a few enemy waves. There are several more but I won’t spoil them here. The ending in particular is quite ridiculous. Not to mention the cool new weapons (shout out to the Overkill). Best of all, once again you can play through the entire game in coop. The campaign is exciting throughout and kept me guessing as to what might come next.
The one downside is that the final moments of the game end incredibly abruptly. This is the start of a new trilogy and The Coalition definitely leave a lot to be taken care of in the future games. The clinghanger asks some real interesting questions but it also makes this entry feel unfinished. This is almost a Halo 2 level of ending. The game’s pacing makes it seem like there should have been one more chapter to go but got caught off. It’s a minor grievance, especially compared to how much I enjoyed everything up to that point.
For anyone feeling like they didn’t get enough from the game’s story, the online multiplayer is as great as ever. The competitive options are pretty standard but Horde mode is still a fantastic way to spend a few hours. It is quite similar to the version we saw in Judgement where you can play as a specific class in order to help your team differently. This time around you can choose which location to fortify and build the defenses where and when you want. The further you progress through the waves, and the more you purchased and build, will allow you to unlock stronger and better offensive/defensive capabilities. For example, a level one decoy will distract the enemy while a level four one will add in explosives. Putting together the right kind of team is fun to do and adds a new level of detail to this, already, awesome mode.
One cool addition for this game comes from the Play Anywhere initiative going on. Getting the game on one platform will unlock the game on the other as well (Xbox One and PC). To make this better, you can play with people across the different options. This only works for the campaign and Horde mode since they are cooperative. Competitive is still separate due to the control disadvantage (makes sense). A small but nice bonus for anyone running into the split userbase situation.
Gears of War 4 changes the setting significantly and opens up some interesting avenues to explore. The world is exciting and the characters you encounter help drive this home. The story is matched nicely with the fun set pieces you will encounter as you progress. If the ending leaves you wanting then the multiplayer modes will easily make up for it. Horde is better than ever and now gives you more to do. This is a fantastic start to a new trilogy and will give the player high hopes going forward.