Gears 5 is massively underrated. I find it strange that it doesn’t seem to be mentioned as much as it should be when gamers talk about the titles available on platforms that are there to pull you in.
I’ve just finished a full play-thru on PC and it’s one of my favourite games from the last generation. Although I started playing the game not long after its release in September 2019 it’s taken me till now to get all the way through. That’s not because it’s an extremely long game, as the main story isn’t the longest, but more a reflection on me being a pick and mix gamer and jumping between loads of titles at the same time.
The Gears franchise is one of the biggest available to Microsoft and every title so far has been received well by critics, even the spin-offs like Tactics and Judgement scoring well. That said, the fan reception wasn’t as good for Judgement as it was a little stale and didn’t bring anything new to the table. All of the games feature some of the best cover based 3rd person shooting to feature in any game and the multiplayer suites have always been able to keep players busy for long after release.
The story from parts 1-3 is amazing and it’s hard to understand why (although long rumoured) it’s not been adapted into a Hollywood movie yet. It’s a war story about soldiers finding their way in a battle against an alien enemy. It’s one of only a few titles that have managed to make an emotional connection with me, although I won’t spoil the reasons for that in case anyone is yet to take the jump into the world of the main character Marcus Fenix and his brothers in arms the COG (Coalition of Ordered Governments).
Parts 1-3 on the Xbox 360 were beautiful games and showed the power that the console had. This continued into Gears 4 and 5 which pushed the Xbox One as hard as any other game at the time. The story in 4 is slightly forgettable, but it’s still a good game and it help set the narrative for Gears 5. Under the hood Gears 4 did bring something that should be commended, as the optimised Xbox One X version gave fans the option for either 1080p 60FPS or if visuals were more your thing, a pretty much locked 4K 30FPS mode with all the bells and whistles.
Although this is something we are much more used to now at the time of release not many other console games had options like this. It’s also one of the best ways to experience the difference HDR can make to a game when done right. Gears 4 was how I showed this off to friends and the difference really was dramatic.
That brings me on to Gears 5 and why it’s underrated. Xbox has been rightly criticised for not having enough of the same type of beautiful story-based games that Playstation seem to have mastered. Here, however, Gears 5 is a game that features a compelling narrative and the type of graphics that will make non-gamers say, “man that’s doesn’t even look like a game”.
The game was then optimised for the release of the Xbox Series consoles, which brings them close to the ultra graphics settings available to higher-end PC players. This took the game to another level and even though it was made for now last-gen hardware, it’s beautiful to play and watch. Developers The Coalition even found a way to take the multiplayer all the way to 120fps.
A last-gen game, showing what a next-gen system is capable of…. unheard of.
Also around this time, the game released its Hivebursters DLC. Considering this is DLC, it looks like The Coalition has been able to refine the graphics even further as it’s breathtaking to look at. Featuring a handful of new players characters from Scorpio Squad. Although again it’s a short experience it features all the great gameplay from the main game and another bunch of likeable characters.
That’s why I find it so strange that Gears 5 isn’t more highly regarded. Currently, it sits with a score of 82 on Metacritic. It’s the type of game that you can lose thousands of hours in multiplayer or blast thru the story in a day. That seems way too low for a game that features such a great experience.
The story in Gears 5 made the jump to having a strong female lead character in Kate Dias while still featuring most characters from earlier games. It also got back to the type of emotional connection that made the original trilogy so compelling.
That’s left me excited to see what Gears does next and I wait with bated breath on what it can offer or look like. It’s expected that Gears 6 will see the game jump to Unreal engine 5 and could be one of the best ways to see what this tech can do, which based on the tech demo shown so far could be mind-blowing. Don’t sleep on Gears 5, join the fight and get excited about the future.