Gears of War 4 – First Look

They’re going to ruin my tomatoes!

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I can remember nights in college of hanging out with friends over Xbox Live, knocking back Mountain Dew, and playing Horde mode in Gears of War 3 well into 4am. Gears of War holds a special place in my gaming “career/lifetime”. When I saw there would be a 4th installment (who remembers Judgement, amirite?), I was excited yet nervous. Would this offer the same great co-op experience as before? How would the story continue now that the Locust threat is gone? Would Marcus come back? Well, I can certainly say that Gears of War 4 delivers and more.

Campaign

From reading over reviews, it seems folks are divided on the story. Personally, I’m enjoying it. I’m currently near the end of Act 3 and so far, Gears of War 4 has offered some of the most exciting, and tense, moments in the entire series. From shooting down a gunship to fighting my way through an old COG museum, I’ve never had a dull moment.

I even enjoy the new characters: JD, Kait, and Del. Sure, their dialogue can be campy at times but this is Gears of War we are talking about: the dialogue always comes with a coat of cheese. It’s interesting to see the difference between Marcus and JD: Marcus was always the focused leader whereas JD is the pragmatic, break-things-to-fix-it type. Not that that’s bad because it leads to some hilarious, and terrifying, moments. (Those moments I won’t spoil, so you’re safe, Deer Listener)

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The new threat, aptly titled the Swarm, even brings a new sense of terror. The drones and boomer-types all make an appearance and bring a sense of intimidation but they’re nothing compared to the wanna-be Wretch-types, the Juvies. These little pigmys are far more fierce than the Wretches ever were. Not only are they more aggressive but they’re more agile; my first encounter with them nearly led me to soiled pants as I saw them vaulting over barriers, dodging my shots, and moving so fast that I had a hard time tracking them. They may be small but seriously: watch out for Juvies.

Horde 3.0

I’ve played at least two sessions of the new and improved Horde mode now and I can definitely say: it’s improved. The additions of classes and pseudo-tower defense style gameplay elements really spice the mode up in a lively way.

The classes consist of: Soldier, Heavy, Sniper, Scout, and Engineer. Each come with their own set of perks that can be upgraded in-between matches and you’ll want a team that utilizes each one. Engineers make building, and maintaining, a base of operations crucial whereas Heavies strengthen turrets and mete out damage, as well as take it. Scouts and Snipers offer support while Soldier is the class for folks who don’t want a ton of responsibility beyond laying down the smackdown. When each class is working well within a team, Horde mode is a fun breeze (so long as you aren’t playing on anything above Normal). If you’re in a squad that doesn’t know how to choose the right classes, well, it’ll be a harder fight.

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The tower-defense style gameplay elements are a fresh and exciting addition also. In Horde 3.0, you can now establish a base and build upgradeable defenses. Defenses include auto-turrets, shock pylons, razor caltrop walls, manned-turrets, and decoys. These are all produced by a Fabricator, which is fueled by energy that drops from enemies after you’ve dispatched them. Remember those classes I mentioned earlier? Some classes have perks that give discounts on different defenses, allowing you to build more defenses. This adds a layer of strategy that makes Horde mode more of a challenge while injecting a level of depth that’s just fun to explore.

Needless to say, I’m having a blast with Gears of War 4. I look forward to seeing how the story concludes and putting more time into the multiplayer. Once I get more time put into the multiplayer, I’ll come back with a full review. But for now, I would definitely recommend folks to pick up Gears of War 4.

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