It’s a pretty safe bet Gears of War 4’s new developer, The Coalition, wasn’t going to screw the pooch on this one. It cut its teeth on the stellar Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, aka the HD remake testing the waters. Its head honcho is Rod Fergusson. Yes, former Epic Games’ Rod Fergusson, them guys and gals who made every numbered Gears of War before this one. It’s named after the COG, The Coalition of Ordered Governments from the damn series. Even Vegas bookies weren’t running odds on this one.
It’s been 25 years since the COG smoked the remnants of the Locust invaders and Lambent hordes infesting Sera by way of a wee cataclysmic event. In the process, fossil fuels are now moot and wind-flares are wreaking havoc across the remaining human settlements. The COG has become a martial law declaring, power-hungry regime, with an extensive robot army at its back. Can you say resistance? Cue Resistance.
After a short history lesson/rock solid intro for newbies and rather cleverly giving you the skinny on Horde Mode (also known as grab four buds and killify 50 waves of increasingly less killify-able enemies), you get the lowdown on protagonist, JD, and the set-up is just about complete. Former good guys have gone bad in a time of peace, a shadowy threat lurks at night, and JD’s dear ol’ dad is none other than veteran protagonist of the series, Marcus Fenix. What a twist!
The ‘passing of the torch’ theme is central to Gears of War 4. Marcus passes on the mantle of hero to his son. Epic Games passes the franchise on to The Coalition, its ‘child’ of sorts, and both stay the course rather than re-invent the wheel, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s brilliantly polished, beautiful looking fan service with a few fancy new maneuvers and arsenal additions. You face a much more aggressive enemy, which now charges at you regularly, flanks, and generally keeps you on the back foot, forcing you out of your safe behind cover comfort zone.
Moving about, snapping into and out of cover, vaulting, and roadie running is as slick as always. You can now reach across cover to grab and drag adversaries, leaving them open for a gloriously violent execution. The armoury is fully loaded and all your trusty faves return, including the just delightful chainsaw Lancer for when you HAVE to get a little up close and personal. Of the new death-dealing delights, our pick of the bunch was the aptly named Overkill shotgun, which bucks when you press AND depress the trigger… delicious!
If you’re wondering why we’re about to gloss over multiplayer it’s because Versus and Horde modes largely remain the same, though now sport class-based load outs with specific perks as a point of difference. Gears of War 4 looks sweet, plays a treat, has cross-platform play, gives you everything you expect and throws in a few surprises to keep you guessing. It’s the definition of a blockbuster sequel… but not shit.