Among Xbox’s major presence at Nerd HQ was the upcoming Gears of War 4, a return to the franchise that really boosted sales of chainsaw-based guns among the bro crowd (we assume).
While the Gears franchise has actually done well enough in terms of a story, Gears of War 4 is primed to be one of the top multiplayer games for this holiday season. We got our hands on a few rounds of an early build and it seems like we’re in store for some familiar action.
Although it’s been over 5 years since the last Gears game was released, Gears 4’s multiplayer didn’t seem dated or stuck back in a 2011 type of mode. The heavy yet intense style felt fresh enough for current days but not changed enough to alienate its returning audience. Playing as part of the Locust squad, our characters moved in their normal brutish manner.
Gears 4 will offer some newer weaponry and skills, such as a combat knife and the Dropshot, which fires explosive drills. The latter wasn’t quite in our weaponry selection, at least not playing as part of the Locust group. Most everything handled tightly, in terms of control, with only some erratic feelings when using the Lancer (the trademark weapon of Gears). A majority of our match was wild enough to not allow for great executions, as we needed to simply keep firing upon a downed enemy to ensure the kill in time. Unfortunately, we can’t quite vouch for combat knife executions. Sorry! We’ll get to that during our review.
For being an earlier build of the game, it looked pretty solid but a noticeable area for improvement were the visual cues. Many cues were fine, but let’s take Active Reload as an example. Previous Gears games were very clear on when to hit the reload button again to give yourself an extra boost. We didn’t notice any particular prompt in our demo. It wasn’t a major hassle, but could be an inhibitor in some cases. That seemed to extend to some execution opportunities, as some prompts appeared to be pushed aside for reload prompts instead.
Despite some of the visual issues we found, Gears of War 4 seems to be shaping up for some solid multiplayer offerings. It can rely on its proven formula for hard-hitting action in a heavier setting. At the end of the demo, it was just as enjoyable as the series had previously been, which is a good indicator (despite the fact that we lost).
Gears of War 4 releases October 11, 2016 for Xbox One and Windows 10.
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