Having finished this game over a month ago and only now getting to writing about it can only mean one thing. Satisfactory. If you don’t understand that then you’re missing out on the most addictive game since shuffleboard.
Gears 5 is another one of the games that I’m playing for free with my Game Pass for PC, I’ll try and play all the exclusives before it expires in a few months. I’ll cut right to the chase though, I’ve played all the Gears of War games and this is definitely the best it’s ever been.
The increase in storytelling and the way it’s been integrated into the gameplay is really good. They definitely took a page out of the Uncharted playbook on this one and it pays off. Your party will constantly be chatting and adding context to the environments that you’re in. This also has the benefit of making you pay attention to the story, which is something that tends to get lost a bit in these types of games. Add that to the increase and variety in environments, it all adds up to make the world of Gears that much bigger and more interesting. The previous games started to feel a bit stale and the world was just drab and boring looking. Gears 5 has you going through different settlements and even wide open spaces in the snow and sand, to underground labs that are reminiscent of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
While the last Gears game made me just want to run through the environments to get to the next fight as quickly as possible, which became a serious drag, this one enforces exploration. It does this by scattering little upgrade collectibles around the levels that can be used to upgrade your robot companion, Jack. If you find a certain number of them, you can upgrade an ability of his, which scratches that collectibles itch. The upgrades are nice to have, but I really didn’t use them that much so your mileage may vary.
I enjoyed the combat in this game. The biggest improvement to the formula was to not have so many encounters one after the other like the previous games. In Gears 5 you’ll have long stretches where you don’t fight anyone and it’s actually nice. Once you get to the later acts you get this dumb wind sled thing which will allow you to explore the massive open areas and look for objectives. I say that it’s dumb because this is the worst designed vehicles I’ve used in a really long time. The damn thing is just so fucking slow. I don’t get what’s going on, I literally think something is wrong with my game. What’s funny is that the animation and music all pick up when it catches the wind, you think this is it and you’re going to start hauling ass across the map, but you don’t. I don’t understand if they did this for a technical reason or if they actually thought this was a good speed. It needs to be at least 300% faster. It’s a Gears game, things are supposed to be more extreme. You do end up getting into some wind storms and you start picking up a head of steam, but that’s the only time the damn machine feels good to maneuver.
The open areas weren’t too bad. I enjoyed having little side areas to explore. They mostly provided a new upgrade for Jack, perhaps a bit of story, and some combat encounters. Again, the only issue was getting to the points using the slow ass sled.
The game looked really good running on my PC. I had all the graphics set as high as they could go, running on my 3440x1440p screen. I have a RTX 2070 Super and AMD Ryzen 9 3900X just for reference.
One issue that I did have with the way graphics were handled in this game is the indoor/outdoor settings. The large open enviornments use a different lighting model than the indoor environments. This is, I’m sure, due to the level of complexity and the high cost of rendering the lighting to the same level in the larger environemnts. It just really sucks to be “inside” were everything is nicely lit and shadows are really refined, to then get to the little transition point where you drop into the open world. The scene cuts briefely as the settings are changed and it just looks like a different game. This game is on PC, just give me the option to change the lighting model to better match the indoor lighting, even if it takes a massive hit to performance, I just want to see what it looks like and if my machine can handle it.
Back to the story for a second, I wasn’t expecting such a decision at the end of the game. It makes me really wonder how they’re going to do the next game and what choices they’re going to make. It really fit into the choice based system they’ve had implemented into the series all the way back in the first game. It was a nice nod to all the types of choices you’ve had to make as a player by picking which route you’re going to take. Bold moves indeed.
I feel like The Coalition has finally become a top-tier developer for XBox with this release. I do think that they are the one promising studio in Microsofts first party lineup, I don’t count 343 sadly because they’re treatment of the Halo franchise has been filled with potholes up to this point, I guess we’ll see if they can finally pull their heads out with the new Halo game at the end of the year.
Just a quick little review and wrap up on this game. I’ve been distracted in this Coronavirus apacolypse world, mostly from playing way too much Satisfactory, to really sit down and get my thoughts out on this game. I found it highly enjoyable and worthwhile experience. It’s a little insane that it was released on GamePass right away, but that’s not my decision so I’ll take it. I enjoyed the story, combat, and even the world of Gears, which feels a little odd to say. Pick it up, play it for free, or do you, but know that this is the best Gears game and I can’t wait to play the sequel.