With Gears 5 developer The Coalition is trying to expand on the multiplayer suite that has become a staple of the series while also adding a twist with a new mode that brings the prospect of endless challenges to players. For players who are enjoying their time with the campaign there’s plenty of good reasons to keep on playing the game.
First up is Versus which is the series original multiplayer mode. Pitting two teams against each other in often symmetrical maps it really pushes everyone to work quickly to overcome their opponents. Owning the map is key to winning and that means staying on the move which can contradict the more conservative play of the campaign where cover is the focus. As a result you get games that are fast paced and brutal with players aiming for quick results. If there’s a mode in Gears that will help you improve your reaction time it’s this one because no one in the game is going to be deliberately sitting still waiting for you to take a shot. I’ve yet to spend a huge amount of time checking out the Arcade game type which tries to be a more casual option for Versus but I think anything that adds a bit more fun into it for everyone is worthwhile. 🙂
Next is Horde which iterates on the classic PvE formula of pitting a squad of players against 50 waves of increasingly difficult enemies. It’s very much built on the Gears of War 4 version of the mode with classes and the fabricator for building defenses. Characters still fit into certain class types but they all now have unique abilities which run off a timer. For example Kait’s skill is a stealth mode that’s really handing for sneaking up behind enemies for easy kills. To add incentive for players to step out from their fortifications, power cores pop up around the map and when activated allow players to earn more credit to spend on upgrades… if they are willing to risk leaving their fortified surroundings to both claim the cores and also keep them safe from the enemy. Horde’s own mechanics take getting used to and it’s worth trying out on the lower difficulties to experiment but with a bunch of friends it can offer a substantial challenge that’s a lot of fun.
If I have one concern it’s that playing Horde through the full 50 waves is going to require you to put in some serious time. Even if each wave only takes 2 minutes to complete you’re still looking at hefty period of time to play through uninterrupted. I know it’s wishful thinking but it’d be cool if someday we could have a couple of checkpoints just to let us break up a session. I’d play more of it if I could do that.
Now, onto the new Escape mode. My impressions from past trailers were that it reminded me a lot of Left4Dead with players having to go from points A to B to C… did it match my expectations? A little. The challenge for up to three players is to get out of a Swarm hive with only a pistol to start with and get to the rescue chopper before either the enemies kill them or the gas from the bombs do the same. At least in these initial maps it’s a run from A to B to reach the decontamination chamber and then B to C to reach the hanger to hold off the Swarm long enough to escape. The lack of equipment becomes a bigger challenge on higher difficulty levels as you may not have access to your preferred weapons at any one time and are forced to do the best you can with what you can scrounge from defeated Swarm or supply rooms you find. If you want a quick PvE blast that doesn’t require as lengthy a commitment as Horde can be then then this mode might be worth adding into your rotation. Games played from start to finish for me have been around 30-40 minutes which should work for a lot of players.
New maps will be added on a regular schedule which may answer any questions on whether there is more variety for Escape in the future as some landmarks and areas are easy to spot as being part of your progress. It may be mixed up further thanks to the addition of a map builder that will tempt a few to create their own little meat grinders to force onto unsuspecting players.
It’s nice to see that The Coalition aren’t afraid to throw some fun into the mix with some tie ins from both Halo: Reach and Terminator: Dark Fate. What’s great is that they’re not simply skins but have valid skills that can be useful in play. For example Kat from Reach has a hologram to draw away enemies while Sarah Connor from Terminator gets a boost to damage from ballistic weapons that’s perfect for taking down the bigger enemies. And it never stops being cool playing Versus as a squad of T-800 Terminators…
Gears 5 continues to stick to the series strong points by providing players with a wealth of options on how they can play with friends. And with Escape there’s a glimpse of a future where the community can contribute too.