Gears 5 grew on me as I played through its meaty, 12 hour campaign. At first it felt so Gears of War. As JD, Marcus Fenix’s son, you spend a lot of time doing that Xbox 360 whack-a-mole Gears thing from behind cover, shooting up the Swarm, a new twist on the Locust horde, almost in cruise control. Accompanied by Jack, a chirpy drone-like robot whose upgradeable, RPG-like support abilities prove incredibly useful during the more challenging firefights, you soldier through acres of Destroyed Beauty; the world of Sera, which, it seems to me, looks a lot like Croydon on a Sunday morning, under threat once more.
These early hours felt like The Coalition doing its best Epic impression. All of Gears of War 4 felt like this to me, perhaps understandably so for a new studio charged with continuing a beloved series built by a developer who had moved on to what would become Fortnite. But then, a couple of hours in, Gears 5 does something different, and for most of the rest of the campaign I couldn’t help but think The Coalition had finally stamped its authority on that most head-stompy of video games, and I was pretty delighted for them.
When you get to play as Kait Diaz, a COG soldier who’s troubled by visions in which Locust speak to her, not only do we leave the urban chaos behind for a new, frozen wasteland setting, but we go open world… sort of.