Gears of War 4 marked a turning point for Microsoft’s classic franchise, with new studio The Coalition taking over franchise development duties. Its 2016 debut delivered a gorgeous but safe instalment in the series. Gears 5, by comparison, is a revelation in pretty much every regard. It’s an ambitious new take on the series, pushing gameplay into uncharted territory while delivering perhaps the most advanced and performant Unreal Engine 4 title to date – and something of a technological high point for both Xbox One consoles.
Of course, Gears is a series that has always been synonymous with pushing technical boundaries – from the very first Xbox 360 release through its various sequels, each game has served as a showcase for Unreal Engine and the skilled developers working on each project. Gears 5, however, delivers one of the greatest leaps in fidelity the series has experienced to date, with a wide range of impressive new visual features on offer alongside some serious optimisation, with Xbox One X targeting a massively ambitious 60 frames per second. With that in mind, the sheer level of detail on display in each area is staggering – especially when you consider the frame-rate and resolution targets.
So let’s begin with the basics, kicking off with image quality. In the case of Gears 5, the overall solution to rendering quality is a complex one, utilising a range of techniques that have become increasingly common this generation. Yes, dynamic resolution scaling is in effect on both console versions – albeit with a twist. As expected, X targets a native 4K at the upper bounds, while the base unit tops out at 1080p. That said, actual native rendering resolution is adjusting regularly during gameplay, producing results on X such as 1584p, 1728p, 2160p and the like. Xbox One S renders at quarter resolution by comparison – including values such as 792p and 864p up to full 1080p. The gap between S and X seems par for the course then, until you realise that the enhanced machine is essentially delivering twice the frame-rate.