Gears of War 4 – When did chainsawing monsters become so tedious?

I have fond memories of Gears of War.  I remember finishing the first one on Insane with a friend from university online after a monumental tussle with Raam.  I remember playing Horde mode with my now wife.  I even enjoyed Judgement for its score attack elements (don’t hate me).  I didn’t think I’d get to the point that the game’s admittedly rock solid mechanics would become tiresome.  That’s not to say it doesn’t try anything new, it just doesn’t do enough to make it seem fresh again.  It might be time to hang up my Lancer.

Gears of War 4 New Group
Our new heroes: Del, Oscar, Kait (at the back) and JD. They’re quite likable, but rest assured that old faces will turn up as the game goes on.

It’s not that the game is bad, it’s just that it does very little new.  When the original game was released, its cover based shooter mechanics nigh-on revolutionised third person shooters.  Whilst this wasn’t the inventor of a lot of its mechanics, Gears of War had it polished to a mirror sheen.  What I like to call the Blizzard effect.  The series continued, introducing new mechanics and modes, and polishing off a reasonable story and tying up the loose ends.  Judgement came along and acted as a prequel, and whilst less popular, it did some things differently.  Now though, we have a game that is the definition of more of the same.  That’s not always a bad thing, but by now it has become a repetitive thing.

Gears of War 4 Locust Swarm
Oh hey! It’s the Locust again!

It starts off fairly promising, with a dash through a “Wind Flare” that sends chunks of scenery flying around, followed by a number of gun fights with robotic enemies.  This is a nice change from previous games.  Bright colours, new opponents and using the Fabricator (a device that lets you create weapons and defenses) to defend yourself and your allies.  But before long we settle back into the old routine.  The Locust turn up (now called the Swarm rather than the Horde), the dark environments return, and we return to cover based shooting that we’ve had for 4 games now.  Most of the game is spent following leads to rescue a character, and the story is pretty uninteresting until a pretty nice twist right at the end which sets up for the inevitable sequel.

Gears of War 4 Graphics
It looks even more gorgeous and detailed than ever.

There are a couple of sections that alter the game for a short while.  The Wind Flares force you to consider your aim more carefully based on wind speed and direction.  And the motorbike chase is rather exciting.  The final scene in the game attempts to change the game’s mechanics too (although it doesn’t really change the gameplay all that much, it does feel exciting).  There are also a couple of new enemies that can change how you approach certain battles by forcing you to keep moving or rescue kidnapped allies.  In spite of all of this though, you’ll probably still end up hiding behind walls with a Lancer and Gnasher.  That might be enough for some people, but I think I was hoping for a reinvention of the franchise on a new system.  If you’re looking for more Gears of War, then this will probably do just fine for your cravings.  At this point though, I worry that it’s becoming a bit Call of Duty, the same game but throwing in a new gimmick to hide that fact.

Gears of War 4 Motorbike chase against plane.
The bike section is a nice change of pace, but you’ll be back to the same action before long.

Horde mode is back and still enjoyable.  The Fabricator that allows you to construct and place defences where you wish alters your strategy somewhat and I’ve enjoyed playing it in splitscreen.  The multiplayer is as good as ever, looking great running at 60FPS.  The new game modes aren’t anything new as most have been seen elsewhere, but the 5 on 5 action is still solid.  It’s a perfectly fine game, it’s just the same perfectly fine game you played years ago, but a bit prettier!

Gears of War 4 Choice
As in previous games, there is an occasional choice of route in which the team splits up and you cover your allies. You can see a Wind Flares in the background.

Gears of War 4 was developed by The Coalition and published by Microsoft.  I played the game on Xbox One and I don’t know how to recommend this!  If Gears of War is something you dearly need more of, then this might be for you.  If not, then there are plenty of other third person shooters out there.  I for one felt disappointed, maybe I was hoping for something more, maybe I’m bored of the series now.  Maybe I’m just too old to enjoy this series as much as I used to!  Either way, I think I may be done with the series for now.

14 thoughts on “Gears of War 4 – When did chainsawing monsters become so tedious?

  1. So basically just like every other Gears game since the first one. It’s weird, I seem to remember enjoying them all while I played them, but I can’t seem to think of a single memorable moment in any of the sequels except Dom finding his wife in 2.

    I’ll probably still grab it when it’s in the black friday bargain bin though…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have fond memories of the first and some of the third game. This most recent one had cool set pieces but none of them did anything that interesting though. Fighting a helicopter in a crumbling building was the same as any of combat scenario in the game.


  2. It’s too bad that they had the advantage of a large fanbase only to churn out a sequel that’s more of the same rather than experimenting in any meaningful way. From what you have to say, it seems like they tried to get too much mileage out of their old good ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the big problem was that they did experiment a bit with Judgment but it was received by a large swath of the fanbase quite negatively (I personally liked Judgment) and so 4 was more of a return to basics to appease those fans. Personally, I enjoyed 4 and am looking forward to the inevitable 5 but they do need to find a way to spice up the gameplay with some new weapons and mechanics, you can’t abandon the stop and pop cover based gameplay or take away the chainsaw because those two things are core to the series but you can find new ways to have players engage with them.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I rented it and had a good time. It was definitely extremely safe for a sequel though, especially for the start of a new set of games (I think that is the plan at least) on new hardware. Perhaps the new developer was afraid to rock the boat too much and upset fans. I’m not sure. But the result was very been there, done that. I definitely hope they take some chances with the next one.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m just about to pick this up – trying to finish off the stuff on my backlog – and your review hasn’t *quite* put me off it! I too have fond memories of the Gears series and they are carrying me into this one despite my low expectations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To be fair, it’ll probably be fairly well priced by now and the multiplayer is still as solid as ever. I think I was just expecting a little too much from a sequel. There’s fun to be had, just don’t expect it to be as fresh as previous entries.


  5. I was never a big Gears of War fan. I played through the first game with my cousin and tried the second one years later. I never finished it.

    Sounds like Gears 4 won’t be making it’s way to my library on PC :).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely. If you didn’t find the earlier games engaging then this certainly won’t sway you. It’s perfectly solid, just getting a bit stale these days. The one big positive is the local co-op which seems to be dying out in shooters these days.


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