The review embargo has now dropped for Gears 5, the latest in Xbox’s long running cover-based third person shooter that puts you in the shoes of Kait Diaz, who’s embarking on her own journey to find herself and where she belongs in this war between the COG and the Swarm. It’s also going to have Dave Bautista in it so it’s like 10/10 from me already, even though Cultured Vultures hasn’t been given a review code.
While we’re aiming to publish our own review at some point next week (God bless Game Pass Ultimate’s Early Access), here’s a round-up of what the critics have to say about Gears 5. Spoiler alert: there’s a lot of positivity.
IGN (Ryan McAffrey) – 8.8/10 (Campaign Only)
Gears of War may have initially thrived because it refined and helped revive the third-person cover shooter, but it has survived for a much less obvious reason: it has heart. From Dom’s search for his wife Maria in the first two games to the breaking of a bond in Gears of War 3 to the passing of the torch to a new generation of Gears the last time out, this series matters because its characters make you care. Gears 5 is no different, and the consequences from your actions here – along with its welcome gameplay improvements – will affect both this and future games in a way I’m eager to see.
Gamespot (Phil Hornshaw) – 7/10 (Review In Progress)
Gears 5 is very much a return of those best elements of Gears of War, but with a focus on making the game feel somewhat more adaptive to your particular ways of playing. Whether you want campaign or co-op, Competitive or Quickplay, there’s an option for you in Gears 5, and plenty of stuff to reward you for time spent and skill gained. Gears 5 might suffer from some of the same storytelling missteps as its predecessors, and it might not venture far out of the past, but the new ideas it brings to the series are all good reasons for fans to return.
Gears 5 is exactly what it needs to be. This old war vet still packs a punch. The open-world exploration has issues, but that isn’t enough to steal away the thunder The Coalition expertly deploys on the battlefield. The campaign is a fun ride that concludes with a shocker moment and a hell of a setup for a sequel. I’m already looking forward to that follow-up.
Gears 5 makes major strides in the series’ approach to storytelling. This is the most heartfelt Delta Squad has ever been, and The Coalition backs up that emotion with genuine improvements to gameplay. While its new co-op mode, Escape, is generally underwhelming, Arcade mixes up the competitive meta enough to keep things interesting. All told, Gears 5 is more Gears, but it’s also a bold statement for why this series is still relevant.
Gears 5 is the series’ most ambitious entry to date, bringing with it an endless wave of revolutionary ideas that the franchise has been in desperate need of for years. The Coalition’s mark has finally been made, and it’s one that focuses on narrative importance alongside bright, energetic mechanics that show Gears of War can happily stand alongside this generation’s other blockbusters without fear. While some sections still feel overly linear and the set-pieces prove underwhelming, Kait Diaz’s journey is one I’m well and truly invested in and can’t wait to see continue.
Gears 5 survives on its solid cover shooting gameplay and a campaign that isn’t afraid to pose difficult questions about problematic topics. But the largely stagnant Horde mode and general mess of an Escape mode really pull the sequel back from being a bold step forward.
There are missteps, especially with the open worlds feeling lifeless, but Gears 5 is a more confident turn from a developer that no longer has to prove it’s capable of making a faithful Gears of War sequel. Bigger, better and more beautiful – and a bold step in the right direction for the series. The action is superlative, the writing hits humorous and emotional notes, and the number of multiplayer modes is extensive. If ever there was a reason to subscribe to Xbox’s Game Pass service, this is it.