I consider myself to be a pretty mainstream gamer. If the general consensus is that a game is good, I tend to agree. Gears of War 5 is not one of those games. This game has gotten a heap of praise from the likes of IGN and Kotaku, touting it’s new open world, story, and graphics. If you read my Gears 4 review, you’ll know about my problems with the series in general and I won’t repeat them here. In this review, I will explain why I believe Gears 5 takes the series in the wrong direction and is actually a worse experience than its predecessor.
First and foremost we need to talk about the new helper robot Jack. I actually played through the campaign with two friends this time, so this wouldn’t have been an issue had I played by myself, but I think it’s worth addressing as Gears 4 never had this problem. The problem is that in co-op mode one player always has to play as Jack. Jack is essentially a glorified Cappy role from Super Mario Odyssey, meant for the little brothers and unskilled players. When you play as Jack, it doesn’t even feel like you are playing Gears anymore so it’s annoying that someone from your party will always be forced into this role. In single player Jack may have been a nice addition, but I can’t imagine anyone who was expecting to play Gears 5 with a friend was happy about Jack.
Another complaint I have is that there were too many instances when my party simply had no idea where to go or what to do. A team of three experienced gamers should not constantly be confused about where to proceed in a level. I’m not sure what the problem exactly was or how to fix it, as I’m not a level designer, but I will say that I never had these issues when playing through Gears 4. Sometimes the issue was technical. Doors that should have been opened were closed. Again, this may have been an issue relating to online play that might not have been present in single player, but I can’t say for certain since I never played the game by myself.
The addition of open sandbox areas to explore made some big waves and was a major part of why this game was so heavily praised. I fail to see what is so great about this new open world style. Most of these areas are completely devoid of any activities. There are some outposts you can go take down, but they lack significant rewards and feel pointless. Most of the time we just followed the main mission, which meant riding the skiff through the mostly empty world from one destination to the next. There really isn’t much of a reason to get off the skiff between destinations, so the whole concept of the open world feels pointless. Instead of sitting through a twenty second loading screen to start my next mission I now have to take a two minute ride. They’re about the same when it comes to excitement only riding the skiff takes more time and effort. I often criticize games like Gears of War for being too linear, but simply adding an empty open world does nothing to enhance the experience. With the world as empty as it is, the Coalition should have just saved some money, time, and effort and stayed with the mission structure of the older games.
Despite all of my complaints, Gears of War 5 is still a high quality game. The story is engaging and the graphics are as beautiful as ever. But in terms of my enjoyment, in comparison to other games I’ve played, it comes close to the bottom of the barrel. Again, it’s a good game; I wouldn’t play through an entire game if I thought it was bad. That being said, it’s just on the cusp of what I am willing to beat. If this game had a few more problems, like say an annoying main character or a few extra bugs, I may not have stuck all the way through this one and you wouldn’t be reading this review.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10