Do you like the Gears of War page on Facebook?
Do you sub to their Youtube or follow them on Twitter?
If so, you’ve witnessed the abuse The Coalition (TC) get for their handling of Gears of War 4; you’ve seen the hate and the angry emoticons littering their social media posts. The Gears of War community is fuming at the game’s developers, with many frustrated that the studio has basically broken their favourite gaming franchise.
Some of this backlash can be pretty brutal, but it isn’t entirely unwarranted either. The Coalition have made some pretty major changes since taking over from Epic Games, and most would likely agree they aren’t for the better.
I’m a massive Gears of War fan, and like many, I only want to see it do well. While The Coalition has certainly steered the Gears ship in the wrong direction, it definitely isn’t so far gone that they can’t turn things around.
We literally know sweet FA about Gears of War 5 right now. However, we do know TC will be working on it already, as it was confirmed Gears of War 4 kicks off a new trilogy in the franchise which, spoiler alert, means the studio will likely be in control of two more titles.
So, what exactly does The Coalition have to do to stop the good ship Gears of War from sinking? Well, like the rest of the Gears community, we’ve got some ideas…
Let’s Give Credit Where Credit is Due
Before we start wrecking shop, let’s clear the air.
The Gears of War community have ragged on TC very hard since the game’s launch, and for good reason, but we’ve got to give the developers credit where it is due.
They have started to become more vocal with the community, offering insights into the game, making changes based on feedback — such as changing how the gnasher shoots to address some of the confusion and inconsistencies — and tweaking competitive play.
They also made a solid game. There is a lot of anger with Gears of War 4, but there always was with all Gears games. The shotgun has always been inconsistent; it’s just the nature of playing online and close quarters. The multiplayer is dynamic and addictive, and while it doesn’t quite beat Gears 3 in terms of overall enjoyment, it is still my favourite Xbox One online experience.
There is something about Gears that separates it from all other games other there, and The Coalition managed to capture that when developing the latest in the series.
Where Gears of War 4 Went Wrong, and How to Repair the Damage
Having said that, there is a lot wrong with Gears of War 4, and most of it is down entirely to the studio that built the damn game. While they’ve kept what makes Gears of War, at its core, a great title, they’ve also damaged the franchise in other ways.
You were all thinking it.
The moment you read, ‘fix Gears of War’ you thought about those f***ing RNG loot boxes.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I actually don’t really care about having loot boxes in a game. Microtransactions are almost a necessity in gaming these days. With development costs rising, and games staying fixed at a similar price, developers need new methods of making money and keeping their projects alive.
But Gears of War 4 took things too far. They locked pretty much everything worth getting behind RNG, when previously this was not the practice. Prior to Gears 4, you could buy a few select things, but most all items were unlockable through achievements, level unlocks or DLC packs.
When you suddenly take that away, from a loyal community that has been used to the system for some time, you’re gonna get some aggy players — and rightly so.
So how do you fix it? You meet in the middle.
The Coalition need to stop putting everything behind an RNG loot box, but they don’t have to make everything inclusive either. Keep microtransactions for those that are happy to pay, keep credit rewards for those that enjoy loot boxes, but also include unlockables like in previous games.
Provide Gears gamers with skins that they can only get by achieving certain goals. And no, I’m not talking reskins of Marcus, I’m talking like we had in Gears of War 3 and even the more recent Ultimate Edition — decent rewards for a decent amount of effort.
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The Cutting Corners
I’ve already used the heinous word: reskins.
The Coalition love a good reskin. Whether it is something so obvious as colour blast bullshit or something a little more subtle like using Anya’s face for Queen Myrrah, The Coalition has been busted more times than I can count cutting corners in order to push out content.
It all started off fairly innocuous really. We had some reskins at the start of the game. Vintage characters and the like. Then, we got Impact Dark, and the worry started to set in. By this point, we’ve had countless reskins of maps, both from previous Gears of War games and the current title itself, as well as a long list of characters. I can remember the disappointment when they announced legacy characters for season 2 of the game and what did we get? Another Anya…
What’s worse is TC know they done f***ed up. The outrage, especially for Gears of War 4 map variants like Forge Blitz, has been impossible to miss. They were absolutely torn apart by fans of the game series, yet the studio kept releasing them. Of course, they have a schedule to keep, and these were probably planned well in advance, but when Impact Dark was released to universal anger, surely they should have readjusted the course. At least to stop the final map release being Fuel Depot and a new version of Lift.
In total, from all the maps released since launched — 24 — we have 4 brand new maps and a pile of reskins.
God damn, TC, God damn.
The Coalition shot themselves in the foot by promising too much content in Gears of War 4, and my hope (and suggestion) for Gears of War 5 is that they slow down. Quality will always win out over quantity. I’d of rather had one new, exciting map every month than two that made me groan (and not in a good way).
Pack in the reskins, TC. Pack in the lazy character builds and map updates designed purely to fill a quota and put your time into making something worth playing. Yeah, it will take longer, but you won’t see so much anger, and you’ll retain more gamers.
The Horde Mode
So Horde mode is back in Gears of War 4, and it’s not better than ever.
It’s not really that much worse either; it’s just kind of, boring. The enemy diversity is weak for a start and compared to Gears 3. The waves just feel a bit flat — a bit samey. I can’t be the only one missing the Boomers and the Maulers, can I? In total, Gears of War 4 has you face off against 20 enemy variants; Gears 3 had 38.
But that isn’t the major issue. The major issue is that it really isn’t an upgrade from horde in Gears of War 3, which means we’ve done it all before. The defence system is fairly similar, and while there is a new points system, it’s more annoying than actually being an improvement.
The problem is, The Coalition really didn’t make horde mode more interesting, which means it’s just a bit dry. Horde mode, for many, is a major selling point of the franchise, which means a lacklustre outing isn’t doing the game any favours.
For Gears of War 5, they need to carry on the evolution of horde mode. Basically a competitor to Call of Duty zombies, the mode has plateaued while Zombies has continued to evolve in complexity. So, how can they fix horde mode? Introduce new enemies over time through DLC perhaps, develop maps purely for horde that add new dynamics?
We’d love to hear your thoughts on how Gears of War 5 could ramp up horde and make it something worth coming back to like it was in Gears 3.
The Lack of Innovation
We’ve already touched upon this slightly in the point above.
What did Gears of War 4 bring that was new to the franchise, really? Besides our beautiful, cheeky Imago? The story stepped away from the locusts, kind of, but regarding gameplay and mechanics, we didn’t get much in the way of anything new.
Gears of War, the first Gears of War, created a style of game which has stood the test of time and proves incredibly popular a decade later. Gears of War 2 introduced horde mode and fine-tuned the slow, lumbering gameplay of the first iteration of the franchise.
Then Gears of War 3 rolled around. It transformed the gameplay, making it faster and more dynamic. It introduced a series of new weapons — I don’t care what you say, that sawed-off was hilarious — cultivated an entirely new style of Horde and introduced Beast Mode. Then we had Judgement, a game a lot of players missed, or disliked, but it still brought with it OverRun, which was pretty damn awesome. It was fairly similar to Gears of War 3, but that addition added something new.
But what did Gears of War 4 bring to the table in terms of something that really changed up the gameplay or gaming experience? Horde was dialled back; the multiplayer kept basically the same. What did we really get that was different? One grenade tag instead of two, knife kills and the death of the saw-off? Gears 4 really didn’t bring anything that exciting or innovative to the table, not like the other games did. It was just more of the same.
Granted, we still love it because it is more of the same thing we love, but something new would have been good to see.
With favour amongst the Gears of War community at an all-time low, TC really needs to pull something special out of their bloodied, chainsawed-to-pieces hat if they want to keep people coming back. A new game mode, a new multiplayer platform — anything!
How would you fix Gears of War? Does it need fixing at all? Share a comment and let us know! Also, are you looking for more gaming content? Check out our Two Honest Guys gaming page!
James is THG’s technophobic TV nut, movie addict and theorist crackpot. He’ll be bringing you features, insights and incoherent ramblings on all your favourite and least favourite shows and movies.