Gears 5 Tech Test
After the Gears 5 test alpha got out for Xbox Game Pass and Gold, it's been difficult to find good matches, all thanks to maybe servers based from what I read in the Xbox Store reviews. Nonetheless, I'll fill my two cents regarding this title's alpha thanks to several hours of playthrough and the take is though, it's not quite there yet. Am not sure if the game will get its kinks sorted out entirely when it's fully released in September.
Let me also preface this by saying I've played around 5-6hrs somehow. All of the modes provided like Arcade Deathmatch, Rank modes like King of the Hill and Escalation.
Gears 5 is better played if you've had experience with the prior games in the series, but there are major changes. With the Lancer, B no longer revs up the chainsaw but instead holding the reload button does. That's confusing and after prompt, starting it takes longer than it should, a few hairs longer. There were intense firefights were it was infuriating and thus having me resort to using the knife attack pressing B.
Damage indicators from crosshairs are different and vary a lot based on each weapon you use, with also unique traits. For example, shotgun blasts show dots on the crosshair, all areas filled means you did max damage with the Gnasher. It's a nicely intuitive feedback for a game that's fluid and intense as Gears. Shooting at the head with the Lancers give you yellow damage indicators if you gave substantial hits, red meaning that they're down. Of course, that is an obvious one.
Then there's the part where you take damage yourself, the omen in the middle is gone and replaced with blood splatter frame on the screen. Which skewers your view mostly and distracts you from the combat itself. Hopefully, that is rectified in the final product as numerous people complained citing it as a big problem.
Playing the ̶d̶e̶m̶o̶ alpha I could tell the feel is a bit different, not because of the Arcade Deathmatch which is hilariously different from the rank modes. Whereas the Arcade is rambunctious with you easily splattering heads with a Lancer, rank modes left me kind of impressed but a bit puzzled as well. When I was using the Revolver pistols, the crosshair was awkward and visual feedback for hits were dismissive. Also, wall jumping isn't as useful as a tactic as it was in the prior Gears since it's easily countered now. But I love how fluid the combat still is, it is still Gears of War but in a different veneer as well as experience.
New weapons and throwables range from: Talon Autopistol(burst semi-auto handgun), Flashbangs, Breaker Mace(melee ) and Lancer with a grenade launcher(yeah, you read that right). There are more though they seem to be present in the Horde mode which didn't show up in the tech alpha.
And how can I forget about the score? Ramin Djawadi, kind of a favorite right now, returns to compose for Gears 5. You pretty much know him from Game of Thrones and Westworld as well as Gears of War 4. The main menu soundtrack is enough to convince me of the themes and what's to come for Gears 5 around the story and whatnot.
Now I've sung more praise and seemingly contradicting myself, why is that? Putting aside my joy, there are prevalent problems. Mostly to do with the Lancer, the weapons feeling way too powerful at times and require quite a bit of balancing, and biggest cardinal sin is the lack of the omen. I know it takes creative risks sometimes to make changes in the game, but the phrase "what isn't broke, don't fix it" comes to mind regarding these. Need I also mention the server issues, even though they're more likely to be fixed later on? Though I'll admit, they got the visuals right this time, looks way better and no more muddy textures.
Gears 5 seems promising, provided it does fix the issues I mentioned and then some. But I really want to try out the Horde mode which they've featured in E3 prominently. Probably, the beta for that comes soon and I can't wait enough.