Early access for Gears 5 has officially started for those who are currently subscribed to Game Pass Ultimate on Xbox One, and I’m here to give you my first impressions of its ambitious campaign.
SPOILER WARNING: from this point on there will be minor spoilers for Gears 5. If you’re not interested in learning about specific aspects of its campaign, stop reading now. You have been warned.
A BREATH OF FRESH AIR
New weapons. New skills. New characters. This Gears is fresh. It’s the same Gears we’ve all come to know and love, but with just the right amount of added flavor to make it a new experience. That Lancer GL hits the spot.
When the campaign of Gears 5 starts, it feels like a traditional Gears experience, which is pretty much what all of Gears of War 4 felt like to me. I wanted something new and they just gave me another Gears. That’s not the case with Gears 5 though. It may start off that way, but it sure changes quickly.
Once Jack’s ability skill tree is introduced, exploration plays a much more important role than it ever has before in Gears. The components required to upgrade Jack are literally scattered everywhere. There are even some in unreachable locations that actually have to be retrieved using Jack. As someone who loves to explore every nook and cranny in video games, this brought a whole new level of satisfaction to my Gears experience. Whereas I am normally sprinting from destination to destination when I play Gears, Gears 5 has caused me to slow down and better take in my surroundings.
Although you start the campaign as JD, the headstrong but compassionate son of Marcus Fenix, Kait takes the lead at the beginning of Act II, which is where the game changes even more. This is where the first “open-world” of the Gears franchise is introduced.
At the start of Act II, Kait and her counterparts enter a village that seems to be in the middle of nowhere, but is teeming with life. Honestly, I couldn’t get enough of it. I probably spent more time walking around this little village than I did completing the entirety of Act I. Okay, not really. But that’s how immersed I was.
My camera moved back and forth as I attempted to take mental notes of everything going on around me. The best word I can come up with to explain what it felt like is “alive.” For the first time ever in a Gears game, I felt like I was experiencing life.
The village itself was beautiful to look at. However, as I walked through it, I couldn’t help but notice the variety of things happening around me. To my left, someone is selling fresh meat. To my right, a child runs out of his house calling me names until his mother pulls him back inside and shuts the door. Some speak to me as I walk by. Others stop speaking to each other when I approach, as though I was going to hear something I didn’t need to hear. I can’t explain to you how thrilled I was to be experiencing something of this flavor in a Gears game.
This is all something I feel the Gears franchise needed. A world that is so full of violence, death, and destruction needed some life to revitalize it again. And that’s what I believe The Coalition has done with Gears 5.
I will continue to play through the campaign of Gears 5, updating you along the way. For now, you should really consider picking this one up. It may just surprise you.
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