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Gears 5: Our reaction to Microsoft’s E3 2019

A release date for Gears 5 has finally come, along with announcements of some new in-game features. The short videos, which debuted at Microsoft’s E3 2019 press conference, followed on from the tone piece shown last year. The new Escape, Arcade, and Horde modes were the most talked about, with campaign taking a backseat this time around. The Gears 5 segment showed off a fair bit about the game but lacked a major punch. There was no real gameplay demo.

The Big Show

Going into the conference I thought we’d see a huge blowout on the campaign mode. Last year’s showing teased some big changes to the story mode. However, anything campaign-related is being held close to The Coalition’s chest. We know it focuses on Kait, and her relation to the Locust, but not much else. A decent chunk of campaign footage could have been an ideal way of showing where the story is going. I appreciate the developer wanting to keep the story under wraps, but no real gameplay three months before release doesn’t give the best impression.

Having said that, I have faith The Coalition will deliver. The team did a solid job on Gears 4 and are looking to expand with this next entry. Gears 4 felt really good to play, but as studio head Rod Ferguson said himself, they played it safe. With the new mantra of “pushing the envelope” for Gears, we’re bound to see a bunch of new stuff in Gears 5. Maybe this is why they decided to show a little less than with 4? Either way, the team has a job to balance “pushing the envelope” with keeping Gears veterans happy.

Hanging out in the Hive

Now, if you’re a Gears nut like me you probably hung around for the post-conference stream. Here, gameplay was shown of the new Escape mode. It showed off the structure of the mode and how it works. The mode itself looks like a solid addition to Gears 5. As a more progressive PvE mode, Escape has you infiltrating the hive and moving up to plant a bomb and destroy it.

Gameplay wise, Gears 5 certainly looks like an iteration of the foundations set in Gears 4. For a game with such solid gunplay, this is about what I expected. Subtle changes to HUD elements with health and ammo are present, differentiating it from previous entries. The new mode also looks to provide more multiplayer options, with Escape mode’s different team size for online battles.

This post-conference stream showed more of the game than we’ve seen since its announcement a year ago. It would have made sense to have something similar on display during the conference, as more of a scripted gameplay presentation. I’m glad to get the chance to see the game in action, but the majority of Xbox fans will just tune into the conference and miss the gameplay demos.

The launch

All in all, Gears 5 had a bit of a misstep this E3. The game looks great and I’m looking forward to seeing more of the additions to Gears 5. However, a lack of gameplay during the main press conference didn’t leave the greatest impression. September 10 is nearly here and we’re looking forward to trying it. I just hope the broader Xbox community also gives the game a good shot when it releases in just three months.

Ben Kerry
Previous reviews and news writer for Gamereactor. Fan of action, racing and straight up walkin' in any video game he can get his hands on. When he's not gaming, Ben spends his time listening to way too much Guns N' Roses, watching football and probably eating somewhere...

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