Gears of War 4 occurs 25 years following the events of Gears of War 3, kick-starting an all-new saga. However, the overall game represents much, a lot more than that.

Microsoft purchased the Gears of War IP from Epic Games back 2014, as the Unreal Engine developer started out winding down its AAA game development ambitions. Microsoft repurposed the Vancouver-based Black Tusk Studios to oversee the franchise. Many developers from the initial Gears of War team, including executive producer Rod Fergusson, jumped ship to become listed on the new studio.

Black Tusk was renamed The Coalition to honor its stewardship of the Gears of War franchise. Much like Halo’s 343 Industries and Forza’s Turn 10, The Coalition may be the third pillar in Microsoft’s blockbuster Xbox-exclusive effort. The news headlines was hugely exciting, but questions remained.

Can the Gears formula still work in 2016? Can The Coalition bring the same magic to the franchise under Microsoft Studios? Can Gears of War contend with famous brands Battlefield 1, Call of Duty, Titanfall 2, and different other heavy-hitting AAA shooters this holidays? The answer to many of these questions is a resounding yes.

The Gears Awaken
Story & Setting
Gears of War 4 follows the exploits of JD Fenix, the son of the initial trilogy’s main protagonist – Marcus Fenix. Through the entire campaign, JD is joined by his childhood friend, Delmont Walker.

Both JD and Delmont (Del for short) deserted the COG throughout a “classified” incident, leading them to become listed on a band of Outsiders, who exist beyond the COG’s jurisdiction. Kait Diaz, the daughter of the village’s leader, joins you in early stages to raid an uninhabited COG settlement for supplies.

The brand new characters are likable and sport good chemistry as a trio, each with distinctive, but complementary personalities. ‘Family’ is still a solid theme Gears of War 4, with both JD and Kait ready to risk everything when their parents enter trouble. Much of the overall game targets the rescue of Kait’s mother from a fresh, but eerily familiar enemy, The Swarm.

One quote from The Coalition that stuck with me was this notion that the studio would need to “betray” fans showing them something new and evolve the franchise, and certainly, that’s how Gears of War 4 feels in the last levels. The genocidal Locust have already been destroyed, humanity has begun to rebuild, and the global military urgency of previous games simply isn’t there.

As Kait, Del and JD battle through waves of DeeBee robots hoping of stealing an uninhabited, 3D-printed city’s Fabricator, the brand new leader of The Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) appears via video, accusing the Outsiders of attacking COG soldiers. It isn’t a long time before you find out the true way to obtain the attacks.

I will not be posting any spoilers for Gears of War 4, suffice to state that its just about the most intriguing games in the trilogy up to now. The first stages really slam home the thought of anywhere near this much, much wider universe, while reminding us of the totalitarian nature of the COG, which includes often taken a backseat in the story.

The game begins with a flashback to the Pendulum Wars which established the COG’s global dominance, and towards the finish of Gears of War 3, where Delta Squad could actually destroy the Locust with an enormous, targeted radiation weapon. It moves you through the brand new world, 25 years later, showing how humanity is wanting to rebuild in the wake of the billions slaughtered by the Locust invasion of the prior saga. We’re introduced to new creatures, beautiful, bright and colorful alien landscapes, and new characters, just like the immediately lovable Oscar.

These early levels lull you right into a false sense of security. As you progress through Gears of War 4, it gets slowly but surely darker. Incrementally more industrial, desperate and horrifying. You’ll traverse abandoned facilities, underground tunnels, destroyed cities, and the as the Swarm evolves, you get started to believe that fist-clenching life-threatening urgency that basically typifies Gears of War.

I cannot help but compare Gears of War 4’s delivery to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Formulaically, Gears of War 4 does little new. But what it can do is build on the wonderfully cinematic recipe of its predecessors while delivering a thing that not merely re-establishes itself among the industry’s greatest franchises but it addittionally acts as a sign to let fans know the series is in good hands.

You may be agape with the implications laid bare by this new threat, you will love what sort of game hints at a more substantial, more various Gears of War universe, and you’ll be enraptured by the return of old friends, and the light-hearted camaraderie that typifies Gears games. You will adore what sort of game subtly references scenes from previous games. You will end up driven mad by the twists and turns in the introduction to the new saga, and by enough time the game involves its shocking conclusion, you will end up beside yourself in the data Gears of War 6 is most likely a long, good way off.

Gears of War 4’s story is properly paced, utterly engrossing and most importantly, it really is indeed Gears of War.

Glorious Goriness
Visual & Sound Design
It’s strange to believe that, despite being truly a launch title, I still consider RYSE: Son of Rome to be the benchmark for visual greatness on Xbox One. As the Forza games have attended great lengths to prove the graphical chops of the Xbox One, racing games rarely have the pressure of capturing human emotions, gives games an totally new dimension.

Make no mistake, Gears of War 4 has become the visually spectacular titles not merely on Xbox One but of the generation in general.

Gears of War 4’s characters are lovingly rendered, inching away at the gap between gaming and true photography realism. While Gears of War human designs historically feature blocky, almost comic-book style proportioning, Gears of War 4 edges towards something a bit more realistic. Del, JD, and Kait are superbly crafted, and returning characters like Marcus Fenix retain their signature look, albeit weathered by age.

Gears of War 3 is probably the most visually impressive Xbox 360 games out there, and Gears of War 4 continues that tradition with some utterly incredible particle effects, breath-taking weather sequences, and mind-blowing lighting.

Not only will be the basic visual features great, but Gears of War 4’s art direction can be on point. New gore physics and designs make weapons feel more impactful than ever before, weapons just like the iconic Lancer received more thunderous sound files (to the idea of vibrating my earphones with bass boost fired up), plus some of the brand new creatures and environmental hazards are as terrifying because they are awe-inspiring.

The Mad Max-esque windflare storm sequences constitute a number of the game’s most visually impressive moments. They send cascades of debris flying everywhere, painted with real-time lighting from arcing electrical strikes. Everything caught in a windflare is afflicted by the storm’s wind physics, like the bloody chunks of Swarm drone destroyed by the game’s arsenal of deadly weapons. Frequently have I just stopped playing to stare at the spectacle unfolding on my screen.

As described by our very own Daniel Rubino, the Xbox One S’s HDR features send the title’s visuals into overdrive with boosted contrasts, revealing details otherwise hidden. Deeper shadows and brighter lights give Gears of War 4 a vivid, almost life-like realism, that coupled with dynamic 1080p resolution scaling really helps to elevate it beyond the benchmark set by Crytek’s triumphant RYSE: Son of Rome.