Gears of War 5 isn’t fun but could be

Gears of War 5 on Xbox One

I’ve been a casual fan of the Gears of War series since the original. It’s always seemed cool, but not much fun. I could never get into it like I could with a more traditional shooter. With the release of the new Gears 5 I’ve been doing some thinking of what could selfishly make Gears of War better for me.

The Gears series has always presented itself as over the top and ultra-violent, but in reality, it’s pretty mellow and tame. The game feels sluggish and the character feels weak. The brutal parts of the game are slow and there are better alternative options. Revving up the chainsaw takes too long and can be stopped if shot. Executing a downed enemy takes time and leaves you vulnerable when you could just shoot or punch them once. The only good feeling part is the shotgun like it’s always been.

I think the main problem with the series is the reliance on cover. I feel like the cover shooter is outdated and boring. Standing up to shoot at enemies or then get cover for you to then do the same when they shoot at you over and over again. The game did try to answer this a bit with the robot perks that stun enemies or buff your character, but it seems lazy and it doesn’t work well at all in Co-op.

Co-op is a welcome feature of the game but implemented poorly. For one it should be four player and not three. Also, the third player shouldn’t have to ever play as a robot assistant. Modern games feel the need to have a lore reason for multiplayer when they could just duplicate the character like the original Halo and not mention it ever. Or just use the robots that you kill in the tutorial for the player model.

I was very excited about the idea of the escape mode. Having a series of linear levels to battle through with friends sounded like a great time. In reality, they start everyone with no weapons or ammo and everyone has to scavenge for ridiculously limited resources. This would be fine, but there is an impossible amount of enemies that surround you from every direction. This mode should be about killing as many enemies as fast and brutally as possible. Holding a position or pushing an objective to then move to the next one. It seems like this mode currently just wants everyone to run through a maze to find the exit while getting shot at and taking turns running back to revive each other.

Now with the complaints out of the way the game looks amazing and feels polished for what it is. I also know that there is a loyal fan base however big or small that will die if anything is changed about the new games. With that said here are my ideas on how to make the game fun to me without completely changing the premise of the series.

This series needs to take notes from Doom 2016 about how to speed up the game and make the player feel powerful. Accept and embrace that this is a game and it should be fun. Gears needs to encourage and reward players for getting up close and personal with the enemy. First thing is to get rid of regenerating health and move to health pickups and possibly armor. The game will never get rid of the fields of knee-high cover since it’s the series that popularized cover shooters, but they could use the cover more offensively. Possible ideas for that are picking up cover and charging with it or throwing the cover or shooting it with an explosive that sends debris into the hiding enemy behind it.

The sliding to cover move should work against enemies as well as cover. Sliding into a shoulder check that leaves a bloody mist of body parts and ammo. The slide should also boost to side to side at any point to dodge attacks. It’s a little stupid to slide and smash into all the cover like a pinball to traverse the map, but it’s fun and the game should design more around it. That’s how multiplayer is played anyway. It could be fun to add something like bumpers that push you quickly through the map if slammed into. The sprint needs to control like a person with the aim on the right stick and not like a car with the aim on the left. It’s confusing and feels terrible to go back and forth between the two.

Melee kills and executions should be quick and the animations should be over the top violent. Ammo should instantly be picked up by getting close to it or killing an enemy with the same type. The chainsaw, blades or lasers should be built into the characters suits for instantly sawing an enemy in half. Jumping over cover into an enemy should go straight into a quick execution.

I would really like to be a bigger fan of the Gears of War games. I feel like the developers could drastically improve the gameplay if they were allowed to break away from repeatedly making the exact same game. Even with the generally positive success and reviews of the most recent game I still come away from it feeling like I could care less for the next one.