The Gears of War franchise has been around since 2006 when the first installment was released for Xbox 360. Multiple titles followed in the years after, with Gears 5 being the latest in 2019. Also last year, the first spin-off, a mobile game called Gears Pop!, was released. As the name suggests, it’s a game using the popular Funko Pops. This year it’s time for the second spin-off in this popular franchise. With Gears Tactics, developer studios Splash Damage and The Coalition are bringing us a prequel to the first game. Gears Tactics is a turn-based tactics (duh) game that is played from a top-down perspective, similar to the X-COM series. Now, this is my first personal experience with the Gears of War franchise, so I am extremely curious about this one!
What we liked!
- Gameplay: The basics are pretty simple and the campaigns are very linear. Every soldier gets three actions, meaning you can move or attack in whatever order you like. You can easily see how many actions moving to a certain place will cost, and the various attacks also indicate the number of actions needed. Reloading your gun will also cost you one action, so make sure you reload in time, something I struggled with in the beginning. There are five difficulty settings, tailoring gameplay to every type of player. Nevertheless, you’ll always be faced with many, many enemies. That’s fair though since you are quite resourceful as well.
- Overwatch: I really enjoyed the overwatch function in Gears Tactics. This is a defensive move that allows you to attack your enemies on their turn. You can pick an overwatch zone and make it however small or wide as you wish. However, you have to take into account that long-distance aims will result in lower accuracy. You can also see the opponent’s overwatch, so make sure you use that as there are some moves that won’t trigger the overwatch.
- Graphics: Visually, this game is absolutely stunning. As expected, since it uses Unreal Engine cutscenes. The characters involve a lot of detail, as do the surroundings. I don’t always enjoy cutscenes in games, but I loved them in Gears Tactics. Sometimes I experienced little glitches while being in gameplay, like a small part of the map not loading in time, but since I was testing a beta key, I’m going to let that slide. The gore element here was also very present. I don’t go ‘yikes’ often during games, but here I did a few times. If you’re not into that kind of stuff, no worries, you can totally turn it off in the settings.
- Tutorial: The game might seem a little overwhelming at first, but don’t worry just yet. When you start playing, everything will be explained thoroughly when needed. For someone who normally isn’t that much into turn-based tactic games, this sure came in handy so I wanted to mention it.
- Enemies: There is a variety of enemies you will face. Each and every one of them has its own characteristics, making every single of them interesting. Upon meeting a new enemy, you’ll get a cinematic image of them, together with their name and specialties. It’s very exciting running into new opponents and finding out a little about how they will operate. For example, the wretch are melee hunters and attack immediately upon getting to close.
- Story: There’s the Locust Horde, a rising threat, and then there’s the squad of survivors that emerge as humanity’s last hope. You play as Gabe Diaz, who has to recruit and lead squads on missions. The ultimate goal: take down the leader and monstrous mastermind of the Locust army, Ukkon. The story isn’t anything special. I feel like a lot more focus was put into the gameplay, rather than creating an exciting story to go with the gameplay. I don’t really mind, but still, having an intriguing story would’ve been nice.
What we disliked
- Nothing: There isn’t anything I really disliked in this game. Everything came together nicely and for a franchise that’s trying something new, I’m quite impressed by how good it turned out.
I am not really a turn-based tactics fan, but admittedly, this is a really good game. The gameplay, graphics, and enemies come together perfectly in an interesting, may it be pricey (70 Euros) game. As I mentioned before, I have no previous experience with this franchise, but seeing as the Gears of War games are third-person shooters, my interest in those has definitely been awoken!
The PC version for Gears Tactics is releasing tomorrow, April 28th. Xbox players will have to have a little more patience as the development is still in the process there and a release date has not yet been specified.
Head of PC team. PC, Switch, and Xbox game reviewer. Also a marketeer, concert and animal lover, and photographer in training 🙂