Gears 4 is just five months away, and, like many other big budget titles this generation, a multiplayer beta was launched to stress test servers and give eager gamers a taste test of what’s to come from the beloved franchise prior to its official launch in October.
Having played a handful of hours of last year’s Gears of War Ultimate Edition, the most prominent part that stuck out to me about Gears 4’s multiplayer beta was that it felt very similar – almost like slipping back into a comfortable pair of sweatpants after a hard day’s work. There are definite changes here, of course, but fundamentally Gears of War 4’s multiplayer feels just as chaotic and brutal as Ultimate Edition’s did last year.
Dropshotted You, Bro!
Chaotic brawls and gruesome deaths seemed to be at the core of Gears 4’s multiplayer. Armed with just three maps for the beta’s duration, it didn’t take too long for players to come to grips with where power weapons were stationed and how easy it was to beat the shit out of the other team if you pushed them back into their own spawn area. And, in saying that, the introduction of the Dropshot and the Buzzkill made things a little more interesting than just being beat down by Gnashers – a memory I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
The Dropshot in particular, which has been created to push enemies out of cover and into the open, was great to use after a couple of test runs. The explosions caused, and the gore that immediately ensued, ensured that each kill was one worthy of Gears stature. Likewise, the Buzzkill – which operates similarly, albeit with saw blades that bounce off of walls rather than mines that drop on enemy heads – forced opposition teams who favoured bunkering down in cover to push out into the open, making them easy targets. New weaponry has always been fun to play around with, and these two specifically fit in well with the slew of power weapons already included in the game.
You Ain’t Camping There, Mate
While Gears is fundamentally a third person cover shooter, one of the major gripes about Ultimate Edition and previous entries was that players could sit in cover and pop off the opposition a little too easily. In moments of chaos where two opposing players would hide behind the same cover – albeit on differing sides of one another – it would be a game of who shoots first – with the duel inevitably ending with a blind firing down or a quick gnasher kill. The Coalition have implemented ways to change that up this time around, allowing players to engage in close cover combat. And this, as it turns out, is an important change, allowing players to yank the opposition over cover – in turn momentarily stunning them – as well as having the ability to leap over cover and vault kick another player, which leaves them open for a finishing move. This change makes both attacking and defending a different ball game, and it’s a fantastic gameplay addition.
Classic, Refined Gears Gameplay
When it comes down to it, this still felt like classic Gears of War. The big kills, the crazy gnasher headshots, and the chaos that ensued when respawns became exhausted all harked back to last year’s Ultimate Edition and the large amount of fun I had with it. Cover is still your greatest ally, but the new additions make for a better, more refreshing experience.
What Didn’t Work
Spawn, Die, Repeat
Remember the spawn killing I mentioned earlier? Well, that was a major problem throughout a good chunk of the matches I played. Most of my time was spent in team deathmatch and randomised spawns were non-existent there. Of course, being on the team dealing the damage didn’t spark any sort of worry. However, being on the receiving end, as you’d expect, was a little bit different. It made me realise how annoying the lack of randomised spawns can be in games like this, and, as a consequence, I found myself getting more frustrated than I really should have been.
The Gnasher’s Back, Baby
The infamous Gnasher rolling kill shined bright in Gears 4 as well, much to the dismay of many. It’s not necessarily something that can be avoided these days – Gnasher kills have almost become a fundamental part of Gears multiplayer, but for new and returning players jumping back into Gears of War it can be a brutal learning curve to jump over.
The Post-Apocalyptic World Ain’t That Pretty… or fun
One of the biggest gripes I had with Gears of War 4’s multiplayer was that the three maps available didn’t feel all that fun to play in. These days, a multiplayer map has vibrance and is well designed to suit the needs of the game, and I just didn’t get that from the open beta. Perhaps it’s just the fact I’ve been playing a lot of Halo 5, Overwatch, and Doom – which all respectively have great map design – but I just wasn’t all that impressed by how The Coalition have designed the maps that made up Gears 4’s open beta. They felt formulaic and unmemorable, and especially lacked the personality I’ve come to expect from the current generation of multiplayer games.
All in all, though, the open beta – while only a small glimpse into what will be available come October – was a lot of fun, and I’m hopeful that some of the obvious issues are rectified before launch. I had a blast with Ultimate Edition, and Gears 4 certainly feels like an evolution of that. Bring on the gruesome deaths, the clutch wins, and the Gnasher rolls!