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July 2019

Gears 5

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: The Coalition
Release Date: Fall 2019


XOne/PC Preview - 'Gears 5'

by Redmond Carolipio on June 20, 2019 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Gears 5 is the next installment in the action series that revolutionized third-person shooters. Kait Diaz, who had previously fought alongside JD and Del in Gears 4, is the protagonist in Gears 5.

Pre-order Gears 5

Gears 5 will enter our lives on Sept. 10, and it will do so as the latest chapter in one of Microsoft's most recognizable and consistent series. The title's shortening to simply "Gears 5" as opposed to "Gears of War 5" nods to the foothold the war against the Locusts has established in gamer psyche. To loosely borrow a line from Kevin Durant, "We know what it is."

We (meaning those familiar with Gears) especially know who Kait Diaz is after her show-stealing appearance in Gears 4. Her buzz as a character resonated well past the fact she was a playable female — she was just more interesting than everyone else. Apparently, others agree, and now she's taking point as the face of Gears 5. The story will be built around Kait's search for the origins of the Locust, which also ties in to her family history. You'll be able to play solo or co-op via local split-screen or online.

That's what we know about the story thus far, but at E3 2019, we got a chance to take a crack at one of Gears 5's multiplayer offerings, a mode called Escape. Here, you and two other squadmates need to fight your way out of a Locust lair and toward freedom, raising some hell in the process. You'll not only need to practice some solid three-person teamwork, but also handle whatever weird stuff you run into on the way out. I chose from one of three different characters, each with unique combat abilities. I rolled with a dude named Keegan, who seemed to pack the most combat punch and had the team-based ability to regenerate ammo for himself and those around him via the projection of a radial field.

The gameplay is as familiar and intuitive as you'll remember, and it took me a minute to remember the quick-reloading mechanic from the right bumper that was one of the series' combat signatures. One significant difference I noticed and observed had to do with melee combat, which now felt more diverse. Instead of simply "punching" people with your gun, I've used and seen combat knives, giant two-handed hammers with what looked like teeth coming out of them and other handsy weapons that made these Gears look more fluid with their hands than in games past. It was useful in my case, as I kept running the well dry on ammunition, even with the regen ability.

As we got deeper, the Locust started cranking up the intensity. Stronger enemies starting coming out to meet you and your squad, like the "warden," who acts like a walking tank and takes lots and lots of ordnance to take down. The other demo players and I also ran into the Kryll, which look like a flying piranha tornado swarm that chews up and puts someone in dire need of revival in a matter of seconds. Then, there's also the matter of a Locust sneaking up on someone, grabbing onto them, and then try to drag them away to God-knows-where. When that happens, you and your teammate will see it indicated through a moving marker on the screen, leaving you to run toward your friend and free him or her from certain death.

We had a quick run with the Escape mode, but it was enough of an appetizer to show that Gears 5 is shaping up to be another strong entry in the series as far as its gameplay and value are concerned. We'll all get a chance to find out more later this year.

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