Action and Gameplay
The Gears of War franchise is known for having a faster pace than most over-the-shoulder, third person shooters. Snipers and marksman weapons explode a person’s head when it’s a kill shot. Shotguns shatter bodies into comical chunks. We also mustn’t forget the franchises’ most distinguishable execution method, the chainsaw which separates enemies in two. Personally, I prefer the Retro Lancer’s stab n’ lift and I’m glad to see it make its return from Gears of War 3.
In Gears of War 4, the action-packed violence comes in many more flavors with the addition of new killing methods and weapons.
Being a cover-based shooter, Gears of War over time adopted a vault-kick, allowing you to kick enemies hiding on the other side of a waist-high wall. The vault-kick left the receiver stunned giving the kicker a nice window to handle the situation. Gears of War 4 expanded on this giving you more options for dealing with the opponent that refused to leave cover. Now, not only does vault kicking stun an opponent but you can also perform a reaching action that grabs your opponent and pulls them to your side of the wall, also stunning them.
The stun window is important as you can instantly execute the stunned opponent in either scenario with a well-timed knifing. Should you goof on the exchange, your opponent gets a big opportunity to return the favor and kill you instead. Also, with the reach-over-and-grab gesture, you will need to line up with your opponent properly. Otherwise you’ll simply swing your arm into the open space, also leaving you open to punishment.
Touching on some and definitely not ALL of the new “pickup” weapons (in consideration of potential spoilers):
The new Drop Shot comes across as a complete reversal of the Digger Launcher from Gears of War 3. The Drop Shot shoots an airborne explosive with a sort of blue laser pointing downward under it. Press to fire it and release to command the shell to drop down and explode. Intended for catching people behind waist-high walls, the shell will lamely bounce off any surface it hits if the shell is aimed too high or too low.
The Buzz Kill is a new Heavy Weapon that fires horizontal circular saw blades that ricochet off of surfaces. It’s fun to use and great for catching enemies around corners. The low side of this weapon is that a poorly aimed blade can bounce off of a wall and kill you instead – leaving you to be mocked by friends, opponents and passers-by.
Each of the new weapons also get their own unique execution animation, leading to some embarrassing moments for your victims. There are a whole collection of new weapons not mentioned here due to the fact that they are handled by newly-introduced enemies that I do not want to accidentally touch on and spoil. Just know that that the weapon list is quite large.
The action and pace of the gun play of Gears of War 4 is on par with that of the Gears of War series. Games move fast, controls are tight, and kills are very satisfying. I, actually, like the pros and cons of the new reach-over mechanic. When pulled off correctly, you kill off your opponent in an embarrassing and gruesome knifing animation. You have to plan and connect with the grab. You cannot simply hug the wall and spam the “X” button until you get someone. It makes the whole melee maneuver more intentional and fulfilling.
For the controls, you get all of the same sensitivity options that you are used to as well as the ability to determine acceleration and dead zone. This allows you to have better control over how strongly your aiming reacted to your faster analog taps, as well as when the game should actually register movement. I know a couple of people who have worn out their right analog stick to the point that they are experiencing drifts in their aiming. Maybe now they don’t have to run too fast to the store to get a replacement controller. Well, at least not for Gears of War 4.
Gears of War 4’s action and combat is as satisfying as ever with the introduction of these new guns, combat mechanics, and controller options. In raw gameplay, Gears of War 4 delivers a polished and entertaining experience that invites you to try all of its many modes.