The biggest thing about the Gears of War 4 demo I played at EGX was its resolution – I ended up playing the game on a PC, powered by a GTX 1080 and running the game at 4K resolutions. It looked magnificent. The level of detail carried in the 4K resolution was breath-taking.
As for the game itself – it’s simply more Gears of War. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but it’s the truth. You fight bad guys that emerge out of holes in the ground with assault rifles that have chainsaw blades attached to them (and other weapons). You take cover, move slowly and have the build and shape of a Sherman Tank.
I had the option of playing either the campaign or Horde Mode and opted to play a portion of the single-player. It was the quintessential Gears experience. Moving through corridor-like environments before arriving at more open areas populated by chest-high cover and firefights. As someone who has been conditioned from years of playing Gears of War, and other third-person cover-based shooters, it was blindingly obvious when and where fighting was going to break out.
That’s not a knock on Gears of War 4 or the genre as a whole. I enjoy cover-based shooters. Probably more than most. But they follow a set formula that Gears of War 4 doesn’t look set to break out of anytime soon.
The firefights themselves were interesting. The first was a standard cover-based slugfest – I had my side of the battlefield, they had theirs and we shot at each other whenever the opportunity presented itself. Occasionally we’d try to flank each other to get better firing angles.
The cover we used was the most intriguing part. It was destructible, as most of the cover in the demo was, but this stuff was organic. When it was destroyed a small creature emerged, extremely angry that its nap had been interrupted by a massive firefight. These creatures would charge my squad and hit us with melee attacks, which added a new dynamic to your standard cover-based fighting.
It was the second firefight that turned up the intensity, however. It took place during a particularly nasty storm that presented several new opportunities for carnage. As the wind howled it dislodged larger pieces of scenery, which I was able to shoot free and send them crashing into enemy positions – dislodging them from cover, destroying it altogether or even outright killing them. Fighting through this storm was a more exhilarating experience.
Gears of War 4 doesn’t seem to be looking to reinvent the cover-based shooter genre that it started a decade ago, but it’s still one of the best examples of the genre. From my discussion with others at the show, Horde Mode appears to be trying out some new things with its class-based soldiers and objectives, but I didn’t have a chance to go hands-on with it during my time at EGX.
Gears of War 4 launches for PC and Xbox One on October 11, 2016