Microsoft’s Gears of War-focused subsidiary “The Coalition” has been hard at work on a new Gears title, and players now have their first chance to chainsaw each other to death, and be murdered by toddlers an absurd amount of times now that the Gears of War 4 beta is live and accessible by the general public.
So, how is it? Well, let me answer your question with a question – did you like Gears of War 3’s multiplayer? Then you’ll like this. Do you suck at Gears multiplayer? Sorry pal, you’re gonna suck at Gears 4, too. There are two modes in the Beta, Team Deathmatch and the new Dodgeball mode. TDM is exactly, and I mean exactly what you’d expect. Frustrating if you’re new or rusty, and gratifying if you’ve been grinding away in Gears of War’s remaster on Xbox One. Dodgeball is a fitting game mode for Gears, since its namesake playground game was always a breeze for the big kids, and a living hell for the scrawny ones. Make no mistake, its exactly the same vibe – just with 100% more chainsaws and fatalities. The multiplayer is fast-paced, gruesome, and punishingly difficult for the uninitiated. But if you’ve found yourself putting countless hours into Gears’ multiplayer over the years, you’ll feel right at home. Snapping into cover has never been more satisfying, and the executions are every bit as gory as you’d hope from a Gears title.
But what about the maps? If I let the pre-teens who consistently execute me online write this article, I’d imagine they’d have nothing but glowing praise for Gears 4’s three new maps – Harbor, Dam and Foundation. All of the maps are included in each of the game modes within the beta, but I hope you like Harbor, because I’m pretty sure I’ve played on that map 7-out-of-10 times. The maps are what you’d expect. Blocky, chest-high wall filled mazes, each littered with just as many weapons and ammo boxes as they are with chunks of dismembered corpses. Its Gears. If you’ve always loved it, you’ll continue to love it. If you tend to only care about the multiplayer until after you’ve finished the campaign, then you probably shouldn’t rush to clear up space on your Xbox One to make room for the Gears 4 beta. You won’t be missing much.
Other than that, the characters are new yet completely familiar. I was actually worried when I saw the first concept images of JD and Kait, since none of them boasted the chunky armor and ridiculous muscles that the characters in previous Gears titles had. But looking at the new images today and the beta’s character models, I think its safe to say that the heroes in the Gears 4 campaign will be every bit as badass as their predecessors. The Swarm, on the other hand, are a bit of a disappointment. Not only do they sound exactly like the locust when they move, grunt, and ‘speak’, but they all look like one another. They somewhat resemble the ‘Clickers’ from The Last Of Us, or maybe just a human who decided to glue a shitload of bricks and shellfish to their bodies. The Locust were interesting because they were just ‘human’ enough to have individual personalities, but The Swarm leave a lot to be desired before I begin to give a shit about what their motives are or why I should want to chainsaw them in half (aside from the fact that they’re quite frankly too ugly to live).
Gears of War 4’s beta is available now for free on Xbox One, and Gears 4 hits shelves on October 11th. Happy chainsawing, folks!