Gears tactics in the Test. It’s always risky when a series goes beyond the genre that made it famous. You never know if the audience will like the change or how well the franchise is suitable for new systems. Microsoft tried this step with Halo Wars. But when done correctly, the results are often spectacular. Blizzard’s willingness to experiment with their most famous brand led to World of WarCraft and Hearthstone. Nintendo gave the world Mario Kart, Paper Mario and the Mario sports games. Square has us Dissidia and Final Fantasy Tactics brought. These are just a few examples. Now is Gears of War your turn. The result is Gears tactics, a strategy game in the style of X-Com, which combines the serial love for unsubstantiated violence with his preference for tactical shooting.
Gears Tactics in the test: the flat story
The premise is simple. About a year after E-Day, Gabe Da’s father, Gabe Diaz’s father, Gabe Diaz is ordered to retrieve a classified file before the COG begins to destroy their own cities with the hammer of dawn. Gabe works in the fleet and is more than happy not to be at the front. He ends the mission with the help of Sid Redburn, a no-nonsense hardass, but things are rarely that easy with the COG. Then Gabe and Sid are asked to fashion Ukon. Ukkon, the Locust villain behind monsters like Brumak and Corpser. The COG cannot spare soldiers and the information is limited. So it’s up to Gabe and Sid to recruit Gears for the cause, find Ukkon, and get him done. On the way they meet Mikayla, a poet with a sniper rifle, and her group of citizens. They form an unlikely alliance and work together to “hunt the monster that makes monsters”.
The story is simple, but the characters are entertaining enough to keep them interesting. It’s fun to see Mikayla call Sid a fascist and Sid yells at everyone while Gabe tries to keep everything together. It’s also nice to come back to the conflict between the COG and the Locusts and have a look at what the war looked like before we met Marcus and Co. Gears tactics won’t win any prizes for his “script”, but it feels like Gears, and that’s a good thing.
What should I do?
As funny as the narrative is, what will always bring you back is the gameplay. You control a group of up to four characters as they move, take cover, use skills, and shoot on the way to achieve different goals. The soldiers come in five classes: Support, Scout, Heavy, Assault and Sniper. Everyone is equipped with a primary weapon, a pistol and a grenade in addition to their abilities. Support staff are the all-rounders. You wear a lancer and have access to the attached chain saw. Their skills improve and heal their allies. Attackers have a retro lancer, which means more damage and less accuracy, and the ability to attack enemies and impale them on their bayonet. Heavies guide a mulcher and gain damage and accuracy the longer they stay in one position. Scouts rock the Gnasher shotgun and can camouflage themselves, and Snipers do what the name suggests.
Gears tactics in the test: choose your team!
Choosing the right team for the job is crucial because not every class can be in the field at the same time. Gabe (Support), Sid (Assault) and Mikayla (Sniper) are hero units, so you need to have them for some missions, and for others they can be locked for storyline purposes. If they are on the field, they must survive, otherwise the game is over. You will assemble the rest of the team from characters you recruit. Some will be saved during missions, while others will appear in the barracks. Squad size is limited, so wise selection is essential unless you lay off units or buy more space for them.
No matter which squad you choose, you have to be smart in combat. Every action, whether it’s moving, shooting, throwing a grenade, or using an ability, costs AP. Each unit starts with three per turn and unused APs are not transferred. Most actions only require an AP, but movement and certain skills may require more.
Clever transportation, clever construction of the battlefield
Usually you move your squad from cover to cover and shoot enemies who can hit us, but there are a few things to consider. When holding a position or trying to protect a team member, you can activate Overwatch, a universal ability in which characters sacrifice their remaining AP to project a cone of fire over an area. If an enemy moves in or within or in this cone, our character will shoot at it. With enough AP, units can often be killed instantly, although this usually means that the unit is not moving at all. Different units have different monitoring cones. Lanciers are the roundest, while shotguns cover a smaller, wider area and so on.
Balancing the AP requires practice and you often have to make difficult decisions. Do you wrap your scout and run into a group, knowing that the character can only shoot in the next round or fire from cover? The latter is safer, but less likely to hit something. Reload now or switch to the gun to fire again? Should you use this ability now and start the cooldown, or wait until it really needs? Should you shoot this enemy or just use a guard? Managing positioning helps, but you still only have a small AP to work with. At least until we start taking down defeated enemies.
Gears Tactics in the test: Lots of decisions that you have to make
So yes, Gears tactics has a lot of choices to make that are only reinforced by the enemies of the games. If it is the original Gears games, it will likely appear here. Drones shoot from a distance and can use Overwatch. Miseries move quickly and attack everything that comes close to them. Tickers have high dodge, move every time they’re shot at, and explode when they’re near them. They are scary, but you can kick them against other enemies. Grenadiers carry shotguns and go mad when their health is low. And the always irritating cantus polishes its allies and revives defeated enemies.
You will find out the best strategies over time. Miseries melt under the constant lancer fire and are the main targets for grenades. Snipers burst drone heads from afar and negate their range. A disturbing shot with a pistol can throw us out of the guard. Do you have an enemy behind cover? Run up and show them the chainsaw! There is an answer for every problem, however Gears tactics is not afraid to throw many of them at us. Reinforcements can briefly fall from the sky or emerge from exit holes. So it’s worth being prepared for it. You will be surprised a few times, but nothing has ever felt unfair. All the mistakes I made were due to my decisions.
Little variety in the missions, but cool boss opponents
The levels themselves are well designed and offer plenty of places to hide, checkpoints to stop and towers to climb for great views. This is good because the missions themselves can be a little the same. You keep supply points, advance to targets, free prisoners, and gather supplies while fleeing enemy bombers. Each level has optional cases that can be collected for weapon upgrades for an additional challenge, but many of the same things will be done. The exception is boss fights, multi-stage affairs that uniquely test our skills. For example, the Brumak must be hit from behind and launch missiles at the end of each round, often with cover pieces removed from the map. He is also equipped with arm-mounted chainguns that can be destroyed to limit his attacks. It is a good fight and a good example of Gears tactics at its best.
Gears Tactics Review: Improve Your Character’s Abilities
Between missions you spend time in the barracks. Here you can upgrade the character’s gear. The gear ranges from ordinary to legendary, but apart from the differences between the levels, there is no best option. It mostly only reflects what the character is good at. You can also spend skill points that you get by leveling up. Each class has four sub-areas in which one can specify. For example, scouts can focus on their stealth skills and pure damage, while supporters can improve our healing spells, buffs, and abilities. Skill points are limited, so specialization is essential.
Recruit your battle group
New units can also be recruited from the barracks. Units appear after missions and are only available for a limited time. If you want them, you should snap them up as long as you can. It’s a good idea to have some of the same class so that you can do different specializations. With objects you can undo this selection and choose again. You can even customize the appearance of your characters. The customization for heroes is limited, but there are options for hairstyles or accessories. You could certainly criticize a lot here, but too much micro-management is not possible here.
A sizeable squad also helps us complete side missions. However, these are limited. So you have to choose carefully. Side missions take the same care as the main missions and offer the ability to level less used characters and get equipment. So it’s worth doing them. Choosing the right characters is crucial.
Conclusion on Gears Tactics
Gears tactics in the test is not X-Com. It doesn’t have depth or customization. However, it is a very good game that successfully combines the Gears of War universe with the strategy game. Gears tactics doesn’t hold your hand, but it should still be a good place to start for people who are new to the genre and for those who are looking for something new. It also looks good, sounds good and runs well. I wish the textures would be a little better when the camera was zoomed in and there would be a little more mission diversity, but that’s about it. Gears tactics works as a tactical game and as a Gears of War title, combining the best of both in a package that feels unique.
Microsoft has taken a risk here and it has paid off. And like in Gears of War it depends on the execution itself.
An Xbox One version is slated to follow later this year. The game is included in the Game Pass for PC and can be bought on Steam.