The newest game in Microsoft’s huge 3rd person shooter franchise—Gears 5—will release on September 10th, 2019. However, for the past two weekends fans have been treated to an early taste of the game’s multiplayer features. The Gears 5 Technical Test was open to those who pre-ordered the game, as well as Game Pass Ultimate subscribers.
I took the opportunity to participate in both weekend sessions, which were playable either on Xbox One or PC with Windows 10. For the purpose of my impressions of the Gears 5 Technical Test I will note that I chose to play on Windows 10 PC. The test featured a bootcamp tutorial, as well as a small variety of player-vs-player multiplayer offerings.
Participating in the Gears 5 Technical Test also netted players unlockable rewards that will carry over into the full game release, including a “Tester” banner and unique weapon skins.
Gears 5 Details
Platform: Xbox One
Developer: The Coalition
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Genre: Third-person shooter
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
Back to Bootcamp
The Gears 5 Technical Test opened with players participating in Bootcamp—a relatively brief tutorial on standard Gears combat. If you’ve ever played a Gears of War game before, then Bootcamp was likely a small chore, as it only covered the basic tactics of Gears. I did make a brief effort to see if it was possible to skip, and it appeared not to be an option.
Of course a non-skippable tutorial isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Even a true professional can use a nice warm-up. However the real benefit is probably ensuring new players have an idea of what they are doing. It wouldn’t serve the test well to have impatient newbies jumping in with no idea whatsoever how to play.
I also appreciate that Bootcamp has a bit of story to it as well. It’s not just a random series of tasks. Instead, it has the narrative of a COG member using your feedback data to program and refine his training grounds, complete with training drones.
Players also had the option to revisit Bootcamp at any time to refine their skills.
Upon exiting Bootcamp, the Gears 5 Technical Test presents two branching choices, the first of which being the more casual and new-player friendly Arcade mode. Arcade is an unranked deathmatch mode designed for quick play action as soon as players jump in. Teams of five race to 50 kills in a head-to-head COG vs. Swarm showdown.
During the Gears 5 Technical Test players had the choice of 5 unique COG or Swarm loadouts. Each character has their own starting weapons, as well as unique skills and abilities. Of course all the usual suspects are present from the weapons cache, including Lancers, Hammerbursts, frag grenades, and so on.
What makes Arcade mode unique is that scoring kills will earn players currency in the form of “skulls”. Skulls are used to purchase new weapons, many of which tailor to a character’s previously mentioned special abilities, which make them even more of a force on the battlefield. Personally I enjoy sitting back and taking on opponents from a distance with precise shooting, so the Sniper loadout is definitely my favourite.
The great thing about skulls is that they don’t expire when you do. Skulls carry over whether you die or change characters. This is another reason why Arcade mode is definitely the most new player-friendly mode in the Gears 5 Technical Test.
The other half of the Gears 5 Technical Test included ranked matches in two different game types. First off we have the classic King of The Hill mode. Veterans of the Gears franchise were surely right at home in this competition for territorial domination.
More challenging yet however is the Gears 5 Technical Test‘s most competitive experience in the form of Escalation. Escalation has teams vying to complete objective-based goals, but with additional variables such as limited respawns and weapon placement decisions just to name a few. As such, Escalation requires not only individual skill, but also co-operative teamwork and strategy.
This was clearly the case in my time in Escalation mode. It was painfully obvious when my team was not communicating, but also blissfully rewarding when we were. When the chat was dead, usually so was our team. However, when I matched with a co-ordinated group who were willing to make use of chat and work together, we typically dominated the competition.
Impressions on performance
All-in-all the Gears 5 Technical Test went quite smoothly for the most part in my experience. I did have a lot of trouble in the first few hours logging on and subsequently matchmaking. However these issues were only persistent at the very beginning. It’s probably not surprising that it took a few hours to smooth the process out after flipping the “on” switch.
When actually in a match, the performance on my end was great. I had no connectivity issues, my latency was above acceptable, and I didn’t experience any problems that I could detect with respect to dropping frame rates, etc. Overall the Gears 5 Technical Test looked and ran very well on my Windows 10 gaming laptop.
Pre-order Gears 5 now
If I can take anything away from the Gears 5 Technical Test, it’s that it definitely feels like a lot more of the same as far as Gears multiplayer goes. There wasn’t a lot of new innovation in the test, but perhaps that’s the way many in the Gears community prefer it. The franchise has always had a strong and competitive multiplayer community, and based on what I saw with the Gears 5 Technical Test I’d say that developer The Coalition is less interested in “rocking the boat”, and more interested in delivering the same type of solid multiplayer experience that their fans know and love.
Stay tuned for a full review on the Best Buy blog soon!