After spending more than just several hours with the beta for the latest installment in the Gears of War franchise, one thing became clear: the Gears 4 beta disappoints. It not just disappoints, it is mired by both technical issues and the same issues that Gears multiplayer has always struggled with, depending on your point of view. It feels sluggish at times, it can be glitchy, and it’s the same Gears experience we’ve had for years.
The Gears 4 beta disappoints mainly because of how choppy it plays. This game is promised for an October release date this year, but will some of these issues be fixed by then? The frame rate drops in almost every match I’ve played, at one point the screen became blurry, and I even saw a player literally flying across the screen, although it could have just been a problem with my eyes. I completely lagged out of a few matches, which happens, but it was really frustrating. The graphics look good, but they don’t look incredible either. That doesn’t entirely bother me but it may bother some fans of the series.
Another reason why the Gears 4 beta disappoints is the simple fact that it is more of the same; there’s not much new here at all. The Coalition did try to mix it up with some new gameplay mechanics and some different game modes, but the fact of the matter is Gears is still a shotgun game. The Lancer has been powered up a little, but in my opinion the shotgun needs a nerf to balance things out. It may as well be called Shotguns of War. Put your sensitivity on super high, look around like crazy, blind fire shotgun, rinse and repeat. At least that’s my experience with it. There are three game modes in the beta, two of them new, one of which is pretty interesting.
The three game modes in the Gears 4 beta are standard Team Deathmatch, Dodgeball, and Co-op Team Deathmatch with Hardcore AI. The first is your typical Gears TDM and it really is more of the same in that respect; not much else can be said about it. Dodgeball is actually a really cool concept. There are no default respawns. For someone to be able to be respawned, someone on your team has to get a kill. These matches are actually really fun because they are so hectic and so frantic. The beta has some issues, but this game mode is not one of them. The final game mode available in the Gears 4 beta is the Co-op TDM with hardcore AI. This is where a team of one-to-five players goes up agains a team of hardcore-level bots. The concept is cool, and the bots aren’t overly difficult, but unless you’re really playing with friends I can’t see this being a very popular mode. It feels like something I’d set up in Gears 3 offline to practice a bit when I started playing.
The maps in the game is one place that the Gears 4 beta does not disappoint. They are all somewhat compact (medium sized I’d say), well-designed, and have some wonderful cover spots. It’s just a shame the Gears 4 beta disappoints so much and that these maps are kind of wasted on that (except for playing Dodgeball.) There are bounties you can complete in multiplayer, like get X amount of kills in a match or X amount of points, or even win a match, to gain additional XP. It’s a great way to push yourself as a player.
There is a rank up system and if you reach level 20 by the end of the beta you’ll have some cool unlocks when the game launches. I don’t know if it’s worth it, but it doesn’t take all that long considering I’m almost there.
The fact of the matter is, the Gears 4 beta disappoints. It’s mired by framerate issues, glitches, server issues, and the fact that the gameplay isn’t any more balanced in terms of weaponry than the previous games; it becomes one dimensional with the shotgun. Only one truly original PvP game mode is a let down, but the one original mode they have really gets your adrenaline pumping and is fun. The bounty system, which gives you additional XP for completing, allows you to test your limits which is a nice feature for new and veteran players. The maps are well designed. The major issues are the technical problems laid out, the weapon balance, and the fact that there was truly only one new game mode; this is why the Gears 4 beta disappoints. The final product could be fantastic, and I hope it will be, but in its current state, I am a little worried for Gears of War 4, which releases in six months.