Gears of War 5 Review – Making it great again

Gears of War 5 Delta Team

I’ve finally finished playing through the campaign of Gears of War 5, and I have to say that it was way more fun than Gears 4. To be honest, the fun really started once I got to the part where I could drive the skiff around. This was an unexpectedly pleasant surprise. (Little heads up, there are spoilers).

Gears of War 5 has been steered in a different and welcome direction from Gears 4.

First off, I got to play the majority of the game through the eyes of a strong, independent woman. Any game with a female lead is always a huge plus to me. It’s great to see that more developer’s are putting women in the spotlight instead of the usual men we normally get.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with those regular male heroes, they’re just as fun and entertaining to play as. Not to throw shade at JD who we were playing the whole of Gears 4 and the beginning bit of Gears 5 with. But I just prefer Kait this time around.

Gears 5 is going “open world,” kind of.

Gears of War 5 open world

The second biggest fun factor for me was the “open world” concept that seems to have made its way into this beloved franchise. It’s not completely open world, it’s more like sectioned off mini open worlds. Each with their own climates that I get to glide through. Granted, it’s mostly wide empty space, but there are areas where I could hop off the skiff to explore.

These little sections are usually side mission locations, which is another new feature that has been added into Gears of War 5. In the previous installment of the series, it was just one linear path. A closed off maze of a map that doesn’t offer much in terms of exploration. There weren’t any side missions or anything like an intermission before the next part of the game. I was pleasantly surprised by this.

Side missions in Gears of War 5 work a little differently than the ones that I’m used to.

Usually, I go up to an NPC with some kind of indicator that lets me know they have an errand for me to run. Well, in this game, that isn’t a thing. Instead, I’m set loose in a semi open world map that I get to skiff around in. Looking for wrecks, flags or ruins to explore along the way. Side missions are folded into these places and are triggered once you get close enough.

I wouldn’t have even known these were side missions until after I had finished exploring and looting the place. They don’t really show up as a mission in your “quest log.” More like an optional area to explore that can be checked off on the map.

Makes sense since it’s not exactly a task assigned to us. Thinking back on it, the only official side quest that I remember getting is in the red desert area. 

Still, I’m really glad that the developers decided to make these additions, bringing the Gears series back on the map and returning to the big leagues.

Gears 5 has finally improved the controls and their responsiveness.

While playing through the game, I found that everything ran so smoothly and beautifully, the controls have finally been buffed out. No more of those familiar clunky actions and movements that I sort of fondly remember from the previous games.

It’s much more refined now. Sprinting, dodging, hiding behind cover etc, basically all movement mechanics are more responsive and easier to control.

The gunplay is still the same though, which is fine since I think they did a pretty good job of it to begin with. Moving from cover to cover feels so much less infuriating now. Maybe it’s just me, but when I was playing the earlier games up to and including the fourth one, I would end up jumping over cover or taking shelter in the wrong direction.

Sometimes, when I try to get back behind cover or run over to a better position, I’d get shot down. My character would instead, jump over something else that I didn’t want to jump over, or they would ignore my button commands.

They would also just stand there taking all kinds of explosions and abuse as I was frantically mashing the space bar trying to save them. I’m happy that they decided to improve it all.

There’s also a new stealth mechanic that I can use to sneak up on enemies.

Stealth Takedown

I didn’t think I would ever associate stealth with the Gears series, but there it is, in Gears of War 5. It’s not your usual stealth like in The Last of Us Part 2Dishonored (pacifist playthrough) or even the stealth mechanic in Skyrim.

It’s more like carefully walking up behind an enemy and taking them down “stealthily”. I only do that when going up against hacked Deebees (rejects) that have made their first appearance in this installment of the Gears series.

Also, we get a new camouflage skill that can be upgraded. Even with this new mechanic, I rarely used it, probably a total of 1-3 times.

Speaking of new enemies, there’s a few more thrown into this noxious mix.

As if the enemies introduced in Gears 4 weren’t enough, we now have a few more baddies to deal with. Giant flying leeches, some fully armored, dual wielding hulks, their mother, a kraken and hacked robots.

Some of them are worse than others, but they’re alright to deal with for the most part.

The worst are the hulks (wardens) in my opinion.


These things are armored and wield giant melee weapons that will destroy you if they get too close. What makes them worse is that NO part of their body is exposed.

Luckily, I found the helmet to be flimsier than the rest of their suit of metal. Shooting it off and revealing its head seems to be the trick to bringing this intimidating beast down. Sometimes it’s a little annoying to maneuver around it in order to get a shot in.

I had to either be in front of it as it hones in on me while I break its helmet or get behind it. Trying to shoot from the sides don’t do much as the shoulder pieces are huge and get in the way, blocking access to its noggin.

Not to mention this thing can walk over obstacles and cover spots. So, you always have to keep moving with this guy.

I’ve already mentioned the hacked rejects.


These bots have been taken over by leeches of the swarm. Somehow, these leeches can hack into the programming to turn them against us. Their way of attacking is by making the Deebee chase after you and activate the self destruct mechanism when they’re close enough.

Unfortunately for them, it’s really easy to stay away or dodge their kamikaze attacks. Simply shoot them until they go down or bait them into self destructing and dodge/run out of the way.

There’s one more hacked DB unit that is slightly more annoying, categorized as “stumps.”

Gears of War 5 Stump

This robot is bigger than its cousins and specializes in heavy weapons like mobile turrets and heavy machine guns. They’re bent in strange ways and hobble around when they move.

Best way to take care of these things is the traditional tried and true method of taking cover while shooting or throwing explosives at them. They tend to stay in one spot anyway.

Next up is the swarm flock.

Gears of War 5 Swarm Flock

Ugh, I hate these, it’s always a pain to take out the flock. Literally made up of flying leeches that streak around the map and attack as a group. Every time I saw these enemies I would inwardly groan, “what a pain.”

I go from max ammo to 1 or 2 bullets leftover once I’ve shot enough of them down. It’s not that they’re overly difficult or anything, they just take so much of my bullets in a game that isn’t exactly generous with their ammo boxes.

Also, I’m one of those people that usually just stick to a few choice weapons and ignore all the other ones that are available or dropped by enemies. I wouldn’t have this problem if I had picked up a new weapon every time I ran out of bullets. But hey, what can I say, I’m unnecessarily loyal to my weapons of choice.

Only way to deal with these is by going trigger happy on the swarming, swirling mass of airborne leeches. Shoot enough of them down and they’ll implode on themselves. Just make sure to stay behind cover to protect yourself against their dive attacks.

Moving onto the mini boss, classified as the Matriarch.


Only one exists in the Gears of War 5 thankfully, at least that’s the only one that we come across. The matriarch looks like hulk, except its evil, a little more clothed and very terrifying. Thankfully, it isn’t green.

Getting its own arena to fight in definitely screams in your face that this enemy is no joke. Don’t let it get too close as every attack is a one hit kill. It’s also frustrating to see Kait get gruesomely destroyed each time.

Best strategy for this boss fight is to lure it onto the ice and dunk the Matriarch into the freezing cold water. She really doesn’t like the cold and will freeze up quickly. Her weak spot is on her back, so you have to be fast in getting behind her and shooting at it. Chiseling her health down bit by bit until she’s done, quite the fight really.

Doesn’t help that she plays mind tricks on you during the battle either. Oh, and during my play through, Del didn’t help a single bit. He just kept running around, avoiding the darn thing. Thanks man, you’ve got my back (not).

Now for the boss, the Kraken.


Maybe you’ve heard of it before, might have even seen it before. These things are the terror of the seas. Sailors are terrified of this thing and with good reason. It’s humongous in size, has tentacles, a giant head that houses a scary and horrifying mouth with three tongues to pull anyone unlucky enough to get snatched up into its yawning maw.

Using its tongues to break any cover you may be hiding behind, it’s pointless to even try. Just have to aim at its tongues and dodge when the kraken launches them towards you.

Actually, thinking back to it, it wasn’t all that scary, the Matriarch was more frightening than this thing. Size of it was impressive though. I thought it was pretty cool when I first got a glimpse of it. Seeing its tentacles wrap around the rocket in an attempt to stop it from launching.

Last thing that I want to mention is the end of Gears of War 5.


I had to make a decision between saving JD or Del from the resurrected Queen Myrrah in all her tentacle glory. Having this choice made no sense to me, why was I forced into choosing between the two?

The other Gears games didn’t give me a choice like this. They only let me choose which path to take and that doesn’t really have much of an impact on the story anyway. So, why now?

Being a fan of the original trilogy, I had to choose JD, not that I had anything against Del. I couldn’t let Marcus’ only son, who is all he has left after Anya passed away, be taken from him too. I just couldn’t do that to my boy, plus this would probably make the most sense in terms of character development.

Marcus and JD

They would both grow as humans, their bond as parent and child would have strengthened. I can’t say this for sure though, as I have no idea why or how this choice matters in the overall story.

Only the developers would know. Hopefully, we’ll get some good, satisfactory answers about this in the next game.

All in all, it was a great adrenaline filled game.

Overall, my experience with Gears of War 5 was fantastic. They finally got rid of that enemy wave mechanic they had in the last installment and improved the game controls.

It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was definitely a step up. I think they could have done better with the final boss though. It was kind of underwhelming and not as exciting as it could have been.

I forgot to mention that this time around we get a little robo buddy named Jack along for the ride. This little guy is pretty useful and an adequate support character. Allowing us to camouflage, use strong shields, play fetch and hacking into everything we needed, not bad.

Great game, but…

What bothered me throughout the Gears 5 was how the only flashlight we have is attached to Jack. Going through the dark hallways and corridors can be a chore sometimes as Jack can take a bit to catch up. I just couldn’t help but to flounder around in the dark waiting for the little bot to catch up.

Looking around to see if there were any goodies I could pick up could be quite irritating at some points. Sure, I could have turned up the brightness as well, but the game looks better when there’s a little darkness. Plus, it doesn’t hurt my eyes or give me a headache.

It might seem like a minor thing, but this really bugged me. I hope that the next Gears game will give each teammate their own flashlight to illuminate things in front of them.

Another thing that really grinds my gears (ha, a pun), is when my team members would always nag me to progress the story. Like, chill, I want to explore the sections and areas of the map on my own time. I’ll move forward eventually.

I just want to see if there was any more ammo or collectibles that I could pick up. Do a sweep of the area to satisfy my curiosity, you know. No need to constantly annoy me like that, I know how to move forward. It’s like when someone keeps asking, “are we there yet?” every two minutes on a road trip. Just stop.

Other than those little things, the new open world elements, side quests and exploration is a great step forward for the franchise. I’d give this game an 8/10, I’m looking forward to Gears of War 6, whenever that may be.

What's Next?

What did you think of Gears of War 5? What annoyed you the most about it? Are you looking forward to the next Gears game?

Drop a line in the comments down below and let me know.

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