Gears of War 4 Beta Impressions

After playing a lot of Ultimate Edition in the past few weeks, Gears of War 4 seemed both new and familiar. Right away I could tell it was a Gears game, but there were plenty of little tweaks and kinks that changed things up a bit.

First I want to state that I am a wall bouncer. I’ve been playing Gears of War multiplayer since the original and I’ve been bouncing ever since. So these thoughts will reflect that.

In the Gears of War 4 beta one of the first things I noticed was the speed, or perception of it, of the characters. It seemed like I was flying around the maps! Maybe the camera is a little more zoomed out while roadie-running, or maybe the tweaks to wall bouncing made things feel different, whatever it is I enjoy the change. Speaking of tweaks to wall bouncing, yes it feels much smoother now.


Not only does the entire movement system seem a little faster compared to Ultimate Edition, but the ability to cancel your wall slide makes things even smoother. You could do this in previous games but it looked more like a glitch than anything. This time around The Coalition fully implemented it as a feature. Now sliding from cover to cover is as smooth as ever. There’s also a new mantle feature that allows you to jump over cover without stopping your run. By holding ‘B’ during a roadie run, your character will simply mantle the cover in front of you and you can carry on running afterwards.

The one thing that felt a little useless was the cover executions. When two players are on the opposite side of the same cover, one can either mantle or grab the other player to do an stun. This essentially leaves the player wide open for an easy kill. While it’s a cool move to look at, show off in trailers, have terrible media go crazy in a video for, etc. it’s pretty pointless in a real match. As a wall bouncer, there aren’t very many moments when I bounce right to the opposite side of cover someone is sitting on. Sure maybe I did that in previous games, but I especially won’t do it now with the knowledge of these cover executions. Basically its the new chainsaw: only scrubs will use it.

Outside of the shotgun, the other weapons have received some major changes as well. The Lancer for instance is much stronger than it used to be. In previous entries, a skilled player wielding a pistol would win a fight against one using a Lancer. That scenario has been reversed in Gears 4. Now the pistol is utterly worthless and the Lancer is very strong. I would guess this is to appease players that are against the shotgun, but I wouldn’t be surprised if these receive some adjustments before launch.

The smoke grenade also received a boost. Not only is it as thick as ever, but it also stuns opponents if it lands near them. This causes the opponent to cover their head and prevents them from shooting. It’s an interesting new addition that adds a lot more strategy to the game. Fighting over power weapons and taking prime positions will be even more of a battle now. But everything changes when the enemy learns you can active reload at anytime. And not just anytime, but without shooting any bullets.

In Gears of War 4, you can active reload your weapon at any point in time. Which means if you have a full clip of shotgun ammo, you can active reload the entire clip without shooting at all. This change seems like it has to stem from the need to appease casual players. Why else would they take away the minimal penalty for obtaining an active reload? I hope this trend isn’t indicative of other features in the full release.

Small changes like the ability to move your weapon slots around and the new Dropshot weapon are ok but I hope to see more from the full release. The best new addition seen in this beta is the Dodgeball mode. In Dodgeball, both teams start with zero lives remaining. If one person on COG dies, he’s out. However, if a COG kills a Locust then that dead COG gets to respawn back in, and vice versa. With a 20 minute time limit, Dodgeball matches can either be a tug of war or a quick blowout. The games are played with five round and the first to three wins. I love when shooters make fun and innovative new game modes such as this and I hope there are more in the full game.

While there were some minor issues, ultimately the Gears of War 4 beta got me more excited for the full release. The enhanced movement system, new modes, and altered weapons all have me eager to see what The Coalition has left up their sleeve. From what I’ve seen from the beta, the Gears franchise is in good hands.

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