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Gears Tactics

Posted by GG Goblin On November - 11 - 2020

All the action of Gears, just a little more thoughtful.

The lack of big killer app for the new Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S may be a little disappointing for Xbox fans, but the massive library of backward compatible games, the huge selection on Game Pass, and new titles with optimisations should be enough to keep most gamers busy for a while on the new hardware. For turn-based strategy fans though, there is something sort of new to sink their teeth into. Gears Tactics, the turn-based strategy game based in the Gears of War universe, was a launch day title for the Series X/S, alongside the Xbox One. The game originally launched earlier this year on PC, but anyone who doesn’t play PC games now has the chance to drop in and have some fun. Making the idea of turn-based Locust bashing even more attractive, the game is obviously included with Game Pass, so subscribers have no excuse.


Set some 12 years before the first Gears of War game, the player will take control of Lt. Col. Gabriel Diaz and his ragtag team of Gears as they attempt to assassinate Locust scientist Ukkon and prevent him from creating any more monstrosities. While players can more or less jump in with little knowledge of the wider Gears universe, the game also throws out little tidbits to build out the lore that fans of the series will appreciate. Also, Gears Tactics, despite the shift in genre, feels very much like a Gears game.

Turn-based tactics games fare much better on console than their real-time counterparts, but they can still be a leap of faith for console gamers. The game has to get the controls right if it has any chance of being a success. Of course, the huge popularity of the Gears game ensures that Gears Tactics will get plenty of attention, and rightly so. Players looking for that Gears experience in a turn-based formula, with the player controlling a team and having time to think about their actions before committing, will find Gears Tactics hits the nail on the head, or hacks the wretch with a chainsaw.

The player will get to take a team of four into each mission, most of which seem to take place amidst broken down buildings and ruins. Each member of the team has three action points, initially, to do what they need to do, be that moving, shooting or any of the other special actions. A soldier can spend all of their points on movement or any combination of other actions. It also costs points to reload weapons, and some actions have a cool down that has to be taken into account. The environment provides full or partial cover to reduce the chance of getting hit, and there is an overwatch mechanic that allows a soldier to take a shot at an enemy in their turn if they move into their cone of vision. The Gears’ trademark takedowns also make an appearance as a downed enemy can be executed, usually with gruesome visuals. This action can reward the other members of the team with additional action points.


The soldiers come in a variety of different classes, and the player is able to build their team according to how they want to play. Many of the missions will insist on taking one or two of the main characters, but otherwise it is up to the player who they take. The soldiers will level up and unlock points to spend on a skill tree. This tree begins from the middle and then branches out in four different directions, allowing for four specialisations of each class.

Equipment caches can be found in most missions, rewarding the player with all manner of new gear for their Gears. This can be in the form of mods for weapons and new armour pieces, and they can not only improve the stats of the piece, but they can even provide new abilities for the soldier using it. The player will gather quite a collection of recruits through the course of the game, and swapping gear between them will account for most of the time spent between missions, ensuring that favourites have the best gear.

Fans of the Gears series will recognise many of the enemies in Gears Tactics, all of which act exactly as expected. The main story missions will see the enemies used to their best effect, and the boss encounters are truly impressive. Side missions on the other hand feel exactly that, a side thought, and come in a few different flavours, from Rescue missions where the player has to rescue soldiers, to Control missions where they have to control two points on the map. These missions are great to start with, but can become a bit samey as the game progresses, and they feel anticlimactic after running through an epic story mission.


For the launch of Gears Tactics on console, a new patch brings new content. The player can choose to start a new game as it always has been, or take on a new game using the new additions. For the player, this means the inclusion of Jack, the flying robot buddy. With his own skill tree to spend points in, Jack will e3volve over the course of the game much like any normal Gear, but in a much more supportive role. At the beginning though, once Jack is added to the team, he can only cloak for protection or buff the other members of the squad.

The addition of Jack could potentially make things a little easier for the player, so of course there is an addition to make the Locust more powerful. This comes in the form of Deviant enemies, regular Locust troops that are a little bit stronger and emit an aura that buffs their comrades. This actually changes the game quite a bit as players will have to mix up their strategies to ensure they take out these pesky enemies before any others.

When it comes to the optimisation for Xbox Series X, a top-down view turn-based strategy game is probably not the best for showing off all of the shiny goodness. Gears Tactics runs in 4K with a smooth 60fps and has an incredible amount of detail, along with very, very nice cinematics, but for showing all that the Xbox Series X can do, it would be better to boot up Gears 5.


As part of the Xbox Game Pass, it makes sense to install and play Gears Tactics, even if the player has never touched a Gears or turn-based strategy game before. For the series or genre fans though, Gears Tactics fits well in the Gears universe and is a very solid tactical game. The gameplay may be slow, as is often the case with this genre, but it is just as tense and stressful as any Gears game. The new update adds some interesting changes to the game, and everything performs admirably on the Xbox Series X. Gears Tactics is a great game that works just as well on the console as it ever did on PC.




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