Gears of War 5

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Gears of War 5

Postby tombombodil » Fri Sep 13, 2019 3:33 am

Been playing this on PC for a few days now. It's pretty good. Definitely the best Gears of War game by a country mile, but that isn't a super high bar to clear by my estimation.

They have polished the gun-play to an absolute mirror-shine, and the story campaign is very well put together so far. There are a handful of surprisingly fleshed out PvP modes, and while PvP in this type of shooter isn't really my thing, it is cool that they put all the work into so much extra content for the people who are into it.

Solid B overall, recommended if you are in the mood for some good old fashioned semi-linear 3rd person shooting with the gorgeous set-dressing of cutting edge graphics.

While I have been enjoying this game quite a lot, I have absolutely no reason to think there will be anything particular to it that will endure in my mind, since despite all it's staggering craftsmanship and polish it really is just a pop-corn action blockbuster of a game and there isn't anything particularly nuanced or emotionally engaging about it. That being said there are a couple of broader topics it has gotten me thinking quite a bit about.

Firstly, between this game, God of War, Spider-Man, and Red Dead Redemption 2, it seems we really have reached a new benchmark in production value in top teir, killer-app, AAA video games. Now that we're towards the tail end of this hardware cycle, big developers are really REALLY getting to flex the bleeding edge capabilities of next-gen game engines and graphics tech. These games really are visually impressive enough that I regularly stop to marvel at them and I don't think I'll "get use to" games of this caliber for a good while. The lighting, the animation, the textures, the physics and environments. To put it somewhat cynically, these games look like what games from 5-6 years ago used to pretend to look like in their E3 vertical-slice gameplay teasers (before we realized it was all mostly smoke and mirrors bullshit). To put it less cynically, they are absolutely stunning and as a game developer myself I am floored by the level technical and artistic effort and talent it must have taken to create them, even more so than by the visuals themselves.

Secondly, I have discovered that I am a very big fan of what I'll call "semi-linear" action games. God of War, The Witcher 2, The Last of Us, The Evil Within 2, The Dark Souls series, even Doom (2016) and now Gears of War 5. They all belong to a certain style of game that isn't strictly linear OR a big open world/sandbox. Instead they have a series of medium sized levels, either interconnected or connected by some hub-system. These levels often have smaller, very linear and tightly designed sections, as well as larger less linear areas. They also usually have a pretty well defined beginning and end and thus benefit supremely from the superior control over the design of the gameplay space the developers have when they have a pretty good idea of the players path of traversal. However, these levels are also exactly big enough to facilitate some exploration and/or offer multiple paths through them without allowing you to get too side-tracked.

I find I usually enjoy these types of games way more than truly open world games or sandbox games. In Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, Far Cry games, most Bethesda RPGs, I almost always just get lost or side-tracked and then get bored and then quit. Even the Witcher 3 which is undoubtedly a fantastic example of narrative design in video game RPGs I got burnt out on like 15-20 hours in, maybe 1/5th of the way through the main story, whereas The Witcher 2 I gladly sunk over 80 hours into.

If most of what I'm going to be doing in a game is walking around and killing and/or talking to people, I'd prefer to have that happen in super well designed levels, and sequences with expertly crafting pacing and a sense of purpose and coherency rather than a big open, mostly empty world-map where half the time is spent travelling between points of interest or just wandering aimlessly. The completely undirected sandbox games I do like and sink hours into tend to be strategy games. Sim City, 4X games, Europa Universalis, Total War, Factorio, stuff where there is a ton of mechanical depth to be explored and an ever unfolding, ever changing puzzle to solve as opposed to just exploring more mostly identical, partially wooded countryside.
Have you found the yellow sign?
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