The reviews are in for The Coalition's Gears of War 4, with praise aimed at the game's multiplayer and Horde modes, but it doesn't escape criticism entirely.
It's no secret that Gears of War: Judgment is generally considered a misstep for the Gears of War franchise. Whereas the previous three games launched to critical adoration, Judgment received middling praise at best, and was overshadowed by more well-received shooters that came out the same year. Gears of War 4 stands as The Coalition's chance to restore confidence in the Gears brand name, and based on early critic reviews, it seems to do just that.
For the most part, Gears of War 4 has received high marks from gaming publications, though it did receive a few lower scores from a handful of sources. Even so, the general consensus seems to be that Gears of War 4 is a good game that is a step up from Judgment, but may have some issues that hold it back from reaching the greatness of the original trilogy.
Reviewers dissected Gears of War 4's co-op campaign mode, Horde 3.0, and its multiplayer component before offering their final opinions on the game. See what critics around the web have to say about The Coalition's first original outing:
Game Rant (Riley Little)
"Gears 4 is a painstakingly crafted love letter to those that have a meaty soft spot for the franchise. Aside from the costly cosmetic-focused transactions, this is the exact experience that fans have been waiting for."
Destructoid (Brett Makedonski)
"The nature of Gears of War 4 is that we won't know its legacy until there are more games in the canon. That's frustrating now but it'll hopefully be exciting later. This was a fine first showing but it'd be nice to see The Coalition carve its own identity for Gears of War. Using Epic's foundation is understandable and expected, but it often feels like a crutch. Marcus' boy had grown up just like him."
EGM (Ray Carsillo)
"Gears of War 4 looked at the series’ core formula and figured that if it wasn’t broken, don’t fix it. Most of the additions The Coalition put onto that core simply helped enhance and refine something that was already great. A couple of missteps were made, but this is still a great overall entry in the franchise."
Game Informer (Andrew Reiner)
"Even with a new studio leading the development charge, Gears of War 4 is a return to form for the series, and is continual delight, even if it does unnecessarily cling for dear life to the past."
GameSpot (Mike Mahardy)
"This is a shooter teetering on the edge of something greater, but despite the improvements it makes to the storied franchise, its missteps hold it back. There is inspiration here, and creativity in the way Gears of War 4 rethinks its multiplayer modes. But the lackluster campaign and technical issues are blights on an otherwise exhilarating shooter. The result is a whole that doesn't reflect the quality of its often stellar parts."
It seems as though many reviewers came away from Gears of War 4 impressed by Horde 3.0 and the multiplayer, but not everyone was high on the campaign. GameSpot also noted some technical issues, but it doesn't look like everyone ran into the same problem with their copy of Gears of War 4, or at least, weren't quite as bothered by any oddities they encountered. Other publications took issue with the way Gears of War 4 handles microtransactions, and others still weren't crazy about the class system in Horde 3.0.
A theme between all the reviews, though, seems to be that The Coalition didn't do enough to make Gears of War 4 feel like a unique experience. Numerous reviewers pointed out that Gears of War 4 refines the formula from the past games, while not necessarily adding enough original ideas to make it truly stand out on its own. With Rod Fergusson at the helm, it's no surprise that Gears of War 4 is similar to the games that came before it, but perhaps The Coalition will take this criticism to heart and experiment a bit more when it comes to the inevitable Gears of War 5.
Gears of War 4 will be available on October 11, 2016 for PC and Xbox One.