Gears Tactics was reviewed on the Aorus 7 SA. With its powerful hardware that includes an Intel Core i7-9750H (2.6Ghz), an LG 1080p IPS display (144hz), an NVIDIA GeForce 1660 Ti (6GB), 16GB RAM (with a 64GB limit) and a 512GB SSD for storage, it’s the ideal piece of hardware to play the game as it’s meant to be played!
Never in a million years would I have thought that somebody would suggest that a Gears of War spin-off game like Gears Tactics be made. Going from a blockbuster shooter that the masses enjoy to a niche genre seems to be a pretty ballsy move.
Well…somebody at The Coalition has massive cajones because they obviously think otherwise.
I got to admit, when this was revealed during Microsoft’s E3 showcase I was mucho skeptical. I like Gears of War, I like tactical games (like Fallout Tactics and XCOM) but I just don’t see how much fun a Gears of War tactical game could be.
Now that I’ve had a few days to play the final version…does that opinion still hold?
Keep on reading to find out.
What is Gears Tactics?
Gears Tactics is a tactical game set in the Gears of War universe. You lead a squad of COGs against the Locusts on missions with a variety of objectives. Gears of War stalwarts like shooting from cover, emergence holes and executions are all blended into the new turn-based gameplay style.
Developed by Splash Damage and The Coalition, Gears Tactics is available for free if you’re a PC Game Pass subscriber (or you’re subscribing to Game Pass Ultimate). You just need to download it via the Game Pass app and you’re good to go!
Set during the initial period after Emergence Day, the game sees you (as Gabe Diaz) being tasked to stop the Locust’s chief monster creator; Ukkon. Apparently, the huge ass monsters you’ve fought in the main Gears games were his creations. Funny, I’d never given a thought where they came from…I’d just assumed they were creatures the Locusts tamed.
Diaz isn’t alone in the mission. You can recruit other members (who are randomly generated) as you progress. These recruits can die permanently in-game, so you’ll definitely want to play strategically to keep your forces safe.
There are 5 distinct classes (ranging from Heavy Weapons to Scouts), with each having their own gameplay styles and skill sets.
Think of the game as a Gears of War version of XCOM and you’ll have a great idea on what it’s like.
Completing missions nets those who participated experience, which raises their levels and unlocks skills points to use in the skill tree. The tree’s pretty fleshed out, so there are a lot of different things to unlock. The skills are mostly pretty useful too, such as Gabe’s Command skill (which allows him to heal a percentage of damage per kill).
You also get loot boxes from completing missions, optional objectives or finding them on maps. The loot’s all random; ranging for weapon parts to armor pieces. Like most RPGs, each has a rarity assigned to it, with rare pieces being better.
I love the idea of including it in Gears Tactics. It makes you scour the maps for them plus it gives you incentives to keep playing. I just wish there were more variety to what you can get.
Healing is a major factor in Gears Tactics, due to one major change from the main Gears game; your characters don’t regenerate health (unless they have a special skill). Charging in like the Cole Train (who is incidentally playable if you preorder) won’t work…at least it won’t if you plan on keeping the kamikaze soldier alive.
Another reason for not rushing? The pure numerical superiority the Locust have over you. Your team will be moving down enemies by the dozens in each stage, so keeping every single unit alive is essential.
Yeah, this isn’t the Gears of War you’re used to.
Eye in the Sky.
The new bird’s eye view camera and focus on squad tactics works brilliantly though. The Gears series focus on cover shooting translates beautifully to a tactics game and the new leveling, class and skill tree adds depth to what was once a shallow shooter.
Owning to the new camera style, Gears Tactics isn’t as demanding on a PC when it comes to hardware. I’m running a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 with 16GB RAM and I have no trouble keeping the frame rate above 30 on 1080p with most settings on Ultra.
There’s a bit of stuttering sometimes (due the VRAM on my GPU I reckon) but that’s easily overlooked. If you have better hardware, I guarantee it’ll fare better for you.
Speaking of hardware, Gears Tactics can also be played with an Xbox controller. Frustratingly, you do not get to control your units via the analog stick. You get a virtual cursor and move that instead. WHY?! It seemed like a half-assed implementation if you ask me, which was why I found using the mouse and keyboard was way more intuitive.
If there’s one single thing I’d change though, it’d be the game’s reliance on the Overwatch mode.Basically, you can have your units look at a chosen direction. If an enemy gets in their line of sight, your units will shoot them.
It’s an incredibly powerful move, especially when you combine with other skills and your squad doing it together. It’s a bit overpowered at times, since the AI seems to like to blunder into your firing range.
Oh yeah, I’m also wondering why there doesn’t seem to be height advantage in the game. For a tactical game, being on the high ground doesn’t seem to give you anything in return. I didn’t notice any difference in firing range or accuracy, even in Overwatch mode.
The Bottom Line.
It might seem like a carbon copy of XCOM at first, but Gears Tactics is a wonderful (if rather by the books) strategy game. It manages to translate Gears of Wars’ cover based shooting pretty well, while also adding nifty RPG elements into the mix, making for a great time.
It does have its faults (the gameplay could be deeper), but for a first outing, the game certainly has established itself as something to keep an eye out for. Who knows, maybe this one will do well enough that Gears Tactics 2 comes out for the Xbox Series X in the future?
Since it’s a PC Game Pass title, there’s really no reason not to give the game a shot if you’re a subscriber. After all, it’s free!
Satisfying gameplay with fun RPG elements equals a good time.
- All of the Gears of War series’ signature stuff is in the game.
- Leveling gives you incentive to play.
- Deep skill tree.
- Fun gameplay.
- Overwatch a bit overpowered.
- Gameplay a bit basic.