Recently, we got to check out Gears Tactics, which is quite easily the "deepest" Gears of War yet. Why? Namely in customization, allowing players to fully customize their troops loadouts, skills, and weaponry to change up your playstyle.
Gears 5 certainly began exploring this, with some light customization for Jack, your companion droid who could help you out in combat. It was a great dip into the water, but Gears Tactics goes all out, full XCOM style, complete with armor types, weapon mods, and skill trees.
Here's a look at what it's like in Gears Tactics, and why we think it would be awesome for Gears of War 6.
Gears Tactics is deep and complex
Gears Tactics is a turn-based XCOM-style strategy game, complete with a cinematic story, true Gears characters, and AAA visuals. The game shares many similarities with Gears, namely its enemies, weapons, setting, and characters.
There are plenty of elements in Gears Tactics that would easily translate into the main franchise.
Gameplay wise, however, it couldn't be more different, trading the high-octane third-person shooting for tactical play. That said, there are plenty of elements in Gears Tactics that would easily translate into the main franchise.
Gears Tactics, like XCOM, revolves around building up a small army to undertake both main story missions and randomly-generated side missions, which you can use for gearing up, getting experience points, and finding items. Gabe Diaz is there to gather the scattered C.O.G. forces to launch a counter-attack against a surging Locust horde, hellbelt on destroying humanity.
All missions give you opportunities to loot weapon mods, items, gear, consumeables, and recover soldiers for your army. If you're playing on Iron Man mode, expendable troops can suffer from perma-death, forcing you to change tactics and gear up new troops.
I'm not suggesting Gears of War 6 needs any sort of troop-management layer, but it's in the mods, skills, and gear that could make the next big Gears story campaign elevate itself to another level.
The Coalition clearly demonstrated a desire to push in this direction with Gears 5, via Jack and some limited open world elements, but Gears Tactics is showing us that they have the capability and capacity to inject more RPG into the franchise at large.
Gears 6 needs a playstyle boost
While Gears 5 certainly offered plenty of variety, complete with new melee weapons, and Jack's abilities, pushing customization out even further, Gears Tactics-style systems could be a big boost to the overall sense of progression and growth.
Although we don't have official screenshots to share, we were shown a glimpse of Gears Tactics' in-depth weapon and armor customizations, which offer tantalizing possibilities. For example, on the regular Lancer, you could swap out scopes, improving range, accuracy, and critical strike ratios. Some even came with passive skills that had direct active gameplay effects, complete with loot shooter style "Common, Rare, Epic," color-coded rarity designations.
That also came with a lot of visual flair on models too, changing the style of your weapons. It's something Gears has never really offered, outside of the multiplayer's gaudy skins. One Legendary weapon mod we saw added passive skill bonuses, in addition to extra stats.
This level of customization extends to armor too, changing the style of your gear, while adding stats and other features. Some of the higher-end armor models look really badass, strapped with grenades and ammo belts. Ones that improve defence look almost space marine-esque, with huge hulking steel plates. One armor style even looked a little more like a trenchcoat, perhaps aimed towards the Scout class for more up-close-and-personal play. You can change the style of your chest armor, helmet, and legs independently, too. And on top of that, you can alter the appearance colors, accents, all down to the metallic finish.
I'm not suggesting that Gears 6 would benefit from allowing you to go all-in customizing characters and allowing you to run around with thematically odd neon-green armor. But the fact you can obtain gear, mods, and customize them to your heart's content is an exciting prospect for the future of Gears, beyond Tactics.
What do YOU think?
I know there's a certain school of thought that Gears should remain Gears, focused on linearity and violence, but increasingly it feels like a bit of a hard sell in 2020. Since Gears 5 already tested the waters with Jack's customization layer, I felt like I was playing a watered down Mass Effect at times, whose Infiltrator class effectively has the same abilities as Jack in Gears 5, albeit with more variety.
I think Gears should definitely push further into shooter-RPG territory, but only if executed properly. What do you think? Hit the comments, let us know.
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