Gears POP! Reviews

  • MorseyBabyMorseyBaby299,549
    20 Dec 2019 27 Apr 2021
    31 3 1
    I leave the review in its previous state for posterity below, as I stand by the comments made and criticism. That said, however, it's been pointed out to me that I neglected the positives of which there are some and that I should revisit in the wake of recent news: if not for the immense grind i think this, especially as a mobile game for a quick game here or there as a break had some solid premises and gameplay. Admittedly, it probably doesn't score particularly highly for innovation in that field, but it's still a solid distraction. Sadly the grind involved for any player more invested in the game did somewhat overshadow this.

    I understand changes were made after I stopped playing which may have improved some aspects, but I cannot comment on what I didn't see/experience and as I played for the better part of 6 months I feel that was plenty of time to get a good idea of the game and its development.

    Obviously the news that the servers would shut in April 21 after barely 21 months up came as a shock to the community and does rather demonstrate a lack of foresight on the part of the developers: as well as suggesting the game was indeed an attempt to cash-in on the Gears franchise rather than a project of its own. Despite the fact that it took 3 months of lobbying for any update on steps the developers would take to give people the chance to finish the game before the shutdown, the eventual steps taken to give people the chance did initially seem fair and both The Coalition and the Developers deserve credit for doing that when so many sever closures don't. That said: the final changes in March/April were something of a kick in the teeth to anyone who had put in the work prior to the final month of the game's life as it turned the game's previously insanely grindy achievements (Major and Pinnacle-4) into much easier achievements leaving only Seriously Pop's 1000 wins as a barrier to completion for many. Personally I don't begrudge the initial lowering of requirements, but I feel the later ones were over the top.

    As a free-to-play game, sure this isn't terrible by any stretch of the imagination and the 0.5 star rating may be harsh, but likewise: I'm reviewing this as an achievement hunter and completionist on an achievement hunting site, my opinions must be interpreted through that lens. The game was overly grindy (especially when its eventual short lifespan is taken into account) over being fun. I didn't pick up my phone to play and think 'this is what I want to do', I picked up my phone to play because I had a slot to fill. Its social functions were limited at best.

    Sadly the long-term effects of this game may well be that we don't see another MS entry into the mobile market with one of its storied franchises for quite some time (admittedly, that may not be such an issue with the advent of Xbox Cloud Gaming). This also clearly demonstrates the minefield of working with third party developers in a different space and the immense problems associated with F2P gaming.

    =====Original Review=======
    I'll temper this review with three points:

    1. I only started this game because it had an achievement list and was available on Android. I only continued to get the completion. I have not had fun along the way. Were I to go back to my mid-August self with one piece of advice it would be: DON'T START THIS GAME.

    2. I've consistently been among the top players ever since launch so the above comments don't come out of saltiness. Each season I've been the top player in the official TA.com Crew and with the recent launch of leaderboards it's possible to exactly quantify: I currently (at time of original writing in December 2019) sit 9th and have been in top 30 constantly.

    3. You do not need to pay to play, but you most certainly need to pay to win regularly (without intentionally deranking yourself), and to progress the hardest achievements you need to win.

    My biggest criticism of this game comes with its incredibly broken matchmaking system. This is achieved via cogs: you win or lose cogs as you win/lose games. Each win/loss can gain/cost you between 20 and 35 cogs. You are only able to match people within 100 cogs of you. My current situation at time of writing the review: I sit 9th on the leaderboard... but there are only 9 people within 100 cogs above or below me. Most of whom I have already played dozens if not hundreds of times: it's therefore incredibly boring. The majority (and I'm not excusing myself from this, even if I was helped by winning a not insignificant amount of Google Play credit) of players in this area have taken the pay to win nature of the game to its extreme.

    Many people have, due to this matchmaking system, simply decided to work around it: they win matches until they reach a point where it's either too hard to win or they're struggling to find games quickly and then idle their way through loss after loss to return them to the bottom of the ladder to get easy wins (especially as win streaks - 5 of which in a row are profitable and valuable). Not only does this ruin the experience for newer players who meet artificially lowly ranked players, but it also reduces the possible pool of matches for higher ranked players (though the introduction of leaderboards has tempered this to some extent). Matchmaking was made even worse by the fact that for a long time (now patched) players could quit out of a game to stop another player winning: not only that but the other player would then have the incomplete game counted as a loss.

    Alongside cogs the main thing wins (and win streaks) give you are chests: you have four slots which at any time can have a chest being 'decrypted'. The most common chests take 3 hours, others take 5, others 8, others 10, and others 12. You can speed this process up by spending the in-game (buyable) currency 'Crystal'. Win streaks (no matter if you got a 1-win or 5-win streak) have a 4 hour cooldown which cannot be reset. Again, though, as most people won't use crystal to speed slot chests up the game encourages people to get their wins to fill their slots and log off. This, however, brings a time critical nature to the game: to maximise the efficiency of your grind you never want a slot empty (or with a fully-decrypted chest) for longer than you need.

    The cooperative 'Horde' mode is also not much better for matchmaking: even in a full crew of 50 players even when many are in your timezone and active it requires prior planning to arrange with others to be on: a push notification to say that someone in your crew was searching would be a wonderful QoL improvement, but instead players must work around the system.

    This isn't helped by the game's terrible balancing: each 'balance' update simply comprises of correcting the previous update's overpowering (e.g. one balance update increased the strength of Locust Drones so they were everywhere, and the next update totally nerfed them so they are now almsot never used). This speaks to almost no testing being carried out with their proposed balance changes. As a result after the first few days of an update a new 'meta' is established which everyone must use if they hope to win: if your pins for that system happen to be weaker you're at a major disadvantage. Because of this 'meta' system a lot of games end up simply being determined by whose luck is better with the random shuffle of their 8 pins in their deck at critical moments: I've had periods of constantly playing and replaying the same opponent with some games ending in draws and others being 3-0 whitewashes all coming down to who happens to get the right pin at the right moment. Given how important that is you'd have thought there's be a way to discard a pin from your hand for a fraction of its usual cost to cycle your deck more quickly to be able to respond: but you can't: thus worsening the random order problem.

    There are pins I would LOVE to use for my playstyle, but the current state of the balance and game makes that stupid if I want to reap the rewards from winning games and being in the top league and top echelon of the leaderboard.

    The gameplay itself relies on precision timing and placement of pins (especially projectiles). That is fine for PC players who have mice and stable connections, but this is a mobile game too: for players on mobile even the slightest lag on your connection can be the difference between winning and losing a match, a pixel too far to the side for placing a pin could be the difference between it winning you the game or dying instantly. I have a phone with a stylus and even using that I was finding precise-enough placement extremely difficult to achieve. A fundamental flaw in the design of a mobile game!

    There are also glaring inconsistencies and bugs in the performance of many pins: one throws a shock grenade projectile which should just slow done approaching enemies, but occasionally also causes animation bugs so that enemy pins may never complete a firing action or it gets interrupted, etc. another for a while caused gamebreaking crashes and although that is now patched there are still glaring inconsistencies in the behaviour of the buzz-saw in crowds: sometimes it will zip around constantly (even between only two pins) and other times it will barely graze two or three out of six tightly grouped and just sit spinning on the map.

    The support for the game has been constantly overwhelmed since launch and had struggled to respond to requests in a timely fashion. Worst of this has been their inability to combat cheating within the game: many players have been making use of quit bugs to avoid losing cogs after losses and the top players on the leaderboard appear to keep gaining cogs despite being too far away from other players to have any chance of naturally matching with them.

    To anyone who already started this game and wants the completion: good luck: you're in for a long ride. For those who haven't started yet: don't!
    .5
    Showing only comment.
    BigDaddy KratosI thank MorseyBaby for giving such an honest and detailed review of a game that I was worried would be lost forever when MS announced that the game is going offline come April 2021
    Posted by BigDaddy Kratos on 31 Oct 20 at 08:11
  • DanifittiDanifitti344,840
    04 Jan 2020 06 Oct 2020
    22 2 4
    GEARS POP REVIEW

    Note: I am making this a dynamic review, because the game is changing frequently. Last updated 06/10/2020

    Gears Pop! is an attempt from Microsoft to go into the mobile market, using one of its biggest franchises. The game mixes elements from Gears of War series, other mobile games, and the Funko dolls design.

    GAME DESIGN AND GAMEPLAY

    The gameplay itself is not original, in fact it is heavily based on a well explored concept. Each player stands on the edge of the field, with two turrets and a leader. The field is divided in two sides. Each player plays his pins, and whoever destroys more turrets in three minutes, or who destroys the enemie's leader first, wins.
    The original concept, that comes from the Gears of War games, is the use of covers. They come in pairs, one on each side of the field. Every time the player captures a pair, he expands his or her territory up to that point, and can drop troops there.
    There is a wide variety of pins, which correspond to one playable item. There are many different troops: some capture covers, others have powers like health regeneration or a super shoot that takes time to charge. There are grenades with different effects that you can throw anywhere in the field, and some structures that don't move, but have defensive uses.
    Even with a vast potential for strategies, the game is unbalanced, as it has been since the beggining. They also seem to have stopped trying to balance it, since in the last two months there was no balance, and before that they balanced over one pin. At the time this review was last edited, there were pins who were still overpowered and better than others. There are some pins that are hardly used, while others are present in most of the setups. Most of the top players have two or three from this overpowered pins, and the rest they use other pins to match the first they choose. So the problem is still there, but they don't seem to care anymore.
    As a result, the gameplay feels repetitive and boring. Due to the optimal strategy and unbalanced game, there is little room for variations or strategy. It ends up with every battle feeling like more of the same. That is a huge problem, that is more than enough to make the game not enjoyable at all. The key for a game like this is to have unexpected battles, different setups, which explore different units and strategies, perhaps with odd or unexpected combinations. None of this has happened since launch until the date this review was last edited.

    There is a coop mode, hordes, in which two players play against the computer. This mode is perhaps the most enjoyable at the moment. Each horde type has some different rules, which adds some variety to the game.
    They recently added an "event" mode, where you play with different rules or a fixed setup. The first tries where awful, with the game being bugged or with two setups avaliable, one clearly better than the other. The more recent events where better balanced and not so bugged, and it was actually possible to win with both setups. They have the potential to be fun, if better executed and the bugs are corrected (see below).

    BUGS AND HACKERS

    The fact that there is a section for bugs and hackers is not a good sign, but I feel obligated to write it. This game has a lot of bugs, and a lot of hackers playing. Since launch, some people have complaint they can't even log in.
    There has also been many bugs through the game itself. Frequently there are connections problems, the matchmaking is sometimes broken. One unit would stop shoting recently, other is still retreating to cover after leaving it, which sometimes is annoying.
    This adds in making the game even less enjoyable, because you will frequently run into some kind of bug, getting disconnected or having the game crash.
    There has also been reports of hackers since launch. Although they have diminushed over time, they are still present. Of course there is always the possibility they are false or from players who got angry by losing, or that they are in fact bugs being exploited and making the players seem like hackers.
    Right now, at the time this review was written, many players are experiencing lags and delays when putting pins. In my experience, sometimes the delay gets to around 2 seconds, which is enough to make you lose a match. In many battles I had a delay of around 1 second, that would happen frequently. Lag is also a major problem, which game freezing and unfreezing around a second later, which also can mean losing.
    Whatever the reason, playing the game will probably mean metting situations that shouldn't happen. Also recently, in the new event mode, they had to suspend it because matchmaking was 100% broken, showing new bugs are still appearing as they launch new features.

    GRAPHICS AND SOUND
    The best part of the game is the graphics, sound and sound effects. The FUNKO doll design worked really well, and gives the game a nice appereance. The sound and sound effects match the game also, creating a nice environment.
    Many characters have an unique sound or cry that they make when entering battle, which is nice. Also, they are well designed, and it is easy to recognize the Gears character they are supposed to represent.
    In the end, the cartoonish style was a great choice, and a well implemented one.

    GAME PROGRESSION AND ACHIEVEMENTS
    This is also a huge problem in the game. If you want completion in this game, be prepared to spend a lot of time on it. But really a lot of time. Even with playing three times a day, for half an hour more or less, it still takes more than a year to finish it. Some calculations say it will take around six years, in fact. Alternatively, you can spend thousands of dollars and finish it.
    Even though some achievements are quite easy and will come naturally or without too much effort, some achiements take an awful amount of grinding, especially two of them. The progress overall is slow, especially late in the game.
    In the first months, they increased the rewards for playing, but right now every increase in one side comes with a decrease in another. They greatly upgraded horde rewards, but now you don't get thumpers in normal chests, you mostly have to buy them with game special currency in the store. In fact, that may even have INCREASED the amount of time needed to finish the game, even with the enhaced rewards. So we should not expect them to lower the time, at least not for now.

    FINAL RESULT

    The combination of the game's three problems makes it awful: an unbalanced game, where there is little room to strategy or thinking, in a game that is supposed to be a strategy type; lots of bugs and/or hackers, which cause situations that should not happen; an extremely slow progress and level up. Each problem potentializes the other, and in the end you have a game that may have potential, but right now is not causing pleasure or fun to anyone. It is not worth playing, and as many players are saying, I would not have started it, if I knew it would turn out like this.
    1.5
  • Ax7 BEASTAx7 BEAST693,956
    21 Feb 2021
    5 1 0
    Well, I'm sure at least most people on TA have heard of this game at this point, and, even though it's clearly very late in the game, as the servers are shutting down in April, I figured I'd put in my two cents. I've been playing the game since launch, and will be talking about the few positives, and the massive list of problems this game has.

    Lets get this out of the way, as TA is primarily about achievements: The achievement list for this game is hot garbage. By and far the most grindy Gears game there is, and this is coming from someone who has completed 5 Gears games. The list was clearly tailored for people who were willing to sink real world money into the game. With an estimated completion time of several YEARS (shout out to the people who worked out the math,) it was completely unreasonable. The achievement for spending 100k power is just a boring grind, and a ranked achievement in this game, which is blatantly pay to win, is just ridiculous.

    Onto the positives, of which there are only a few. The games had quite a bit of potential, and could have been very well done. The gameplay loop is fun enough, and I always wanted to play another round.

    Now for the glaring negatives. The first is the terribly obvious pay to win nature of the game, which has influenced pretty much everything in this game. Mediatonic would change how pins work in updates that did nothing to balance the game (Myrrah is still busted to this day,) and it was clear that the nerfs and buffs weren't done in the intent of balance, but to make people spend more money. After all the effort of leveling up good pins, those would get summarily nerfed to the point of uselessness, so that people would have to start over, and in some cases, spend more money to get decent pins again. Rinse and repeat several times over the game's life, and it got tiring. Mediatonic, The Coalition and MS should be ashamed of themselves.

    Second major issue, this game has an awful problem with cheaters. There's not anti cheat, and no way to hold players accountable for cheating. I've run into many players who have seemingly infinite amounts of power, and invincible pins. Every time I run into a player like this, it makes me unreasonably angry. It completely ruins the game.

    So, long stories short, this game is garbage. Everyone involved should be absolutely ashamed, with the fact that the game is shutting down after not even two years just being the cherry on the garbage pile. This game has made me come to the decision to never play another Gears of War game. Absolutely unforgivable.
    .5
  • Anbu Blackops10Anbu Blackops10374,146
    01 Nov 2019
    6 15 0
    Love the game however having to pay for stuff to lvl up your characters is taking away from the fun of the game. Not everyone has extra money to do that. So just be prepared to spend a lot of money if you want to get the full achievements. For me the hardest achievement to get without money spending money is the reach the highest league achievement. I mean I love playing games and some stuff I don’t mind paying extra for but this is definitely way way to much to the point it’s not enjoyable. That’s the only reason I gave it 3 stars.
    3.0