First Impressions: Gears 5 Looks Fantastic but Feels Off

Opinion by Sean Carey,
Last Friday, we streamed some of the Gears 5 campaign and unlocked a few quick Gears 5 Achievements in the process, and for me, the game felt a little lacklustre. Here are my first impressions of the latest instalment into the Gears of War series.

gears 5 preview

Having played the and completed the first Gears of War and some of Gears of War 2, I can safely say that I am not a Gears expert. But getting hands-on with Gears 5 has made me want to pick up where I left off and continue the fight against the Locust Horde. However, while the game is visually impressive, the gunplay and sound design is lacking.

As I was writing this, a YouTuber by the name of Crowbcat has highlighted what minor details are missing from Gears 5 compared to Gears of War 2:

I went back to the first Gears over the weekend, in preparation to play through the whole series before I finish off Gears 5, and there are some stark differences. When sprinting with the hulking Marcus Fenix, it felt as if there was a sense of urgency — as if you were in Fenix's stomping shoes. Footsteps would thunder, and the camera would violently shake, causing a slight feeling of disorientation — mimicking what it could be like to come under fire. The same can't be said for Gears 5. There is minimal camera sway, and nothing feels urgent. It all feels just a bit timid. Good sound design can make a game great. Jumping into Gears of War, I was met with a barrage of noise: Gunfire, explosions, guttural roars, they all had real weight behind them, and this was done through the use of fantastic sound design. Somehow that design seems to be missing from Gears 5.

The whole combat experience felt disappointing too. While Gears 5 does get frantic in places and is generally enjoyable, JD and his enemies soak up enemy bullets without any visible issue — until they're suddenly dead. Melee combat is probably the most disappointing aspect of combat, though. Using the Lancer's chainsaw is fine, but it's all over so quickly. In the first Gears, the roar of the chainsaw would rev up and slowly rip a Locust in half. You could feel the impact of the chainsaw and blood would be splattered everywhere, including the majority of the screen. This happens a little in Gears 5, but it's much less visceral. This happens in Gears 5, but is far less impressive and there is less blood. That might seem like sadism, but if anything I'm more appropriately shocked and stressed by the first Gears' bloody encounters; Gears 5 feels sanitised, and therefore desensitised, to its own carnage.

Overall my brief time with Gears 5 has been fun and highly enjoyable, and I'm looking to playing through the rest of the campaign and multiplayer. The game looks polished and is visually stunning, but for me, a born-again Gears of War player, the gameplay feels off and is lacking in a few key areas that could make the game great.
Sean Carey
Written by Sean Carey
Sean graduated from Southampton Solent University with a first-class honours degree in Journalism, which he uses to keep TrueAchievements and TrueTrophies topped up with the latest gaming and industry news. When not scouring the web for the latest big story, you’ll find him tearing up the streets in Forza Horizon 5, or failing miserably in Call of Duty: Warzone.