Gears Tactics PC Review

Gears Tactics may not the best game in the genre, but the tactical action is very well executed and enjoyable.

By JohnSnow, Posted 04 Jun 2020

Gears Tactics is a prequel to the Gears of War series that starts twelve years before the events in the first game. When the locusts attacked all human cities on the planet Sera on the fateful "Emergence Day", humanity used the orbital Hammer of Dawn weapon to push them back. Sadly, this also leveled entire cities.

Your role as protagonist Gabriel Diaz is to find and destroy Ukkon, one of the locust army's genetic experts and monster creators. This will require manpower and it's your job to find and lead them in turn-based tactical combat, which is a first in the Gears of War franchise. The story is well woven together and on the whole, Gears Tactics feels very much like a Gears game.

Gears Tactics, PC, Review, Screenshots, Gameplay

Gears Tactics is no technical marvel, but looks really good and runs well on any reasonably fast PC. Even an older computer should be able to get the game running satisfactorily though. There are quite a few settings that you can tweak to reach a solid 60 FPS.

If you have some turn-based tactics experience, you will inevitably compare Gears Tactics to genre staples such as the XCOM series. Like in XCOM 2, you will be able to customize the look of your soldiers – including their equipment – and see them evolve in their respective classes.

Unsurprisingly, the gameplay is also strongly reminiscent of XCOM, but with some differences. You are not moving on a grid, but other mechanics, such as full and half cover is still there. You have a total of three action points per turn for each soldier and you can spend them exactly as you like. So unlike XCOM, you can fire first and move later, which allows for some additional freedom.

Gears Tactics is not quite as tactical as XCOM, however, as it requires (and allows) you to move forward more aggressively. Obstacles will appear out of nowhere, so you have to be nimble and it's difficult to plan all of your moves in advance. Some maps have a timer that requires you to continuously move ahead or be obliterated. Occasionally, enemies will not die outright, but by performing an execution your soldiers will be rewarded with an extra AP. This is not only useful but often completely necessary to conserve APs and win.

In another parallel to XCOM, soldiers have abilities that you can actively choose when playing. The character classes are Support, Vanguard, Scout, Heavy, and Sniper – all of which have different abilities that you unlock via a skill tree. This doesn't add a huge amount of variation, but enough to approach the game a bit differently depending on your preferences. A downside is that you don't really get attached to your soldiers like in XCOM 2. You will get access to higher-level characters as the game progresses, which partly defeats the value of leveling up your existing ones.

Gears Tactics, PC, Review, Screenshots, Gameplay

While the gameplay is generally well balanced, some additional variation would have been welcome. Basically, only a few different scenarios are repeated, which is more noticeable due to the lack of a strategy layer. You either defend checkpoints, progress to a specific target, escape from heavy artillery, or free prisoners. The game is also very linear, making the experience somewhat repetitive a few hours in.

On the whole, Gears Tactics may not the best game in the genre, but the tactical action is very well executed and enjoyable. The game would have benefited from some additional variety and strategic choices, but it's nevertheless worth playing if you enjoy turn-based games.


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General Information

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One
Publisher(s): Xbox Game Studios
Developer(s): Splash Damage, The Coalition
Genres: Strategy
Themes: Science Fiction
Release Date: 2020/04/28

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