Gears 5: Hivebusters Xbox Series X Review

If you're a fan of Gears of War, Hivebusters is a DLC you should play.

By Grayshadow, Posted 16 Dec 2020

Gears 5's latest DLC expansion explores the multiplayer-only characters of Escape. Showing how these COG Soldiers would eventually become the first Hivebusters and develop a bond similar to the iconic Delta Squad. With Scorpio Squad leading the first operation against a large Swarm hive and developing the techniques used in Escape. It's a short 2-hour campaign that delivers a lot of thrills and ends with an excellent boss fight. Showing how the Gears' universe has a lot more people in this fight and more bonds to be forged.

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Gears 5 is a standalone story that stars Keegan, Lahni, and Mac. These COG soldiers are recruited by Victor Hoffman to lead a new operation against the Swarm. The goal is to destroy a hive using a new type of venom bomb. The operation does not go well and the squad now need to locate a stronger poison and a way to efficiently infiltrate a hive.

The story essentially showcases all the aspects that went into developing the strategy for destroying the hive shown in Escape. Each part of the plan is provided here and is done well thanks to the development team including action-packed situations that require each of Scorpio Squad to depend on one another. Mac, Keegan, and Lahni all have their reasons for being part of this near-suicidal operation, and learning why helps create that bond. Granted it's rushed compared to Delta Squad from both the original trilogy and new games but given the time the length of the DLC the developers did a good job. Each character learns that why they can't get back what they've lost or done they can move forward. Deciding to look to each other for strength.

Much of the game relies heavily on the core concepts of Gears 5. You don't have a Jack here but instead, the abilities used by Mac, Keegan, and Lahni. Mac can deploy a barrier in front of him, Keegan provides ammo, and Lahni can use an electrical blade to slice through enemies quicker than the regular knife. Each of the abilities can be upgraded by finding collectables within the environment similar to Jack's components in a basic skill tree. 

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The locations you'll find are varied, including an old COG shelter, dense forests, and a massive Swarm hive. dynamic events like sliding through massive tunnels and unique environmental changes on the battlefield help keep things fresh. You'll fight the same enemies as in the core campaign with the exception of the final boss. This was refreshing considering the core campaign's final boss fight was a repeat of a previous fight.

The enemies may be repeated but their tactics are not. The developers added environmental hazards so the Swarm could use new techniques to their advantage. Such as Juvies using the tall grass to hide their movement and the Flock hiding in deep water. I would love the developers to explore this more as it does offer new tactical opportunities for interesting encounters similar to the heavy snowstorms of the core game.

What I did love about the DLC is exploring this new area. Most of the Gears of War games would gloss over the various people in this world but here they embrace it. Providing insight into Lahni's heritage and seeing that this world has more than just people in. The world of Sera has other creatures also fighting against the Swarm and natives to these regions attempting to hold out. There are more snippets of information that Gears fans will appreciate throughout the campaign even going as far back as the Locust War.

The only real problem I had with the DLC is how it ends. While the final boss fight is great the DLC could've gone a little further. The primary goal of the DLC is never explored and instead just left alone. It does happen but off the screen, which is disappointing as it should've been a playable event. It's also a bit expensive at $19.99 but if you have Game Pass you get it for free through Gears 5. There's also no cooperative matchmaking as far I can tell and the game has poor collectable tracking. Only showing what levels have missed collectables when you enter the stage instead of the menu. Perhaps the most bizarre issue is that you don't keep your Ultimate Upgrades when changing levels mid-game, losing access to everything unless you play from start to finish is just wrong.

This is a DLC made for Gears of War fans. It doesn't attempt to try anything new and remains in the safe zone of basic third-person combat, which is fine. It does an effective job of explaining how the Escape system came into being, insight into how Scorpio Squad formed, and why each member is willing to head into hell for one another. The only character that feels a bit out of place is Hana which serves as the team's brilliant scientist. Granted she has some appealing moments but she's rarely fleshed out and serves more like the every-genius character within stories.

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Gears 5 Hivebusters is a worthy expansion for this beloved franchise. Highlighting a new squad of characters fighting in this war while connecting them to the core game. It doesn't rely on it and allows Keegan, Mac, and Lahni to stand on their own. It's a short but satisfying campaign that provides insight into how the Escape campaign came into being. If you're a fan of Gears of War this is a DLC you should play.

Adam Siddiqui,
Managing Editor, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PC
Publisher(s): Microsoft
Developer(s): The Coalition
Genres: Third-Person Shooter
Themes: Action, Science-Fiction
Release Date: 2020-12-15

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