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Gears 5: Everything we know so far

Gears 5
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios, The Coalition )

Gears is back and "war" is out. Of the title, anyway. It's very much still in the game. Gear 5, as it shall be known, is being brought to us by Microsoft's dedicated Gears studio The Coalition. With Gears of War 4 under its belt, The Coalition is doing a lot more experimenting with Gears 5.

The Coalition has also said that Gears 5 will have the "largest campaign" in the series' history and has given us a look at several new multiplayer modes. A new co-op mode for three players called "Escape" has been shown off, as has making Escape maps to share with other players. There's also a new mode called Arcade. And, of course, Horde Mode is back too.

Gears 5 is nearly here, so we've got everything you'll want to know before giving it a go next week.

What is Gears 5's release date?

Gears 5 will be available on September 9th, 2019 on Steam and the Microsoft Store.

Here's the first good look at Gears 5's story

Shown at the Gamescom 2019 Opening Night Live event, the trailer is our first good look at Gears 5's story, which The Coalition has mostly kept under wraps until now.

From what we know about Gears 5's story, it seems like players will be splitting time between the main characters returning from Gears of War 4: JD and Marcus Fenix, Kait Diaz, and Delmont Walker. Early on in the game, Kait and Delmont diverge from JD's battalion to pursue answers relating to Kait's Locust descent. As far as we can tell, Kait is the main protagonist this time around. The Coalition studio head Rod Fergusson is calling Gears 5's story mode the "biggest ever."

Here's the cinematic announcement trailer from last year

Horde mode is back, and it's got character abilities

Gears 5 is taking cues from hero shooters like Overwatch to give its Horde mode characters that feel distinct from one another. But when you see the game in action, it's undeniably Gears—just, with new stuff in it. Horde mode and co-op are Gears' bread and butter; or as Coalition studio head Rod Fergusson puts it, it's "cake, and not icing."

Character roles will play a big part in how you play and each of them have passive, active, and ultimate abilities. There's Kate, with her invisibility ability, and JD, who can call in artillery strikes.

Horde mode in Gears 5 is going to push players out from their defence points, forcing them to capture new ground and be more aggressive. Gears 5 has structures called "Taps" on its horde maps, and those structures activate over the course of a a horde run. You'll need to build out your base, or shift your position, in order to gain and maintain control of these taps, which provide buffs if you own them. 

Escape is Gears 5's new 3-player co-op mode, and here's a trailer

Escape sounds pretty interesting. It's designed to be highly replayable. Levels are made in a tile-based editor that players will be able to use and share their levels with. I can see this being a fun distraction for a group of friends in the lulls between larger content drops.

Gears 5 will have a new Arcade multiplayer mode

Gears of War 5 is introducing an Arcade mode that's meant to be approachable for players who have typically skipped out on competitive modes in Gears.

In Arcade, players will pick from a selection of character roles, each with their own active and passive abilities and equipment loadout. Skulls, the currency in Arcade Mode, are used to buy upgrades and character enhancements. You'll earn Skulls for kills, assists, and bounties specific to the character role you're playing.

Dying means losing the weapon you've been investing in, but you keep any skulls you haven't spent.

Building Escape maps looks fun, easy

The Coalition recently showed off its map builder for Escape in the video above. The video makes map building look as easy as slotting in various tiles and enemies. You can completely customize the layouts, enemy placements, and weapon pickups. Custom maps can be published and and downloaded by the community, Halo-style.

Gears 5 is ditching loot boxes, new maps will be free

Gears 5 is ditching the loot box model for what The Coalition hopes is a better, more player-friendly model. In an interview with IGN, the developer said, "In Gears 5, our goal is to create a player-first experience when it comes to in-game content." The developer included a handy checklist for its post-launch philosophy:

  • No Season Pass
  • No Gear Packs
  • DLC Maps are free for matchmaking and Private Play
  • Exclusive earnable content in the all-new Tour of Duty system
  • All store purchases are direct, no RNG so you always know what you will get

The Coalition is setting it up so that every thing is separate: earned items can't be purchased and purchasable items can't be earned. Though, there is one notable exception: hero characters can be earned or bought with premium Iron currency.

Every match of versus, horde, or escape earns supply points, which can be spent on supply drops that contain exclusive customization items that sound a lot like (but apparently are not) loot boxes.

What is this 'Tour of Duty' system?

Part of the post-launch "operations" for Gears 5 which will deliver new maps and other content every three months. Each Tour of Duty is a group of daily goals and seasonal medals that are a part of each Operation. You'll be able to unlock character and weapon skins, executions, blood sprays, marks, banners, and expressions, which is what Gears 5 calls emotes.

The first Tour of Duty begins at launch in which you'll be able to unlock desert armor for Kait, Del, and Fahz as well as winter armor for Kait and Del, a Final Touch execution and a Team Metal Gnasher. That gnasher skin and Fahz's desert armor, as well as a salute emote, will only be available during this operation. 

Play as Dave Bautista, if you want

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Hollywood star, WWE wrestler, and professional large man Dave Bautista has always wanted to star in a movie adaption of Gears of War, but barring that, this is the next best thing. You can unlock Bautista as a multiplayer character, where he'll wear Marcus Fenix's armor. He knows a thing or two about guarding a galaxy, so he'll fit right in.

Anyone who plays Gears 5 from release until October 28 will unlock Bautista.

One campaign level is 50 times larger than any previous Gears game

That's a pretty hefty claim, but makes sense when we consider what we've seen so far from campaign. I'd wager "50 times bigger" references the sand surfing level we've seen a few glimpses at. Perhaps it'll be similar to Uncharted 4's small open-world hub that branches out into intimate encounters.

Gears 5 will support 3-player splitscreen on PC

Gears 5

Gears 5's new Escape mode will support three-player splitscreen on PC, a nice addition given that splitscreen is a feature that often gets dropped in PC versions. Gears 5 on PC will also support 4K and ultrawide resolutions, HDR, and uncapped framerates, making that 3-person splitscreen session less squished if you have the monitor to support spreading everyone out. 

Gears 5 on Steam is compatible with Windows 7

A game's compatibility with Windows 7 isn't usually front page news, but it's an important distinction here. The only other place to get Gears 5 on PC is the Microsoft Store, which is exclusive to Windows 10. This has always been the case with Microsoft exclusives to encourage more users to make the Windows 10 switch, but Gears 5's Steam version will be playable on Windows 7.

OK, but what am I killing this time?

Back at last year's E3, we got a good look at several of the enemy types that'll pop up in Gears 5. The Locust, of course, are making a return, including a crazy-looking Locust wearing its best Kratos cosplay. A new type of fleshy pink mass also makes an appearance in the trailer, fusing with what looks like the broken remains of a robot enemy from Gears of War 4. Thanks, I hate it.

gears 5

Will the Gears POP! characters make a cameo in Gears 5?

If they do, I hope the Locust win.

Morgan is an FPS specialist who spends way too much time trying to get his friends into Rainbow Six Siege. He also loves weird stealth games, immersive sims, and having new memes explained to him by his partner.