So I’ve been playing the Gears of War: Ultimate Edition multiplayer beta for the past couple of days now, and it has reminded me of just how great the online component to Gears of War truly is. Managing to finally pull myself away from the ongoing beta, I’ve decided to briefly discuss what makes the multiplayer of Gears of War so damn good. Much to my surprise, I’ve never really thought about it before.
From this brief revisit to Gears of War’s hellish online landscape, I walked away with a few mental notes on why it is, despite the unrelenting punishment it dishes out, such a great joy to play. Specifically, during the handful of hours I played the beta, I was drawn towards three focus points: Challenge, demand, and intensity. Three aspects of Gears’ online space that contribute to its resounding success.
The multiplayer environment of Gear of War is absolutely punishing. Well, initially it is. I’ve not played a Gears of War game for years, and thus the first couple of matches I played in this multiplayer beta were…frustrating, to say the least. Truth be told, I was getting my ass handed to me. Typical of a bad loser, I blamed various aspects of the game in my heated rage for my abysmal performances.
Of course, the game had nothing to do with it. My impatience was simply getting the better of me. And I guess, currently thinking about it, this is perhaps indicative of the impact modern-day shooters have had on me. Slight tangent incoming…
You see, no disrespect to the likes of Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Titanfall, but these titles are child’s play in comparison to the Gears of War series. Racking up kills on those particular video games is a walk-in-the-park. Gears of War, on the other hand, demands patience and team work, it demands constant vigilance.In the other games I’ve listed above, to put it simply, it’s “gung-ho” warfare. To elucidate slightly further, the likes of Call of Duty and Titanfall do not require you to use your brain all that much. Seemingly, playing such games has made me impatient to the more skill-based games out there.
But back to the point: This challenging aspect of Gears of War leads to the creation of a greatly rewarding landscape. Like I’ve already touched upon, most newcomers and returning players to the Gears of War online space are in for a rough ride initially. However, once you start learning/re-learning the ropes, once you begin to really apply yourself to becoming a better player, you start to become the punisher instead of the punished. The feeling during such a moment, as I’ve been alluding to, is oh-so wonderful.
When you finish top of the table in a Gears of War match, it’s understandable if you’re then looking around your room for a roaring and applauding crowd. The bigger the challenge, the bigger the reward!
The challenge of Gears of War multiplayer demands application. You are required to dedicate the entirety of your attention to the match at hand. To deviate from this requirement is to end up being obliterated by the opposing team. In Call of Duty — I swear I have nothing against this game, it’s just a good comparison — if you have a bad game, if you pause mid-game to make yourself a cup of tea and eat a quick snack, your absence is unlikely to be significant to the end result. In Gears of War, if you aren’t playing well, chances are your team is going to lose the game, and this ingrains a sense of tremendous guilt. Four players on each team is not many, thus if one player decides to shoot at walls and explore the nooks and crannies of the map as if they’re on some sort of bizarre vacation, it is always infuriating due to the negative impact on the team it inevitably has. Your team demands your best. Anything less, and you will feel like hiding under a rock until the game is done.
I’m certain some are intimidated by the demanding nature of this series, and I’m sure many have shunned this franchise as a result of that fear. For me, I relish both the demand and the challenge of the Gears of War series. Again, it links back to that notion of players using their noggin to think tactically and intelligently. The old “run ‘n gun” approach is easy and simplistic. Fun, but too simple for my liking.
Together, the challenge of Gears of War and the demand that follows creates an online shooter of pure intensity. The bulk of this intensity stems from the individual confrontations you encounter during the game.E3 2015 has recently concluded, and whilst planning out this post, I couldn’t help but cast my mind back to one of the Ubisoft games that was presented during the Ubisoft press conference – Ubisoft Montreal Studio’s For Honor. The reason I’m thinking of this game in regards to the Gears of War multiplayer is because of the individual battles you encounter within it.
For Honor emphasises one-on-one combat, combat that doesn’t end in a flash but persists and unfolds in a somewhat tactical, authentic, violent manner. Gears of War combat is similar to this. When faced with an opponent in Gears of War, this is when that intensity I mentioned arises. You need to think about this fight on your feet, in the heat of battle. You need to manoeuvre and avoid, whilst at the same time attempt to land that deadly shot and walk away victorious and profoundly satisfied. Battles can last mere seconds, or they can drag-out in a sluggish but heart-pounding manner.
From playing the Gears of War: Ultimate Edition multiplayer beta, I am drooling over the thought of experiencing next year’s Gears of War 4, but also tempted to lay down my purchase for Gears of War: Ultimate Edition right now. Are you a fan of Gears’ multiplayer? See it in the same way I do? Sound-off in the comment section.