Coming June 6, Gears of War 4 is getting its largest patch to date, Rise of the Horde, which includes a free 10 hour trial so you will have no excuse not to give it a go. The trial is available from June 9-15 and includes the entire first Act, full access to Horde and multiplayer, so fill you boots with 10 hours of free Gears of War 4 goriness.
The main focus of the patch is to give Horde mode a bit of a shakeup. Each soldier class will have access to three new level 6 skills – I’d imagine TiX’s Editor in Chief will like the magic bullet buff to the Sniper class, which increases headshot damage – meanwhile all existing skills can be buffed to the new level 6 cap. To help you on your path to collecting these new skill cards boss waves will drop a single random Horde Skill if you can defeat them. Harder difficulties increase the chance of a rare drop.
After a prolonged first run of the campaign on insane difficulty with Greg, the next piece of patch news doesn’t fill me with much joy – Inconceivable and Ironman difficulties – available for both Campaign and Horde. Inconceivable ramps up the toughness of the Swarm while making the COG weaker while Ironman pits you against the Swarm with just one life. Feeling brave? Take on Inconceivable with Iron Man active, but the best part of the patch… new maps. Gears of War 2 favourite Avalanche returns alongside Gears of War 3 map Rust Lung.
Rounding off the Rise of the Horde patch is a special ‘The Gear With The Golden Gun’ event. Armed with just one bullet in a Boltok, you must hit your opponent by hip-firing, land the shot and the bullet returns to the barrel, miss and you need to dig in for the longest reload animation of your Gears career. Finally, Season Pass holders will get a little something extra with a Horde Expert Pack and an exclusive Gear Pack that contains 5 of the new Horde skills.
One of the most lauded features of the 4K revolution, HDR (or High Dynamic Range), has hit Gears of War 4 this week, joining Forza Horizon 3, NBA 2K17, and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
Whilst typically associated with UHD Blu-ray titles, HDR enables your TV to go beyond conventional 8-bit processing into 10-bit. Those conventional 8-bit images we’ve been enjoying up to now can deliver 256 values across each of the channels in the RGB spectrum—that’s around 16 million colours. So what do those two extra bits give you? Well, a whopping 64-times more colours, hitting just over a billion. It’s kind of a big deal, on paper at least.
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In practice, this means more gradations of colours, more details in bright and dark scenes, and more lifelike, realistic image reproduction. Scenes featuring complex, wide-ranging, diverse images can show off HDR in a particularly striking way.
Players of Gears of War 4 will of course be familiar with its beautiful visual effects, crazy weather, and bombastic action. As games go, there’s perhaps nothing better to show off HDR than this.
The following is a series of Gears of War 4 images captured offscreen in both standard and HDR mode on Xbox One S. Bear in mind however, you’re reading this on an 8-bit display. Due to the nature of HDR and its increased ability to deliver localised luminosity, these images should be interpreted as a typical approximation.
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As you can see here, the standard image suffers quite badly from bloom originating from the sun behind the mountains. As a result, the entire image is overly illuminated in an unrealistic way. With HDR, the display is able to reproduce both the peak brightness of the sun, along with the more subtle, realistic darker details of the wall. Light sources fall across the environment more realistically too, with the facing wall remaining dark whilst retaining detail.
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Even more noticeable here, the sun completely blows out the standard image. On HDR, the brightness and luminosity is retained but localised, with the sun bleeding through the clouds without sacrificing detail elsewhere in the image.
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Multiplayer effects are unsurprisingly more subtle, perhaps a nod by the developers to level the playing field a bit. Environmental details and surfaces continue to deal with light sources in a more realistic way, creating a more natural and striking image.
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Here, HDR gives us a furious sky with blinding brights and moody blacks, as surfaces like the bricks on the left and the metal cog on the right react to light sources more realistically. Notice the shadows under the brown-bricked building’s ledge and the architecture of the building to its right—depth is far more noticeable.
All in all, it’s clear HDR can add tremendous value to a game’s immersion and its ability to reproduce what the artists intended more truthfully. There are some caveats, however. Due to the increased range of colour and luminosity produced by the source, the resulting effect is an image that often appears to be slightly dimmer than its 8-bit equivalent, in order for your television to display the wider range it receives. Whilst this isn’t a problem for gamers in dark rooms, those playing in bright conditions may find HDR to be relatively redundant.
HDR is a new technology for consumers and it’s unsurprisingly riddled with complications. As is often the case with newer standards, there are several formats to choose from—and many of the most popular televisions can only reproduce HDR in certain conditions, with some only supporting the technology on one HDMI port. A bigger red flag for gamers though, is that some televisions don’t support HDR in Game Mode, ultimately sacrificing input latency for 10-bit images. The Samsung we tested HDR gaming on had no problems delivering HDR with Game Mode. Whilst we noticed an extremely minimal increase in input latency through a high-speed camera, it’s completely unnoticeable during gameplay.
In the consumer space, HDR is in its infancy. Just like any other case of early adopter syndrome, it feels like developers, platform makers, and players are all maturing with it together—and with 4K gaming just around the corner, it certainly feels like we’re about to embark on the next big generational leap. Colour me excited.
It’s been 5 years since Gears of War 3 graced our screens, we had the Ultimate Edition on the Xbox One but Gears of War 4 is the first new generation title. It’s been worth the wait.
Gears of War 4 is set 25 years after the events of Gears 3, the game starts strongly as you revisit key moments from the previous game. It’s not long before you are back in the present and you get to meet a new breed of Gears.
Things are different now, the COG’s are now trying to look after the remaining survivors, a new army of robots known as DB’s are in place to help protect and build new settlements. It’s not all peaceful though violent storms known as ‘windflares’ are frequent and devastating.
You play as JD Fenix alongside his best friend Del. JD is the son of some guy called Marcus, he was in the previous games apparently They have joined up with Kait and Oscar, who are known as Outsiders, not willing to be overruled by the COG.
Gears or War 4 feels instantly familiar, one minute you are slowly make your way around a peaceful area, when all of a sudden you’ll see plenty of opportunities to get into cover. Except it isn’t always that obvious, which is nice. This time round you are trying to get to know the new characters so there is plenty of dialogue to take in. The gunplay is very familiar, the Lancer is still awesome and the noise that the exploding heads of the enemy make when you get them with the longshot is still hugely satisfying. There are a whole host of new weapons to play with thanks to the new enemies, the enforcer, the Overkill and the Embar are all brilliant weapons.
Likewise the new enemies are exciting and terrifying to take on; after battling with the DB’s initially it seems the real threat are the Swarm, they fight in a different manner to the DB’s – they are much more willing to get up close and personal and at speed too. Whether it’s the Juvies trying to claw your face off or Pouncers trying to rip your head off you’ll need to act quickly to deal with them. To mix things up with the gameplay, some of the places you’ll cover behind is destructible, some partly, others completely. The windflare sections will require you to adapt to the wind direction and power, grenades will fly back in your face, while other projectiles will easily veer off course, trying to roadie run through them is brilliant fun.
Little improvements to the gameplay have made a world of difference, movement feels faster, roadie runs feels like they have more pace to them, holding the B button at the same time allows you to seamlessly vault over cover. It’s a fiddly position to put your fingers in, but you could always map your buttons differently. The grab and shank move over cover position is awesome if you can pull it off, it’s a great way to execute enemies and makes you feel like a god in multiplayer. Throughout the game you’ll encounter horde-esque section which will see you battle against wave after wave of enemy. I felt they were a little shoehorned in at first but once I started playing through my co-op run I began to enjoy them a lot more, even if it’s a bit brutal!
Gears has always been quite dull in colour but impressive in looks, this time round The Coalition have worked wonders. Every level is spectacular, whether you are outside among the war beaten ruins or with the more industrial areas you encounter. The beautiful environments and the fantastic audio all complement each other perfectly. HDR comment. Although the campaign ends quite abruptly, it has managed to set itself up nicely for number five. As far as the characters go, JD and Kait are instantly likeable, but poor Del just seems to get in the way, Oscar is an interesting character too.
Of course, Gears of War is more than just a campaign. Horde 3.0 – hugely popular in the past and still brilliant thanks to some significant updates. Horde is all about teamwork as you and 4 other members battle against every enemy type available. In 3.0 your job is not only to survive, but to protect the Fabricator, Every enemy you kill drops points that you can collect and cash in. This gives you the chance to stock up on weapons, turrets and barricades to slow the enemy down. The new horde also brings in a class system. Each class had specific weapon loadouts but apart from that they don’t make a massive impact on the mode itself. The only exception is the scout and here is a useful tip; don’t collect the fabricator points until there is one enemy left, if the scout collects you get double points, you can thank me later.
Multiplayer is as good as it ever was, all the normal game types are there, Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill and Guardian. New to this year is dodgeball, the perfect party game. In this mode each player has one life, but for every kill your team gets, you get to revive one of your team mates, its superb fun. For hardened Gears fans the multiplayer is a continuation of days gone by, yet for newcomers it still very easy to get into. Gears of War 4 introduces a card system this ear, allowing to set bounties for challenges, or craft cards in the hope of getting a legendary skin for one of your weapons or characters. Thankfully it doesn’t affect gameplay as most people I play with won’t bother using them.
Gears of War 4 is a joy to play from start to finish, it plays brilliantly and the story is well put together. Older Gears fan will love spending time with a (still) grumpy Marcus and the new enemies mix things up nicely. The coalition have done a fantastic job.
Hot off the heels of this morning’s news that HyperX are releasing an exclusive Gears of War 4 branded CloudX headset, Microsoft have unveiled a seven minute campaign walkthrough, which will be playable at SDCC.
The demo features the return of Marcus Fenix… that’s right, you read that correctly – check out the above trailer to see a small glimpse of the big man in action.
There’s a whole host of Gear goodies up for grabs for those at SDCC – we aren’t going – so rather than list them and sulk at all the goodness beyond our reach here’s a handy linky.
Loot Crate the company that makes every month feel like Christmas, has teamed up with The Coalition to bring us a very special Gears of War 4: Loot Crate Edition. Packed with exclusive collectibles, apparel and more, this special mystery crate is a must for any Gears of War fan. Plus for the first time ever you can also add a Gears of War 4 digital download code to your crate so you can be one of the first to play on October 11th, however these supplies are limited so you must hurry.
So what’s exactly in the box?
Rev up an epic COG weapon replica
Find cover (even if you’re an Outsider) with a cool hoodie
Swap out your canteen for high quality glassware & more
Add the Gears of War 4 digital download to your bundle so you can play on Xbox One & Windows 10 on Launch Day!
BONUS: Vintage Del Pack and Xbox 360 Gears of War collection included with digital game pre-orders
But everything comes at a price,
The Gears of War 4: Loot Crate Edition + Digital Game Code will set you back $180 with shipping and handling.
The Gears of War 4: Loot Crate Edition minus Digital Content will cost you $120 with shipping and handling.
Also if you get your order in before the 15th July 9pm PT (yep only 1 day left) you’ll receive an Early Bird Bonus of a 2″ Golden Lancer Pin. So if you’re truly a Gears of War 4 fan then this is a must for you. Further information about this awesome Loot Crate and other offers can be found at the official Loot Crate website.
Unsurprisingly, Gears of War 4 will also ship as a Collector’s Edition, either with a standard or Ultimate copy of the game. The centre piece of the edition is a statue of JD Fenix astride a COG Bike – it will look mighty fine next to the Marcus Fenix stature from Gears of War 3’s Epic Edition!
Costing a cool £199.99, the Ultimate Collector’s Edition can be pre-ordered online from GAME in the UK or you can drop in store, but be prepared to drop £50 on the deposit – apparently it’s to discourage ‘time wasters’.
Here is what the collector’s edition includes:
JD Fenix on COG Bike Premium Statue
Frag Grenade Keychain
In Game Bonus Content: Includes 3 Gears Crates
I may have pre-ordered it… I just can’t resist a good collector’s edition!
Gears of War 4’s release date has been revealed! Choosing to announce the news via Entertainment Weekly, The Coalition have also shown off the cover artwork for the next entry into the Gears series, which is set 25 years after Gears of War 3.
Gears of Wars 4 is revving up for a worldwide launch on October 11, but if you can’t wait until then, you can check out the multiplayer beta kicking off later this month – that is if you bought and played Gears of War Ultimate Edition!