Instead of sitting in my bed to play EVE Online like I usually do in the evenings, I decided to go sit on my couch and play something on my Xbox. I wasn’t really feeling The Division, as that’s really the only thing I’ve been playing for the past two and a half weeks, and I wasn’t really feeling Call of Duty or Halo 5. That left me with three choices (unless I wanted to download one of this month’s Games with Gold): Fallout 4, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, or Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, which is just the first three Gears games and Judgement remastered. I haven’t felt the desire to play Fallout 4 or Unity in like, a month, so I loaded up Gears of War. I played a mission or two, and stopped shortly thereafter when I decided the story wasn’t moving at a reasonable pace.
Suddenly, I remembered something. I had gotten a notification telling me I could play the Gears 4 beta. I quickly downloaded it and fired it up. The menu set a dark tone for what I thought was going to be a campaign mission (more on this later). Boy, was I in for a surprise. It should be noted I had no previous knowledge of the contents of the beta before today, much less that there was even a 5th (it’s Gears of War 4, but there’s 5 games in the franchise) in development. There were two things on this dark menu; a pre-order button and a Versus Mode button. Well, shoot. There goes my hopes of a single player demo. In retrospect, I should have realized that it was a multiplayer beta. What developer releases a single player beta?
I clicked the Versus and was given an option of two modes; Team Deathmatch and Dodgeball. I wasn’t completely sure what Dodgeball was, so I stuck with what I knew. The mode was pretty basic – standard TDM, 5-on-5. Both teams start with 20 waves, and whoever depletes the enemy reinforcements first wins. I feel like I should say this right here: Gears of War is a cover shooter, much like Uncharted or The Division. That’s how the single player campaign plays. That is absolutely not how the beta played. Let me give you one tactic, the only tactic as far as everybody else in the game is concerned – run up to somebody with the Gnasher Shotgun and blow their brains out point blank. I honestly felt like I was playing third person Call of Duty. I wanted what I got in the campaign, which is medium to long range engagements, ducking in and out of cover, strategically moving from cover to cover, and taking pot shots at my opponent. Didn’t get that at all, except for in one match for all of five minutes (because that’s about how long all matches last). It was really disappointing for me personally.
No bother though. I recollected myself and queued up for Dodgeball. As soon as I loaded into the match, I noticed little to no difference between the two game modes. The only thing I noticed was that there were no twenty waves like in the TDM. There was only one life for each of the five players. After getting killed almost right off the bat, I whipped out my phone and began messing around. I looked up at my TV screen to watch my fellow teammates, and I realized I was back in the game. Weird. No matter, I picked up my controller and got killed again. All this time I’m trying to figure out how this game type resembles actual dodgeball. Couldn’t figure it out. I turned my console off after getting shotgunned in the back at point blank for about the umpteen billionth time. It took a trip to Google to figure out what was special about the Dodgeball game type. When a teammate kills an enemy, you come back in the game just like when a ball is caught in normal dodgeball. Nowhere did the game tell me and I highly doubt that anybody who wasn’t looking for it would have picked up on it. Hell, I was looking for it and didn’t notice it.
Now, back to that dark main menu very briefly. After I saw it, I thought the beta was going to be like the rest of the games, which is very dark and very atmospheric. Yeah, no. The maps are very bright and very, very colorful. It almost looks like a cartoon. It kind of threw me off for a second.
While I didn’t have a good time with the beta, maybe you will. The beta is open until May 1st, and the full game releases on October 11th.