Gears of War fans have been tearing up the Locust Horde with Lancers, Bolo Grenades, and the Hammer of Dawn for a little over a decade now. Given the positive reception the last entry in the series had and Gears 5 on the horizon, it doesn’t seem like the property will be slowing down anytime soon. Here’s our ranking of the best Gears of War games so far before its latest title releases on September 6.
Best Gears of War Games | Gears of War: Judgment
Though Gears of War: Judgment isn’t a terrible game by any stretch of the imagination, its biggest shortcoming is its lack of personality. Baird and Cole’s relationship with newcomers Sofia and Garron isn’t as interesting as their dynamic with Marcus and Dom in the original trilogy. This is due to the fact that the title’s campaign directs players from one set piece to the other with little room for dialogue and character interaction in between. That’s not to mention that the Judgment‘s villain, Karn, poses little threat compared to the likes of General RAAM, Skorge, and Queen Myrrah.
While the series’ core gameplay remains mostly unchanged in Judgment, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The game’s Declassified system incentivizes multiple playthroughs through modifiers that halve ammo, double enemy numbers, and more. Judgment‘s multiplayer component may be missing the popular Down But Not Out mode, but its two-weapon system forces fans to approach firefights more carefully than they did in prior entries. This Gears of War title doesn’t represent the best of what the franchise has to offer, but it is worth looking into by whomever may have missed it during the Xbox 360 era.
Best Gears of War Games | Gears of War 4
Instead of saving the world, Gears of War 4 tasks fans with saving a group of people from a new menace called the Swarm. Though some interactions between JD, Kait, and Del are amusing, the trio doesn’t quite replicate how fun it is to step into the shoes of Marcus Fenix. This being said, relying on only two other teammates in the heat of battle adds more intensity to each enemy encounter. It’s rare that players will come to a point where they feel as the game is taking it too easy on them. The title’s multiplayer component is just as action-packed with features such as Horde Mode 3.0 and the classic Versus mode. Gears of War 4 may not reinvent the franchise, but it’s a great first outing for developer The Coalition.
Best Gears of War Games | Gears of War 3
Gears of War 3 isn’t as emotionally powerful as its predecessor, but it does appropriately tie up plot threads that were left unanswered. Marcus’ relationship with his father may not be as compelling as Dom’s relationship with Maria, but it does inject some much-needed humanity to the experience.
As satisfying as Gears of War 3‘s story may be, the stars of the show are its multiplayer offerings. Aside from traditional competitive and cooperative modes, fans can enjoy the game’s campaign entirely with up three other people. The connectivity issues that plagued Gears of War 2 were non-existent, allowing players to slice and dice Locusts to their hearts content. The title’s emphasis on teamwork helps it stand apart from its peers even today, as those who work together are practically guaranteed to find more success than lone wolves.
Best Gears of War Games | Gears of War
It’s no surprise that the original Gears of War helped popularize cover shooters when it debuted over 10 years ago, as it melds features like active reload, split-screen co-op, and chainsaw melee combat together and somehow makes it all work. Impressive enemy A.I., intimate multiplayer matches, and co-op further enhance the experience and differentiate the game from every other shooter that released back in 2006.
Gears of War also delivers detailed visuals and spectacular sound design, especially on Xbox One via the Ultimate Edition. It’s hard to forget one’s first time stepping foot in locations like the mining facility or playing through the title’s Nightfall act. Subsequent entries may have improved upon the innovation that Gears of War introduced, but there’s no denying that Epic Games provided a phenomenal foundation. The Ultimate Edition remaster on Xbox One and PC is also a fantastic version of the game, showing how strong this entry’s foundation is.
Best Gears of War Games | Gears of War 2
What makes Gears of War 2 so special is how well it learns from the mistakes of its predecessor. Though its campaign still features plenty of testosterone, Epic Games manages to sprinkle in several moments that will tug at player’s heartstrings. While the first entry’s gameplay is great as is, the sequel does away with elements like squad commands and instant chainsaw deaths that some people found frustrating.
On top of that, its set pieces are somehow even more extravagant than those included in the original game. Not many video games task players with slicing their way through a giant worm. Horde mode offers plenty of more hours of content to sink into, as it has fans fight against 50 increasingly difficult Locust waves. It represents the series at its best, as its simultaneously gruesome and fun.
While some entries in the Gears of War franchise are better than others, each title offers fast-paced gameplay, awe-inspiring set pieces, and addictive multiplayer modes that will keep players glued to their seats for hours on end. There aren’t many third-person shooters on the market that capture a sense of war and brutality quite as well as this series. Here’s hoping that we’ll see a lot more Gears after its fifth main entry launches soon and that The Coalition one day makes a title that blows Gears of War 2 out of the water.