The Gears of War series is an immensely popular and competitive third-person shooter. Aside from the gripping and exciting single-player campaign, Gears is probably one of the most popular competitive multiplayer games on Xbox. That being said, the series has released a total of four games so far, with the fifth being released by Microsoft Studios on October 11th of this year. After so many games in a single series, it is difficult to create new and exciting tropes. I worry that Gears of War 4, the upcoming title in the series, will follow most of the same multiplayer pitfalls that eventually frustrated me in the previous titles.

Since Gears of War 4 is set to release to soon, I have been brushing up on my skill by playing the original Gears of War reboot on the Xbox One. Though I do still find the campaign to be enjoyable, I am about fed up with the multiplayer. Though it has been a while since I have picked up a Lancer, I cannot help but notice a consistent and frustrating flow in each multiplayer game. Whether it be Deathmatch or King of the Hill, each match consists of players racing to power weapons placed in the center of the map. Not unlike other online shooters, each power weapon is significantly stronger than the starting weapons and usually require higher skill and practice to use. This is not the issue that I have with Gear of War online, if anything, I enjoy racing my fellow teammates and opponents to rocket launchers and sniper rifles scarcely scattered across the remotely small maps. My main issues actually pertains to the default, and most popular, weapons in the game.

Gears of War 4
The Iconic Lancer Assault Rifle with Chainsaw Bayonet

The Gnasher shotgun is a staple of the Gears of War franchise. Rightly so, it is a very versatile and powerful weapon. That being said, is it possible that the weapon is too powerful? Every match that I have joined in Gears of War starts with players switching to their shotguns and sprinting into the fray. Every match then revolves around players jumping in and out of cover while firing high-powered shotguns at each other until the other team is eliminated. Is there a problem with this strategy? Not if you are skilled with the shotgun and the in-game mechanics of taking cover, sprinting, and rolling. I happen to be fairly unskilled with the shotgun, I do have a lucky shot every now and then but usually I am lower on the totem pole. With that in mind, I find it extremely frustrating that my other weapons are essentially useless in battle. Time and time again I try and shoot my Lancer rifle, one of the most iconic weapons in the Gears of War series, at enemies but end up being out-gunned by an over-powered shotgun. The Lancer even has a chainsaw bayonet! Which is also rendered useless since the shotgun especially dominates at close range. My only hope is that Gears of War 4 will do something to even out this weapon.

Gears of War 4
The “infamous” Gnasher Shotgun

Sequels in games usually lead to slight tweaks in the game play and the mechanics, usually for the better. Since I do very much enjoy the Gears of War series as a whole, I can only hope that Gears of War 4 will add some tweaks to the multiplayer. Considering the series is so large and popular, many players are already proficient with the weapons and skills, especially the Gnasher Shotgun. It is almost to the point that if you are not good enough with the shotgun, you do not stand a chance online, thus making players use it until it becomes the primary weapon. On the same note, Gears of War 4 is opening up a new story-line with new characters. This means that new players will likely be entering the series at this game. Unfortunate for new players, and players who are not proficiently skilled like me, playing online will continue to be a frustrating chore that is centered around a shotgun. I find it hard to enjoy a game that is so strongly focused on a single weapon.

Hopefully Gears of War 4 will understand the plight of the players and create a more balanced environment for both skilled and novice players. I believe that Gears of War 4 has a lot of potential and could revive the series; however, to do that, it will need to even out the playing field for all players to enjoy.