When Epic Games released Gears of War for Xbox 360 in 2006, the developer unleashed an experience that managed to stand right alongside Microsoft and Bungie's Halo series. Not only did it look incredible, but sawing enemies in half with a Lancer Assault Rifle instantly became one of the most satisfying melee kills in gaming history.
Now, nearly nine years after its initial release, the game makes its return on the Xbox One with a new Ultimate Edition featuring refined visuals, balanced gameplay in both the campaign and online multiplayer, new single player content from the PC version and a slew of unlockable characters and weapons.
With this in mind, we have some tips that will help get you back in the action, provided you don't wind up on the wrong end of a Lancer.
Take cover, because you’re not a bullet sponge
No matter which mode you play in Gears, you're likely to run into an enemy that will mow you down quickly if you're foolish enough to stand out in the open. Fortunately, the game has some of the best cover mechanics of all time, as you simply press the A button near an object and hide behind it. In some cases you can also move behind cover, popping out to take down an enemy.
Don't forget the roll as well. If you're out in the open and don't have immediate access to cover, you can press the A button and launch into a somersault, removing your character from the line of fire long enough to reposition yourself and take the shot. You don't always need to charge into a room guns a-blazing – sometimes the defensive approach is best for bringing down a group of Locusts and surviving long enough to reach the next wave.
Search for new collectibles
The Coalition, taking over development from the previous team at Epic Games, did quite well revitalizing the classic Gears of War for a new generation to enjoy. However, it's also thrown in some new items that you'll be able to add to your collection, in the form of digital comics.
These are strewn throughout the game and they're worth tracking down, as you can add them to your collection and glance at them, experiencing more of the adventures of Fenix and company at your leisure. You can find pieces of concept art as well, a neat addition that shows how far the game has come with this revitalization.
It may take some time to track these down, but for the most avid Gears fans, they're worth it.
Pick and choose your opportunities with the Lancer
The main Gears of War weapon is the Lancer Assault Rifle. It's accurate enough and carries a good amount of ammunition, but also packs a punch when it comes to melee strikes, as you can easily cut enemies in half with the chainsaw attachment.
However, you'll need to keep a few things in mind. To effectively rev up the Lancer to saw someone, you'll need to tap the button first. You'll hear it start revving up, and with the button held down, you can approach an enemy and take him or her out. If you don't rev up, however, you won't be able to use the attack, and an enemy can easily strike back. In this case, it's best to fire and then prepare for the next Locust.
Also, don't forget to pick up ammo refill boxes. Your Lancer will go through a good amount of bullets in skirmishes, and if you run out, you'll be left with whatever weapons you have on hand, like a pistol. That's not the end of the world, but you definitely want an effective weapon against these guys. So when you see an ammo box, don't hesitate – stock up.
Finally, use the Hammer of Dawn whenever you can. You'll be introduced to this laser-guiding weapon in the beginning of the game, when you can use it against larger enemies. However, what you may not know is that you can also utilize it against smaller foes when you're outside. You'll notice this when you reach an outpost, where a fellow squad is under fire from the Locust Horde. Use this area to practice with the Hammer of Dawn, and watch enemy after enemy succumb to the powerful laser. It's a thing of beauty.
Get the most from multiplayer
The multiplayer experience was fully optimized for the Xbox One, running at a beautiful 60 frames per second and featuring a number of new options, including unlockable characters from Gears of War 3, as well as all previously released DLC and PC-exclusive maps – totaling 19.
Several traditional multiplayer modes were introduced for the game, including Team Deathmatch mode (where you battle in squads and try to get the necessary kill count for each round), King of the Hill (where you conquer one particular spot on a map and maintain control of it to continue scoring points), the classic Execution (players must kill all members of a team within a time limit, with few revives), Warzone (a more limited version of Deathmatch with less revives) and the new 2 vs. 2 Gnasher Execution mode (similar to Execution, but with the effective short-range Gnasher Shotgun).
When it comes to getting started in Gears of War multiplayer, your best bet is Team Deathmatch. This mode will teach you the traditional basics of multiplayer, like how to effectively use cover and roll, and work closely with your squad to eliminate threats. The other modes are great as well, but this is the ideal mode to get started.
Going in for the close kill in Gears of War multiplayer can be quite satisfying, but incredibly risky. Enemies won't hesitate to let loose with a blast from their Gnasher Shotguns. However, if you find the prime opportunity, go ahead and rev your Lancer to finish them off.
Finding the right class to play as in Gears of War can take some time. Some swear by the power of the Elite Grenadier, while others prefer the general assault class, if only to carry around a trusty Lancer. Feel free to mix up your play and see what different classes have to offer, then stick to a favorite once you get used to it.
A couple more things to keep in mind – first, the speed of multiplayer is definitely bumped up over the original game, running at 60 FPS. With that, you may need to get used to performance, which will sink in after a match or two. Once that's done, you should find no trouble getting used to the momentum and appreciate the faster speed.
Second, don't forget to take advantage of customization. Gamers who pre-ordered will find dozens of skins to choose from for their weapons, ranging from gunmetal to gold to other fancy colors; who wants to play with a pink Lancer? Toy around with your appearance for a while and see if you can find something that fits your style of play – or just go with gunmetal, because it looks amazing.
Finally, with progress comes rewards. You'll get better with multiplayer as you play, unlocking new perks you can use with your character, such as increased damage and better Active Reload. However, the real perk is with the unlockable characters, including some favorites from Gears of War 3. If you played in the previous beta, you'll also be able to unlock Cole Train in his football gear.
Bring a Friend
Last but not least, for the single player portion of the game, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition supports two-player co-op. Not only do you have the option to play alongside a friend online via Xbox Live, but also locally through two-player split-screen – a classic option that will certainly be appreciated for the couch crowd.
This is a great feature, with an easy drop-in/drop-out option to have a friend jump in at any time. In addition, it helps to have the knowledge of a fellow Gears player on hand if you take on a heavier difficulty.
Make sure you keep a close eye on your partner. When he or she is in need of a revive, you'll see a lit circle on the screen that indicates exactly where they are (with an arrow tied in with the circle), and you'll need to get over there quickly to avoid losing them. Good news – you can revive them while staying safely in cover, which is good if you have a Locust gunner on a Troika trying to mow you down.