In Gears Tactics, you step back to the early days of the war against the Locust, and take command of a squad of Gears on a mission to assassinate an enemy VIP. It's a tough job in the opening days of what's to become a bloody war, and you're going to both inflict and incur a body count.

There are four levels of difficulty in Gears Tactics, and you'll want to work your way up to its biggest challenges. Here's how to pick the right difficulty on the fly.

Gears Tactics: Can You Change the Difficulty?

Gears Tactics lets you switch your difficulty setting during a campaign, as long as you're not actually trying to change it during a fight.

From your Home screen, click Settings, then General, and select Game. From here, you can switch between one of four difficulty levels. The primary difference between them mainly comes down to how much you'll suffer for making a bad call on the fly, ranging from a momentary inconvenience to the outright permanent loss of one or more members of your team.

Beginner difficulty is basically the Gears Tactics equivalent of a story mode. You'll get your feet wet here, but that's about it. If you don't have a lot of experience with real-time strategy games, this is your best bet for your first run.

Intermediate difficulty is tough, and well-suited to people with some RTS time under their belts, but doesn't punish mistakes too harshly.

In Experienced difficulty, you can start earning achievements, but you should expect a body count. Your hero characters, like Gabe and Sid, can revive themselves once per mission, but the other members of your team can and will drop like flies. (They're probably all related to the Carmines.)

Insane is where things get, well, crazy. Expect no mercy. If you're used to particularly grueling challenges from other games like the XCOM series, this is probably your (lack of) comfort zone.

Once you've cleared Tactics's campaign on any difficulty, you unlock Veteran mode. This lets you replay the previous missions with extra modifiers for a new challenge, in exchange for new and more powerful mods and equipment.

You can also turn on an Ironman mode at the start of a new campaign. In this mode, you can't restart missions or return to previous checkpoints. Also, if you lose any hero character, it ends the game and deletes your save.

It does have an achievement (I am Ironman) attached, so you'll need to make this run at some point if you're aiming for 100% completion, but it's worth noting that Ironman is a toggle rather than its own difficulty setting. You can do it on Beginner mode to make it less nerve-wracking. Alternatively, you can do Ironman on Insane difficulty if you're actually looking for that kind of rampant brutality.

Gears Tactics comes out today on Windows 10 and Steam, with an Xbox One version planned for some unspecified point in the future. While we figure this out, feel free to check out some of our other articles, such as:

Did you pick up Gears Tactics on Windows 10 today? If so, just how many Locust have you chainsawed so far? Let us know--seriously--via Twitter, at @PrimaGames.