The first Gears of War game launched back in 2006 as one of the very first major system sellers for the Xbox 360. Fast forward nearly nine years later and while the fourth game in the mainline series is on its way next year, the original has gotten a major facelift with Gears of War Ultimate Edition.
Set to launch on August 25, the newly renamed Coalition is bringing us the completely remastered Gears of War Ultimate Edition on Xbox One and PC. The game has been one of the worst kept secrets in all of gaming, but was finally announced to the public during Microsoft’s E3 conference on Monday. At this time, it was revealed that a beta was starting that day that would run for a week and we’ve gotten a chance to check it out for awhile.
The Gears of War Ultimate Edition was very limited to start the week, with only one map available in Gridlock. Since then, we have seen the addition of one more map each day, including Canals, War Machine, and Courtyard.
The first three maps that were provided to players in the beta are from the original Gears of War, but Courtyard instead comes from one of the DLC packs for Gears of War 2. All four maps so far look better than ever, with improvements to lighting and other nuances throughout. The stages feel modernized and upgraded in the necessary ways, but still maintain the classic look and feel.
One of the most interesting changes here is that the two available game modes in the beta were non-existent in the original game on Xbox 360. Within the Social option, you can try out Team Deathmatch, which didn’t even debut until Gears of War 3 multiplayer. This is an interesting choice, but does work very well in the grand scheme of things. Team Deathmatch is an excellent entry point into this remastered Gears of War, by having players on teams of up to four players as you compete for a best two out of three based on a set number of respawns.
The other playable game mode is found within Competitive, which is King of the Hill. This one at least has some roots to the original Gears of War, as it was a multiplayer game type in the PC version of the first game. It was a wise decision to include a differing play type in King of the Hill here, giving something very different from Team Deathmatch with an objective style.
In the time I’ve had with the game so far, I’ve had a lot of fun with both of these game modes. They are different enough that you can go back and forth between them without getting tired of playing, though having one as “Social” and one as “Competitive” at this point is kind of odd.
The gameplay itself is definitely smoother than the Gears of War series has ever been before. At 60fps, the multiplayer action is very fast paced and fluid, though not without its bugs. There were times where I got stuck on a wall for a few seconds when traversing the map, leading to an easy death. There were also a few times where a death body would flop around on the ground in a very strange motion that seemed buggy.
This beta is supposed to be pretty readily available right now, but it did seem hard to find matches even yesterday. Team Deathmatch was a little easier to find them for at a few minutes, but King of the Hill often took longer than five minutes just to get one together. This is kind of frustrating, but for a beta with a limited player pool, it is entirely understandable.
In the time so far I’ve had with Gears of War Ultimate Remaster, the game is definitely shaping up to be a very quality remaster. This is merely a preview of a much larger game, but it is running quite well so far. With Gears of War 4 now coming until next year, Coalition has made a good decision with remastering the first Gears of War to get us hyped and this beta is already doing a great job at that.