Zero Punctuation: Gears of War 4

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Gears of War 4

This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Gears of War 4.

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Can't wait for the AAA games to fuck off so Yahtzee can review something half decent.

Onliuge:
Can't wait for the AAA games to fuck off so Yahtzee can review something half decent.

You do know that Yahtzee spends 90% of his time reviewing bad games, right? It's kind of his job.

erttheking:

Onliuge:
Can't wait for the AAA games to fuck off so Yahtzee can review something half decent.

You do know that Yahtzee spends 90% of his time reviewing bad games, right? It's kind of his job.

Actually he spends 90% of his time reviewing games. They just happen to be bad because those are the only type of games being made these days.

In a way, I'm kind of glad the AAAs are back. He didn't seem to have much heart in going after random indies for the past few months. AAA's provide so much to work with much of the time.

I can only imagine the BF1 v. CoD:IW is going to be interesting.

I got some good laughs from that one, good episode, but I'm beginning to wonder if it's worth putting in the "grizzled white dude" complaint in every time it occurs in an action game.

May as well complain that every Big Mac Meal I get comes with fries. I think they do offer carrot sticks now as an alternative and I'd be willing to bet the sales figures on that aren't great.

Only ever played the first Gears when it came out, and whilst incredibly enjoyable at the time - particularly in co-op - it never seemed like something which really had any reason to keep going.

HumanShale:
I got some good laughs from that one, good episode, but I'm beginning to wonder if it's worth putting in the "grizzled white dude" complaint in every time it occurs in an action game.

If it remains drearily boring through lazy overuse, then yes, it is worth mentioning it just like any other bad or good thing in a given game/film/whatever.

Chalk one for Yahtzee's Top 5 Mediocre Games of the Year.

The end of this one really got to me. How do you make the artist's work noticeable? How do you make a game that doesn't force the player to look at a thing which is bad but also doesn't make them feel like they have to advance as fast as possible?

I do this a lot in games lately. Most of the time it's pointless to stick around and so you just go to the next set without seeing anything and somehow the experience as a whole feels hollow. Besides being an exploratory RPG thing, how can this be fixed?

"How does the artist that painted that cobblestone feel about all their hard work..."

They probably sit around draining bottles of wine with the background artists for racing games.. How often have you -stopped- and checked out that scenery?

normalguycap:
The end of this one really got to me. How do you make the artist's work noticeable? How do you make a game that doesn't force the player to look at a thing which is bad but also doesn't make them feel like they have to advance as fast as possible?

I do this a lot in games lately. Most of the time it's pointless to stick around and so you just go to the next set without seeing anything and somehow the experience as a whole feels hollow. Besides being an exploratory RPG thing, how can this be fixed?

That's the catch 22 of the entire problem. Outside of RPGs and strategy titles, games do not really use textures to point out anything important because you're mostly busy getting from point A to point B. However, ironically, whenever a developer gimps on the "life-like" textures, the first thing out of everyone's mouth is that the game looks bad, or is categorized as "last-gen" in look.

So, the way I see it, both ends are experiencing a problem no one can actually solve. You have the developers on one end spending all this money just to make sure the game looks good, so they end up having to divert finances that could have gone towards gameplay, story, etc. Then you have the consumers, on the other end, who complain about there being little to the game outside of the graphics, but are the first to criticize a game because it "looks bad" rather than actually playing the stupid thing.

Seriously, name a game in recent years that actually did well and didn't blow it's budget on the graphics.

Well I expected Yahtzee to be hard on this game but didn't expect so much venom in the comments section. It was a funny review and yeah the campaign is pretty samey to the first 3 but I think Gears 4 is a lot of fun. I didn't dig the new characters at first but once I embraced the cheesiness I forgot was in Gears' DNA they started to grow on me. Seeing the guys from the first game that I spent so much time playing as and with was cool. It was clearly pandering to me as a fan but you know what, I'm fine with some good natured in jokes and fan service.

The multiplayer is as strong as ever with the unlock chests being the only seriously bad addition. New weapons are cool and punchy and it feels more balanced than ever between long ranged weapons and the shotgun duels that have always dominated the series. Couple all this with rock solid performance on PC and you've got a pretty good AAA release. If you're not into the series this game won't change that nor does it buck the trend of big budget AAA games in the single player; but Gears 4 as a game and the franchise itself has a lot going for it.

P.S. I weight train and practice power lifting so I enjoy the over the top action hero physiques. It's more like Arnold Schwarzenegger and friends gearing up to chainsaw their way through monsters. That's really how one should approach Gears I think. It's more like an 80s sci-fi action movie than a shooter to be taken too seriously.

normalguycap:
The end of this one really got to me. How do you make the artist's work noticeable? How do you make a game that doesn't force the player to look at a thing which is bad but also doesn't make them feel like they have to advance as fast as possible?

I do this a lot in games lately. Most of the time it's pointless to stick around and so you just go to the next set without seeing anything and somehow the experience as a whole feels hollow. Besides being an exploratory RPG thing, how can this be fixed?

I think collectibles help with this. If there's hidden bits of lore or items to find players might take some time to explore the environment and look around at the world more.

I'm not terribly surprised to see that Gears of War 4 exists and I'm sure they're establishing a new trilogy... because Xbox doesn't have much going for it in the way of exclusives, so it just seeks to revive old franchises and copy-paste them to fluff their library. Halo 5: Guardians was absolutely gorgeous, yet the characters felt sterile and hollow, going through the motions. Ironically, only the AIs had any personality. My expectations of Gears of War 4 are even lower.

The Gears games are fun to play, sure, and I do suppose that is the point of the game, but I have also feel like their stories have only existed to prop up the game and make them feel like they have some substance to them to attract more story-driven players like myself. Most people I meet who play these types of games either don't play the campaign at all or just skip all the cutscenes anyway. I guess that's why Judgement probably didn't bother with much.

normalguycap:
The end of this one really got to me. How do you make the artist's work noticeable? How do you make a game that doesn't force the player to look at a thing which is bad but also doesn't make them feel like they have to advance as fast as possible?

You put it in a non-linear action and/or adventure and/or RPG game that focuses on exploration, not just combat.

Transdude1996:

Seriously, name a game in recent years that actually did well and didn't blow it's budget on the graphics.

Xcom(ugly cutscenes) and Undertale(ugly even by pixel art standards).

Since you said "outside of strategy games" you might disqualify the former.

I've also heard complaints on the difference between cutscene and gameplay in Wolfenstein: The New Order being noticeable.

"And then Marcus Fenix carefully put the statue he had so lovingly carved into the only working Pod left on the planet, caressed it's face one more time and sent it into space, just as the planet exploded from under him for the last time. Much later it'd be discovered by some ponce on 'Earth' who claimed it as his own creation... but at least it got displayed in a museum for all to see. The End."

... you ARE supposed to write terrible fanfiction about the end credits, right? :O

OK, I'm not a big fan of GoW or even most modern AAA games at all, but even I think this review was really harsh. GoW4 is also, besides CoD, the only modern AAA game to have splitscreen, so it definitely deserves some points for that.

Also, if you're just passing from point A to B in a shooter without looking around at the map then that actually sounds like the artist's problem, not the players. Take Painkiller. Definitely some last-gen graphics thar but you still wanted to explore and see the map even though the shooting was more fast-paced and mindless than GoW. And it's especially surprising considering how many of the textures in Painkiller maps are reused. Now that right there was masterful level design.

School-boards in the deep south? Jokes on you Yahtzee. It's been proven schools in the south are the most diverse of all.

https://youtu.be/o8yiYCHMAlM?t=43s

The game had some nice stuff to look at but the way the setpieces were put together you didn't have a ton of time to actually sit there and look at the stuff. I mean, I tried a few times to walk around a bit to look at stuff here and there and grab collectibles, but overall you still missed the stuff in the distance or little details here and there because you just wanted to get moving after killing dozens of Locust.

Getting to the Locust, that whole thing just felt lazy. It wasn't fully absolutely established that they were lambent humans from 100 years previous, but that the sires were part of what made them into what they are now. It was fairly obvious in the first trilogy that the Locust must have been older than 100 years, and their current hierarchy was created 100 years before. Long story short, I felt that old origin would have been better than new origin. The story isn't set up for a 'hubris of man' arc, it's just blatantly told to you that man was dickish and made more problems than good. Hell, Adam Fenix had said that Imulsion probably came from off world fairly recently. The current story seems to be pretty much the prevailing fan theory put forward from the first trilogy rather than something a little more thought out. Like having these beings be what the Locust were before Imulsion, and now that it's gone long dormant strains of their 'infection' came back to life and started to repopulate their numbers by infecting humans. Making the Locust the demons of Seran mythology.

....I'm really overthinking this, but then again it just irks me they just sloppily slapped the reasoning together.

In any case, I actually burst out laughing when Marcus gruffly proclaimed "THE LOCUST NEVER DIED!".

Also Wolfenstein New Order/Old Blood was more film grainy and anti-aliased in cutscenes, not really a terrible downgrade to gameplay which was more crisp. People are just never satisfied unless their games are perfect in every way they want it to be, rather than what would make it really good. Games are getting delayed now to attain that 60FPS, 1080P/4K quality with perfect smooth graphics because people are complaining when they aren't. Even games that don't actually benefit from it.

Mr_Jack:

Getting to the Locust, that whole thing just felt lazy. It wasn't fully absolutely established that they were lambent humans from 100 years previous, but that the sires were part of what made them into what they are now. It was fairly obvious in the first trilogy that the Locust must have been older than 100 years, and their current hierarchy was created 100 years before. Long story short, I felt that old origin would have been better than new origin. The story isn't set up for a 'hubris of man' arc, it's just blatantly told to you that man was dickish and made more problems than good. Hell, Adam Fenix had said that Imulsion probably came from off world fairly recently. The current story seems to be pretty much the prevailing fan theory put forward from the first trilogy rather than something a little more thought out. Like having these beings be what the Locust were before Imulsion, and now that it's gone long dormant strains of their 'infection' came back to life and started to repopulate their numbers by infecting humans. Making the Locust the demons of Seran mythology.

....I'm really overthinking this, but then again it just irks me they just sloppily slapped the reasoning together.

You're kind of all over the place there. That the Locust are former humans mutated by imulsion, with the sires being the evolutionary link, was established awhile ago. The first three games hinted at it, and a dev post outright confirmed that the Locust were former humans.

That said, I do prefer the idea of the Locust being their own species, the idea that Myrrah came to a pre-existing civilization rather than building it from the ground up. That's a hell of a lot of architecture down there, even for a century, and I do like the idea of the Locust being the 'truth behind the myth' for much of Sera's folklore, that it's only because of the Lambent that they launch an invasion, whereas in the past, they were content to remain in the Hollow. Still, even by GoW2, the signs were there.

Sorry if I sounded jumbled.

I meant like you said. The Locust were something from antiquity that could infect humans if need be, but were an ald species that could breed.

The sires were the thing that introduced lambency to the Locust making them into the current Locust, and with imulsion gone could have freed up the older Locust from being dormant, keeping away from lambency and away from imulsion. But being in such low number are using humans to incubate new Locust to start anew. Myrrah being the answer to their newfound madness.

But yeah, it kinda leaned either way but there was a lot of talk in game about how the Locust had some rather old architecture, and how it wasn't something newly made within the last few decades. Also their infrastructure and breeding to make new creatures would have taken longer than several decades. Aside from the fact that Adam Fenix's imulsion killer should have destroyed the Locust as they would have been the product of lambency alone if they were of the new origin/sire origin. I always wished to see the source of imulsion itself as it would be strange it never came up before if it always existed.

Still, it's nice to dream. Just that they could have done the man's hubris angle so much better.

But whatever, the gameplay was the same as always, good but not extraordinary, and there were a few good parts to be had. It's like Infamous Second Son all over again, with the end of Infamous 2 being almost totally closed but they just say "but it wasn't totally closed after all" and pushed out another game as a sequel.

I've never actually gotten around to playing a Gears of War game, they do seem to be striker similar from game to game visually speaking. But yeah, the chest-high-wall jokes never get old when talking about the Gears of War franchise.

Seems like the story, while serviceable in the previous games, just barely hangs on in this one. Looks like it'll be another "strictly for the gameplay" game, think I'll wait for a sale. If it ever does go on sale, probably be waiting for awhile unless I get an XBONE.

Speaking of which, is anyone playing it on Windows? Can anyone weigh-in on this experience? I'm mostly concerned about:
1) Acquiring, downloading and installing the damn thing
2) Optimization (rig specs, please?)
3) Did u play with controller/KB&M?

So far the only significant purchase I've made on Windows store was Forza Horizon 3, which was a goddamn nightmare from start to end (and still is)

You know, Yahtzee now living in North America means he can now enjoy the constant media about the American election that all us Canadians have for the last seven months.

Mr_Jack:
I always wished to see the source of imulsion itself as it would be strange it never came up before if it always existed.

I think the Locust calendar found in GoW2 implies that imulsion has always been there, since imulsion is listed as one of the twelve 'seasons,' so to speak. Implication I got is that the imulsion ebbs and wanes naturally - maybe it would have contaminated Sera entirely regardless of the events of the second game, but the flooding of Jacinto effectively 'supercharges' it, effectively dooming the planet until Adam's device was used. If so, it does ring true to the idea that every problem in the series is caused by humanity.

Oh, and "Mr. Jack?" As in, one of the editors of the Gears of War wiki?

Hawki:
[quote="Mr_Jack" post="6.944121.23823938"]

You're kind of all over the place there. That the Locust are former humans mutated by imulsion, with the sires being the evolutionary link, was established awhile ago. The first three games hinted at it, and a dev post outright confirmed that the Locust were former humans.

That said, I do prefer the idea of the Locust being their own species, the idea that Myrrah came to a pre-existing civilization rather than building it from the ground up. That's a hell of a lot of architecture down there, even for a century, and I do like the idea of the Locust being the 'truth behind the myth' for much of Sera's folklore, that it's only because of the Lambent that they launch an invasion, whereas in the past, they were content to remain in the Hollow. Still, even by GoW2, the signs were there.

Wait, for real? I never knew that.

What are the big monsters then, the Brumaks and Corpsers and Reavers and such, what are they, just indigenous animals? I'm not being sassy, I genuinely always thought the Locust were they're own species and the new Swarm were just Locust without Immulsion. I will admit, I probably should've picked it up when the Juvies were captured humans being Locust-erized, there's a lapse in logic on my part, I'm good at turning my brain off.

Still, even if the signs were there, they're not always easy to put together (case in point, me).
And I also didn't know the developers outright confirmed it either. It reminds me of the storms in Gears 4; I recall one of the developers, maybe Rod Fergusson, said that the intense weather is the planet reacting violently to the sudden absence of Immulsion but that didn't really come across in the game.

Man, I love the Gears franchise but it's gotta work on it's communication here and there.

Extra-Ordinary:

Wait, for real? I never knew that.

What are the big monsters then, the Brumaks and Corpsers and Reavers and such, what are they, just indigenous animals? I'm not being sassy, I genuinely always thought the Locust were they're own species and the new Swarm were just Locust without Immulsion. I will admit, I probably should've picked it up when the Juvies were captured humans being Locust-erized, there's a lapse in logic on my part, I'm good at turning my brain off.

Still, even if the signs were there, they're not always easy to put together (case in point, me).
And I also didn't know the developers outright confirmed it either. It reminds me of the storms in Gears 4; I recall one of the developers, maybe Rod Fergusson, said that the intense weather is the planet reacting violently to the sudden absence of Immulsion but that didn't really come across in the game.

Man, I love the Gears franchise but it's gotta work on it's communication here and there.

The corpsers and reavers are indigenous, the brumaks are apparently Locust creations bred from apes (no idea how). As for the windflares, I hadn't heard that explanation. Two I did hear is that a) the amount of Locust bodies burnt after GoW 3 somehow affected the planet's atmosphere, or that they're a result of the Hammer of Dawn strikes that were carried out one year after E-day (e.g. the amount of dust thrown into the atmosphere, with a lag effect). Haven't played GoW 4 yet, so I don't know if the game explains it.

Hawki:
[quote="Extra-Ordinary" post="6.944121.23824067"]The corpsers and reavers are indigenous, the brumaks are apparently Locust creations bred from apes (no idea how). As for the windflares, I hadn't heard that explanation. Two I did hear is that a) the amount of Locust bodies burnt after GoW 3 somehow affected the planet's atmosphere, or that they're a result of the Hammer of Dawn strikes that were carried out one year after E-day (e.g. the amount of dust thrown into the atmosphere, with a lag effect). Haven't played GoW 4 yet, so I don't know if the game explains it.

I'm gonna stick to a headcannon that says Brumaks are indigenous beasts that the Locust manhandled into submission, I personally find that cooler than a strapped-up King Kong. Actually, when you put it that way...

Anyway.

The storms, the Imulsion-absence was what I've been runnin' on, although mass destruction and fallout are equally valid ideas.
If you're truly curious about the in-game explanation, and I won't reveal any story points or even who says it, I'll be as vague as possible...

You know, between these conversations and fan-theories and reading a couple Gears-Wiki pages back in the day, Gears lore gets surprisingly complicated when you get into it.

Transdude1996:

That's the catch 22 of the entire problem. Outside of RPGs and strategy titles, games do not really use textures to point out anything important because you're mostly busy getting from point A to point B.

That isn't true, though. Quite a few games use clever texturing to indicate certain elements of the story, objectives, etc. As an example, many of Valve's titles do this. As an example, in the Half-Life and Left 4 Dead series, Valve artists and level designers will quite often use level and skybox textures to deliver hints, story elements, or a 'glimpse' of what's to come. A sort of 'beacon' towards your end goal. For example: In Half-Life 2, when your objective is to reach the Citadel, you'll see it looming in the distance, getting ever closer, across several separate maps. The same thing occurs in several Left 4 Dead maps. You'll even see this sort of thing outside of Valve games. It's a level design technique employed by From Software in the Dark Souls games.

This and more are often seen in a great many games, spanning far more genres than RPGs and strategy games. (Horror games, for example, make use of clever art details very often.) That people often miss these sorts of details doesn't negate that they are there.

Seriously, name a game in recent years that actually did well and didn't blow it's budget on the graphics.

Terraria
Undertale
Duck Game
Broforce
FTL
Monaco
Torchlight 2
Unturned
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Dead by Daylight
Stardew Valley

Those were mostly off the top of my head. I could probably list more.

Don't get me wrong. I partly agree with the essence of your post. It is a 'catch-22' sort of situation, in some regards. But, if anything, recent history has shown that it's not as systemic a problem as it once was. The gaming public seems to be opening up and demonstrating a willingness to embrace a wider variety of games, even those with 'sub-standard' graphics.

Vigormortis:

Transdude1996:
Seriously, name a game in recent years that actually did well and didn't blow it's budget on the graphics.

Terraria
Undertale
Duck Game
Broforce
FTL
Monaco
Torchlight 2
Unturned
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Dead by Daylight
Stardew Valley

Those were mostly off the top of my head. I could probably list more.

One problem there, outside of W:TNO, XCOM, and Counter-Strike (Arguably, is Valve still considered a AAA dev?), all you guys have listed are Indie titles, not AAA games. And, that's what we're discussing here.

Transdude1996:

One problem there, outside of W:TNO, XCOM, and Counter-Strike , all you guys have listed are Indie titles, not AAA games. And, that's what we're discussing here.

"Excluding these, everything you listed falls into this category."

You see the problem, yes? You say we've failed to list any 'triple-A' titles, but only because you've chosen to exclude the ones we did list.

Besides, you said:

"Seriously, name a game in recent years that actually did well and didn't blow it's budget on the graphics."

You asked for one, we gave you at least three. That pretty much refutes your point, doesn't it? In fact, we technically gave you many more since your question did not specify they had to be 'triple-a' titles.

And if I may, how are we defining 'triple-A'? What criteria are we using?

Vigormortis:

Transdude1996:

One problem there, outside of W:TNO, XCOM, and Counter-Strike , all you guys have listed are Indie titles, not AAA games. And, that's what we're discussing here.

"Excluding these, everything you listed falls into this category."

You see the problem, yes? You say we've failed to list any 'triple-A' titles, but only because you've chosen to exclude the ones we did list.

No, I didn't, I acknowledged the AAA titles you guys listed.

Besides, you said:

"Seriously, name a game in recent years that actually did well and didn't blow it's budget on the graphics."

You asked for one, we gave you at least three. That pretty much refutes your point, doesn't it? In fact, we technically gave you many more since your question did not specify they had to be 'triple-a' titles.

I thought it didn't need to be mentioned that I was referring to AAA titles since we're in a forum on a thread talking about a review of a AAA game. Also, yeah, you guys didn't happen to bring up three titles, but how many other games were released in the same year as those games? And, to top it off, what is it that made these games special over other titles?

And if I may, how are we defining 'triple-A'? What criteria are we using?

I would like to know what criteria is used to define a title as Indie since some studios are stretching that definition as thin as they can.

That fish-fingers line is one of his best. That absolutely killed me. :)

normalguycap:
The end of this one really got to me. How do you make the artist's work noticeable? How do you make a game that doesn't force the player to look at a thing which is bad but also doesn't make them feel like they have to advance as fast as possible?

I do this a lot in games lately. Most of the time it's pointless to stick around and so you just go to the next set without seeing anything and somehow the experience as a whole feels hollow. Besides being an exploratory RPG thing, how can this be fixed?

I think the point he was trying to make is that the type of people that play Gears of War aren't the types that would appreciate beautiful textures and environments.

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