Despite the core mechanics on the battlefield being the same in each mission, the core objective of each mission changes. Depending on the objective, you’ll have to pick up cases containing supplies, defeat enemies spread across the battlefield, or defend a set area to gain supplies for example. To get the most out of these missions, you’ll have to spread out your party members on the map in a clever way, taking advantage of the unique abilities of each character. The game comes with three main characters (or four if you pre-ordered Gears Tactics and received Augustus Cole) for your party: Gabe Diaz, Sid Redburn, and Mikayla Dorn. You can further supplement your party by recruiting procedurally generated gears that you can recruit at certain points in the game. Depending on the weapon they’re carrying, each character has a specific class giving them unique abilities and perks. There are five different classes in the game: support, vanguard, scout, heavy, and sniper. I found that having at least three different classes in my party made for a mix and match of skills that complemented each other very well, allowing me to build different attack strategies around my chosen characters.
During each story mission, you’ll need to keep your main characters alive in order to achieve victory. While each unit can be revived by another one in battle if they’re struck down, they’ll have significantly less health upon revival, and they can die if you don’t get to them in time. On top of this, if one of your extra procedurally generated gears dies in battle, their death is permanent. In my eyes this, combined with the ever-changing mission maps and objectives during a mission, makes for an engaging set of challenges for players to sink their teeth into, while keeping the core gameplay mechanics simple and accessible. Even though the game’s story might not be the most ground-breaking in the history of video games, the core game mechanics more than make up for it.
As a strategy game, Gears Tactics not only stands strong, but isn’t afraid to innovate within the genre. I was struck by the level of detail in the core mechanics, which in my eyes proved a deep level of understanding of the genre on the developers’ part. Rather than just tick the basic boxes of the classic strategy game formula, Gears Tactics isn’t afraid to push the boundaries. It successfully offers players a gameplay experience that feels original within the genre and fits in seamlessly with the broader Gears of War look and feel. For a franchise known for a very different style, this certainly is an impressive achievement.