The Coalition have announced that Gears 5 will receive fresh content through the end of the year, starting with a New Game+ mode alongside the Xbox Series X|S update, and continuing with a fresh serving of story with a Hivebusters DLC in December. Hivebusters will be available for the game on all platforms, from Xbox One through to Xbox Series X|S and PC.
The expansion is named after the Hivebusters, a squad of three characters who appear in the game’s co-op Escape mode, and whose origin story has been told through the Gears of War: Hivebusters comics.
Speaking to IGN, Gears 5 principal lead producer Zoe Curnoe explained that the estimated playtime will be 3-4 hours, but did not reveal if the DLC will be free or a paid expansion.
While story DLC was not previously on the cards, it seems that The Coalition have made an exception to the rule, possible as a way to show off what the next-gen consoles can manage. While the game has been enhanced for Xbox Series X|S, studio technical director Mike Rayner said that it will be the first Gears content that’s been reviewed, tuned and polished for the new consoles, instead of being upgraded after.
He told IGN, “So the things that we’re doing with global illumination and constant mapping I think are a good example, and we’ve made sure that the content is really set up to take advantage of that. The ultra-res textures are now there and we can kind of tune them and make sure that they really show up in 4K resolution with the additional memory we have on these consoles and the ability to stream them in super fast.”
— Gears of War (@GearsofWar) October 23, 2020
That’s in addition to the big update that will arrive on 10th November alongside the new consoles. This will bring two new difficulty modes – a single-life Ironman mode and an Inconceivable difficulty higher than the original top difficulty – new character skins for Kait, Del and JD, weapon skins, mutators like big head mode, the ability for Jack upgrades to carry over between plays, and new achievements to go along with it all.
If you really want, you’ll also be able to replace Marcus with a Dave Bautista face.
That’s all alongside the previously announced visual and performance upgrades. On Xbox Series X the game runs at higher quality settings, such as to add contact shadows and have screen space global illumination. There will also be a 120fps mode for multiplayer, and even at 60fps they have improved input latency through the Series X|S system.
Gears 5 was met with mostly positive reviews when it released last year. It serves up a familiar cocktail of blood, gore, and shooting at enemies behind waist high walls. However, a more interesting narrative hook and some smart new modes and gameplay changes push the franchise in a promising direction with The Coalition no doubt readying the final part in our second Gears trilogy.
In our Gears 5 review, Nick said:
Gears 5 is a brilliant experience which can be enjoyed alone or with friends in equal measure. It keeps much of the series’ core gameplay and feel, but also takes it in some new directions. It’s great to see Gears evolving, opening the door for even more positive changes in the future.