The biggest Xbox One exclusive of the year is out — here’s everything you should know

Video game fans are second to none. And among video game fans, “Gears of War” fans are in a universe of their own. They have more in common with Super Bowl-level football fans than your average “Super Mario” player.

It’s not uncommon for “Gears of War” fans to get tattooed in the name of their devotion to the series. To be clear, that is in no way a common trait of even the most hardcore video game fans.

Yet here we are, with “Gears of War 4” having just arrived on the Xbox One and PC:

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With every new “Gears of War” game comes new “Gears of War” tattoos.
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The iconic Xbox series just got its first major installment on the Xbox One, and it’s some of the finest work in the series so far.

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This guy just wants to chat. Don’t mind the gun or the face.
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And with new entries comes new stuff, big changes, and more gorgeous graphics than ever before. Here’s your primer on all things “Gears of War 4”:


In all previous “Gears of War” games, the iconic Marcus Fenix led his small group of soldiers against the “Locust” (you’ll see them in a moment).

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Marcus is in “Gears of War 4” as well, but he’s not the main protagonist.
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Instead, in “Gears of War 4,” you’re mostly playing as Marcus Fenix’s son, JD Fenix.

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JD stands for James Dominic.
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You’ll actually play as a variety of different soldiers throughout the “Gears of War 4” campaign.

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No matter which soldier you play as, you’ll chainsaw through a robot at some point or another.
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Much of the early game is spent fighting off robots rather than the traditional Locust aliens.

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Sometimes those robots leap over cover and kick you in the face. It’s no fun at all.
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And all of the robots explode when they’re dying, because of course they do.

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Make sure to jump and roll if you’re fighting them in close quarters!
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But enough with the robots — you’re also fighting plenty of alien Locust in “Gears of War 4.”

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Since the events of “Gears of War 4” take place years after the end of “Gears of War 3,” the Locust are long gone. OR ARE THEY? (They aren’t.)
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Your first taste of combat with the Locust Horde comes in the form of flashbacks — the entire introduction to “Gears 4” is a playable flashback, which really works well.

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The game’s Horde Mode is also returning, with “Horde 3.0.” It’s an evolution of the wave-based tactical gameplay that players loved in previous games.

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One evolution is the concept of setting up defenses between waves, which can make a huge difference in the difficulty of that wave.

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Notice the defensive turret and electric fence in the lower right corner? That’s some of the stuff you can set up.
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At some point or another, you’re going to have to fight an enemy helicopter. Shoot the engines! Keep moving! You’ll be fine.

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Helicopters: Truly, man’s greatest enemy.
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Like in previous “Gears” games, there’s a rhythm to the combat — run or leap for cover, prioritize enemies, take one or two down, reload quickly, move to new cover, repeat.

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That rhythm can feel outright musical in the game’s best encounters (like this early battle through Marcus Fenix’s tomato harvest).

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Actual quote from Marcus Fenix in this scene: “Agh! My f****** tomatoes!”
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There’s a cinematic feel to the whole game — it’s straight up divided into acts and chapters.

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But what really drives this home is the gorgeous graphics that are also used for non-interactive “cutscenes” (short exposition scenes between gameplay).

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It’s where you learn about new characters like Kait.

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And grizzled ex-“COG” soldier Marcus Fenix.

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Without spoiling too much of the game’s story, the robots you’re fighting are actually owned and operated by the same government Marcus Fenix previously served.

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After the events of the previous games, Fenix holed up in this run-down chateau. It’s where you’ll eventually meet up with him in “Gears of War 4.”

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The environments of “Gears 4” are lush, highly-detailed, and ripe for exploration.

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Since we’re talking about a video game, there are collectibles hidden throughout the environment that encourage exploration between gun fights.
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One of the best parts of fighting all those robots is taking their massive armaments and using them to your own ends.

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“Gears of War 4” is out now on Xbox One and Windows 10. Even better: If you buy it on one, you own it on both! It looks even better on PC than on the Xbox One, though it’s VERY impressive looking anywhere you play it. Check out the launch trailer right here: