Gears 5 was the highlight of Microsoft’s E3 2019 press conference, so obviously it would be heavily featured at E3. The Gears 5 demo at E3 was comprised of the brand new game mode Escape. In Escape Mode, three players race to escape a Hive with poisonous gas right on their trail. It’s a new twist on Gears of War co-op multiplayer modes, which is refreshing. While Horde is a lot of fun, Escape mode may overthrow it as the most enjoyable Gears of War online experience. Gears has always innovated and has found new ways to mix things up. Escape mode is no exception. Considering the campaign mode (which promises to be the most involved Gears of War story mode yet), the brand new Horde mode, and the existing Gears multiplayer experiences, Gears 5 promises to be the best in the series yet; our initial Gears 5 escape impressions show this. Gears 5 may not only be the E3 2019 game of the show, but also Game of the Year. Gears 5 Escape Impressions: Character Classes and Teamwork Keegan, Mac, and Lahni running from the poison gas and the Swarm in Escape There are three classes/characters to choose from in Escape Mode; Lahni, Keegan, and Mac. Lahni has an electric-like whip, Keegan has a shield he can use to protect himself and the squad, and Mac drops ammo. All of these special abilities have to charge up and once available can be accessed via the Y button. The mode is very balanced and teamwork is integral. I was able to play the demo twice; the first time my team communicated and did well, but we didn’t escape because we got trapped by the poison gas. We defeated all our enemies, but the gas pigeonholed us. This is when I realized looking at the minimap is very important. The gas appears as green on the map and it guides you towards your escape route. Ammo is very scarce, so Mac’s ability is pertinent to defeating the Swarm. During my second playthrough, my team didn’t communicate at all and it was a disaster. It was interesting to experience the mode in two different ways though. The initial enemies you fight are Terminator-like enemies who aren’t armed, which was interesting. It makes me curious how far this team up with Terminator: Dark Fate goes, which is very exciting. I’ll be back, Marcus At first, the Swarm are relatively weak. Meelee attacks defeat them easily and it’s an effortless way to pick up weapons. As you go through the map there are isolated rooms where weapons, grenades, and ammo are available. This is where my team got stuck in my first playthrough; we went for the weapons and forgot which way we came from. The areas all looked similar which makes the mode somewhat maze-like, giving it a different degree of difficulty than any other Gears co-op multiplayer experience. It’s thrilling and keeps you on your toes. You have to progress quickly or you’re dead. Quite literally. Gears 5 Escape Impressions: Getting to the Finish Line – Cooperation Gears 5 Promises the most thrilling campaign in the series As you progress, the Swarm get stronger. On my first playthrough, the Swarm were using Hammerburst guns exclusively. On my second playthrough, there were some using Longshots. This shows even on easy difficulty (which was the default for the demo), each playthrough varies, which gives it replayability value; it’s a new experience each time. Once you clear an area, you reach a decontamination chamber. This temporarily halts the poison gas. There is a boss (I assume he’s the boss) that takes no damage. This is where teamwork is key. When this Swarm is temporarily vulnerable, we had to go for the head and knock his helmet off (of course both times I was the one to do this while my teammates were firing aimlessly, minus Artez!). After this, his head took damage. It requires a lot of damage to defeat him though, which means a lot of ammo. Both Mac and Keegan had to play support with their shield and ammo drop abilities, and Lahni had to be stocked up on guns to deliver the final blow. My first playthrough we easily defeated the boss and I picked up his giant club. It’s a ton of fun to use and makes you essentially invulnerable. At this point, it’s important to look at your mini-map, see where the poison gas is coming from, and simply run for the white/clear area to “escape” (no pun intended). Game of the Show? Will Kat succumb to her ancestry? The mode was somewhat simple, but the classes are extremely balanced and teamwork is key. In my second playthrough, my teammates didn’t communicate nor cooperate, and we died at the “boss.” Nonetheless, the mode is thoroughly enjoyable, which is what truly counts. Gears has always been an over-the-top blockbuster adventure. It excels not only with its campaign and versus modes, but its co-op modes as well. The series continues to innovate and evolve, which keeps the series fresh and is why it’s one of Microsoft’s flagship franchises. While it’s disappointing that we didn’t get to play anything from the campaign, which looks to be absolutely gripping, Escape mode is fantastic. The game looks better than any Xbox One game and runs so smoothly, which makes me wonder how games on Xbox’s Scarlet system will look. This is the game Microsoft wanted to showcase, and it didn’t disappoint. While it’s too early to say whether or not it will be the game of the show, it’s certainly a contender. Simply put, it depends on what’s playable (it’s unknown at this point whether or not games like Modern Warfare or the Final Fantasy VII Remake will be playable). Nintendo may have some surprises up their sleeves too, but thus far, Gears 5 is the best hands-on game at E3. Microsoft’s overall showing is somewhat underwhelming considering what’s playable (that’s a common theme this E3), but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Gears 5 will be one of the best games to come out this year and Escape Mode is absolutely thrilling. September 10 can’t come soon enough, and The Coalition has knocked it out of the park considering what’s been shown of the game so far. What I really know is does Kait succumb to the darkness of her heritage, or will she rise above it? Looking back, Gears 4 was simply setup. Gears 5 is where the true story lies, and considering the innovation in Escape mode, it promises to be the best Xbox game releasing this year.