A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Gears of War 4 is an extremely violent, bloody, and gory action game. Along with using many weapons to kill alien and human enemies, you can chain saw a creature in half, impale it, and smash its head against the ground until its dead. It also has strong profanity, including words such as "f--k" and "s--t" frequently spoken in dialogue or during cut scenes.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
In GEARS OF WAR 4, you play as the young JD Fenix, the son of Marcus Fenix from previous games, who is joined by fellow soldiers Kait and Del, to take on a new menacing alien threat and the Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG). Played from a third-person perspective, this sci-fi action sequel has you sprinting from one cover spot to another -- such as behind a rock, wall, or vehicle -- to get a clean shot against vicious aliens or exchanging fire with rival soldiers. You'll hop over barriers, pick up new ammo, mow down baddies with a turret, and engage in calculated "stop and pop" gunfire against the enemy. Along with a new story and heroes, Gears of War 4 features new monsters, locations, enhanced multiplayer, and, for the first time in the series, cross-platform play, meaning an Xbox One gamer can challenge a Windows PC player or vice versa.
Is it any good?
This fast-paced action title is super fun -- but that's more to do with the multiplayer modes than the solo campaign. The game's story campaign introduces new heroes and threats and a quick tutorial on controls, and it eases you in with fast but dim-witted enemies you can take down. But fans of the franchise will no doubt be in awe at the stellar presentation this time around, both in its visuals and its sound effects/music. The dialogue is still campy and shallow, even though there's an attempt at some emotion. While there's still quite a bit of "rinse and repeat" as you make your way through environments -- clearing away enemies before approaching another skirmish a few moments later -- this time around there are a few new twists, include mini bosses that require a different strategy than what you've relied on in the past. This keeps the gameplay fresh, but the lack of smart enemies puts a damper on things.
The real fun in Gears of War 4 is the awesome multiplayer modes, including a few new ones. Horde mode is back and better than ever. This mode pits you against wave after wave of creatures, but you can now buy weapons and defenses to build strongholds around the map (through an in-game currency called Power you pick up after defeating enemies). There are even new (and upgradeable) character classes as well as brand-new maps to test your skills on. There's also a deadly game of Dodgeball, a fast-paced mode called Arms Race, and split-screen co-op on both Xbox One and Windows 10, if you prefer to run through the storyline together with PC or console friends. For fans of the series, and lovers of multiplayer action games, Gears of War 4 won't disappoint, especially If you can get past some predictable enemies and cheesy dialogue to fully sink your boots into the story and the multiplayer action.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in media such as Gears of War 4. What is it about the violence in this game that excites gamers? Should parents be more forgiving about this game since you're battling aliens, or is it just too over the top?
Talk about why third-person shooter sci-fi games are so popular. Is it the running and gunning, the battle tactics, or the over-the-top gore? Is it the multiplayer thrill of playing against other humans? Is it the story?
- Platforms: Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Microsoft Game Studios
- Release date: October 11, 2016
- Genre: Third-Person Shooter
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
- Last updated: March 27, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.