Gears 5: Hivebusters DLC Review
While many have already got their hands on Gears 5 since it released last year whether through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, retail methods, or one of the various sales that have come up across the year. When it released, Gears 5 was a fantastic showcase on the Xbox One and something that many Microsoft fans pointed to as a definitive exclusive that’s worth purchasing an Xbox for. Hivebusters does for Gears 5 what Gears 5 did for the Xbox One, it adds that extra oomph that it needed in order to win any doubters. According to technical analysis, Gears 5: Hivebusters also proves to be a great experience to delve into on the Xbox Series X, but we Xbox One gamers aren’t being held back but the recently release next-gen consoles. Just like the rest of Gears 5, Hivebusters is also available through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, making it a no-brainer for anyone subscribed to the service who is looking to shred through various swarm enemies familiar to the main campaign.
Gears 5: Hivebusters is a unique story that focuses on the origin of Scorpio Squad and their growth into an elite team and like other teams, their primary goal is to destroy Swarm hives. Scorpion Squad is a trio of badass commandos with a great sense of humor: Keegan, Lahni, and Mac. Each of these characters bring their own personality to the story, befitting of the amazing campaign offered in Gears 5, while they all have unique abilities that make navigating the battlefield a little bit easier after some growing pains. Keegan can resupply the ammo of nearby allies within a certain radius, Mac’s ability is similar to Gibraltar in Apex Legends as a temporary barrier protrudes from his weapon which allows him to block enemy damage for a brief period of time. Finally, Lahni’s ability is called Electroblade and it shocks/stuns enemies which leaves them vulnerable to allies.
A Brilliantly Vibrant Pallet
Scorpio Squad is flying over the South Islands when a swarm of leeches takes out their aircraft and sends each of them flying in their own direction. The intro played similarly to the tutorial of Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, though that all changes when the cover-based mechanics really kick in and the characters come together. They’re left stranded in the jungle when they realize their pilot didn’t survive the landing. The South Islands are a couple (Weilehi & Galangi) of lush jungle islands that are covered in ruins, active volcanoes, and old COG facilities to explore to learn about the history of the area. One thing I found particularly interesting about The South Islands what Lahni’s history with the region which involved some reading but really helped round out Lahni as a character. The jungles are full of flora that react to your movements, while the lava sections are intense rollercoasters with a constant orange glow. The beautiful art design and graphical fidelity of Gears 5 continue to be showcased in Hivebusters.
Up to three gamers can team up to unfold Scorpio Squad’s story together, and the character abilities play off each other really well without that slight stutter encountered when you switch what you’re doing to command an ally to do something else in single-player. While the UI makes it pretty simple to command allies to use their abilities, this is an aspect of the game that is properly enjoyed in the co-op. Each of the Scorpio Squad mates can be further strengthened my collecting powerful upgrades, turning the Squad into a powerful three-person army in a matter of no time.
Fun Side Story
Speaking of collecting, Gears 5: Hivebusters has a decent list of collectibles to uncover as you explore the South Islands, most of which establish proper lore of the area. Most of what’s important is learned through dialogue, but a lot of interesting stuff can be uncovered through the collectibles. Gears 5: Hivebusters is that extra bit of Gears 5 that fans of the campaign have been waiting for. While the experience only takes a few hours to complete, the co-op is an added incentive to returning fans to play more than once, especially with Hivebusters being available to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers. Like other aspects of Gears 5, Hivebusters can be installed separately, allowing you to customize how much of the game you want taking up hard drive space. As someone who prefers other games for multiplayer, my installs are strictly story-based, but it’s a nice taste of next-gen where I can mix-and-match.
Hivebusters has an appropriate level of difficulty for returning Gears 5 fans. The South Islands are so beautiful that although Gears 5 is clearly extremely action-heavy, they’re simply asking for a fleshed-out photo mode. I had a few checkpoint issues, but nothing game-breaking. Scorpio Squad is a big draw of Hivebusters as the trio is composed of relatable and funny characters. Hivebusters feels like a proper expansion pack to Gears 5 rather than a tacked-on DLC that was really just removed from the main game. The Coalition clearly put a lot of work into this add-on. Though it doesn’t feel like that full step forward that a sequel would be, Hivebusters remains a robust experience and an essential one for Gears fans.
***Review on Xbox One***
- Beautiful visuals
- A proper expansion
- It’s on Game Pass
- Interesting characters
- Minor checkpoint issues
- Sluggish cover-based mechanics