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The Hivebusters DLC Is Better Than The Gears 5 Campaign

I haven’t thought much about Gears 5 since September. I played casually with a friend and nearly stopped playing it in Act Three. Overall I did enjoy Gears 5, but it’s a bloated game with some pretty aggravating pacing issues even at just under 11 hours to complete. I’ve never been too interested in Gears’ PvP modes, so with the campaign completed I uninstalled the game and expected to never look back. However, I’ve seen some buzz about Hivebusters, the new campaign expansion, and when I heard it was only three hours long and free on Gamepass Ultimate, it wasn’t exactly a tough sell.

Hivebusters is Gears distilled down to only its absolutely necessary parts. It’s Gears on its best day. It’s Act One of Gears 5 without all the open-world busywork that came after it.  It’s good, really good, and playing it transported me back to the days of playing couch co-op games with my friends without a care in the world.

I can’t stress enough how well Hivebusters works as a three-hour campaign. The entire Gears experience is captured in those few hours without a single thing left behind. Hivebusters introduces three new characters that are brash, larger-than-life, and totally appropriate for the Gears universe. Unlike the main campaign, you get three playable characters with their own ultimate abilities, meaning Player Three isn’t stuck playing the support robot this time. The trio is on a mission to bust a hive (of course) and when things don’t go exactly as planned the team has to learn to set their egos aside, improve, and trust each other. It’s a big campy action movie that hits all the right beats and leaves you wanting more rather than drag on for too long.

The Coalition really trimmed the fat of Gears 5 for Hivebusters. The first thing to go is obviously the open-world design introduced in Gears 5 Act 2. Hivebusters in totally on rails from beginning to end and benefits greatly from it.

The pacing feels perfectly tuned to the rhythm of an action movie. There’s hardly ever a quiet moment and the story propels you from one fight to the next, stopping only occasionally for a quick cutscene or moment to explore an area in order to find a totally optional ultimate upgrade. Hivebusters is best played straight through in one sitting to appreciate how expertly well-timed the events are, including the big set-piece moments.

There’s an entire chapter in Hivebusters dedicated to one long set-piece that is as spectacular as any scene from the Uncharted series. After detonating a bomb to exterminate a hive, the team makes a quick escape riding atop a raft-shaped vault door down a river of lava. The entire chapter is like a ride at Disneyland and is the most video-gamey moment of 2020.

Hivebusters trims Gears dawn to its purest form. There are no big puzzles to solve like building the rocket in Act Three, there aren’t any side paths to explore, and even the boss fights are straight-forward. It’s pure spectacle, dumb fun, and I’d love to see more Gears content just like it.

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Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.

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