Gears Tactics -- 5 Gameplay Tips to Help Make You a Better Gear

Whether you’re a Gears fan or love strategy games, Gears Tactics has a lot to offer. Here are some tips to help you get started in the game.

While last fall saw the release of Gears 5, the next mainline chapter of the series, Gears Tactics has released several months later with an entirely different take on the franchise. While traditionally Gears of War has always been about third-person shooting (and Funko Pops), Gears Tactics instead brings the series into the style of a tactical squad-based game a la XCOM, and the combination couldn’t have worked better.

Whether you’re a Gears fan that may be new to strategy games like this or a tactics game veteran looking for your next fix, Gears Tactics offers plenty that both audiences can enjoy. Granted, there are a lot of mechanics at play in the game that set it apart from the mainline Gears games, so here are a few tips to help get you up and running in this new take on the Gears series.

Always Be in Cover

Like in the Gears games that inspired it, Gears Tactics is all about cover, just in a slightly different way. Compared to how you might see it from the third-person shooter perspective, having an overhead view of things in Gears Tactics means that getting into cover will allow you to set up vital positions for your squad against incoming enemies. Aside from making sure that your teammates are protected from enemy fire, more importantly cover also dictates the line of sight that your units will have against enemies.

When you move a unit behind a piece of cover, a shield icon will pop up to indicate that they are in cover and to what degree; a half-shield icon means they are partially protected, while a full-shield icon means they are completely secured. Likewise, when you are deciding where to move, putting your mouse cursor on a specific area of the map will show the lines of sight on enemy units if the unit decides to move there.

This is an extremely helpful way to strategize where you want to move a squad member, to make sure that they’re both in cover and have as many viewpoints on enemies as possible. Just remember – also make sure to consider where enemies can see your unit, so that you don’t set them up for their downfall.

Overwatch is Your Best Friend

Aside from the Gears of War series, one of Gears Tactics’ primary inspirations is the XCOM series, including its signature Overwatch ability. Using Overwatch (which costs 1 action point) allows your unit to set up a perimeter to keep an eye out for incoming enemy units and to shoot if they hit their line of sight. This allows you not only to cover your other squad members and keep them safe, but also lets you set up some powerful strategies to interrupt enemy units from advancing on you or setting up devastating choke points.

When you select Overwatch, you’ll draw out a cone that represents the range of your unit’s line of sight. The larger that you draw out the visibility cone, the larger the area that your unit will cover, but at the cost of range and accuracy. If you draw the cone in a narrower field, you’ll have less of an area for the unit to cover. But if an enemy draws near and hits their Overwatch sight, they’ll have a much greater chance of success hitting them for better damage.

Like in XCOM, using Overwatch is a crucial component of creating effective strategies in Gears Tactics, making it important to know where and when to use it. By and large, you should use Overwatch generously if you have any units with 1 action point left to use, and remember; you can use Overwatch just as effectively in an offensive position as you can defensively. Gears Tactics is pretty aggressive compared to most other strategy games, so use Overwatch where and when you can.

Executions Are Always Worth Executing

Gears’ infamous (and bloody) executions make their way into Gears Tactics, and aside from giving players a visceral cutscene of a Lancer ripping through a Locust like a badly-cooked steak, executions are also a vital bonus that can benefit the rest of your team.

When you damage an enemy unit down to a certain level of health, you will down them like in the Gears series and leave them vulnerable to an execution. Any of your squad members can then roll in and finish the job with an execution with their weapon of choice, which also has the benefit of giving each of your other squad members a bonus action point. If you manage to down several enemy Locust units at a time, that’s several extra action points that are yours for the taking.

While sometimes it might be risky to go for an execution if you’re in the middle of a heated firefight, by and large you should always go for executions if possible. This not only prevents enemy Locusts from coming in to revive them, but also adds some significant incentive to giving your team members an extra action on your turn. Executions aren’t just bloody, satisfying cutscenes, but also an incredibly useful bonus to the rest of your team that can let you set up some devastating countermeasures.

Save Grenades for When You Really Need Them

Each of your party members in Gears Tactics has access to a type of grenade as part of their kit, and they all have their uses. By and large, the two main grenades that you’ll encounter the most often are frag grenades and stim grenades, and you should get to know where and when to use them. While Grenades are in unlimited supply in Gears Tactics, using a grenade does come with a lengthy amount of cooldown until you can use another, making it vital to use them only when you absolutely need them.

Generally, frag grenades are best saved for taking out large groups of enemies advancing on your position, especially when a group of Wretches or Drones start to come in. These basic enemy types don’t deal a ton of damage individually, but they tend to spawn in large packs that can be a real pain to deal with if they overwhelm you. Thankfully, frag grenades help solve that, as you can easily take out several of them at a time with a well-timed grenade toss. Additionally, frag grenades can also help you take out pesky snipers that you might have a hard time hitting from cover, and are vital for closing Emergence Holes (more on that later).

Stim grenades, meanwhile, are one of the best resources that you can use to heal your teammates. Throwing a stim grenade onto your squad will heal any damaged team member within its area of effect, giving a simple but effective way to heal up your units that might have taken a beating from an explosive or swarm of enemies. While it’s not a substitute for having a decently-specced Support character in your party (whether that is Gabe Diaz or someone else), stim grenades are still one of your best options if you need some mid-game healing.

Close Emergence Holes Right Away

Like in the proper Gears of War series, during a battle you’ll occasionally come up against an Emergence Hole (or “E-Hole”) that will burst from the ground and begin to spawn new enemies during the enemy turn phase. The in-game camera will always reposition itself when an E-Hole appears so you know where it is, and once you do, you should immediately make it your priority to close it and prevent more enemies from swarming the battlefield.

E-Holes will generally make your life a lot more difficult, as they can crop up at pretty inopportune times during a battle when you’re already overwhelmed by enemies. However, given that E-Holes will keep spawning enemies for some time, you’re going to want to minimize the amount of new enemies it will spawn by closing it as soon as possible with a frag grenade. While you won’t be able to close it right away–you’ll have to wait until it opens up and spawns at least one wave of enemies–you’ll at least have one turn to position a squad member to get close enough to throw a grenade into it once it does open. This should go without being said, but you’ll always want to make sure that you bring at least 1 or (preferably) 2 characters with frag grenades so that you can deal with an E-Hole quickly.

Gears Tactics is available now on PC, and will be coming to Xbox One at a later date.

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Ryan Meitzler

Ryan is the Editor-in-Chief at DualShockers and has been a lover of games as long as he can remember. He holds a BA in English and Cinema and lives in New York City.

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