TL;DR- All the parts are there, they just weren’t put together well.
This is a comparatively very bad years game.
Multiplayer is an absolute joke. This has to be in the worst iteration of PVP in the entire franchise. I genuinely do not know what the Coalition was thinking, but the balancing is ridiculously bad.
Multiplayer characters are very limited, we have almost none of the roster from previous games for no apparent reason, and each character that is available has a preset alternative weapon, which is to say that you cannot just pick up any old weapon you see on the map.
Multiplayer progression is basically non-existent, the rewards are generally just bad, limited to mediocre cosmetics (you have to pay for the good ones).
I would say this game also easily has the worst AI out of the entire franchise. I frequently find my single player squad mates walking into and then standing directly in my line of fire, I found them wandering around aimlessly and getting stuck on invisible walls, and when either myself or another squadmate was down, they frequently took their sweet time to revive, and occasionally just didn’t do it at all.
The entire game has bugs out the rear end, whether it be issue is getting shot through barriers, picking up items or getting stuck on invisible walls.
In single player, for some reason you can roam around a feaux open-world; it’s not really open and doesn’t really present options in terms of side missions, what order you do mai missions in, or upgrade acquisition. You can choose what order to do side missions in technically, but in practice, you literally just do them in order of what’s closest between you and the main objective. You really have to try to miss them, and there’s really only one order you will end up doing them in.
You can upgrade Jack to increase the viability of his various utilities, but I would say those abilities are irrelevant for the majority of the game. There are a couple of spots where you don’t have a choice because that’s what the narrative requires, and I found myself completely forgetting about his abilities in the heat of almost every battle.
On the note of Jack, really seems like they were trying to go for an RPG style character upgrade system, but Jack is so irrelevant as a squad me that it falls completely short. Not only that, but I was never invested in Jack as a combatant anyway, I would have much rather seen that system applied to the characters themselves, if at all.
The campaign story is interesting enough, although I think Kait is a very weak character to try to make the main protagonist in the second game. Namely because a lot of her internal conflict feels shallow and like it was just kind of tacked on from the last game. I was just getting attached to JD is the main character in the Gears of War 4, now he’s kicked back to a secondary character position and is absent for large portions of the game.
The irony here is that he has a lot more depth and character in this game compared to the last, and I found his story more engaging than Kait as the main character almost exclusively due to the fact that he has a lot of internal conflicts he has to try to navigate.
Actually, on that note, I found the majority of the gameplay as Kait to be rather immersion-breaking. She is put in the position of leading Delta squad, for no reason other than the story is focused on her connection to Myrrah. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an interesting angle to take, especially for that character. But, no active military unit, or veteran, or mercenary group, is it going to entirely throw out a military structure/hierarchy so that they can prop up somebody who is easily going to be the most psychologically and emotionally compromised in the situation.
Complementing this is the fact that a good amount of the dialogue is spent explicitly either propping up or reassuring Kait as a strong and competent leader, rather than simply showing it through her actions. It really comes off as being condescending sometimes, and really feels like it’s just there for her to make statements about her qualifications to lead.
That might actually be my biggest complaint about the gears 4 and 5. They both firmly reject any actual military structure despite portraying the majority of its characters as being rather rigid military personnel. It’s actually rather jarring how often the position of leader, or main character, gets tossed around amongst the cast like a hot potato. I genuinely wouldn’t be surprised if gears 6 swapped Kait out for another character.
Overall, the campaign story is better than Gears of War 4, but it falls short in almost every other respect compared to the rest of the series.
It’s very bizarre, but this is a game where I would say the experience is very polar- the goods are great (gunplay and overarching story) and the lows are abysmal (everything else).