Gears of War Judgment does not always use the tried and true “Gears vs Locust” scenario for online conflict. In the excellent OverRun mode, all stays the same. Locust charge in, trying to uncover an emergence hole while Gears defend. Great idea, and the execution is superb.
Into the routine competition, and the Locust are removed. Instead of a war against vile monsters, teammates Marcus and Baird are blasting away at each other. All of the competitive skins are human, and as the fourth game of the series, it breaks down the relationships founded in previous games.
It should not be such a bother. After all, there is no story connection here; it is merely mindless gunplay like in every other shooter. Human on human conflict is what sells in the online space. Gears is a special case though, sold more on ultraviolence and explosive gore rather than T-rated blood splatters, or armor clad Halo Spartans. That is where something causes a twinge, seeing Baird curb stomp Marcus or chainsaw him in two is just… bizarre. The entire experience is made dirty by seeing a sexualized Sofia Hendrick shredded in two by a Lancer.
Never being much of a fan with regards to the shotgun heavy assaults of Gears online, I will safely assume I am an outlier here. Some have probably never wandered through a campaign before, so these characters are little more than textures. For those that have spent upwards of 30 hours in campaigns, experiencing their stories, and learning of their struggles, I do have to wonder if they will share the same weird, unsettling vibe. I cannot imagine why the change was made, or what it could possibly add. If Judgment is a success, maybe the series will move forward with this attitude, but I can safely assume to be less inclined to jump in if that’s the case.