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Video Game / Gears Tactics

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Time to scratch some grubs.

Gears Tactics is Turn-Based Tactics game set in the Gears of War universe developed by Splash Damage (Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, Brink, Dirty Bomb) and Microsoft's internal studio The Coalition. The game takes place in the days after Emergence Day, and the Hammer of Dawn Offensive, as it follows two C.O.G.s who are rebuilding their team and hunting a mysterious Locust scientist.

The game was released on Windows 10 and Steam on April 28, 2020, with the Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S versions released on November 10th, 2020.


Tropes that apply to Gears Tactics

  • Advancing Wall of Doom: Some missions will have a creeping zone of Locust bombardment from the rear that forces the squad to press forward.
  • And the Adventure Continues: After defeating Ukkon, Diaz and the squad decide to continue the fight against the Locust and set out to hunt more of his creations.
  • Antepiece:
    • The first mission using one of the repeating structures is presented without modifiers and fighting basic enemies. Later iterations add new enemies and mission modifiers to increase the difficulty of the same basic premise.
    • In Jacked Mode, Deviant enemies are suped-up versions of regular enemies. They're always introduced a few missions after the player has had a few missions to get comfortable fighting the regular version.
  • The Berserker: Locust Grenadiers gain bonus damage and movement speed after taking damage. However, they lose their reactionary shot, leaving them vulnerable to the chainsaw and bayonet.
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  • Bad Liar: When Diaz confronts Prescott about something called "New Hope," Prescott issues him a Death Glare with a few moments of silence then claims he has no idea what that is. Afterward, he suddenly requests Diaz' location and promises him reinforcements and supplies he never gave before. Diaz isn't fooled at all and feeds Prescott the wrong coordinates. Said location is soon scorched by a Hammer of Dawn strike...
  • Badass Bookworm: At one point in the campaign, Mikayla claims to have two engineering doctorates.
  • Battle Cry: The Kantus uses one to buff its fellow Locust.
  • Bayonet Ya: The Support and Vanguard classes can use the chainsaw and traditional bayonet on their respective weapons for an instant kill.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The squad successfully kills Ukkon and destroys his base. However, none of them will ever be able to return to the C.O.G. since They Know Too Much, and decide to continue the fight on their own terms.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Former thrashball player Cole Train returns as DLC, and his personality is intact.
  • Boom, Headshot!: This happens anytime one of the player's units kills someone with a critical hit.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Diaz adamantly refuses to work for Prescott again. However, the destruction of his post by Ukkon and his forces after the Hammer Strikes gives him no option but to accept the mission.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Just like Gears of War, the intelligent Locust enemies often narrate their actions.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Despite the fact the Locust are waging a war against humanity to escape the parasitic Imulsion causing them to turn into Lambent, Ukkon has no problem with having his troops inject mass quantities of Imulsion into themselves for a power up. How Myyrah let this through is a mystery, especially considering there is evidence this practice produces Lambent Locust.
  • Chainsaw Good: Just like Gears of War, the Lancer's chainsaw bayonet can be used to One-Hit Kill an enemy or finish them off when they're down. Doing the latter gives 1 action point to allied units, encouraging you to target the enemy and Kick Them While They're Down.
  • Continuity Nod: The game explains how Gabriel Diaz leaves the C.O.G. and becomes a Stranded and how he meets his future wife, Reyna.
  • Cold Sniper: Mikayla Dorn is this towards the C.O.G. soldiers, since they basically glassed her city trying to exterminate the Locust.
  • Continuity Snarl: Despite being set a mere year after Emergence Day, Locust are seen armed with the Hammerburst II, a weapon that was canonically not developed until after the Lightmass Bombing. It could be that the weapon was a Super Prototype that only Ukkon's troops had access to before they were made a troop standard.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: Brumaks. While their attacks are easily avoided, they can only be taken out by destroying the Immulsion tanks on their backs. Unfortunately, while the tanks are an obvious Attack Its Weak Point, there are three of them and they take up a lot of damage. Since the Brumak also turns to face its attacker, it also halves the damage by forcing the player to flank the boss on both sides.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: While similar in gameplay to XCOM titles of the 2010s, there are major mechanical differences that can get your troops downed in a hurry if you don't adapt.
    • Moving units on PC: while units move in X-COM with the right button, units move in Tactics with the left button.
    • Overwatch is not omnidirectional, but in a player-defined cone much like in Phoenix Point (a Spiritual Successor to XCOM 2). Overwatch also triggers not just on movement but also ANY offensive action taken by targets within the cone.note  Finally, removing a unit's overwatch is not as simple as just shooting and hitting them. A unit's overwatch is removed only if they are "interrupted", which regular shots have only a chance of doing. Having a guaranteed interrupt proc requires the use of certain abilities, which can range from certain weapons, such as the Snub Pistol, that can fire a "Disabling Shot" (A regular shot that guarantees an interrupt proc if it even grazes the target), to class-specific abilities that can proc an interrupt on any targets around them or on a target they shoot at with any weapon.
    • Your Gears, by default, do not have the ability to Hunker Down behind cover. This is an active ability exclusive to the Vanguard class, which not only requires it to first be taken in their skill tree, but also has a cooldown timer. A Vanguard with said skill however, can cast this ability on other friendly units to put them in a Hunker Down state, though this will immediately remove all of the targeted friendly's action points and prevents them from gaining any back for the rest of the turn.
    • As mentioned in Friendly Fire below, players have to consider friendly units in the line of fire. Stray fire will never injure friendly units in XCOM; in Tactics, friendly units may get hit by gunfire.
    • How Ironman mode works as well, especially if the players just came from any of the rebooted XCOM series of games. In Gears Tactics, the damning thing is if a Hero Unit dies during any Ironman mode run, the save file is instantly deleted whereas in XCOM, the players are simply forbidden from Save Scumming, but not from retrying in any mission where a Hero Unit participated like XCOM 2 DLC, Alien Ruler and Shen's Last Gift. This forces players to be extra careful whenever a Hero Unit participates in any mission, main story or not.
  • Deadly Gas: Zealot's release a toxic cloud on their location upon death.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: How the fight with the Corpser ends.
  • Easy Logistics: Played With, with infinite supplies but equipment not available once taken by another character on another mission.
  • Evil Overlooker: Promotional art shows a Brumak in this fashion, as seen in the game page image above.
  • Eye Patch Of Power: Sid has a metal one grafted over his left eye.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Sid is particularly dismissive of civilians, thinking they're weak and cowardly.
    • Mikayla likewise hates the C.O.G. and its soldiers, calling them fascists for destroying everyone's homes with the hammer strikes.
    • Ukkon is a Locust supremacist who thinks of humans are nothing more than vermin to exterminate.
  • Fatal Family Photo: The intro cutscene features a soldier holding a picture of his wife and daughter. This soldier, along with everyone else at Diaz's post, is killed by Ukkon's forces after the hammer strikes.
  • Finish Him!: Just like the main series, dying enemies can be given a Coup de Grâce, which awards all units an extra action point, incentivizing running out into potential bad cover to grant everyone more attacks.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Mikayla and Diaz quickly synergize their leadership abilities in the face of doom. Sid eventually comes around, giving a poignant mea culpa to Gabe and Mikayla late in the campaign, not realizing they've both fallen into exhausted sleep.
  • Friendly Fire: Unlike XCOM: Enemy Unknown, gunfire may injure teammates if they're in the way, not just explosives. Fortunately, the same applies to enemy Locust, and they'll often injure their own team trying to get at players.
  • Gatling Good: The Heavy class wields the massive Mulcher machine gun.
  • Goomba Stomp: One of the ways a C.O.G. can finish off a Locust.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Enemies can be bisected not only by chainsaws, but by sheer gunfire.
  • He Knows Too Much: Diaz mentioning that he overheard the words "New Hope" in passing, without any context as to what the phrase even means, is enough for Prescott to immediately drop a Hammer of Dawn strike on his position. Fortunately, Diaz was already expecting Prescott to betray them (though not to such an extreme degree) and gave him fake coordinates.
  • Healing Factor:
    • Vanguards have multiple abilities that allow them to regenerate their health and even share this effect with nearby allies.
    • Ukkon experiments with Imulsion have granted him incredible regenerative abilities. He survives having his jaw blown off by Mikayla and regrows his entire forearm after losing it escaping from the squad's trap.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Played with. Helmets are available as gear and are just as useful as the other armor pieces. Players have the option to hide helmets on the character customization screen, while retaining all the benefits.
  • Hidden Depths: Sid's background in genetics, working in a lab that Ukkon came from.
  • Jerkass: Prescott is at the worst he's ever been seen in the franchise here. He belittles Diaz at every turn and sarcastically rebukes any request for aid, despite assigning him to such a serious task like assassinating one of the Locust's key leaders. Unsurprisingly, Diaz grows more and more suspicious of Prescott and it culminates with Prescott outright trying to murder Diaz.
  • Interface Spoiler: The fact that you have 4 squad slots but only 3 heroes foreshadows the arrival of Heroic Scout Reyna late in the campaign.
  • Killed Off for Real: Played with. Regular soldiers can be, but Heroes cannot — their death will mean mission failure. The latter will also apply to any regular soldier if the mission has the objective "All units must survive".
  • Last Episode, New Character: Reyna Torres joins the squad in the middle of the third and final act as the fourth hero.
  • Lighter and Softer: Perhaps the most lighthearted entry in the entire franchise, the tone of Gears Tactics is remarkably jovial and laid back despite the Gorn remaining intact.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: It wouldn't be a Gears game without it.
  • Lured Into a Trap: The squad sets up a truck of medical supplies to catch Ukkon.
  • Mad Scientist: Ukkon is the Locust's chief biologist and the one who created the Locusts numerous war beasts, such as the Brumak and Corpser.
  • Made of Iron: As with the main Gears titles, C.O.G.s don't die if they lose their hit points. Instead, they have to be taken out while they're down in order to be Killed Off for Real, or bleed out. The first time they're downed, they basically use Heroic Willpower to revive themselves. Same goes for Locust soldiers, though they die faster if not revived.
  • Magikarp Power: Scouts are initially hamstrung by their primary weapon being a Short-Range Shotgun with pitifully low accuracy. Once they've gained a few levels, they can spec into spamming grenades and are arguably the most powerful class in the game as a result.
  • Mandatory Unretirement: Gabe Diaz used to be a high ranking officer in the COG. At the start of the game, he's a mechanic who insists that his days leading soldiers are done and there's nothing Prescott or anyone else can do to change that. He's wrong.
  • Meet Cute: Probably the most badass one of all time, Gabe Diaz rescues Reyna Torres from a locust torture pod late in the campaign. Much of the campaign of Gears of War 4 revolves around rescuing her from a reborn Locust Swarm a generation later, and their child, Kait is the protagonist of Gears 5.
  • Mook Maker: The final battle takes place in Ukkon's Locust training factory.
  • Neck Lift: Ukkon does this to a captive soldier when he is introduce, picking him up off the ground and chocking him before snapping his neck, but not before giving an Evil Laugh.
  • New Game Plus: Finishing the game unlocks the Veteran mode, which gives the player a chance to complete three difficult Veteran side missions. Doing so will reward the player with rare weapon and armor upgrades.
  • No "Arc" in "Archery": The Boomshot and Torque Bow (on its low velocity shot) both follow have an arc to their shots.
  • No One Could Survive That!: In their first encounter, Mikalya blows Ukkon's jaw off clean. He regenerates it in no time's sweat. Diaz later lampshades this trope when angrily confronting Prescott about what assignment he tasked him to.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: As Mikalya puts it — no one deserves to be left in a Locust torture pod, which is the basis for rescue missions.
  • No-Sell: C.O.G.s can't melee Wretches. If they try, the Wretches will smack them first and not allow them to attack.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Ukkon is the first antagonist in the series not be a direct threat in combat or take part in the fighting. This is justified by his position as a biologist rather than a general or officer.
  • Oh, Crap!: Both Mikayla and Diaz's response to seeing Ukkon get up after his jaw is blown off.
  • Prequel: To both trilogies of the main Gears of War series.
    • The first game took place 14 years after E-Day. Tactics opens on the Hammer of Dawn strikes that happened 1 year after E-Day.
    • Though you won't know it until fairly late in the campaign, Gears Tactics is also the story of how Gears of War 4 deuteragonist and Gears 5 protagonist Cait Diaz's parents met.
  • Rare Random Drop: Players may find rare loot alongside the common littering the battlefield. Unlike X-COM, unclaimed loot will not be rewarded to the team when the mission ends.
  • Real Is Brown: Much of the game is grey and brown. Fortunately, soldiers' uniforms can be given bright colors to break the monotony.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Diaz, as contrasted with the gung-ho Sid. For example, Sid begins to greet two rescued C.O.G.s with a jingoistic recruitment pitch, Diaz waves him quiet, and soberly fills the possibly PTSD units in on the situation and that they're needed to re-form the C.O.G.s in the area.
    • Mikayla is not only the unspoken leader of the civilians, she meshes well with Diaz and keeps the civilians motivated and in line.
  • Recruitment by Rescue: Without any support from the C.O.G. Diaz must make due with whoever he can find or rescue. One of the main mission types involves taking two or three soldiers (instead of a full team of four) and rescuing captured humans from Locust "torture pods." The mission fails if the player takes too many turns to open a pod, giving it time to kill the human inside. After the mission, the soldiers rescued will be available in the recruit pool.
  • Rousing Speech: All of the Support class's healing is delivered this way (except Stim Grenades, which any character can technically use...but in practice, even supports don't usually).
  • Shout-Out: Achievements, as usual, are chock full of references:
    • Several are references to Pulp Fiction:
      • "Aw, man, I shot Marvin in the face" — accidentally downing a fellow C.O.G.
      • "Everyone stay cool! This is a robbery!" — completing a Control mission.
      • "Path of the righteous man" — complete a mission with no friendly downs or deaths.
      • "Great vengeance and furious anger" — in one turn, Breach 3 enemies, one with a precision shot, one with a reckless shot, one with a double shot
      • "Oh, I'm sorry, did I break your concentration?" — interrupting an overwatch with a Disabling shot.
      • "Check out the big brain on Brett!" — kill 5 enemies on a single Overwatch
      • "We should have shotguns for this" — complete a Veteran mission with all Scouts
    • "I never miss" — hit a target with 10% or less chance to hit.
    • "We're in the endgame now" — completing a Veteran mission.
    • "I could do this all day!" — completing 20 Veteran missions.
    • "Legen (wait for it)..." — upgrade a weapon with all Legendary mods
      • "...dary" — upgrade each hero's weapons with Legendary mods.
    • "Ain't no one like me 'cept me!" — complete a mission on Insanity with a single soldier
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: Sid refers to himself as such while training Mikeyla's people, using this term word for word.
  • Tainted Veins: The Disciple and Zealot have glowing yellow veins from the Imulsion they've been injected with.
  • Take Cover!: It's Gears of War meets XCOM, so it's a core gameplay mechanic. However, cover isn't as sturdy as it is in other games of its type, since it reduces, not eliminates, damage.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Mikayla is a civilian, so her cooperation with the C.O.G. soldiers is fraught with tension.
  • Turn-Based Tactics: The game on its surface is similar to X-COM, but its core gameplay is far more aggressive.
  • Ungrateful Townsfolk: Mikayla and her people refuse to thank Diaz and Sid for saving their lives when they first meet. Its pretty understable though, since the C.O.G. just finished destroying the planet's surface to try and wipe out the Locust.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: As Diaz notes starting Act 2:
    Diaz: Civilians and C.O.G., rookies and vets — our little army has plenty of friction. If we're going to take out Ukkon, we've gotta learn to work together. That starts here.
  • Wham Line: After the team successfully corners Ukkon in the middle of the story, he takes the time to look over them and recognizes Sid, calling him by his full name in a sarcastically chummy tone. Diaz is left stunned but before he can say anything, Sid abruptly knocks him out and betrays his unit in an attempt to drive off with Ukkon for his own reasons.
  • World of Badass: It's set in the Gears universe. The C.O.G. soldiers are badass, the normals are badass, the Locusts are badass, the weapons are badass.
    PC Gamer: I like to imagine that the chainsaw's lengthy cooldown isn't because it's overpowered, but because my hero, Gabe Diaz, has to spend the next few turns scraping bone chunks and viscera out of the blades.
  • You Are in Command Now: Sid basically tells Diaz this after coming back to find the motor pool destroyed by Locust attacks.
  • Zerg Rush: How the Wretches attack, much like The Lost in XCOM 2: War of The Chosen, except the Wretches hit much harder.