The main series can learn a lot from this latest offshoot.
Keegan, Lahni and Mac are the trio that should have starred in the new Gears of War games since Gears of War 4. We're talking about a trio of diverse personalities, who do not feel focus group-produced and who aren't completely void of any personality in the way that Kait Diaz and Del Walker are. We're talking about something that actually looks like real people, by Gears of War standards. They had that much of an impact, that when the new Hivebusters campaign was over, I felt like hanging out with them and missed them being around.
Hivebuster is a new expansion to Gears 5 which consists of a new campaign. It is roughly three hours long, which must be considered more than acceptable in this genre (not far from the playing time in several Call of Duty campaigns), and is built from the ground up. In reality, this means new areas, a new final boss and also new main characters. In terms of game mechanics, however, The Coalition has not tried anything new, but rather rewinds the tape to the absolute basics.
What this means, is an easy to follow story with a clear goal where Scorpio Squad visits the volcanic island of Galangi to knock out a Swarm camp and defeat a new superboss, without any slower levels with open spaces. Instead, the focus is on rock-hard battles in smaller areas, and it's meatier and more action-packed than in a very long time. I also feel that the level of difficulty was higher this time, and completed battles really felt like victories, as areas really have been used to scout for ammunition (more difficult than before as Jack is not with this time) and flanking enemies, with plenty of weapon switching to make the bullets last longer. Often when I finally got rid of the last enemy, I only had a grenade and a pistol.
Fortunately, the three main characters in Scorpio Squad have a unique skill that is absolutely necessary to achieve success, which can also be upgraded. Keegan is most important and he gets ammunition replenishment for himself and teammates who stay nearby. Lahni brings with her an electric knife that makes the procedure very, very short with enemies, while the Mac can act as a tank thanks to a shielding ability. These features can be spammed quite frequently due to a short cooldown period, and the battles are completely tailored to them, so you need to make the most of this to your advantage and preferably play with three people.
The six chapters took just over three hours to play through, and I can imagine that several of you will want to do it again. I also want to highlight the graphics on Galangi, which is incomparably delicious on Xbox Series X and it does not get worse as it runs at 60 frames per second and in 4K. It is definitely worth checking out just to soak up some delicious technology.
Hivebusters costs £14.99, which must be classified as an very reasonable price tag. However, it is also included with the Xbox Game Pass, which I think is very cool. I can definitely recommend this to all Gears of War fans, or just those who want to play through an adventure that doesn't take too much time with up to two good friends. And Keegan, Lahni and Mac, I hope we get to see much more of in the future also in the main story. Moving forward, this is how I want my Gears of War.
8 / 10
The three protagonists are instantly likable, it's a good length for story DLC, it's the most action-packed Gears game we've seen in a while.