So I’m fresh off of completing Gears of War 5 (I refuse to call it Gears 5) campaign and I’m going to talk about that choice that we have to make in the final act of the game.
There will be heavy SPOILERS here. If you don’t want the game spoiled for you don’t read this article. I don’t want to hear, er… read, anyone bitching down in my comment section because you weren’t smart enough to skip this article.
Those of you that’ve completed Gears of War 5 know exactly what choice I’m talking about here. It’s the only choice in the game and it’s fucking stupid in my honest opinion. In act 4 you get to choose either Del or JD to die. That’s right! One of them has to die in the final act of the game and that almost completely took me out of it. I understand killing off a character, but why take the cowards way out? Why not just kill one of them off like you did Dom in Gears of War 3 (spoilers I guess).
Putting it in the hands of the players not only makes that decision less meaningful it also means that you’ve backed yourself into a corner for Gears of War 6. Why? Because now you’ve got to do what Wolfenstein did and give us two different routes. One with Del alive and one with JD. Or… you can completely ignore our choices at the end of the game and just choose a canon route and make one of those two live in the end. That means we’re most likely stuck as Kait in Gears of War 6 when I was really hoping that we would go back to JD because he had the most character growth out of all of the new characters and the entire time I was playing as Kait I kept wondering what JD was doing and why he decided to cut his hair.
Del was the most annoying character in 4 and he’s easily the most annoying character in 5 so killing him wasn’t a choice for me. It was a requirement. I don’t want to see him in anymore of these games. I mean… he had his moments, but they were few and far between and I’m just not a fan of the forced comedy in the game. Kait is almost as annoying as Del, but at least she had those creepy visions in the the second act and that kept me interested in her… until she lost them at the end of act 2.
It’s not like JD is an amazing character or anything like that, but I think he’s really good compared to how he was in Gears of War 4. There was a line that referred to how different JD was in this game than in part 4 and both characters wondered out loud if JD would ever get back to his oldself again. I answered for them. I hope not. JD is actually interesting now. Maybe I’m just attracted to damaged characters, but JD had the most growth out of all of the new characters and it’s a real shame that The Coalition didn’t think to dedicate another act besides the opening one to him. I don’t like the way it ended either. Gears of War 5 had a good campaign that ended way too soon. It’s only four acts long the ending felt rushed. There’s only two chapters in act IV and every previous Gears of War game had 5 acts with multiple chapters spread out between the acts.
I’m getting distracted though. I’m supposed to be writing about that one stupid choice you that you have to make at the end of the game. Do you save JD? Or do you save Del? For me, it was easy. Marcus has been through enough in his life. He lost his wife, best friend, dad, etc. I didn’t want to add his son to that long list of people that are no longer in his life. And, to me, the scene of Marcus and JD finally hugging it out and showing emotions towards each other trumps Marcus holding in his emotions over his dead son. Marcus was so relieved to see JD alive that he embraced his child and had a special moment with him in the middle of that hell that they were experiencing together.
Del dying felt like the canon choice to me. Now, Marcus and JD have something else in common with each other. They’ve both lost their best friend. That’s not the only reason why I feel like Del dying was the right choice to make. What would Del have to do in the next Gears game? He’s just a side character that has little to no importance on anything going on around him while JD and Kait do. The only role Del had was that of the comedic relief. Saying corny one liners or making light of every situation quickly got old and when that choice happened I didn’t even have to think about it. I chose JD and never looked back. I felt worse about Jack dying than I did Del because at least Jack froze shit for me. Jack dying also felt right since Del died. Del had bonded with the little metal dude and considered it a friend so it dying shortly after Del just made sense. It feels like JD should be alive for Gears of War 6 and I can only hope that he, or his dad, will be the main protagonist in the next game and not Kait.
Her mom being the big bad guy just feels out of place. It would have made more sense for Kait to give in to those visions and become the new queen while killing Del and Jack at the end of the game. JD and Marcus would team up and force her to retreat setting up part 6. Instead we got… this. And it’s not bad, but it’s not that good either. They could have fleshed that moment out more or scrapped it entirely and just let one of those two die in a cutscene and cut the player choice out of it. I was completely unattached when that choice happened and it’s because The Coalition did a really bad job of making me care about Del. As much as I sat here and bitched about Kait at least she had one really interesting act. What did Del get? Nothing. He was just… there.
It feels like The Coalition tried to recreate that Marcus/Dom moment in Gears of War 3. The problem is no new character is as interesting as those two or came across as close as those two characters did. Another problem with that is I look at JD as being the new Marcus not Kait. So who’s Dom in this scenario? It’s clearly Del. He’s your sidekick in all of these new games and we’re supposed to feel something for his death. I didn’t. But I think that was the intention. To have this huge moment that would make every player stop and really think about the choice they wanted to make. From what I’ve read online 90% of the people chose JD and a big reason is because we don’t want Marcus to lose anyone else. You’ve gotta love this community.
If The Coalition had took the time to flesh out Del’s character more it would have been a tough decision for me to make. It would be like that time I had to choose between Kaidan and Ashely in Mass Effect. I would have had to sit back and think (Kaidan all the way now) who I wanted to die because I had spent so much time getting to know both characters throughout the course of the game. You don’t get any of that in Gears of War 5 and that’s a real shame.
Here’s to hoping that Gears of War 6 really knocks it out the park with the campaign. If you’re going to introduce character driven choices in your game make sure you actually have interesting characters to choose between. Make the choice harder next time guys. The “choice” you have to make in Gears of War 5 sucked and not because I was torn on who to choose between.