Unlike Horde’s pressure to defend, Escape asks you to just escape, quickly. A group of up to three players (online or local co-op) must make their way through a maze-like Hive as their own deadly venom bomb trails behind while plenty of new Swarm enemies wait ahead.
It turns out “handling it” meant trying and failing several times before we finally figured out a strategy for the Hive’s last treacherous room. Our close encounter with yet another failure ended in a spectacular battle where my last remaining ally and I nearly ran out of ammo trying to take down a tornado of disgusting Swarm leeches. It was, frankly, awesome. I felt like we deserved a reward for finally completing it, only to realize we gained a new modifier to amp up the difficulty further.
Gears 5 Escape Mode Is Like a Puzzle
Escape is like solving a puzzle, only I felt like I couldn’t truly declare victory until I unlocked and beat the map with all its modifiers. Said modifiers are a new, more customizable way to change difficulty rather than selecting a blanket term with preset challenges. Three are unlocked at first. The trio paired with this map gave our enemies double health, double damage, and increased the number and variety of enemies. Completing Escape with all available modifiers on unlocks the next — we got one that decreased the amount of ammo received from the already-scarce ammo boxes.
Escape allows everyone to customize the kind of challenge every time you play. If it feels too challenging, your team can change the modifiers or even unequip them all and just learn the basics of the map. Escape offers plenty of good tools to deal with its challenges.
Escape stars three class-based characters, and they each come with their own passive and active abilities that are essential for clearing the mode. There’s Lahni, a scout whose active ability grants her an electroblade that stuns and damages enemies she strikes. It’s particularly effective against big enemies. Then there’s Keegan, a support character whose active makes a small area where allies can regenerate ammo for a short time. Rounding out the new characters is Mac, a tank who can hold a rather wide invulnerable shield for a short amount of time. Using their chargeable abilities at the right time is crucial if you’re playing with multiple modifiers. Each character also has their own XP and equippable skill cards that can be upgraded to increase their benefits.
Lahni, Keegan, and Mac are Hivebusters, a new group within the Gears universe who are determined to go on these suicide missions to eliminate Hives. We’ll have more on their backstory and how it ties to Gears 5 on June 18, but know that these three characters won’t be the only characters you can play. Eventually, other Gears characters like Kait will make their way to Escape with their own classes and special abilities. The character abilities will also be in Horde, but not in the Versus modes.
Gears 5 Safe Rooms are a sort of benchmark between sections of Escape that allows your team to take a quick breather, grab a drink, run to the bathroom, reply to a text… whatever you need to do before you’re ready to take on the rest of the map. It’s also a save point. Yes, if you fail, you don’t have to start all over. You return here.
If you’ve checked out the Gears 5 gameplay footage, you should notice that the gunplay looks quite a bit different. There are damage numbers (that can be turned off), the hit reticle changes colors depending on how you shoot an enemy, and weapons have recoil that creates bullet patterns rather than letting the bullets bloom as a player fires longer. Additionally, the iconic Crimson Omen has evolved into the Inverse Omen, so it no longer hides the middle of the screen, allowing players to better see their attacker when their health is low.
If the sheer challenge of playing through Escape’s difficult modifiers isn’t enough, there will also be leaderboards to track the best completion times and special cosmetic rewards for the players who place high enough. You’d have to get your best time in Escape rather quickly, though, as Escape Hives are built with special tiles that allow The Coalition to release new official maps roughly every week, meaning there will be plenty of new challenges and rewards post-launch.
The Coalition Hives won’t be the only ones you can play. Escape comes with a neat map builder which allows players to easily make their own Hives and challenge friends and the greater Gears community to play their creations.