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The critics have played Gears 5 and here is what they are saying

As of today, we are less than one week away from playing Gears 5. It feels like a lifetime has passed since E3 2018, when we got our first look at the title. But Sept. 10 will be here before we know it. And if you happen to be an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriber, you'll actually be able to access the game on Friday, Sept. 6.

And yet Gears 5's imminent release still feels like it can't be real, right? Here we are, days from the launch of a brand new Gears title, and we're not being hammered over the head with advertisements. The past few news cycles haven't been consumed with hype surrounding a new Gears story. It simply does not feel like Microsoft is putting out a new entry in one of its tentpole franchises. Instead, it feels like the company is turning in its final term paper before summer break: it's done, here you go, see you next generation.

Fortunately, The Coalition didn't phone it in on the development side, and judging by the reviews, Gears 5 is shaping up to be one of the better Gears games in quite some time. Here are some thoughts from the reviews rolling out today.

IGN's Ryan McCaffrey: "Gears of War may have initially thrived because it refined and helped revive the third-person cover shooter, but it has survived for a much less obvious reason: it has heart. [...] Gears 5 is no different, and the consequences from your actions here – along with its welcome gameplay improvements – will affect both this and future games in a way I'm eager to see." Score: 8.8/10

GameSpot's Phil Hornshaw: "Gears 5 might suffer from some of the same storytelling missteps as its predecessors, and it might not venture far out of the past, but the new ideas it brings to the series are all good reasons for fans to return." Score: 7/10

Kotaku's Maddy Myers: "Gears 5 has a few too many new ideas, both narrative and mechanical, but its choice to put Kait at its center helps carry the game over its rougher spots. Gears 5 doesn't top the original Gears trilogy, but it's easily my favorite of the latter-day Gears games."

Polygon's Dave Tach: "Gears 5 is personal, like its predecessor, and insistent in focusing on its characters. It's thoughtful, and unafraid to stop the action in favor of slower story beats and sections focused on exploration. And those are the parts that I enjoyed the most."

GamesRadar's Mike Epstein: "Gears 5 doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it changes enough to keep its signature style of cover-based shooting from feeling monotonous. Going into this review, I was convinced Gears of War needed to change drastically or risk obsolescence. But the Coalition has found a different way forward, using new mechanics to polish the old, making the whole game shine." Score: 4/5

The Verge's Sam Byford: "Gears 5 is unexpectedly phenomenal. It's the best game Microsoft has published in many years — perhaps not counting anything with 'Forza Horizon' in the title — and it establishes The Coalition as a serious creative force. Even if you've never been interested in Gears of War, I'd recommend checking this one out on Xbox Game Pass at least. It's about as good as blockbuster shooters get."

Game Rant's Dalton Cooper: "The Gears 5 campaign delivers everything fans would want from a Gears of War story, with shocking moments, epic set-pieces, and actual character development for a change. Multiplayer and Horde offer compelling experiences that will keep players engaged for the long-term, and the promise of free DLC [...] should ensure that the game has even more legs than past Gears of War titles. After the slightly disappointing Gears of War 4, Gears 5 shows that the series is back with a vengeance, with what is the best Gears of War game yet." Score: 5/5

Twinfinite's Chris Jecks: "Gears 5 might well be up there as one of my favorite entries in the series alongside Gears 2. [...] With Gears 5, The Coalition took some risks, and it makes for one of the best entries in the series yet." Score: 4.5/5

Despite Gears 5 being the sixth Gears of War title (including Judgment), it seems The Coalition shook things up just enough to make the experience feel new and exciting. We'll have to wait and see how the public at large responds to Gears 5 when players start getting their hands on it this Friday. But based on its critical reception thus far, we think the Xbox One might have its best first-party title that isn't — as The Verge said — named Forza.

Gears 5 comes to PC and Xbox One on Sept. 10, or Sept. 6 for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers.